Home > Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades #1)(12)

Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades #1)(12)
Author: E.L. James

"You've been crying," she has an exceptional gift for stating the damned obvious sometimes. "What did that bastard do to you?" she growls, and her face - jeez, she's scary.

"Nothing Kate." That's actually the problem. The thought brings a wry smile to my face."Then why have you been cryingYou never cry," she says, her voice softening. She stands, her green eyes brimming with concern. She puts her arms around me and hugs me.

I need to say something just to get her to back off.

"I was nearly knocked over by a cyclist." It's the best that I can do, but it distracts her momentarily from... him.

"Jeez Ana - are you okayWere you hurt?" She holds me at arm's length and does a quick visual check-up on me.

"No. Christian saved me," I whisper. "But I was quite shaken."

"I'm not surprised. How was coffeeI know you hate coffee."

"I had tea. It was fine, nothing to report really. I don't know why he asked me."

"He likes you Ana." She drops her arms.

"Not anymore. I won't be seeing him again." Yes, I manage to sound matter of fact.

"Oh?"

Crap. She's intrigued. I head into the kitchen so that she can't see my face.

"Yeah... he's a little out of my league Kate," I say as dryly as I can manage.

"What do you mean?"

"Oh Kate, it's obvious." I whirl round and face her as she stands in the kitchen doorway."Not to me," she says. "Okay, he's got more money than you, but then he has more money than most people in America!"

"Kate he's - " I shrug.

"Ana! For heaven's sake - how many times must I tell youYou're a total babe," she interrupts me. Oh no. She's off on this tirade again.

"Kate, please. I need to study." I cut her short. She frowns.

"Do you want to see the articleIt's finished. Jose took some great pictures."

Do I need a visual reminder of the beautiful Christian I-don't-want-you Grey?

"Sure," I magic a smile on to my face and stroll over to the laptop. And there he is, staring at me in black and white, staring at me and finding me lacking.

I pretend to read the article, all the time meeting his steady gray gaze, searching the photo for some clue as to why he's not the man for me - his own words to me. And it's suddenly, blindingly obvious. He's too gloriously good-looking. We are poles apart and from two very different worlds. I have a vision of myself as Icarus flying too close to the sun and crashing and burning as a result. His words make sense. He's not the man for me.

This is what he meant, and it makes his rejection easier to accept... almost. I can live with this. I understand.

"Very good Kate," I manage. "I'm going to study." I am not going to think about him again for now, I vow to myself, and opening my revision notes, I start to read.

It's only when I'm in bed, trying to sleep, that I allow my thoughts to drift through my strange morning. I keep coming back to the 'I don't do the girlfriend thing' quote, and I'm angry that I didn't pounce on this information sooner, when I was in his arms mentally begging him with every fiber of my being to kiss me. He'd said it there and then. He didn't want me as a girlfriend. I turn on to my side. Idly, I wonder if perhaps he's celibateI close my eyes and begin to drift. Maybe he's saving himself. Well not for you, my sleepy subconscious has a final swipe at me before unleashing itself on my dreams.

And that night, I dream of gray eyes, leafy patterns in milk, and I'm running through dark places with eerie strip lighting, and I don't know if I'm running toward something or away from it... it's just not clear.

I put my pen down. Finished. My final exam is over. I feel the Cheshire cat grin spread over my face. It's probably the first time all week that I've smiled. It's Friday, and we shall be celebrating tonight, really celebrating. I might even get drunk! I've never been drunk before. I glance across the sports hall at Kate, and she's still scribbling furiously, five minutes to the end. This is it, the end of my academic career. I shall never have to sit in rows of anxious, isolated students again. Inside I'm doing graceful cartwheels around my head, knowing full well that's the only place I can do graceful cartwheels. Kate stops writing and puts her pen down. She glances across at me, and I catch her Cheshire cat smile too.

We head back to our apartment together in her Mercedes, refusing to discuss our final paper. Kate is more concerned about what she's going to wear to the bar this evening. I am busily fishing around in my purse for my keys.

"Ana, there's a package for you." Kate is standing on the steps up to the front door holding a brown paper parcel. Odd. I haven't ordered anything from Amazon recently.

Kate gives me the parcel and takes my keys to open the front door. It's addressed to Miss Anastasia Steele. There's no sender's address or name. Perhaps it's from my mom or Ray.

"It's probably from my folks."

"Open it!" Kate is excited as she heads into the kitchen for our 'Exams are finished hurrah Champagne'.

I open the parcel, and inside I find a half leather box containing three seemingly identi-cal old cloth-covered books in mint condition and a plain white card. Written on one side, in black ink in neat cursive handwriting, is:

I recognize the quote from Tess. I am stunned by the irony as I've just spent three hours writing about the novels of Thomas Hardy in my final examination. Perhaps there is no irony... perhaps it's deliberate. I inspect the books closely, three volumes of Tess of the D'Urbervilles. I open the front cover. Written in an old typeface on the front plate is:

'London: Jack R. Osgood, McIlvaine and Co., 1891.'

Holy shit - they are first editions. They must be worth a fortune, and I know immediately who's sent them. Kate is at my shoulder gazing at the books. She picks up the card.

"First Editions," I whisper.

"No." Kate's eyes are wide with disbelief. "Grey?"

I nod.

"Can't think of anyone else."

"What does this card mean?"

"I have no idea. I think it's a warning - honestly he keeps warning me off. I have no idea why. It's not like I'm beating his door down." I frown.

"I know you don't want to talk about him, Ana, but he's seriously into you. Warnings or no."

I have not let myself dwell on Christian Grey for the past week. Okay... so his gray eyes are still haunting my dreams, and I know it will take an eternity to expunge the feel of his arms around me and his wonderful fragrance from my brain. Why has he sent me this?

He told me that I wasn't for him.

"I've found one Tess first edition for sale in New York at $14,000. But yours looks in much better condition. They must have cost more." Kate is consulting her good friend Google.

"This quote - Tess says it to her mother after Alec D'Urberville has had his wicked way with her."

"I know," muses Kate. "What is he trying to say?"

"I don't know, and I don't care. I can't accept these from him. I'll send them back with an equally baffling quote from some obscure part of the book."

"The bit where Angel Clare says f**k off?" Kate asks with a completely straight face.

"Yes, that bit." I giggle. I love Kate, she's so loyal and supportive. I repack the books and leave them on the dining table. Kate hands me a glass of champagne.

"To the end of exams and our new life in Seattle," she grins.

"To the end of exams, our new life in Seattle, and excellent results." We clink glasses and drink.

The bar is loud and hectic, full of soon to be graduates out to get trashed. Jose joins us. He won't graduate for another year, but he's in the mood to party and gets us into the spirit of our newfound freedom by buying a pitcher of margaritas for us all. As I down my fifth, I know this is not a good idea on top of the champagne.

"So what now Ana?" Jose shouts at me over the noise.

"Kate and I are moving to Seattle. Kate's parents have bought a condo there for her."

"Dios mio, how the other half live. But you'll be back for my show."

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