Christian opens the passenger door to the black Audi SUV, and I clamber in. It’s a beast of a car. He hasn’t mentioned the outburst of passion that exploded in the elevator. Should I? Should we talk about it or pretend that it didn’t happen? It hardly seems real, my first proper no-holds-barred kiss. As time ticks on, I assign it mythical, Arthurian legend, Lost City of Atlantis status. It never happened, it never existed. Perhaps I imagined it all. No.
I touch my lips, swollen from his kiss. It definitely happened. I am a changed woman. I want this man, desperately, and he wanted me.
I glance at him. Christian is his usual polite, slightly distant self.
He starts the engine and reverses out of his space in the parking lot. He switches on the MP3 player. The car interior is filled with the sweetest, most magical music of two women singing. Oh wow… all my senses are in disarray, so this is doubly affecting. It sends delicious shivers up my spine. Christian pulls out on to SW Park Avenue, and he drives with easy, lazy confidence.
“What are we listening to?”
“It’s the Flower Duet by Delibes, from the opera Lakme. Do you like it?”
“Christian, it’s wonderful.”
“It is, isn’t it?” he grins, glancing at me. And for a fleeting moment, he seems his age; young, carefree, and heart-stoppingly beautiful. Is this the key to him Music I sit and listen to the angelic voices, teasing and seducing me.
“Can I hear that again?”
“Of course.” Christian pushes a button, and the music is caressing me once more. It’s a gentle, slow, sweet, and sure assault on my aural senses.
“You like classical music?” I ask, hoping for a rare insight into his personal preferences.
“My taste is eclectic, Anastasia, everything from Thomas Tallis to the Kings of Leon.
It depends on my mood. You?”
“Me too. Though I don’t know who Thomas Tallis is.”
He turns and gazes at me briefly before his eyes are back on the road.
“I’ll play it for you sometime. He’s a sixteenth century British composer. Tudor, church choral music.” Christian grins at me. “Sounds very esoteric, I know, but it’s also magical, Anastasia.”
He presses a button, and the Kings of Leon start singing. Hmm… this I know. Sex on Fire. How appropriate. The music is interrupted by the sound of a cell phone ringing over the MP3 speakers. Christian hits a button on the steering wheel.
“Grey,” he snaps. He’s so brusque.
“Mr. Grey, it’s Welch here. I have the information you require.” A rasping, disembodied voice comes over the speakers.
“Good. Email it to me. Anything to add?”
He presses the button, then the call ceases and the music is back. No goodbye or thanks. I’m so glad that I never seriously entertained the thought of working for him. I shudder at the very idea. He’s just too controlling and cold with his employees. The music cuts off again for the phone.
“The NDA has been emailed to you, Mr. Grey.” A woman’s voice.
“Good. That’s all, Andrea.”
“Good day, sir.”
Christian hangs up by pressing a button on the steering wheel. The music is on very briefly when the phone rings again. Holy hell, is this his life, constant nagging phone calls?
“Grey,” he snaps.
“Hi, Christian, d’you get laid?”
“Hello, Elliot – I’m on speaker phone, and I’m not alone in the car,” Christian sighs.
“Who’s with you?”
Christian rolls his eyes.
“Heard a lot about you,” Elliot murmurs huskily. Christian frowns.
“Don’t believe a word Kate says.”
“I’m dropping Anastasia off now.” Christian emphasizes my name. “Shall I pick you up?””Sure.”
“See you shortly.” Christian hangs up, and the music is back.
“Why do you insist on calling me Anastasia?”
“Because it’s your name.”
“I prefer Ana.”
“Do you now?” he murmurs.
We are almost at my apartment. It’s not taken long.
“Anastasia,” he muses. I scowl at him, but he ignores my expression. “What happened in the elevator – it won’t happen again, well, not unless it’s premeditated.”
He pulls up outside my duplex. I belatedly realize he’s not asked me where I live – yet he knows. But then he sent the books, of course he knows where I live. What able, cell-phone-tracking, helicopter owning, stalker wouldn’t.
Why won’t he kiss me again I pout at the thought. I don’t understand. Honestly, his surname should be Cryptic, not Grey. He climbs out of the car, walking with easy, long-legged grace round to my side to open the door, ever the gentleman – except perhaps in rare, precious moments in elevators. I flush at the memory of his mouth on mine, and the thought that I’d been unable to touch him enters my mind. I wanted to run my fingers through his decadent, untidy hair, but I’d been unable to move my hands. I am retrospectively frustrated.
“I liked what happened in the elevator,” I murmur as I climb out of the car. I’m not sure if I hear an audible gasp, but I choose to ignore it and head up the steps to the front door.
Kate and Elliot are sitting at our dining table. The fourteen-thousand-dollar books have disappeared. Thank heavens. I have plans for them. She has the most un-Kate ridiculous grin on her face, and she looks mussed up in a sexy kind of way. Christian follows me into the living area, and in spite of her I’ve-been-having-a-good-time-all-night grin, Kate eyes him suspiciously.
“Hi Ana.” She leaps up to hug me, then holds me at arm’s length so she can examine me. She frowns and turns to Christian.
“Good morning, Christian,” she says, and her tone is a little hostile.
“Miss Kavanagh,” he says in his stiff formal way.
“Christian, her name is Kate,” Elliot grumbles.
“Kate.” Christian gives her a polite nod and glares at Elliot who grins and rises to hug me too.