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Fifty Shades of Grey / (by James E. L., 2012) -

Fifty Shades of Grey /    (by James E. L., 2012) -

Fifty Shades of Grey / (by James E. L., 2012) -

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Fifty Shades of Grey / (by James E. L., 2012) -
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2012
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James E. L.
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Becca Battoe
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,
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upper-intermediate
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19:49:35
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64 kbps
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mp3, pdf, doc

Fifty Shades of Grey / :

.doc (Word) e_l_james_-_fifty_shades_of_grey.doc [2,02 Mb] (c: 35) .
.pdf e_l_james_-_fifty_shades_of_grey.pdf [1,9 Mb] (c: 47) .
audiobook (MP3) .


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I scowl with frustration at myself in the mirror. Damn my hair it just wont behave, and damn Katherine Kavanagh for being ill and subjecting me to this ordeal. I should be studying for my final exams, which are next week, yet here I am trying to brush my hair into submission. I must not sleep with it wet. I must not sleep with it wet. Reciting this mantra several times, I attempt, once more, to bring it under control with the brush. I roll my eyes in exasperation and gaze at the pale, brown-haired girl with blue eyes too big for her face staring back at me, and give up. My only option is to restrain my wayward hair in a ponytail and hope that I look semi presentable. Kate is my roommate, and she has chosen today of all days to succumb to the flu. Therefore, she cannot attend the interview shed arranged to do, with some mega-industrialist tycoon Ive never heard of, for the student newspaper. So I have been volunteered. I have final exams to cram for, one essay to finish, and Im supposed to be working this afternoon, but no today I have to drive a hundred and sixty-five miles to downtown Seattle in order to meet the enigmatic CEO of Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. As an exceptional entrepreneur and major benefactor of our University, his time is extraordinarily precious much more precious than mine but he has granted Kate an interview. A real coup, she tells me. Damn her extra-curricular activities. Kate is huddled on the couch in the living room. Ana, Im sorry. It took me nine months to get this interview. It will take another six to reschedule, and well both have graduated by then. As the editor, I cant blow this off. Please, Kate begs me in her rasping, sore throat voice. How does she do it? Even ill she looks gamine and gorgeous, strawberry blonde hair in place and green eyes bright, although now red-rimmed and runny. I ignore my pang of unwelcome sympathy. Of course Ill go Kate. You should get back to bed. Would you like some Nyquil or Tylenol? Nyquil, please. Here are the questions and my mini-disc recorder. Just press record here. Make notes, Ill transcribe it all. I know nothing about him, I murmur, trying and failing to suppress my rising panic. The questions will see you through. Go. Its a long drive. I dont want you to be late. Okay, Im going. Get back to bed. I made you some soup to heat up later. I stare at her fondly. Only for you, Kate, would I do this. I will. Good luck. And thanks Ana as usual, youre my lifesaver. Gathering my satchel, I smile wryly at her, then head out the door to the car. I cannot believe I have let Kate talk me into this. But then Kate can talk anyone into anything. Shell make an exceptional journalist. Shes articulate, strong, persuasive, argumentative, beautiful and shes my dearest, dearest friend. The roads are clear as I set off from Vancouver, WA toward Portland and the I-5. Its early, and I dont have to be in Seattle until two this afternoon. Fortunately, Kates lent me her sporty Mercedes CLK. Im not sure Wanda, my old VW Beetle, would make the journey in time. Oh, the Merc is a fun drive, and the miles slip away as I floor the pedal to the metal. My destination is the headquarters of Mr. Greys global enterprise. Its a huge twentystory office building, all curved glass and steel, an architects utilitarian fantasy, with Grey House written discreetly in steel over the glass front doors. Its a quarter to two when I arrive, greatly relieved that Im not late as I walk into the enormous and frankly intimidating glass, steel, and white sandstone lobby. Behind the solid sandstone desk, a very attractive, groomed, blonde young woman smiles pleasantly at me. Shes wearing the sharpest charcoal suit jacket and white shirt I have ever seen. She looks immaculate. Im here to see Mr. Grey. Anastasia Steele for Katherine Kavanagh. Excuse me one moment, Miss Steele. She arches her eyebrow slightly as I stand selfconsciously before her. I am beginning to wish Id borrowed one of Kates formal blazers rather than wear my navy blue jacket. I have made an effort and worn my one and only skirt, my sensible brown knee-length boots and a blue sweater. For me, this is smart. I tuck one of the escaped tendrils of my hair behind my ear as I pretend she doesnt intimidate me. Miss Kavanagh is expected. Please sign in here, Miss Steele. Youll want the last elevator on the right, press for the twentieth floor. She smiles kindly at me, amused no doubt, as I sign in. She hands me a security pass that has VISITOR very firmly stamped on the front. I cant help my smirk. Surely its obvious that Im just visiting. I dont fit in here at all. Nothing changes, I inwardly sigh. Thanking her, I walk over to the bank of elevators past the two security men who are both far more smartly dressed than I am in their well-cut black suits. The elevator whisks me with terminal velocity to the twentieth floor. The doors slide open, and Im in another large lobby again all glass, steel, and white sandstone. Im confronted by another desk of sandstone and another young blonde woman dressed impeccably in black and white who rises to greet me. Miss Steele, could you wait here, please? She points to a seated area of white leather chairs. Behind the leather chairs is a spacious glass-walled meeting room with an equally spacious dark wood table and at least twenty matching chairs around it. Beyond that, there is a floor-to-ceiling window with a view of the Seattle skyline that looks out through the city toward the Sound. Its a stunning vista, and Im momentarily paralyzed by the view. Wow. I sit down, fish the questions from my satchel, and go through them, inwardly cursing Kate for not providing me with a brief biography. I know nothing about this man Im about to interview. He could be ninety or he could be thirty. The uncertainty is galling, and my nerves resurface, making me fidget. Ive never been comfortable with one-on-one interviews, preferring the anonymity of a group discussion where I can sit inconspicuously at the back of the room. To be honest, I prefer my own company, reading a classic British novel, curled up in a chair in the campus library. Not sitting twitching nervously in a colossal glass and stone edifice. I roll my eyes at myself. Get a grip, Steele. Judging from the building, which is too clinical and modern, I guess Grey is in his forties: