Soft lips brush across my temple, leaving sweet tender kisses in their wake, and part of me wants to turn and respond, but mostly I want to stay asleep. I moan and burrow into my pillow.
“Anastasia, wake up.” Christian’s voice is soft, cajoling.
“No,” I moan.
“We have to leave in half an hour for dinner at my parents.” He’s amused.
I open my eyes reluctantly. It’s dusk outside. Christian is leaning over, gazing at me intently.
“Come on sleepy-head. Get up.” He stoops down and kisses me again.
“I’ve bought you a drink. I’ll be downstairs. Don’t go back to sleep, or you’ll be in trouble,” he threatens, but his tone is mild. He kisses me briefly and exits, leaving me blinking sleep from my eyes in the cool, stark room.
I’m refreshed but suddenly nervous. Holy cow, I am meeting his folks! He’s just worked me over with a riding crop and tied me up using a cable tie which I sold him, for heaven’s sake – and I’m going to meet his parents. It will be Kate’s first time meeting them too – at least she’ll be there for support. I roll my shoulders. They’re stiff. His demands for a personal trainer don’t seem so outlandish now, in fact, they’re mandatory if I am to have any hope of keeping up with him.
I climb slowly out of bed and note that my dress is hanging outside the wardrobe and my bra is on the chair. Where are my pantiesI check beneath the chair. Nothing. Then I remember – he squirreled them away in the pocket of his jeans. I flush at the memory, after he, I can’t even bring myself to think about it, he was so – barbarous. I frown. Why hasn’t he given me back my panties?
I steal into the bathroom, bewildered by my lack of underwear. While drying myself after my enjoyable but far too brief shower, I realize he’s done this on purpose. He wants me to be embarrassed and ask for my panties back, and he’ll either say yes or no. My inner goddess grins at me. Hell… two can play that particular game. Resolving there and then not to ask him for them and not give him that satisfaction, I shall go meet his parents sans culottes. Anastasia Steele! My subconscious chides me, but I don’t want to listen to her – I almost hug myself with glee because I know this will drive him crazy.
Back in the bedroom, I put on my bra, slip into my dress, and climb into my shoes. I remove the braid and hastily brush out my hair, I then glance down at the drink he’s left.
It’s pale pink. What’s thisCranberry and sparkling water. Hmm… it tastes delicious and quenches my thirst.
Dashing back into the bathroom, I check myself in the mirror: eyes bright, cheeks slightly flushed, slightly smug look because of my panty plan, and I head downstairs. Fifteen minutes. Not bad, Ana.
Christian is standing by the panoramic window, wearing the grey flannel pants that I love, the ones that hang in that unbelievably sexy way off his hips, and of course, a white linen shirt. Doesn’t he have any other colorsFrank Sinatra sings softly over the surround sound speakers.
Christian turns and smiles as I enter. He looks at me expectantly.
“Hi,” I say softly, and my sphinx-like smile meets his.
“Hi,” he says. “How are you feeling?” His eyes are alight with amusement.
“Good, thanks. You?”
“I feel mighty fine, Miss Steele.”
He is so waiting for me to say something.
“Frank. I never figured you for a Sinatra fan.”
He raises his eyebrows at me, his look speculative.
“Eclectic taste, Miss Steele,” he murmurs, and he paces toward me like a panther until he’s standing in front of me, his gaze so intense it takes my breath away.
Frank starts crooning… an old song, one of Ray’s favorites. ‘Witchcraft.’ Christian leisurely traces his fingertips down my cheek, and I feel it all the way down there.
“Dance with me,” he murmurs, his voice husky.
Taking the remote out of his pocket, he turns up the volume and holds his hand out to me, his gray gaze full of promise and longing and humor. He is totally beguiling, and I’m bewitched. I place my hand in his. He grins lazily down at me and pulls me into his embrace, his arm curling around my waist, and he starts to sway.
I put my free hand on his shoulder and grin up at him, caught in his infectious, playful mood. And he starts to move. Boy can he dance. We cover the floor, from the window to the kitchen and back again, whirling and turning in time to the music. And he makes it so effortless for me to follow.
We glide around the dining table, over to the piano, and backwards and forwards in front of the glass wall, Seattle twinkling outside, a dark and magical mural to our dance, and I can’t help my carefree laugh. He grins down at me as the song comes to a close.
“There’s no nicer witch than you,” he murmurs, then kisses me sweetly. “Well, that’s bought some color to your cheeks, Miss Steele. Thank you for the dance. Shall we go and meet my parents?”
“You’re welcome, and yes, I can’t wait to meet them,” I answer breathlessly.
“Do you have everything you need?”
“Oh, yes,” I respond sweetly.
“Are you sure?”
I nod as nonchalantly as I can manage under his intense, amused scrutiny. His face splits into a huge grin, and he shakes his head.
“Okay. If that’s the way you want to play it, Miss Steele.”
He grabs my hand, collects his jacket which is hanging on one of the barstools, and leads me through the foyer to the elevator. Oh, the many faces of Christian Grey. Will I ever be able to understand this mercurial man?