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Shit. “Christian, I…look, I’ve left my stepdad on his own.” “Tomorrow. I want an answer by tomorrow.” “Okay. Tomorrow, I’ll tell you then,” she says with an anxious look. Well, it’s still not a “no.” And once more, I’m surprised by my relief. What the hell is it about this woman? She stares up at me with sincere blue eyes, her face etched in concern, and I resist the urge to touch her. “Are you staying for drinks?” I ask. “I don’t know what Ray wants to do.” She looks uncertain. “Your stepfather? I’d like to meet him.” Her uncertainty magnifies. “I’m not sure that’s a good idea,” she says darkly, as I unlock the door. What? Why? Is this because she now knows I was dirt-poor as a kid? Or because she knows how I like to fuck? That I’m a freak? “Are you ashamed of me?” “No!” she exclaims, and she rolls her eyes in frustration. “Introduce you to my dad as what?” She raises her hands in exasperation. “ ‘This is the man who deflowered me and wants us to start a BDSM relationship’? You’re not wearing running shoes.” Running shoes? Her dad is going to come after me? And just like that she has injected a little humor between us. My mouth twitches in response and she returns my smile, her face lighting up like a summer dawn. “Just so you know, I can run quite fast,” I respond playfully. “Just tell him I’m your friend, Anastasia.” I open the door and follow her out but stop when I reach the chancellor and his colleagues. As one they turn and stare at Miss Steele, but she’s disappearing into the auditorium. They turn back to me. Miss Steele and I are none of your business, people. I give the chancellor a brief, polite nod and he asks if I’ll come and meet more of his colleagues and enjoy some canapés. “Sure,” I reply. It takes me thirty minutes to escape from the faculty gathering, and as I make my way out of the crowded reception Kavanagh falls into step beside me. We head to the lawn where the graduates and their families are enjoying a post-graduation drink in a large tented pavilion. “So have you asked Ana to dinner on Sunday?” she asks. Sunday? Has Ana mentioned that we’re seeing each other on Sunday? “At your parents’ house,” Kavanagh explains. My parents? I spot Ana. What the fuck? A tall blond guy who looks as if he’s walked off a beach in California has his hands all over her. Who the hell is that? Is this why she didn’t want me to come for a drink? Ana looks up, catches my expression, and pales as her roommate stands beside that guy. “Hello,

E l james grey  

Fifty Shades of Grey