fit, tanned, and fair-haired to match the rest of the personnel. Another elegant, flawlessly dressed blonde comes out of a large door to the right. What is it with all the immaculate blondes? Its like Stepford here. Taking a deep breath, I stand up. Miss Steele? the latest blonde asks. Yes, I croak, and clear my throat. Yes. There, that sounded more confident. Mr. Grey will see you in a moment. May I take your jacket? Oh please. I struggle out of the jacket. Have you been offered any refreshment? Um no. Oh dear, is Blonde Number One in trouble? Blonde Number Two frowns and eyes the young woman at the desk. Would you like tea, coffee, water? she asks, turning her attention back to me. A glass of water. Thank you, I murmur. Olivia, please fetch Miss Steele a glass of water. Her voice is stern. Olivia scoots up immediately and scurries to a door on the other side of the foyer. My apologies, Miss Steele, Olivia is our new intern. Please be seated. Mr. Grey will be another five minutes. Olivia returns with a glass of iced water. Here you go, Miss Steele. Thank you. Blonde Number Two marches over to the large desk, her heels clicking and echoing on the sandstone floor. She sits down, and they both continue their work. Perhaps Mr. Grey insists on all his employees being blonde. Im wondering idly if thats legal, when the office door opens and a tall, elegantly dressed, attractive AfricanAmerican man with short dreads exits. I have definitely worn the wrong clothes. He turns and says through the door. Golf, this week, Grey. I dont hear the reply. He turns, sees me, and smiles, his dark eyes crinkling at the corners. Olivia has jumped up and called the elevator. She seems to excel at jumping from her seat. Shes more nervous than me! Good afternoon ladies, he says as he departs through the sliding door. Mr. Grey will see you now, Miss Steele. Do go through, Blonde Number Two says. I stand rather shakily trying to suppress my nerves. Gathering up my satchel, I abandon my glass of water and make my way to the partially open door. You dont need to knock just go in. She smiles kindly. I push open the door and stumble through, tripping over my own feet, and falling head first into the office. Double crap me and my two left feet! I am on my hands and knees in the doorway to Mr. Greys office, and gentle hands are around me helping me to stand. I am so embarrassed, damn my clumsiness. I have to steel myself to glance up. Holy cow hes so young. Miss Kavanagh. He extends a long-fingered hand to me once Im upright. Im Christian Grey. Are you all right? Would you like to sit? So young and attractive, very attractive. Hes tall, dressed in a fine gray suit, white shirt, and black tie with unruly dark copper colored hair and intense, bright gray eyes that regard me shrewdly. It takes a moment for me to find my voice. Um. Actually I mutter. If this guy is over thirty then Im a monkeys uncle. In a daze, I place my hand in his and we shake. As our fingers touch, I feel an odd exhilarating shiver run through me. I withdraw my hand hastily, embarrassed. Must be static. I blink rapidly, my eyelids matching my heart rate. Miss Kavanagh is indisposed, so she sent me. I hope you dont mind, Mr. Grey. And you are? His voice is warm, possibly amused, but its difficult to tell from his impassive expression. He looks mildly interested, but above all, polite. Anastasia Steele. Im studying English Literature with Kate, um Katherine um Miss Kavanagh at Washington State. I see, he says simply. I think I see the ghost of a smile in his expression, but Im not sure. Would you like to sit? He waves me toward a white leather buttoned L-shaped couch. His office is way too big for just one man. In front of the floor-to-ceiling windows, theres a huge modern dark-wood desk that six people could comfortably eat around. It matches the coffee table by the couch. Everything else is white ceiling, floors, and walls except, on the wall by the door, where a mosaic of small paintings hang, thirty-six of them arranged in a square. They are exquisite a series of mundane, forgotten objects painted in such precise detail they look like photographs. Displayed together, they are breathtaking. A local artist. Trouton, says Grey when he catches my gaze. Theyre lovely. Raising the ordinary to extraordinary, I murmur, distracted both by him and the paintings. He cocks his head to one side and regards me intently. I couldnt agree more, Miss Steele, he replies, his voice soft and for some inexplicable reason I find myself blushing. Apart from the paintings, the rest of the office is cold, clean, and clinical. I wonder if it reflects the personality of the Adonis who sinks gracefully into one of the white leather chairs opposite me. I shake my head, disturbed at the direction of my thoughts, and retrieve Kates questions from my satchel. Next, I set up the mini-disc recorder and am all fingers and thumbs, dropping it twice on the coffee table in front of me. Mr. Grey says nothing, waiting patiently I hope as I become increasingly embarrassed and flustered. When I pluck up the courage to look at him, hes watching me, one hand relaxed in his lap and the other cupping his chin and trailing his long index finger across his lips. I think hes trying to suppress a smile. Sorry, I stutter. Im not used to this. Take all the time you need, Miss Steele, he says. Do you mind if I record your answers? After youve taken so much trouble to set up the recorder you ask me now? I flush. Hes teasing me? I hope. I blink at him, unsure what to say, and I think he takes pity on me because he relents. No, I dont mind. Did Kate, I mean, Miss Kavanagh, explain what the interview was for? Yes. To appear in the graduation issue of the student newspaper as I shall be conferring the degrees at this years graduation ceremony. Oh! This is news to me, and Im temporarily pre-occupied by the thought that someone not much older than me okay, maybe six years or so, and okay, mega successful, but still is going to present me with my degree. I frown, dragging my wayward attention back to the task at hand. Good, I swallow nervously. I have some questions, Mr. Grey. I smooth a stray lock of hair behind my ear. I thought you might, he says, deadpan. Hes laughing at me. My cheeks heat at the realization, and I sit up and square my shoulders in an attempt to look taller and more intimidating. Pressing the start button on the recorder, I try to look professional. Youre very young to have amassed such an empire. To what do you owe your success? I glance up at him. His smile is rueful, but he looks vaguely disappointed. Business is all about people, Miss Steele, and Im very good at judging people. I know how they tick, what makes them flourish, what doesnt, what inspires them, and how to incentivize them. I employ an exceptional team, and I reward them well. He pauses and fixes me with his gray stare. My belief is to achieve success in any scheme one has to make oneself master of that scheme, know it inside and out, know every detail. I work hard, very hard to do that. I make decisions based on logic and facts. I have a natural gut instinct that can spot and nurture a good solid idea and good people. The bottom line is, its always down to good people. Maybe youre just lucky. This isnt on Kates list but hes so arrogant. His eyes flare momentarily in surprise. I dont subscribe to luck or chance, Miss Steele. The