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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. Alive and kicking ;)

Ana appears a few moments later: hair wet, in the pretty blue blouse that matches her eyes. Taylor has done well; she looks lovely. Scanning the room, she spots her purse. “Crap, Kate!” she blurts. “She knows you’re here and still alive. I texted Elliot.” She gives me an uncertain smile as she walks toward the table. “Sit,” I say, pointing to the place that’s been set for her. She frowns at the amount of food on the table, which only accentuates my guilt. “I didn’t know what you liked, so I ordered a selection from the breakfast menu,” I mutter by way of an apology. “That’s very profligate of you,” she says.

E l james grey  

Fifty Shades of Grey

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