Home > Grey (Fifty Shades #4)(13)

Grey (Fifty Shades #4)(13)
Author: E.L. James

“We’ve all been here, perhaps not quite as dramatically as you.” Why is it such fun to tease this young woman? “It’s about knowing your limits, Anastasia. I mean, I’m all for pushing limits, but really this is beyond the pale. Do you make a habit of this kind of behavior?”

Perhaps she has a problem with alcohol. The thought is worrying, and I consider whether I should call my mother for a referral to a detox clinic.

Ana frowns for a moment, as if angry, that little v forming between her brows, and I suppress the urge to kiss it. But when she speaks she sounds contrite.

“No,” she says. “I’ve never been drunk before and right now I have no desire to ever be again.” She looks up at me, her eyes unfocused, and she sways a little. She might pass out, so without giving it a thought I scoop her up into my arms.

She’s surprisingly light. Too light. The thought irks me. No wonder she’s drunk.

“Come on, I’ll take you home.”

“I need to tell Kate,” she says, as her head rests on my shoulder.

“My brother can tell her.”

“What?”

“My brother Elliot is talking to Miss Kavanagh.”

“Oh?”

“He was with me when you called.”

“In Seattle?”

“No, I’m staying at The Heathman.”

And my wild-goose chase has paid off.

“How did you find me?”

“I tracked your cell phone, Anastasia.” I head toward the car. I want to drive her home. “Do you have a jacket or a purse?”

“Er…yes, I came with both. Christian, please, I need to tell Kate. She’ll worry.”

I stop and bite my tongue. Kavanagh wasn’t worried about her being out here with the overamorous photographer. Rodriguez. That’s his name. What kind of friend is she? The lights from the bar illuminate her anxious face.

As much as it pains me, I put her down and agree to take her inside. Holding hands, we walk back into the bar, stopping at Kate’s table. One of the young men is still sitting there, looking annoyed and abandoned.

“Where’s Kate?” Ana shouts above the noise.

“Dancing,” the guy says, his dark eyes staring at the dance floor. Ana collects her jacket and purse and, reaching out, she unexpectedly clutches my arm.

I freeze.

Shit.

My heart rate catapults into overdrive as the darkness surfaces, stretching and tightening its claws around my throat.

“She’s on the dance floor,” she shouts, her words tickling my ear, distracting me from my fear. And suddenly the darkness disappears and the pounding in my heart ceases.

What?

I roll my eyes to hide my confusion and take her to the bar, order a large glass of water, and pass it to her.

“Drink.”

Eyeing me over the glass, she takes a tentative sip.

“All of it,” I command. I’m hoping this will be enough damage control to avoid one hell of a hangover tomorrow.

What might have happened to her if I hadn’t intervened? My mood sinks.

And I think of what just happened to me.

Her touch. My reaction.

My mood plummets further.

Ana sways a little as she’s drinking, so I steady her with a hand on her shoulder. I like the connection—me touching her. She’s oil on my troubled, deep, dark waters.

Hmm…flowery, Grey.

She finishes her drink, and retrieving the glass, I place it on the bar.

Okay. She wants to talk to her so-called friend. I survey the crowded dance floor, uneasy at the thought of all those bodies pressing in on me as we fight our way through.

Steeling myself, I grab her hand and lead her toward the dance floor. She hesitates, but if she wants to talk to her friend, there’s only one way; she’s going to have to dance with me. Once Elliot gets his groove on, there’s no stopping him; so much for his quiet night in.

With a tug, she’s in my arms.

This I can handle. When I know she’s going to touch me, it’s okay. I can deal, especially since I’m wearing my jacket. I weave us through the crowd to where Elliot and Kate are making a spectacle of themselves.

Still dancing, Elliot leans toward me in mid-strut when we’re beside him and sizes us up with a look of incredulity.

“I’m taking Ana home. Tell Kate,” I shout in his ear.

He nods and pulls Kavanagh into his arms.

Right. Let me take Miss Drunk Bookworm home, but for some reason she seems reluctant to go. She’s watching Kavanagh with concern. When we’re off the dance floor she looks back at Kate, then at me, swaying and a little dazed.

“Fuck—” By some miracle I catch her as she passes out in the middle of the bar. I’m tempted to haul her over my shoulder, but we’d be too conspicuous, so I pick her up once more, cradling her against my chest, and take her outside to the car.

“Christ,” I mutter as I fish the key out of my jeans and hold her at the same time. Amazingly, I manage to get her into the front seat and strap her in.

“Ana.” I give her a little shake, because she’s worryingly quiet. “Ana!”

She mumbles something incoherent and I know she’s still conscious. I know I should take her home, but it’s a long drive to Vancouver, and I don’t know if she’ll be sick again. I don’t relish the idea of my Audi reeking of vomit. The smell emanating from her clothes is already noticeable.

I head to The Heathman, telling myself that I’m doing this for her sake.

Yeah, tell yourself that, Grey.

SHE SLEEPS IN MY arms as we travel up in the elevator from the garage. I need to get her out of her jeans and her shoes. The stale stench of vomit pervades the space. I’d really like to give her a bath, but that would be stepping beyond the bounds of propriety.

And this isn’t?

In my suite, I drop her purse on the sofa, then carry her into the bedroom and lay her down on the bed. She mumbles once more but doesn’t wake.

Briskly I remove her shoes and socks and put them in the plastic laundry bag provided by the hotel. Then I unzip her jeans and pull them off, check the pockets before stuffing the jeans in the laundry bag. She falls back on the bed, splayed out like a starfish, all pale arms and legs, and for a moment I picture those legs wrapped around my waist as her wrists are bound to my Saint Andrew’s cross. There’s a fading bruise on her knee and I wonder if that’s from the fall she took in my office.

She’s been marked since then…like me.

I sit her up and she opens her eyes.

“Hello, Ana,” I whisper, as I remove her jacket slowly and without her cooperation.

“Grey. Lips,” she mutters.

“Yes, sweetheart.” I ease her down onto the bed. She closes her eyes again and rolls onto her side, but this time huddles into a ball, looking small and vulnerable. I pull the covers over her and plant a kiss in her hair. Now that her filthy clothes have gone, a trace of her scent has reappeared. Apples, fall, fresh, delicious…Ana. Her lips are parted, eyelashes fanning out over pale cheeks, and her skin looks flawless. One more touch is all I allow myself as I stroke her cheek with the back of my index finger.

“Sleep well,” I murmur, and then head into the living room to complete the laundry list. When it’s done, I place the offending bag outside my suite so the contents will be collected and laundered.

Before I check my e-mails I text Welch, asking him to see if José Rodriguez has any police records. I’m curious. I want to know if he preys on drunk young women. Then I address the issue of clothes for Miss Steele: I send a quick e-mail to Taylor.

* * *

From: Christian Grey

RE: Miss Anastasia Steele

Date: May 20, 2011 23:46

To: J B Taylor

Good morning,

Can you please find the following items for Miss Steele and have them delivered to my usual room before 10:00.

Jeans: Blue Denim Size 4

Blouse: Blue. Pretty. Size 4

Converse: Black Size 7

Socks: Size 7

Lingerie: Underwear—Size Small. Bra—Estimate 34C.

Thank you.

Christian Grey

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings, Inc.

Once it’s disappeared from my outbox, I text Elliot.

Ana is with me.

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