harder I work the more luck I seem to have. It really is all about having the right people on your team and directing their energies accordingly. I think it was Harvey Firestone who said the growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership. You sound like a control freak. The words are out of my mouth before I can stop them. Oh, I exercise control in all things, Miss Steele, he says without a trace of humor in his smile. I look at him, and he holds my gaze steadily, impassive. My heartbeat quickens, and my face flushes again. Why does he have such an unnerving effect on me? His overwhelming good-looks maybe? The way his eyes blaze at me? The way he strokes his index finger against his lower lip? I wish hed stop doing that. Besides, immense power is acquired by assuring yourself in your secret reveries that you were born to control things, he continues, his voice soft. Do you feel that you have immense power? Control Freak. I employ over forty thousand people, Miss Steele. That gives me a certain sense of responsibility power, if you will. If I were to decide I was no longer interested in the telecommunications business and sell up, twenty thousand people would struggle to make their mortgage payments after a month or so. My mouth drops open. I am staggered by his lack of humility. Dont you have a board to answer to? I ask, disgusted. I own my company. I dont have to answer to a board. He raises an eyebrow at me. I flush. Of course, I would know this if I had done some research. But holy crap, hes so arrogant. I change tack. And do you have any interests outside your work? I have varied interests, Miss Steele. A ghost of a smile touches his lips. Very varied. And for some reason, Im confounded and heated by his steady gaze. His eyes are alight with some wicked thought. But if you work so hard, what do you do to chill out? Chill out? He smiles, revealing perfect white teeth. I stop breathing. He really is beautiful. No one should be this good-looking. Well, to chill out as you put it I sail, I fly, I indulge in various physical pursuits. He shifts in his chair. Im a very wealthy man, Miss Steele, and I have expensive and absorbing hobbies. I glance quickly at Kates questions, wanting to get off this subject. You invest in manufacturing. Why, specifically? I ask. Why does he make me so uncomfortable? I like to build things. I like to know how things work: what makes things tick, how to construct and deconstruct. And I have a love of ships. What can I say? That sounds like your heart talking rather than logic and facts. His mouth quirks up, and he stares appraisingly at me. Possibly. Though there are people whod say I dont have a heart. Why would they say that? Because they know me well. His lip curls in a wry smile. Would your friends say youre easy to get to know? And I regret the question as soon as I say it. Its not on Kates list. Im a very private person, Miss Steele. I go a long way to protect my privacy. I dont often give interviews, he trails off. Why did you agree to do this one? Because Im a benefactor of the University, and for all intents and purposes, I couldnt get Miss Kavanagh off my back. She badgered and badgered my PR people, and I admire that kind of tenacity. I know how tenacious Kate can be. Thats why Im sitting here squirming uncomfortably under his penetrating gaze, when I should be studying for my exams. You also invest in farming technologies. Why are you interested in this area? We cant eat money, Miss Steele, and there are too many people on this planet who dont have enough to eat. That sounds very philanthropic. Is it something you feel passionately about? Feeding the worlds poor? He shrugs, very non-committal. Its shrewd business, he murmurs, though I think hes being disingenuous. It doesnt make sense feeding the worlds poor? I cant see the financial benefits of this, only the virtue of the ideal. I glance at the next question, confused by his attitude. Do you have a philosophy? If so, what is it? I dont have a philosophy as such. Maybe a guiding principle Carnegies: A man who acquires the ability to take full possession of his own mind may take possession of anything else to which he is justly entitled. Im very singular, driven. I like control of myself and those around me. So you want to possess things? You are a control freak. I want to deserve to possess them, but yes, bottom line, I do. You sound like the ultimate consumer. I am. He smiles, but the smile doesnt touch his eyes. Again this is at odds with someone who wants to feed the world, so I cant help thinking that were talking about something else, but Im absolutely mystified as to what it is. I swallow hard. The temperature in the room is rising or maybe its just me. I just want this interview to be over. Surely Kate has enough material now? I glance at the next question. You were adopted. How far do you think thats shaped the way you are? Oh, this is personal. I stare at him, hoping hes not offended. His brow furrows. I have no way of knowing. My interest is piqued. How old were you when you were adopted? Thats a matter of public record, Miss Steele. His tone is stern. I flush, again. Crap. Yes of course if Id known I was doing this interview, I would have done some research. I move on quickly. Youve had to sacrifice a family life for your work. Thats not a question. Hes terse. Sorry. I squirm, and hes made me feel like an errant child. I try again. Have you had to sacrifice a family life for your work? I have a family. I have a brother and a sister and two loving parents. Im not interested in extending my family beyond that. Are you gay, Mr. Grey? He inhales sharply, and I cringe, mortified. Crap. Why didnt I employ some kind of filter before I read this straight out? How can I tell him Im just reading the questions? Damn Kate and her curiosity! No Anastasia, Im not. He raises his eyebrows, a cool gleam in his eyes. He does not look pleased. I apologize. Its um written here. Its the first time hes said my name. My heartbeat has accelerated, and my cheeks are heating up again. Nervously, I tuck my loosened hair behind my ear. He cocks his head to one side. These arent your own questions? The blood drains from my head. Oh no. Err no. Kate Miss Kavanagh she compiled the questions. Are you colleagues on the student paper? Oh crap. I have nothing to do with the student paper. Its her extra-curricular activity, not mine. My face is aflame. No. Shes my roommate. He rubs his chin in quiet deliberation, his gray eyes appraising me. Did you volunteer to do this interview? he asks, his voice deadly quiet. Hang on, whos supposed to be interviewing whom? His eyes burn into me, and Im compelled to answer with the truth. I was drafted. Shes not well. My voice is weak and apologetic. That explains a great deal. Theres a knock at the door, and Blonde Number Two enters. Mr. Grey, forgive me for interrupting, but your next meeting is in two minutes. Were not finished here, Andrea. Please cancel my next meeting. Andrea hesitates, gaping at him. Shes appears lost. He turns his head slowly to face her and raises his eyebrows. She flushes bright pink. Oh good. Its not just me. Very well, Mr. Grey, she mutters, then exits. He frowns, and turns his attention back to me. Where were we, Miss Steele? Oh, were back to Miss Steele now. Please dont let me keep you from anything. I want to know about you. I