Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades #2)(6) by E.L. James

And a few more I have never heard.

Selecting a song that catches my eye, I press play. It's called "Try" by Nellie Furtado.

She starts to sing, and her voice is a silken scarf wrapping around me, enveloping me. I lie down on my bed.

Does this mean Christian's going to try? Try this new relationship? I drink in the lyrics, staring at the ceiling, trying to understand his turnaround. He missed me. I missed him. He must have some feelings for me. He must. This iPad, these songs, these apps - he cares. He really cares. My heart swells with hope.

The song ends and tears spring to my eyes. I quickly scroll to another - "The Scientist"

by Coldplay - one of Kate's favorite bands. I know the track, but I've never really listened to the lyrics before. I close my eyes and let the words wash over and through me.

My tears start to flow. I can't stem them. If this isn't an apology, what is it? Oh, Christian. Or is this an invitation? Will he answer my questions? Am I reading too much into this?

I am probably reading too much into this. My subconscious nods at me, trying to hide her pity.I dash my tears away. I have to e-mail him to thank him. I leap off my bed to fetch the mean machine.

Coldplay continues as I sit cross-legged on my bed. The Mac powers up and I log in.

From: Anastasia Steele

Subject: IPAD

Date: June 9, 2011 23:56

To: Christian Grey

You've made me cry again.

I love the iPad.

I love the songs.

I love the British Library App.

I love you.

Thank you.

Goodnight.

Ana xx

From: Christian Grey

Subject: iPad

Date: June 10, 2011 00:03

To: Anastasia Steele

I'm glad you like it. I bought one for myself.

Now, if I were there, I would kiss away your tears.

But I'm not - so go to sleep.

Christian Grey

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

His response makes me smile, still so bossy, still so Christian. Will that change, too? And I realize in that moment that I hope not. I like him like this - commanding - as long as I can stand up to him without fear of punishment.

From: Anastasia Steele

Subject: Mr. Grumpy

Date: June 10, 2011 00:07

To: Christian Grey

You sound your usual bossy and possibly tense, possibly grumpy self, Mr. Grey.

I know something that could ease that. But then, you're not here - you wouldn't let me stay, and you expect me to beg...

Dream on, Sir.

Ana xx

PS: I also note that you included the Stalker's Anthem, "Every Breath You Take." I do enjoy your sense of humor, but does Dr. Flynn know?

From: Christian Grey

Subject: Zen-Like Calm

Date: June 10, 2011 00.10

To: Anastasia Steele

My Dearest Miss Steele

Spanking occurs in vanilla relationships, too, you know. Usually consensually and in a sexual context... but I am more than happy to make an exception.

You'll be relieved to know that Dr. Flynn also enjoys my sense of humor.

Now, please go to sleep as you won't get much tomorrow.

Incidentally - you will beg, trust me. And I look forward to it.

Christian Grey

Tense CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

From: Anastasia Steele

Subject: Goodnight, Sweet Dreams

Date: June 10, 2011 00:12

To: Christian Grey

Well, since you ask so nicely, and I like your delicious threat, I shall curl up with the iPad that you have so kindly given me and fall asleep browsing in the British Library, listening to the music that says it for you.

A xxx

From: Christian Grey

Subject: One more request

Date: June 10, 2011 00:15

To: Anastasia Steele

Dream of me.

x

Christian Grey

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

Dream of you, Christian Grey? Always.

I change quickly into my pajamas, brush my teeth, and slip into bed. Putting my ear buds in, I pull the flattened Charlie Tango balloon from underneath my pillow and hug it to me.

I am brimming with joy, a stupid, widemouthed grin on my face. What a difference a day can make. How am I ever going to sleep?

Jose Gonzalez starts to sing a soothing melody with a hypnotic guitar riff, and I drift slowly into sleep, marveling how the world has righted itself in one evening and wondering idly if I should make a playlist for Christian.

Chapter Three

The one good thing about being car-less is that on the bus on my way to work, I can plug my headphones into my iPad while it's safely in my purse and listen to all the wonderful tunes Christian has given me. By the time I arrive at the office, I have the most ludicrous grin on my face.

Jack glances up at me and does a double take.

"Good morning, Ana. You look... radiant." His remark flusters me. How inappropriate! "I slept well, thank you, Jack. Good morning."

His brow crinkles.

"Can you read these for me and have reports on them by lunchtime, please?" He hands me four manuscripts. At my horrified expression, he adds, "Just first chapters."

"Sure," I smile with relief, and he gives me a broad smile in return.

I switch on the computer to start work, finishing my latte and eating a banana. There's an e-mail from Christian.

From: Christian Grey

Subject: So Help Me...

Date: June 10, 2011 08:05

To: Anastasia Steele

I do hope you've had breakfast.

I missed you last night.

Christian Grey

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

From: Anastasia Steele

Subject: Old books...

Date: June 10, 2011 08:33

To: Christian Grey

I am eating a banana as I type. I have not had breakfast for several days, so it is a step forward. I love the British Library App - I started rereading Robinson Crusoe... and of course, I love you.

Now leave me alone - I am trying to work.

Anastasia Steele

Assistant to Jack Hyde, Commissioning Editor, SIP

From: Christian Grey

Subject: Is that all you've eaten?

Date: June 10, 2011 08:36

To: Anastasia Steele

You can do better than that. You're going to need your energy for begging.

Christian Grey

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

From: Anastasia Steele

Subject: Pest

Date: June 10, 2011 08:39

To: Christian Grey

Mr. Grey - I am trying to work for a living - and it's you that will be begging.

