WEDNESDAY, MAY 25, 2011
I order a glass of Sancerre and stand at the bar. I’ve been waiting for this moment all day and look repeatedly at my watch. This feels like a first date, and in a way it is. I’ve never taken a prospect out to dinner. I’ve sat through interminable meetings today, bought a business, and fired three people. Nothing I’ve done today, including running—twice—and a quick circuit in the gym, has dispelled the anxiety I’ve wrestled with all day. That power is in the hands of Anastasia Steele. I want her submission. I hope she’s not going to be late. I glance toward the entrance of the bar…and my mouth dries. She’s standing on the threshold, and for a second I don’t realize it’s her. She looks exquisite: her hair falls in soft waves to her breast on one side, and on the other it’s pinned back so it’s easier to see her delicate jawline and the gentle curve of her slender neck. She’s wearing high heels and a tight dark purple dress that accentuates her lithe, alluring figure. Wow. I step forward to meet her. “You look stunning,” I whisper, and kiss her cheek. Closing my eyes, I savor her scent; she smells heavenly. “A dress, Miss Steele. I approve.” Diamonds in her ears would complete the ensemble; I must buy her a pair. Taking her hand, I lead her to a booth. “What would you like to drink?” I’m rewarded with a knowing smile as she sits down. “I’ll have what you’re having, please.” Ah, she’s learning. “Another glass of the Sancerre,” I tell the waiter, and I slide into the booth, opposite her. “They have an excellent wine cellar here,” I add, and take a moment to look at her. She’s wearing a little makeup. Not too much. And I remember when she first fell into my office how ordinary I thought she looked. She is anything but ordinary. With a little makeup and the right clothes, she’s a goddess. She shifts in her seat and her eyelashes flutter. “Are you nervous?” I ask. “Yes.” This is it, Grey. Leaning forward, in a candid whisper, I tell her that I’m nervous, too. She looks at me as if I’ve grown three heads. Yeah, I’m human, too, baby…just. The waiter places Ana’s wine and two small plates of mixed nuts and olives between us. Ana squares her shoulders, an indication that she means business, like she did when she first interviewed me. “So, how are we going to do this? Run through my points one by one?” she asks. “Impatient as ever, Miss Steele.” “Well, I could ask you what you thought of the weather today,” she retorts.