think thats only fair. His gray eyes are alight with curiosity. Double crap. Wheres he going with this? He places his elbows on the arms of the chair and steeples his fingers in front of his mouth. His mouth is very distracting. I swallow. Theres not much to know, I say, flushing again. What are your plans after you graduate? I shrug, thrown by his interest. Come to Seattle with Kate, find a place, find a job. I havent really thought beyond my finals. I havent made any plans, Mr. Grey. I just need to get through my final exams. Which I should be studying for now rather than sitting in your palatial, swanky, sterile office, feeling uncomfortable under your penetrating gaze. We run an excellent internship program here, he says quietly. I raise my eyebrows in surprise. Is he offering me a job? Oh. Ill bear that in mind, I murmur, completely confounded. Though Im not sure Id fit in here. Oh no. Im musing out loud again. Why do you say that? He cocks his head to one side, intrigued, a hint of a smile playing on his lips. Its obvious, isnt it? Im uncoordinated, scruffy, and Im not blonde. Not to me, he murmurs. His gaze is intense, all humor gone, and strange muscles deep in my belly clench suddenly. I tear my eyes away from his scrutiny and stare blindly down at my knotted fingers. Whats going on? I have to go now. I lean forward to retrieve the recorder. Would you like me to show you around? he asks. Im sure youre far too busy, Mr. Grey, and I do have a long drive. Youre driving back to WSU in Vancouver? He sounds surprised, anxious even. He glances out of the window. Its begun to rain. Well, youd better drive carefully. His tone is stern, authoritative. Why should he care? Did you get everything you need? he adds. Yes sir, I reply, packing the recorder into my satchel. His eyes narrow, speculatively. Thank you for the interview, Mr. Grey. The pleasures been all mine, he says, polite as ever. As I rise, he stands and holds out his hand. Until we meet again, Miss Steele. And it sounds like a challenge, or a threat, Im not sure which. I frown. When will we ever meet again? I shake his hand once more, astounded that that odd current between us is still there. It must be my nerves. Mr. Grey. I nod at him. Moving with lithe athletic grace to the door, he opens it wide. Just ensuring you make it through the door, Miss Steele. He gives me a small smile. Obviously, hes referring to my earlier less-than-elegant entry into his office. I flush. Thats very considerate, Mr. Grey, I snap, and his smile widens. Im glad you find me entertaining, I glower inwardly, walking into the foyer. Im surprised when he follows me out. Andrea and Olivia both look up, equally surprised. Did you have a coat? Grey asks. Yes. Olivia leaps up and retrieves my jacket, which Grey takes from her before she can hand it to me. He holds it up and, feeling ridiculously self-conscious, I shrug it on. Grey places his hands for a moment on my shoulders. I gasp at the contact. If he notices my reaction, he gives nothing away. His long index finger presses the button summoning the elevator, and we stand waiting awkwardly on my part, coolly self-possessed on his. The doors open, and I hurry in desperate to escape. I really need to get out of here. When I turn to look at him, hes leaning against the doorway beside the elevator with one hand on the wall. He really is very, very good-looking. Its distracting. His burning gray eyes gaze at me. Anastasia, he says as a farewell. Christian, I reply. And mercifully, the doors close. My heart is pounding. The elevator arrives on the first floor, and I scramble out as soon as the doors slide open, stumbling once, but fortunately not sprawling on to the immaculate sandstone floor. I race for the wide glass doors, and Im free in the bracing, cleansing, damp air of Seattle. Raising my face, I welcome the cool refreshing rain. I close my eyes and take a deep, purifying breath, trying to recover whats left of my equilibrium. No man has ever affected me the way Christian Grey has, and I cannot fathom why. Is it his looks? His civility? Wealth? Power? I dont understand my irrational reaction. I breathe an enormous sigh of relief. What in heavens name was that all about? Leaning against one of the steel pillars of the building, I valiantly attempt to calm down and gather my thoughts. I shake my head. Holy crap what was that? My heart steadies to its regular rhythm, and I can breathe normally again. I head for the car. As I leave the city limits behind, I begin to feel foolish and embarrassed as I replay the interview in my mind. Surely, Im over-reacting to something thats imaginary. Okay, so hes very attractive, confident, commanding, at ease with himself but on the flip side, hes arrogant, and for all his impeccable manners, hes autocratic and cold. Well, on the surface. An involuntary shiver runs down my spine. He may be arrogant, but then he has a right to be hes accomplished so much at such a young age. He doesnt suffer fools gladly, but why should he? Again, Im irritated that Kate didnt give me a brief biography. While cruising along the I-5, my mind continues to wander. Im truly perplexed as to what makes someone so driven to succeed. Some of his answers were so cryptic as if he had a hidden agenda. And Kates questions ugh! The adoption and asking him if he was gay! I shudder. I cant believe I said that. Ground, swallow me up now! Every time I think of that question in the future, I will cringe with embarrassment. Damn Katherine Kavanagh! I check the speedometer. Im driving more cautiously than I would on any other occasion. And I know its the memory of two penetrating gray eyes gazing at me, and a stern voice telling me to drive carefully. Shaking my head, I realize that Greys more like a man double his age. Forget it, Ana, I scold myself. I decide that all in all, its been a very interesting experience, but I shouldnt dwell on it. Put it behind you. I never have to see him again. Im immediately cheered by the thought. I switch on the MP3 player and turn the volume up loud, sit back, and listen to thumping indie rock music as I press down on the accelerator. As I hit the 1-5, I realize I can drive as fast as I want. We live in a small community of duplex apartments in Vancouver, Washington, close to the Vancouver campus of WSU. Im lucky Kates parents bought the place for her, and I pay peanuts for rent. Its been home for four years now. As I pull up outside, I know Kate is going to want a blow-by-blow account, and she is tenacious. Well, at least she has the minidisc. Hopefully I wont have to elaborate much beyond what was said during the interview. Ana! Youre back. Kate sits in our living area, surrounded by books. Shes clearly been studying for finals though shes still in her pink flannel pajamas decorated with cute little rabbits, the ones she reserves for the aftermath of breaking up with boyfriends, for assorted illnesses, and for general moody depression. She bounds up to me and hugs me hard. I was beginning to worry. I expected you back sooner. Oh, I thought I made good time considering the interview ran over. I wave the minidisc recorder at her. Ana, thank you so much for doing this. I owe you, I know. How was it? What was he like? Oh no here we go, the Katherine Kavanagh Inquisition. I struggle to answer her question. What can I say? Im glad its over, and I dont have to see him again. He