Anastasia Steele

Assistant to Jack Hyde, Commissioning Editor, SIP

From: Christian Grey

Subject: Bring it On!

Date: June 10, 2011 08:36

To: Anastasia Steele

Why Miss Steele, I love a challenge...

Christian Grey

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

I sit grinning at the screen like an idiot. But I need to read these chapters for Jack and write reports on all of them. Placing the manuscripts on my desk, I begin.

At lunchtime I head to the deli for a pastrami sandwich and listen to the playlist on my iPad. First up there's Nitin Sawhney, some world music called "Homelands" - it's good.

Mr. Grey has an eclectic taste in music. I wander back, listening to a classical piece, Fanta-sia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis by Vaughn Williams. Oh, Fifty has a sense of humor, and I love him for it. Will this stupid grin ever leave my face?

The afternoon drags. I decide, in an unguarded moment, to e-mail Christian.

From: Anastasia Steele

Subject: Bored...

Date: June 10, 2011 16:05

To: Christian Grey

Twiddling my thumbs.

How are you?

What are you doing?

Anastasia Steele

Assistant to Jack Hyde, Commissioning Editor, SIP

From: Christian Grey

Subject: Your thumbs

Date: June 10, 2011 16:15

To: Anastasia Steele

You should have come to work for me.

You wouldn't be twiddling your thumbs.

I am sure I could put them to better use.

In fact I can think of a number of options...

I am doing the usual humdrum mergers and acquisitions.

It's all very dry.

Your e-mails at SIP are monitored.

Christian Grey

Distracted CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

Oh shit. I had no idea. How the hell does he know? I scowl at the screen and quickly check the e-mails we've sent, deleting them as I do.

Promptly at five thirty, Jack is at my desk. It is Dress-down Friday so he's wearing jeans and a black shirt. He looks very casual.

"Drink, Ana? We usually like to go for a quick one at the bar across the street."

"We?" I ask, hopeful.

"Yeah, most of us go... you coming?"

For some unknown reason, which I don't want to examine too closely, relief floods through me.

"I'd love to. What's the bar called?"

"50s."

"You're kidding."

He looks at me oddly. "No. Some significance for you?"

"No, sorry. I'll join you over there."

"What would you like to drink?"

"A beer please."

"Cool."

I make my way to the powder room and e-mail Christian from the Blackberry.

From: Anastasia Steele

Subject: You'll Fit Right In

Date: June 10, 2011 17:36

To: Christian Grey

We are going to a bar called Fifty's.

The rich seam of humor that I could mine from this is endless.

I look forward to seeing you there, Mr. Grey.

A x

From: Christian Grey

Subject: Hazards

Date: June 10, 2011 17:38

To: Anastasia Steele

Mining is a very, very dangerous occupation.

Christian Grey

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

From: Anastasia Steele

Subject: Hazards?

Date: June 10, 2011 17:40

To: Christian Grey

And your point is?

From: Christian Grey

Subject: Merely...

Date: June 10, 2011 17:42

To: Anastasia Steele

Making an observation, Miss Steele.

I'll see you shortly.

Sooners rather than laters, baby.

Christian Grey

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

I check myself in the mirror. What a difference a day can make. I have more color in my cheeks, and my eyes are shining. It's the Christian Grey effect. A little e-mail sparring with him will do that to a girl. I grin at the mirror and straighten my pale blue shirt - the one Taylor bought me. I am wearing my favorite jeans today, too. Most of the women in the office wear either jeans or floaty skirts. I will need to invest in a floaty skirt or two. Perhaps I'll do that this weekend and bank the check Christian gave me for Wanda, my Beetle.

As I head out of the building, I hear my name called.

"Miss Steele?"

I turn expectantly, and an ashen young woman approaches me cautiously. She looks like a ghost - so pale and strangely blank.

"Miss Anastasia Steele?" she repeats, and her features stay static even though she's speaking.

"Yes?"

She stops, staring at me from about three feet away on the sidewalk, and I stare back, immobilized. Who is she? What does she want?

"Can I help you?" I ask. How does she know my name?

"No... I just wanted to look at you." Her voice is eerily soft. Like me, she has dark hair that starkly contrasts with her fair skin. Her eyes are brown, like bourbon, but flat.

There's no life in them at all. Her beautiful face is pale, and etched with sorrow.

"Sorry - you have me at a disadvantage," I say politely, trying to ignore the warning tingle up my spine. On closer inspection, she looks odd, disheveled and uncared for. Her clothes are two sizes too big, including her designer trench coat.

She laughs, a strange, discordant sound that only feeds my anxiety.

"What do you have that I don't?" she asks sadly.

My anxiety turns to fear. "I'm sorry - who are you?"

"Me? I'm nobody." She lifts her arm to drag her hand through her shoulder length hair, and as she does, the sleeve of her trench coat rides up, revealing a soiled bandage around her wrist.

Holy fuck.

"Good day, Miss Steele." Turning, she walks up the street as I stand rooted to the spot.

I watch as her slight frame disappears from view, lost amongst the workers pouring out of their various offices.

What was that about?

Confused, I cross the street to the bar, trying to assimilate what has just happened, while my subconscious rears her ugly head and hisses at me -  She has something to do with Christian.

Fifty's is a cavernous, impersonal bar with baseball pennants and posters hanging on the wall. Jack is at the bar with Elizabeth, Courtney the other commissioning editor, two guys from finance, and Claire from reception. She is wearing her trademark silver hooped earrings.

"Hi, Ana!" Jack hands me a bottle of Bud.

"Cheers... thank you," I murmur, still shaken by my encounter with Ghost Girl.

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