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“Miss Steele, what do you mean?” I stalk her around the kitchen island. “It’ll be worse for you if I have to come and get you.” “That’s only if you catch me, Christian. And right now, I have no intention of letting you catch me.” Is she serious? “Anastasia, you may fall and hurt yourself. Which will put you in direct contravention of rule number seven, now six.” “I have been in danger since I met you, Mr. Grey, rules or no rules.” “Yes, you have.” Perhaps this is not a game. Is she trying to tell me something? She hesitates, and I make a sudden lunge to grab her. She squeals and dashes around the island, to the relative safety of the opposite side of the dining table. With her lips parted, her expression both wary and daring at once, the bathrobe slips off one shoulder. She looks hot. Really fucking hot. Slowly I prowl toward her, and she backs away. “You certainly know how to distract a man, Anastasia.” “We aim to please, Mr. Grey. Distract you from what?” “Life. The universe.” Ex-subs who’ve gone missing. Work. Our arrangement. Everything. “You did seem very preoccupied as you were playing.” She’s not backing down. I stop and fold my arms, reassessing my strategy. “We can do this all day, baby, but I will get you, and it will just be worse for you when I do.” “No, you won’t,” she says, with absolute certainty. I frown. “Anyone would think you didn’t want me to catch you.” “I don’t. That’s the point. I feel about punishment the way you feel about me touching you.” And from nowhere the darkness crawls over me, shrouding my skin, leaving an icy trail of despair in its wake. No. No. I can’t bear to be touched. Ever. “That’s how you feel?” It’s like she’s touched me, her nails leaving white tracks over my chest. She blinks several times, assessing my reaction, and when she speaks her voice is gentle. “No. It doesn’t affect me quite as much as that, but it gives you an idea.” Her expression is anxious. Well, hell! This shines a whole different light on our relationship. “Oh,” I mutter, because I can’t think of anything else to say. She takes a deep breath and approaches me, and when she’s standing in front of me she looks up, her eyes burning with apprehension. “You hate it that much?” I whisper. This is it. We are really incompatible. No. I don’t want to believe that. “Well…no,” she says, and relief washes through me. “No,” she continues. “I feel ambivalent about it. I don’t like it, but I don’t hate it.” “But last night, in the playroom, you—”

E l james grey  
E l james grey  

Fifty Shades of Grey

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