was rather intimidating, you know. I shrug. Hes very focused, intense even and young. Really young. Kate gazes innocently at me. I frown at her. Dont you look so innocent. Why didnt you give me a biography? He made me feel like such an idiot for skimping on basic research. Kate clamps a hand to her mouth. Jeez, Ana, Im sorry I didnt think. I huff. Mostly he was courteous, formal, slightly stuffy like hes old before his time. He doesnt talk like a man of twenty-something. How old is he anyway? Twenty-seven. Jeez, Ana, Im sorry. I should have briefed you, but I was in such a panic. Let me have the mini-disc, and Ill start transcribing the interview. You look better. Did you eat your soup? I ask, keen to change the subject. Yes, and it was delicious as usual. Im feeling much better. She smiles at me in gratitude. I check my watch. I have to run. I can still make my shift at Claytons. Ana, youll be exhausted. Ill be fine. Ill see you later. Ive worked at Claytons since I started at WSU. Its the largest independent hardware store in the Portland area, and over the four years Ive worked here, Ive come to know a little bit about most everything we sell although ironically, Im crap at any DIY. I leave all that to my dad. Im much more of a curl-up-with-a-book-in-a-comfy-chair-by-the-fire kind of girl. Im glad I can make my shift as it gives me something to focus on that isnt Christian Grey. Were busy its the start of the summer season, and folks are redecorating their homes. Mrs. Clayton is pleased to see me. Ana! I thought you werent going to make it today. My appointment didnt take as long as I thought. I can do a couple of hours. Im real pleased to see you. She sends me to the storeroom to start re-stocking shelves, and Im soon absorbed in the task. When I arrive home later, Katherine is wearing headphones and working on her laptop. Her nose is still pink, but she has her teeth into a story, so shes concentrating and typing furiously. Im thoroughly drained exhausted by the long drive, the grueling interview, and by being rushed off my feet at Claytons. I slump on to the couch, thinking about the essay I have to finish and all the studying I havent done today because I was holed up with him. Youve got some good stuff here, Ana. Well done. I cant believe you didnt take him up on his offer to show you around. He obviously wanted to spend more time with you. She gives me a fleeting quizzical look. I flush, and my heart rate inexplicably increases. That wasnt the reason, surely? He just wanted to show me around so I could see that he was lord of all he surveyed. I realize Im biting my lip, and I hope Kate doesnt notice. But she seems absorbed in her transcription. I hear what you mean about formal. Did you take any notes? she asks. Um no, I didnt. Thats fine. I can still make a fine article with this. Shame we dont have some original stills. Good-looking son of a bitch, isnt he? I flush. I suppose so. I try hard to sound disinterested, and I think I succeed. Oh come on, Ana even you cant be immune to his looks. She arches a perfect eyebrow at me. Crap! I distract her with flattery, always a good ploy. You probably would have got a lot more out of him. I doubt that, Ana. Come on he practically offered you a job. Given that I foisted this on you at the last minute, you did very well. She glances up at me speculatively. I make a hasty retreat into the kitchen. So what did you really think of him? Damn, shes inquisitive. Why cant she just let this go? Think of something quick. Hes very driven, controlling, arrogant scary really, but very charismatic. I can understand the fascination, I add truthfully, as I peer round the door at her hoping this will shut her up once and for all. You, fascinated by a man? Thats a first, she snorts. I start gathering the makings of a sandwich so she cant see my face. Why did you want to know if he was gay? Incidentally, that was the most embarrassing question. I was mortified, and he was pissed to be asked too. I scowl at the memory. Whenever hes in the society pages, he never has a date. It was embarrassing. The whole thing was embarrassing. Im glad Ill never have to lay eyes on him again. Oh, Ana, it cant have been that bad. I think he sounds quite taken with you. Taken with me? Now Kates being ridiculous. Would you like a sandwich? Please. We talk no more of Christian Grey that evening, much to my relief. Once weve eaten, Im able to sit at the dining table with Kate and, while she works on her article, I work on my essay on Tess of the DUrbervilles. Damn, but that woman was in the wrong place at the wrong time in the wrong century. By the time I finish, its midnight, and Kate has long since gone to bed. I make my way to my room, exhausted, but pleased that Ive accomplished so much for a Monday. I curl up in my white iron bed, wrapping my mothers quilt around me, close my eyes, and Im instantly asleep. That night I dream of dark places, bleak white cold floors, and gray eyes. For the rest of the week, I throw myself into my studies and my job at Claytons. Kate is busy too, compiling her last edition of her student magazine before she has to relinquish it to the new editor while also cramming for her finals. By Wednesday, shes much better, and I no longer have to endure the sight of her pink-flannel-with-too-many-rabbits PJs. I call my mom in Georgia to check on her, but also so she can wish me luck for my final exams. She proceeds to tell me about her latest venture into candle making my mother is all about new business ventures. Fundamentally shes bored and wants something to occupy her time, but she has the attention span of a goldfish. Itll be something new next week. She worries me. I hope she hasnt mortgaged the house to finance this latest scheme. And I hope that Bob her relatively new but much older husband is keeping an eye on her now that Im no longer there. He does seem a lot more grounded than Husband Number Three. How are things with you, Ana? For a moment, I hesitate, and I have Moms full attention. Im fine. Ana? Have you met someone? Wow how does she do that? The excitement in her voice is palpable. No, Mom, its nothing. Youll be the first to know if I do. Ana, you really need to get out more, honey. You worry me. Mom, Im fine. Hows Bob? As ever, distraction is the best policy. Later that evening, I call Ray, my stepdad, Moms Husband Number Two, the man I consider my father, and the man whose name I bear. Its a brief conversation. In fact, its not so much a conversation as a one-sided series of grunts in response to my gentle coaxing. Ray is not a talker. But hes still alive, hes still watching soccer on TV, and going bowling and fly-fishing or making furniture when hes not. Ray is a skilled carpenter and the reason I know the difference between a hawk and a handsaw. All seems well with him. Friday night, Kate and I are debating what to do with our evening we want some time out from our studies, from our work, and from student newspapers when the doorbell rings. Standing on our doorstep is my good friend Jos?, clutching a bottle of champagne. Jos?! Great to see you! I give him a quick hug. Come in. Jos? is the first person I met when I arrived at WSU, looking as lost and lonely as I did. We recognized a kindred spirit in each of us that day, and weve been friends ever since. Not only do we share a sense of humor, but we discovered that both Ray and