Home > Grey (Fifty Shades #4)(2)

Grey (Fifty Shades #4)(2)
Author: E.L. James

“Take all the time you need, Miss Steele.” I need another moment to marshal my wayward thoughts.

Grey…stop this, now.

“Do you mind if I record your answers?” she asks, her face candid and expectant.

I want to laugh. “After you’ve taken so much trouble to set up the recorder, you ask me now?”

She blinks, her eyes large and lost for a moment, and I’m overcome by an unfamiliar twinge of guilt.

Stop being such a shit, Grey. “No, I don’t mind.” I don’t want to be responsible for that look.

“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 giving the commencement address at this year’s graduation ceremony.” Why the hell I’ve agreed to do that, I don’t know. Sam in PR tells me that WSU’s environmental sciences department needs the publicity in order to attract additional funding to match the grant I’ve given them, and Sam will go to any lengths for media exposure.

Miss Steele blinks once more, as if this is news to her—and she looks disapproving. Hasn’t she done any background work for this interview? She should know this. The thought cools my blood. It’s…displeasing, not what I expect from someone who’s imposing on my time.

“Good. I have some questions, Mr. Grey.” She tucks a lock of hair behind her ear, distracting me from my annoyance.

“I thought you might,” I say dryly. Let’s make her squirm. Obligingly, she does, then pulls herself upright and squares her small shoulders. She means business. Leaning forward, she presses the start button on the recorder and frowns as she glances down at her crumpled notes.

“You’re very young to have amassed such an empire. To what do you owe your success?”

Surely she can do better than this. What a dull question. Not one iota of originality. It’s disappointing. I trot out my usual response about having exceptional people working for me. People I trust, insofar as I trust anyone, and pay well—blah, blah, blah…But Miss Steele, the simple fact is, I’m brilliant at what I do. For me it’s like falling off a log. Buying ailing, mismanaged companies and fixing them, keeping some or, if they’re really broken, stripping their assets and selling them off to the highest bidder. It’s simply a question of knowing the difference between the two, and invariably it comes down to the people in charge. To succeed in business you need good people, and I can judge a person, better than most.

“Maybe you’re just lucky,” she says quietly.

Lucky? A frisson of annoyance runs through me. Lucky? How dare she? She looks unassuming and quiet, but this question? No one has ever suggested that I was lucky. Hard work, bringing people with me, keeping a close watch on them, and second-guessing them if I need to, and if they aren’t up to the task, ditching them. That’s what I do, and I do it well. It’s nothing to do with luck! Well, to hell with that. Flaunting my erudition, I quote the words of Andrew Carnegie, my favorite industrialist. “The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.”

“You sound like a control freak,” she says, and she’s perfectly serious.

What the hell? Maybe she can see through me.

“Control” is my middle name, sweetheart.

I glare at her, hoping to intimidate her. “Oh, I exercise control in all things, Miss Steele.” And I’d like to exercise it over you, right here, right now.

That attractive blush steals across her face, and she bites that lip again. I ramble on, trying to distract myself from her mouth.

“Besides, immense power is acquired by assuring yourself, in your secret reveries, that you were born to control things.”

“Do you feel that you have immense power?” she asks in a soft, soothing voice, but she arches a delicate brow with a look that conveys her censure. Is she deliberately trying to goad me? Is it her questions, her attitude, or the fact that I find her attractive that’s pissing me off? My annoyance grows.

“I employ over forty thousand people. 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, twenty thousand people would struggle to make their mortgage payments after a month or so.”

Her mouth pops open at my response. That’s more like it. Suck it up, baby. I feel my equilibrium returning.

“Don’t you have a board to answer to?”

“I own my company. I don’t have to answer to a board.” She should know this.

“And do you have any interests outside your work?” she continues hastily, correctly gauging my reaction. She knows I’m pissed, and for some inexplicable reason this pleases me.

“I have varied interests, Miss Steele. Very varied.” Images of her in assorted positions in my playroom flash through my mind: shackled on the cross, spread-eagled on the four-poster, splayed over the whipping bench. And behold—there’s that blush again. It’s like a defense mechanism.

“But if you work so hard, what do you do to chill out?”

“Chill out?” Those words out of her smart mouth sound odd but amusing. Besides, when do I get time to chill out? She has no idea what I do. But she looks at me again with those ingenuous big eyes, and to my surprise I find myself considering her question. What do I do to chill out? Sailing, flying, fucking…testing the limits of attractive brunettes like her, and bringing them to heel…The thought makes me shift in my seat, but I answer her smoothly, omitting a few favorite hobbies.

“You invest in manufacturing. Why, specifically?”

“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?” They transport food around the planet.

“That sounds like your heart talking, rather than logic and facts.”

Heart? Me? Oh no, baby.

My heart was savaged beyond recognition a long time ago. “Possibly. Though there are people who’d say I don’t have a heart.”

“Why would they say that?”

“Because they know me well.” I give her a wry smile. In fact, no one knows me that well, except maybe Elena. I wonder what she would make of little Miss Steele here. The girl is a mass of contradictions: shy, awkward, obviously bright, and arousing as hell.

Yes, okay, I admit it. I find her alluring.

She recites the next question by rote. “Would your friends say you’re easy to get to know?”

“I’m a very private person. I go a long way to protect my privacy. I don’t often give interviews.” Doing what I do, living the life I’ve chosen, I need my privacy.

“Why did you agree to do this one?”

“Because I’m a benefactor of the university, and for all intents and purposes, I couldn’t get Miss Kavanagh off my back. She badgered and badgered my PR people, and I admire that kind of tenacity.” But I’m glad it’s you who turned up and not her.

“You also invest in farming technologies. Why are you interested in this area?”

“We can’t eat money, Miss Steele, and there are too many people on this planet who don’t have enough food.” I stare at her, poker-faced.

“That sounds very philanthropic. Is that something you feel passionately about? Feeding the world’s poor?” She regards me with a puzzled look, as if I’m a conundrum, but there’s no way I want her seeing into my dark soul. This is not an area open to discussion. Move it along, Grey.

“It’s shrewd business,” I mutter, feigning boredom, and I imagine fucking that mouth to distract myself from all thoughts of hunger. Yes, her mouth needs training, and I imagine her on her knees before me. Now, that thought is appealing.

She recites her next question, dragging me away from my fantasy. “Do you have a philosophy? If so, what is it?”

“I don’t have a philosophy as such. Maybe a guiding principle—Carnegie’s: ‘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.’ I’m very singular, driven. I like control—of myself and those around me.”

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