Page 19

As the water cascades over my head I reflect on my latest interaction with the challenging Miss Steele. She’s still here, in my bed, so she cannot find me completely repulsive. I noticed the way her breath caught in her throat, and how her gaze followed me around the room.

Yeah. There’s hope.

But would she make a good submissive?

It’s obvious she knows nothing of the lifestyle. She couldn’t even say “fuck” or “sex” or whatever bookish college students use as a euphemism for fucking these days. She’s quite the innocent. She’s probably been subjected to a few fumbling encounters with boys like the photographer.

The thought of her fumbling with anyone irks me.

I could just ask her if she’s interested.

No. I’d have to show her what she’d be taking on if she agreed to a relationship with me.

Let’s see how we both fare over breakfast.

Rinsing off the soap, I stand beneath the hot stream and gather my wits for round two with Anastasia Steele. I switch off the water and, stepping out of the shower, grab a towel. A quick check in the steamed-up mirror and I decide to skip shaving today. Breakfast will be here shortly, and I’m hungry. Quickly I brush my teeth.

When I open the bathroom door she’s out of bed and searching for her jeans. She looks up like the archetypal startled fawn, all long legs and big eyes.

“If you’re looking for your jeans, I’ve sent them to the laundry.” She really has great legs. She shouldn’t hide them in pants. Her eyes narrow, and I think she’s going to argue with me, so I tell her why. “They were spattered with your vomit.”

“Oh,” she says.

Yes. “Oh.” Now, what do you have to say to that, Miss Steele?

“I sent Taylor out for another pair and some shoes. They’re in the bag on the chair.” I nod at the shopping bag.

She raises her eyebrows—in surprise, I think. “Um. I’ll have a shower,” she mutters, and then as an afterthought she adds, “Thanks.”

Grabbing the bag, she dodges around me, darts into the bathroom, and locks the door.

Hmm…she couldn’t get into the bathroom quick enough.

Away from me.

Perhaps I’m being too optimistic.

Disheartened, I briskly dry off and get dressed. In the living room I check my e-mail, but there’s nothing urgent. I’m interrupted by a knock on the door. Two young women have arrived from room service.

“Where would you like breakfast, sir?”

“Set it up on the dining table.”

Walking back into the bedroom, I catch their furtive looks, but I ignore them and suppress the guilt I feel over how much food I’ve ordered. We’ll never eat it all.

“Breakfast is here,” I call, and rap on the bathroom door.

“O-okay.” Ana’s voice sounds a little muted.

Back in the living room, our breakfast is on the table. One of the women, who has dark, dark eyes, hands me the check to sign, and from my wallet I pull a couple of twenties for them.

“Thank you, ladies.”

“Just call room service when you want the table cleared, sir,” Miss Dark Eyes says with a coquettish look, as if she’s offering more.

My chilly smile warns her off.

Sitting down at the table with the newspaper, I pour myself a coffee and make a start on my omelet. My phone buzzes—a text from Elliot.

Kate wants to know if Ana is still alive.

I chuckle, somewhat mollified that Ana’s so-called friend is thinking about her. It’s obvious that Elliot hasn’t given his dick a rest after all his protestations yesterday. I text back.

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