Jos? Senior were in the same army unit together. As a result, our fathers have become firm friends too. Jos? is studying engineering and is the first in his family to make it to college. Hes pretty damn bright, but his real passion is photography. Jos? has a great eye for a good picture. I have news. He grins, his dark eyes twinkling. Dont tell me youve managed not to get kicked out for another week, I tease, and he scowls playfully at me. The Portland Place Gallery is going to exhibit my photos next month. Thats amazing congratulations! Delighted for him, I hug him again. Kate beams at him too. Way to go Jos?! I should put this in the paper. Nothing like last minute editorial changes on a Friday evening. She grins. Lets celebrate. I want you to come to the opening. Jos? looks intently at me. I flush. Both of you, of course, he adds, glancing nervously at Kate. Jos? and I are good friends, but I know deep down inside, hed like to be more. Hes cute and funny, but hes just not for me. Hes more like the brother I never had. Katherine often teases me that Im missing the need-a-boyfriend gene, but the truth is I just havent met anyone who well, whom Im attracted to, even though part of me longs for those trembling knees, heart-in-my-mouth, butterflies-in-my-belly, sleepless nights. Sometimes I wonder if theres something wrong with me. Perhaps Ive spent too long in the company of my literary romantic heroes, and consequently my ideals and expectations are far too high. But in reality, nobodys ever made me feel like that. Until very recently, the unwelcome, still small voice of my subconscious whispers. NO! I banish the thought immediately. I am not going there, not after that painful interview. Are you gay, Mr. Grey? I wince at the memory. I know Ive dreamt about him most nights since then, but thats just to purge the awful experience from my system, surely? I watch Jos? open the bottle of champagne. Hes tall, and in his jeans and t-shirt hes all shoulders and muscles, tanned skin, dark hair and burning dark eyes. Yes, Jos?s pretty hot, but I think hes finally getting the message: were just friends. The cork makes its loud pop, and Jos? looks up and smiles. Saturday at the store is a nightmare. We are besieged by do-it-yourselfers wanting to spruce up their homes. Mr. and Mrs. Clayton, John and Patrick the two other part-timers and I are all rushed off our feet. But theres a lull around lunchtime, and Mrs. Clayton asks me to check on some orders while Im sitting behind the counter at the till discreetly eating my bagel. Im engrossed in the task, checking catalogue numbers against the items we need and the items weve ordered, eyes flicking from the order book to the computer screen and back as I check the entries match. Then, for some reason, I glance up and find myself locked in the bold gray gaze of Christian Grey whos standing at the counter, staring at me intently. Heart failure. Miss Steele. What a pleasant surprise. His gaze is unwavering and intense. Holy crap. What the hell is he doing here looking all tousled-hair and outdoorsy in his cream chunky-knit sweater, jeans, and walking boots? I think my mouth has popped open, and I cant locate my brain or my voice. Mr. Grey, I whisper, because thats all I can manage. Theres a ghost of a smile on his lips and his eyes are alight with humor, as if hes enjoying some private joke. I was in the area, he says by way of explanation. I need to stock up on a few things. Its a pleasure to see you again, Miss Steele. His voice is warm and husky like dark melted chocolate fudge caramel or something. I shake my head to gather my wits. My heart is pounding a frantic tattoo, and for some reason Im blushing furiously under his steady scrutiny. I am utterly thrown by the sight of him standing before me. My memories of him did not do him justice. Hes not merely good-looking hes the epitome of male beauty, breathtaking, and hes here. Here in Claytons Hardware Store. Go figure. Finally my cognitive functions are restored and reconnected with the rest of my body. Ana. My names Ana, I mutter. What can I help you with, Mr. Grey? He smiles, and again its like hes privy to some big secret. It is so disconcerting. Taking a deep breath, I put on my professional Ive-worked-in-this-shop-for-years fa?ade. I can do this. There are a few items I need. To start with, Id like some cable ties, he murmurs, his gray eyes cool but amused. Cable ties? We stock various lengths. Shall I show you? I mutter, my voice soft and wavery. Get a grip, Steele. A slight frown mars Greys rather lovely brow. Please. Lead the way, Miss Steele, he says. I try for nonchalance as I come out from behind the counter, but really Im concentrating hard on not falling over my own feet my legs are suddenly the consistency of Jell-O. Im so glad I decided to wear my best jeans this morning. Theyre in with the electrical goods, aisle eight. My voice is a little too bright. I glance up at him and regret it almost immediately. Damn, hes handsome. I blush. After you, he murmurs, gesturing with his long-fingered, beautifully manicured hand. With my heart almost strangling me because its in my throat trying to escape from my mouth I head down one of the aisles to the electrical section. Why is he in Portland? Why is he here at Claytons? And from a very tiny, underused part of my brain probably located at the base of my medulla oblongata where my subconscious dwells comes the thought: hes here to see you. No way! I dismiss it immediately. Why would this beautiful, powerful, urbane man want to see me? The idea is preposterous, and I kick it out of my head. Are you in Portland on business? I ask, and my voice is too high, like Ive got my finger trapped in a door or something. Damn! Try to be cool Ana! I was visiting the WSU farming division. Its based at Vancouver. Im currently funding some research there in crop rotation and soil science, he says matter-of-factly. See? Not here to find you at all, my subconscious sneers at me, loud, proud, and pouty. I flush at my foolish wayward thoughts. All part of your feed-the-world plan? I tease. Something like that, he acknowledges, and his lips quirk up in a half smile. He gazes at the selection of cable ties we stock at Claytons. What on Earth is he going to do with those? I cannot picture him as a do-it-yourselfer at all. His fingers trail across the various packages displayed, and for some inexplicable reason, I have to look away. He bends and selects a packet. These will do, he says with his oh-so-secret smile, and I blush. Is there anything else? Id like some masking tape. Masking tape? Are you redecorating? The words are out before I can stop them. Surely he hires laborers or has staff to help him decorate? No, not redecorating, he says quickly then smirks, and I have the uncanny feeling that hes laughing at me. Am I that funny? Funny looking? This way, I murmur embarrassed. Masking tape is in the decorating aisle. I glance behind me as he follows. Have you worked here long? His voice is low, and hes gazing at me, gray eyes concentrating hard. I blush even more brightly. Why the hell does he have this effect on me? I feel like Im fourteen years old gauche, as always, and out of place. Eyes front Steele! Four years, I mutter as we reach our goal. To distract myself, I reach down and select the two widths of masking tape that we stock. Ill take that one, Grey says