I gaze in horror at the red marks all over my breasts. Hickeys! I have hickeys! I am married to one of the most respected businessmen in the United States, and he’s given me goddamn hickeys. How did I not feel him doing this to me? I flush.
The fact is I know exactly why—Mr. Orgasmic was using his fine-motor sexing skills on me.
My subconscious peers over her half-moon specs and tuts disapprovingly, while my inner goddess slumbers on her chaise longue, out for the count. I gape at my reflection. My wrists have a red welt around them from the handcuffs. No doubt they’ll bruise. I examine my ankles—more welts. Holy hell, I look like I’ve been in some sort of accident. I gaze at myself, trying to absorb how I look. My body is so different these days. It’s changed subtly since I’ve known him . . . I’ve become leaner and fitter, and my hair is glossy and well cut. My nails are manicured, my feet pedicured, my eyebrows threaded and beautifully shaped. For the first time in my life, I’m well groomed—except for these hideous love bites.
I don’t want to think about grooming at the moment. I’m too mad. How dare he mark me like this, like some teenager. In the short time we’ve been together, he’s never given me hickeys. I look like hell. I know why he’s done this. Damn control freak. Right! My subconscious folds her arms beneath her small bosom—he’s gone too far this time. I stalk out of the en suite bathroom and into the walk-in closet, carefully avoiding even a glance in his direction. Slipping out of my robe, I pull on my sweatpants and a camisole. I undo the braid, pick up a hairbrush from the small vanity unit, and brush out my tangles.
“Anastasia,” Christian calls and I hear his anxiety. “Are you okay?”
I ignore him. Am I okay? No, I am not okay. After what he’s done to me, I doubt I’ll be able to wear a swimsuit, let alone one of my ridiculously expensive bikinis, for the rest of our honeymoon. The thought is suddenly so infuriating.
How dare he? I’ll give him are you okay. I seethe as fury spikes through me. I can behave like an adolescent, too! Stepping back into the bedroom, I hurl the hairbrush at him, turn, and leave—though not before I see his shocked expression and his lightning reaction as he raises his arm to protect his head so that the brush bounces ineffectively off his forearm and onto the bed.
I storm out of our cabin, bolt upstairs and out on deck, fleeing toward the bow. I need some space to calm down. It’s dark and the air is balmy. The warm breeze carries the smell of the Mediterranean and the scent of jasmine and bou-gainvillea from the shore. The Fair Lady glides effortlessly through the calm co-balt sea as I rest my elbows on the wooden railing, gazing at the distant shore where tiny lights wink and twinkle. I take a deep, healing breath and slowly begin to calm. I’m aware of him behind me before I hear him.
“You’re mad at me,” he whispers.
“No shit, Sherlock!”
“Scale of one to ten, I think I’m at fifty. Apt, huh?”
“That mad.” He sounds surprised and impressed at once.
“Yes. Pushed to violence mad,” I say through gritted teeth.
He stays silent as I turn and scowl at him, watching me with wide and wary eyes. I know from his expression and because he’s made no move to touch me that he’s out of his depth.
“Christian, you have to stop unilaterally trying to bring me to heel. You made your point on the beach. Very effectively, as I recall.”
He shrugs minutely. “Well, you won’t take your top off again,” he murmurs petulantly.
And this justifies what he’s done to me? I glare at him. “I don’t like you leaving marks on me. Well, not this many, anyway. It’s a hard limit!” I hiss at him.
“I don’t like you taking your clothes off in public. That’s a hard limit for me,” he growls.
“I think we’ve established that,” I hiss through my teeth. “Look at me!” I pull down my camisole to reveal the top of my breasts. Christian gazes at me, his eyes not leaving my face his expression wary and uncertain. He’s not used to seeing me this mad. Can’t he see what he’s done? Can’t he see how ridiculous he is? I want to shout at him, but I refrain—I don’t want to push him too far. Heaven knows what he’d do. Eventually, he sighs and holds his palms up in a resigned, conciliatory gesture.
“Okay,” he says his voice placating. “I get it.”
He runs his hand through his hair. “I’m sorry. Please don’t be mad at me.”
Finally, he looks contrite—using my own words back at me.
“You are such an adolescent sometimes,” I scold him, mulishly, but the fight has gone out of my voice, and he knows it. He steps closer and tentatively raises his hand to tuck my hair behind my ear.
“I know,” he acknowledges softly. “I have a lot to learn.”
Dr. Flynn’s words come back to me . . . Emotionally, Christian is an adolescent, Ana. He bypassed that phase in his life totally. He’s channeled all his energies into succeeding in the business world, and he has beyond all expectations.
His emotional world has to play catch-up.
My heart thaws a little.
“We both do.” I sigh and cautiously raise my hand, placing it over his heart.
He doesn’t flinch like he used to, but he stiffens. He rests his hand over mine and smiles his shy smile.
“I’ve just learned that you’ve a good arm and a good aim, Mrs. Grey. I would never have figured that, but then I constantly underestimate you. You always surprise me.”