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the women into the living room. “Dad, you saw me yesterday,” I mutter. “Dad jokes”—my father excels at them. Kavanagh and Elliot are cuddling on one of the sofas. But Kavanagh gets up to hug Ana when we enter. “Christian.” She gives me a polite nod. “Kate.” And now Elliot has his big paws all over Ana. Fuck, who knew my family was so touchy-feely all of a sudden? Put her down. I glare at Elliot and he grins—an I’m-just-showing-you-how-it’s-done expression plastered all over his face. I slip my arm around Ana’s waist and pull her to my side. All eyes are on us. Hell. This feels like a freak show. “Drinks?” Dad offers. “Prosecco?” “Please,” Ana and I reply together. Mia bounces on the spot and claps her hands. “You’re even saying the same things. I’ll get them.” She dashes out of the room. What the hell is wrong with my family? Ana frowns. She’s probably finding them weird, too. “Dinner’s almost ready,” Grace says as she follows Mia out of the room. “Sit,” I tell Ana, and I lead her over to one of the sofas. She does as she’s told and I sit at her side, careful not to touch her. I need to set an example for my overly demonstrative family. Maybe they’ve always been this way? My father diverts me. “We were just talking about vacations, Ana. Elliot has decided to follow Kate and her family to Barbados for a week.” Dude! I stare at Elliot. What the hell happened to Mr. Love ’Em and Leave ’Em? Kavanagh must be good in the sack. She certainly looks smug enough. “Are you taking a break now that you’ve finished your degree?” Carrick asks Ana. “I’m thinking about going to Georgia for a few days,” she answers. “Georgia?” I exclaim, unable to hide my surprise. “My mother lives there,” she says, her voice wavering, “and I haven’t seen her for a while.” “When were you thinking of going?” I snap. “Tomorrow, late evening.” Tomorrow! What the fuck? And I’m only learning of this now? Mia returns with pink prosecco for Ana and me. “Your good health!” Dad raises his glass. “For how long?” I persist, trying to keep my voice level. “I don’t know yet. It will depend how my interviews go tomorrow.” Interviews? Tomorrow? “Ana deserves a break,” Kavanagh interrupts, staring at me with ill-concealed antagonism. I want

E l james grey  

Fifty Shades of Grey