softly pointing to the wider tape, which I pass to him. Our fingers brush very briefly, and the current is there again, zapping through me like Ive touched an exposed wire. I gasp involuntarily as I feel it, all the way down to somewhere dark and unexplored, deep in my belly. Desperately, I scrabble around for my equilibrium. Anything else? My voice is husky and breathy. His eyes widen slightly. Some rope, I think. His voice mirrors mine, husky. This way. I duck my head down to hide my recurring blush and head for the aisle. What sort were you after? We have synthetic and natural filament rope twine cable cord I halt at his expression, his eyes darkening. Holy cow. Ill take five yards of the natural filament rope please. Quickly, with trembling fingers, I measure out five yards against the fixed ruler, aware that his hot gray gaze is on me. I dare not look at him. Jeez, could I feel any more selfconscious? Taking my Stanley knife from the back pocket of my jeans, I cut it then coil it neatly before tying it in a slipknot. By some miracle, I manage not to remove a finger with my knife. Were you a Girl Scout? he asks, sculptured, sensual lips curled in amusement. Dont look at his mouth! Organized, group activities arent really my thing, Mr. Grey. He arches a brow. What is your thing, Anastasia? he asks, his voice soft and his secret smile is back. I gaze at him unable to express myself. Im on shifting tectonic plates. Try and be cool, Ana, my tortured subconscious begs on bended knee. Books, I whisper, but inside, my subconscious is screaming: You! You are my thing! I slap it down instantly, mortified that my psyche is having ideas above its station. What kind of books? He cocks his head to one side. Why is he so interested? Oh, you know. The usual. The classics. British literature, mainly. He rubs his chin with his long index finger and thumb as he contemplates my answer. Or perhaps hes just very bored and trying to hide it. Anything else you need? I have to get off this subject those fingers on that face are so beguiling. I dont know. What else would you recommend? What would I recommend? I dont even know what youre doing. For a do-it-yourselfer? He nods, gray eyes alive with wicked humor. I flush, and my eyes stray of their own accord to his snug jeans. Coveralls, I reply, and I know Im no longer screening whats coming out of my mouth. He raises an eyebrow, amused, yet again. You wouldnt want to ruin your clothing, I gesture vaguely in the direction of his jeans. I could always take them off. He smirks. Um. I feel the color in my cheeks rising again. I must be the color of the communist manifesto. Stop talking. Stop talking NOW. Ill take some coveralls. Heaven forbid I should ruin any clothing, he says dryly. I try and dismiss the unwelcome image of him without jeans. Do you need anything else? I squeak as I hand him the blue coveralls. He ignores my inquiry. Hows the article coming along? Hes finally asked me a normal question, away from all the innuendo and the confusing double talk a question I can answer. I grasp it tightly with two hands as if were a life raft, and I go for honesty. Im not writing it, Katherine is. Miss Kavanagh. My roommate, shes the writer. Shes very happy with it. Shes the editor of the magazine, and she was devastated that she couldnt do the interview in person. I feel like Ive come up for air at last, a normal topic of conversation. Her only concern is that she doesnt have any original photographs of you. Grey raises an eyebrow. What sort of photographs does she want? Okay. I hadnt factored in this response. I shake my head, because I just dont know. Well, Im around. Tomorrow, perhaps he trails off. Youd be willing to attend a photo shoot? My voice is squeaky again. Kate will be in seventh heaven if I can pull this off. And you might see him again tomorrow, that dark place at the base of my brain whispers seductively at me. I dismiss the thought of all the silly, ridiculous Kate will be delighted if we can find a photographer. Im so pleased, I smile at him broadly. His lips part, like hes taking a sharp intake of breath, and he blinks. For a fraction of a second, he looks lost somehow, and the Earth shifts slightly on its axis, the tectonic plates sliding into a new position. Oh my. Christian Greys lost look. Let me know about tomorrow. Reaching into his back pocket, he pulls out his wallet. My card. It has my cell number on it. Youll need to call before ten in the morning. Okay. I grin up at him. Kate is going to be thrilled. ANA! Paul has materialized at other the end of the aisle. Hes Mr. Claytons youngest brother. Id heard he was home from Princeton, but I wasnt expecting to see him today. Er, excuse me for a moment, Mr. Grey. Grey frowns as I turn away from him. Paul has always been a buddy, and in this strange moment that Im having with the rich, powerful, awesomely off-the-scale attractive control-freak Grey, its great to talk to someone whos normal. Paul hugs me hard taking me by surprise. Ana, hi, its so good to see you! he gushes. Hello Paul, how are you? You home for your brothers birthday? Yep. Youre looking well, Ana, really well. He grins as he examines me at arms length. Then he releases me but keeps a possessive arm draped over my shoulder. I shuffle from foot to foot, embarrassed. Its good to see Paul, but hes always been over-familiar. When I glance up at Christian Grey, hes watching us like a hawk, his gray eyes hooded and speculative, his mouth a hard impassive line. Hes changed from the weirdly attentive customer to someone else someone cold and distant. Paul, Im with a customer. Someone you should meet, I say, trying to defuse the antagonism I see in Greys eyes. I drag Paul over to meet him, and they weigh each other up. The atmosphere is suddenly arctic. Er, Paul, this is Christian Grey. Mr. Grey, this is Paul Clayton. His brother owns the place. And for some irrational reason, I feel I have to explain a bit more. Ive known Paul ever since Ive worked here, though we dont see each other that often. Hes back from Princeton where hes studying business administration. Im babbling Stop, now! Mr. Clayton. Christian holds his hand out, his look unreadable. Mr. Grey, Paul returns his handshake. Wait up not the Christian Grey? Of Grey Enterprises Holdings? Paul goes from surly to awestruck in less than a nanosecond. Grey gives him a polite smile that doesnt reach his eyes. Wow is there anything I can get you? Anastasia has it covered, Mr. Clayton. Shes been very attentive. His expression is impassive, but his words its like hes saying something else entirely. Its baffling. Cool, Paul responds. Catch you later, Ana. Sure, Paul. I watch him disappear toward the stock room. Anything else, Mr. Grey? Just these items. His tone is clipped and cool. Damn have I offended him? Taking a deep breath, I turn and head for the till. What is his problem? I ring up the rope, coveralls, masking tape, and cable ties at the till. That will be forty-three dollars, please. I glance up at Grey, and I wish I hadnt. Hes watching me closely, his gray eyes intense and smoky. Its unnerving. Would you like a bag? I ask as I take his credit card. Please, Anastasia. His tongue caresses my name, and my heart once again is frantic. I can hardly breathe. Hurriedly, I place his purchases in a plastic carrier. Youll call me if you want me to do the photo shoot? Hes all business