“Hi.” I feel unbearably shy when I open the door. Christian is standing on the porch in his jeans and leather jacket.
“Hi,” he says, and his face lights up with his radiant smile. I take a moment to admire the pretty. Oh my, he’s hot in leather.
“If I may,” he says amused. He holds up a bottle of champagne as he walks in. “I thought we’d celebrate your graduation. Nothing beats a good Bollinger.”
“Interesting choice of words,” I comment dryly.
“Oh, I like your ready wit, Anastasia.”
“We only have teacups. We’ve packed all the glasses.”
“TeacupsSounds good to me.”
I head into the kitchen. Nervous, butterflies flooding my stomach, it’s like having a panther or mountain lion all unpredictable and predatory in my living room.
“Do you want saucers as well?”
“Teacups will be fine, Anastasia,” Christian calls distractedly from the living room.
When I return, he’s staring at the brown parcel of books. I place the cups on the table.
“That’s for you,” I murmur anxiously.
Crap… this is probably going to be a fight.
“Hmm, I figured as much. Very apt quote.” His long index finger absently traces the writing. “I thought I was D’Urberville, not Angel. You decided on the debasement.” He gives me a brief wolfish smile. “Trust you to find something that resonates so appropriately.”
“It’s also a plea,” I whisper. Why am I so nervous My mouth is dry.
“A pleaFor me to go easy on you?”
“I bought these for you,” he says quietly his gaze impassive. “I’ll go easier on you if you accept them.”
I swallow convulsively.
“Christian, I can’t accept them, they’re just too much.”
“You see, this is what I was talking about, you defying me. I want you to have them, and that’s the end of the discussion. It’s very simple. You don’t have to think about this.
As a submissive you would just be grateful for them. You just accept what I buy you because it pleases me for you to do so.”
“I wasn’t a submissive when you bought them for me,” I whisper.
“No… but you’ve agreed, Anastasia.” His eyes turn wary.
I sigh. I am not going to win this, so over to plan B.
“So they are mine to do with as I wish?”
He eyes me suspiciously, but concedes.
“In that case, I’d like to give them to a charity, one working in Darfur since that seems to be close to your heart. They can auction them.”
“If that’s what you want to do.” His mouth sets into a hard line. He’s disappointed.
“I’ll think about it,” I murmur, I don’t want to disappoint him, and his words come back to me. I want you to want to please me.
“Don’t think, Anastasia. Not about this.” His tone is quiet and serious.
How can I not thinkYou can pretend to be a car, like his other possessions, my subconscious makes an unwelcome vitriolic return. I ignore her. Oh, can’t we rewindThe atmosphere between us is now tense. I don’t know what to do. I stare down at my fingers.
How do I retrieve this situation?
He puts the champagne bottle on the table and stands in front of me. Putting his hand under my chin, he tilts my head up. He gazes down at me, his expression grave.
“I will buy you lots of things, Anastasia. Get used to it. I can afford it. I’m a very wealthy man.” He leans down and plants a swift, chaste kiss on my lips. “Please.” He releases me.
‘Ho’ my subconscious mouths at me.
“It makes me feel cheap,” I murmur.
Christian runs his hand through his hair, exasperated.
“It shouldn’t. You’re over-thinking it, Anastasia. Don’t place some vague moral judgment on yourself based on what others might think. Don’t waste your energy. It’s only because you have reservations about our arrangement, that’s perfectly natural. You don’t know what you’re getting yourself into.”
I frown, trying to process his words.
“Hey, stop this,” he commands softly, cupping my chin again and pulling at it gently so I release my lower lip from my teeth. “There is nothing about you that is cheap, Anastasia.
I won’t have you thinking that. I just bought you some old books that I thought might mean something to you, that’s all. Have some champagne.” His eyes warm and soften, and I smile tentatively back up at him. “That’s better,” he murmurs. He picks up the champagne, takes off the foil top and cage, twists the bottle rather than the cork, and opens it with a small pop and a practiced flourish that doesn’t spill a drop. He half fills the cups.
“It’s pink,” I murmur, surprised.
“Bollinger Grande Annee Rose 1999, an excellent vintage,” he says with relish.
“In teacups. Congratulations on your degree, Anastasia.” We clink cups, and he takes a drink, but I can’t help thinking this is really about my capitulation.
“Thank you,” I murmur and take a sip. Of course it’s delicious. “Shall we go through the soft limits?”
He smiles, and I blush.
“Always so eager.” Christian takes my hand and leads me to the couch where he sits and tugs me down beside him.
“You’re stepfather’s a very taciturn man.”
Oh… not soft limits then. I just want to get this out of the way; the anxiety is gnawing at me.
“You managed to have him eating out of your hand.” I pout.
Christian laughs softly.
“Only because I know how to fish.”
“How do you know he liked fishing?”
“You told me. When we went for coffee.”
“Oh… did I?” I take another sip. Wow he has a memory for detail. Hmm… this champagne really is very good. “Did you try the wine at the reception?”
Christian makes a face.
“Yes. It was foul.”
“I thought of you when I tasted it. How did you get to be so knowledgeable about wine?”