Home > Grey (Fifty Shades #4)(5)

Grey (Fifty Shades #4)(5)
Author: E.L. James

Her face falls, and I feel like a shit.

“I’m currently funding some research there in crop rotation and soil science.” That, at least, is true.

“All part of your feed-the-world plan?” She arches a brow, amused.

“Something like that,” I mutter. Is she laughing at me? Oh, I’d love to put a stop to that if she is. But how to start? Maybe with dinner, rather than the usual interview…now, that would be novel: taking a prospect out to dinner.

We arrive at the cable ties, which are arranged in an assortment of lengths and colors. Absentmindedly, my fingers trace over the packets. I could just ask her out for dinner. Like on a date? Would she accept? When I glance at her she’s examining her knotted fingers. She can’t look at me…this is promising. I select the longer ties. They are more flexible, after all, as they can accommodate two ankles and two wrists at once.

“These will do.”

“Is there anything else?” she says quickly—either she’s being super-attentive or she wants to get me out of the store, I don’t know which.

“I’d like some masking tape.”

“Are you redecorating?”

“No, not redecorating.” Oh, if you only knew…

“This way,” she says. “Masking tape is in the decorating aisle.”

Come on, Grey. You don’t have much time. Engage her in some conversation. “Have you worked here long?” Of course, I already know the answer. Unlike some people, I do my research. For some reason she’s embarrassed. Christ, this girl is shy. I don’t have a hope in hell. She turns quickly and walks down the aisle toward the section labeled Decorating. I follow her eagerly, like a puppy.

“Four years,” she mumbles as we reach the masking tape. She bends down and grasps two rolls, each a different width.

“I’ll take that one.” The wider tape is much more effective as a gag. As she passes it to me, the tips of our fingers touch, briefly. It resonates in my groin. Damn!

She pales. “Anything else?” Her voice is soft and husky.

Christ, I’m having the same effect on her that she has on me. Maybe…

“Some rope, I think.”

“This way.” She scoots up the aisle, giving me another chance to appreciate her fine ass.

“What sort were you after? We have synthetic and natural filament rope…twine…cable cord…”

Shit—stop. I groan inwardly, trying to chase away the image of her suspended from the ceiling in my playroom.

“I’ll take five yards of the natural filament rope, please.” It’s coarser and chafes more if you struggle against it…my rope of choice.

A tremor runs through her fingers, but she measures out five yards like a pro. Pulling a utility knife from her right pocket, she cuts the rope in one swift gesture, coils it neatly, and ties it off with a slipknot. Impressive.

“Were you a Girl Scout?”

“Organized group activities aren’t really my thing, Mr. Grey.”

“What is your thing, Anastasia?” Her pupils dilate as I stare.

Yes!

“Books,” she answers.

“What kind of books?”

“Oh, you know. The usual. The classics. British literature, mainly.”

British literature? The Brontës and Austen, I bet. All those romantic hearts-and-flowers types.

That’s not good.

“Anything else you need?”

“I don’t know. What else would you recommend?” I want to see her reaction.

“For a do-it-yourselfer?” she asks, surprised.

I want to hoot with laughter. Oh, baby, DIY is not my thing. I nod, stifling my mirth. Her eyes flick down my body and I tense. She’s checking me out!

“Coveralls,” she blurts out.

It’s the most unexpected thing I’ve heard her say since the “Are you gay?” question.

“You wouldn’t want to ruin your clothing.” She gestures to my jeans.

I can’t resist. “I could always take them off.”

“Um.” She flushes beet red and stares down.

I put her out of her misery. “I’ll take some coveralls. Heaven forbid I should ruin any clothing.” Without a word, she turns and walks briskly up the aisle, and I follow in her enticing wake.

“Do you need anything else?” she says, sounding breathless as she hands me a pair of blue coveralls. She’s mortified, eyes still cast down. Christ, she does things to me.

“How’s the article coming along?” I ask, in the hope she might relax a little.

She looks up and gives me a brief relieved smile.

Finally.

“I’m not writing it, Katherine is. Miss Kavanagh. My roommate, she’s the writer. She’s very happy with it. She’s the editor of the newspaper, and she was devastated that she couldn’t do the interview in person.”

It’s the longest sentence she’s uttered since we first met, and she’s talking about someone else, not herself. Interesting.

Before I can comment, she adds, “Her only concern is that she doesn’t have any original photographs of you.”

The tenacious Miss Kavanagh wants photographs. Publicity stills, eh? I can do that. It will allow me to spend time with the delectable Miss Steele.

“What sort of photographs does she want?”

She gazes at me for a moment, then shakes her head, perplexed, not knowing what to say.

“Well, I’m around. Tomorrow, perhaps…” I can stay in Portland. Work from a hotel. A room at The Heathman, perhaps. I’ll need Taylor to come down, bring my laptop and some clothes. Or Elliot—unless he’s screwing around, which is his usual MO over the weekend.

“You’d be willing to do a photo shoot?” She cannot contain her surprise.

I give her a brief nod. Yeah, I want to spend more time with you…

Steady, Grey.

“Kate will be delighted—if we can find a photographer.” She smiles and her face lights up like a cloudless dawn. She’s breathtaking.

“Let me know about tomorrow.” I pull my wallet from my jeans. “My card. It has my cell number on it. You’ll need to call before ten in the morning.” And if she doesn’t, I’ll head on back to Seattle and forget about this stupid venture.

The thought depresses me.

“Okay.” She continues to grin.

“Ana!” We both turn as a young man dressed in casual designer gear appears at the far end of the aisle. His eyes are all over Miss Anastasia Steele. Who the hell is this prick?

“Er, excuse me for a moment, Mr. Grey.” She walks toward him, and the asshole engulfs her in a gorilla-like hug. My blood runs cold. It’s a primal response.

Get your fucking paws off her.

I fist my hands and am only slightly mollified when she doesn’t return his hug.

They fall into a whispered conversation. Maybe Welch’s facts were wrong. Maybe this guy is her boyfriend. He looks the right age, and he can’t take his greedy little eyes off her. He holds her for a moment at arm’s length, examining her, then stands with his arm resting on her shoulder. It seems like a casual gesture, but I know he’s staking a claim and telling me to back off. She seems embarrassed, shifting from foot to foot.

Shit. I should go. I’ve overplayed my hand. She’s with this guy. Then she says something else to him and moves out of his reach, touching his arm, not his hand, shrugging him off. It’s clear they aren’t close.

Good.

“Er…Paul, this is Christian Grey. Mr. Grey, this is Paul Clayton. His brother owns the place.” She gives me an odd look that I don’t understand and continues, “I’ve known Paul ever since I’ve worked here, though we don’t see each other that often. He’s back from Princeton, where he’s studying business administration.” She’s babbling, giving me a long explanation and telling me they’re not together, I think. The boss’s brother, not a boyfriend. I’m relieved, but the extent of the relief I feel is unexpected, and it makes me frown. This woman has really gotten under my skin.

“Mr. Clayton.” My tone is deliberately clipped.

Books
     Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades #1)
     Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades #2)
     Fifty Shades Freed (Fifty Shades #3)
     Grey (Fifty Shades #4)