once more. I nod, rendered speechless yet again, and hand back his credit card. Good. Until tomorrow perhaps. He turns to leave, then pauses. Oh and Anastasia, Im glad Miss Kavanagh couldnt do the interview. He smiles, then strides with renewed purpose out of the store, slinging the plastic bag over his shoulder, leaving me a quivering mass of raging female hormones. I spend several minutes staring at the closed door through which hes just left before I return to planet Earth. Okay I like him. There, Ive admitted it to myself. I cannot hide from my feelings anymore. Ive never felt like this before. I find him attractive, very attractive. But its a lost cause, I know, and I sigh with bittersweet regret. It was just a coincidence, his coming here. But still, I can admire him from afar, surely? No harm can come of that. And if I find a photographer, I can do some serious admiring tomorrow. I bite my lip in anticipation and find myself grinning like a schoolgirl. I need to phone Kate and organize a photo-shoot. Kate is ecstatic. But what was he doing at Claytons? Her curiosity oozes through the phone. Im in the depths of the stock room, trying to keep my voice casual. He was in the area. I think that is one huge coincidence, Ana. You dont think he was there to see you? she speculates. My heart lurches at the prospect, but its a short-lived joy. The dull, disappointing reality is that he was here on business. He was visiting the farming division of WSU. Hes funding some research, I mutter. Oh yes. Hes given the department a $2.5 million grant. Wow. How do you know this? Ana, Im a journalist, and Ive written a profile on the guy. Its my job to know this. Okay, Carla Bernstein, keep your hair on. So do you want these photos? Of course I do. The question is, whos going to do them and where. We could ask him where. He says hes staying in the area. You can contact him? I have his cell phone number. Kate gasps. The richest, most elusive, most enigmatic bachelor in Washington State, just gave you his cell phone number. Er yes. Ana! He likes you. No doubt about it. Her tone is emphatic. Kate, hes just trying to be nice. But even as I say the words, I know theyre not true Christian Grey doesnt do nice. He does polite, maybe. And a small quiet voice whispers, perhaps Kate is right. My scalp prickles at the idea that maybe, just maybe, he might like me. After all, he did say he was glad Kate didnt do the interview. I hug myself with quiet glee, rocking from side to side, entertaining the possibility that he might like me for one brief moment. Kate brings me back to the now. I dont know who well get to do the shoot. Levi, our regular photographer, cant. Hes home in Idaho Falls for the weekend. Hell be pissed that he blew an opportunity to photo one of Americas leading entrepreneurs. Hmm What about Jos?? Great idea! You ask him hell do anything for you. Then call Grey and find out where he wants us. Kate is irritatingly cavalier about Jos?. I think you should call him. Who, Jos?? Kate scoffs. No, Grey. Ana, youre the one with the relationship. Relationship? I squeak at her, my voice rising several octaves. I barely know the guy. At least youve met him, she says bitterly. And it looks like he wants to know you better. Ana, just call him, she snaps and hangs up. She is so bossy sometimes. I frown at my cell, sticking my tongue out at it. Im just leaving a message for Jos? when Paul enters the stock room looking for sandpaper. Were kind of busy out there, Ana, he says without acrimony. Yeah, um, sorry, I mutter, turning to leave. So, how come you know Christian Grey? Pauls voice is unconvincingly nonchalant. I had to interview him for our student newspaper. Kate wasnt well. I shrug, trying to sound casual and doing no better than him. Christian Grey in Claytons. Go figure, Paul snorts, amazed. He shakes his head as if to clear it. Anyway, want to grab a drink or something this evening? Whenever hes home he asks me on a date, and I always say no. Its a ritual. Ive never considered it a good idea to date the bosss brother, and besides, Paul is cute in a wholesome all-American boy-next-door kind of way, but hes no literary hero, not by any stretch of the imagination. Is Grey? My subconscious asks me, her eyebrow figuratively raised. I slap her down. Dont you have a family dinner or something for your brother? Thats tomorrow. Maybe some other time, Paul. I need to study tonight. I have my finals next week. Ana, one of these days, youll say yes, he smiles as I escape out to the store floor. But I do places, Ana, not people, Jos? groans. Jos?, please? I beg. Clutching my cell, I pace the living area of our apartment, staring out of the window at the fading evening light. Give me that phone. Kate grabs the handset from me, tossing her silken red-blonde hair over her shoulder. Listen here, Jos? Rodriquez, if you want our newspaper to cover the opening of your show, youll do this shoot for us tomorrow, capiche? Kate can be awesomely tough. Good. Ana will call back with the location and the call time. Well see you tomorrow. She snaps my cell phone shut. Sorted. All we need to do now is decide where and when. Call him. She holds the phone out to me. My stomach twists. Call Grey, now! I scowl at her and reach into my back pocket for his business card. I take a deep, steadying breath, and with shaking fingers, I dial the number. He answers on the second ring. His tone is clipped, calm and cold. Grey. Err Mr. Grey? Its Anastasia Steele. I dont recognize my own voice, Im so nervous. Theres a brief pause. Inside Im quaking. Miss Steele. How nice to hear from you. His voice has changed. Hes surprised, I think, and he sounds so warm seductive even. My breath hitches, and I flush. Im suddenly conscious that Katherine Kavanagh is staring at me, her mouth open, and I dart into the kitchen to avoid her unwanted scrutiny. Err wed like to go ahead with the photo-shoot for the article. Breathe, Ana, breathe. My lungs drag in a hasty breath. Tomorrow, if thats okay. Where would be convenient for you, sir? I can almost hear his sphinx-like smile through the phone. Im staying at the Heathman in Portland. Shall we say, nine thirty tomorrow morning? Okay, well see you there. I am all gushing and breathy like a child, not a grown woman who can vote and drink legally in the State of Washington. I look forward to it, Miss Steele. I visualize the wicked gleam in his gray eyes. How can he make seven little words hold so much tantalizing promise? I hang up. Kate is in the kitchen, and shes staring at me with a look of complete and utter consternation on her face. Anastasia Rose Steele. You like him! Ive never seen or heard you so, so affected by anyone before. Youre actually blushing. Oh Kate, you know I blush all the time. Its an occupational hazard with me. Dont be so ridiculous, I snap. She blinks at me with surprise I very rarely throw my toys out of the pram and I briefly relent. I just find him intimidating, thats all. Heathman, that figures, mutters Kate. Ill give the manager a call and negotiate a space for the shoot. Ill make supper. Then I need to study. I cannot hide my irritation with her as I open one of cupboards to make supper. I am restless that night, tossing and turning. Dreaming of smoky gray eyes, coveralls, long legs, long fingers, and dark, dark unexplored places. I wake twice in the night, my heart pounding. Oh, Im