"Andrea, I'll call you back," he mutters. He puts the BlackBerry down on the desk behind him, pulls me into his embrace, and kisses me passionately. I am breathless when he releases me. His eyes are dark and needy.
"You're distracting me. I need to sort this, so I can get back to my honeymoon." He runs an index finger down my face and caresses my chin, tilting my face up.
"Okay. I'm sorry."
"Please don't apologize, Mrs. Grey. I love your distractions." He kisses the corner of my mouth.
"Go spend some money." He releases me.
"Will do." I smirk at him as I exit his study. My subconscious shakes her head and purses her lips. You didn't tell him you were going on the Jet Ski, she chastises me in her singsong voice. I ignore her . . . Harpy.
Taylor is patiently waiting.
"That's all cleared with high command . . . can we go?" I smile, trying to keep the sarcasm out of my voice. Taylor doesn't hide his admiring smile.
"Mrs. Grey, after you."
Taylor patiently talks me through the controls on the Jet Ski and how to ride it. He has a calm, gentle authority about him; he's a good teacher. We are in the motor launch, bobbing and weaving on the calm waters of the harbor beside the Fair Lady. Gaston looks on, his expression hidden by his shades, and one of the Fair Lady's crew is at the controls of the motor launch. Jeez - three people with me, just because I want to go shopping. It's ridiculous.
Zipping up my life jacket, I give Taylor a beaming grin. He holds out his hand to assist me as I climb onto the Jet Ski.
"Fasten the strap of the ignition key around your wrist, Mrs. Grey. If you fall off, the engine will cut out automatically," he explains.
I nod enthusiastically.
"Press the ignition when you've drifted about four feet away from the boat. We'll follow you."
He pushes the Jet Ski away from the launch, and it floats gently into the main harbor. When he gives me the okay sign, I press the ignition button and the engine roars into life.
"Okay, Mrs. Grey, easy does it!" Taylor shouts. I squeeze the accelerator. The Jet Ski lurches forward then stalls. Crap! How does Christian make it look so easy? I try again, and once again, I stall. Double crap!
"Just steady on the gas, Mrs. Grey," Taylor calls.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," I mutter under my breath. I try once more, very gently squeezing the lever, and the Jet Ski lurches forward - but this time it keeps going. Yes! It goes some more. Ha ha! It still keeps going!
I want to shout and squeal in excitement, but I resist. I cruise gently away from the yacht into the main harbor. Behind me, I hear the throaty roar of the motor launch. When I squeeze the gas further, the Jet Ski leaps forward, skating across the water. With the warm breeze in my hair and a fine sea spray on either side of me, I feel free. This rocks! No wonder Christian never lets me drive.
Rather than head for the shore and curtail the fun, I veer around to do a circuit of the stately Fair Lady. Wow - this is so much fun. I ignore Taylor and the crew behind me and speed around the yacht for a second time. As I complete the circuit, I spot Christian on deck. I think he's gaping at me, though it's difficult to tell. Bravely, I lift one hand from the handlebars and wave enthusiastically at him. He looks like he's made of stone, but finally he raises his hand in the semblance of a stiff wave. I can't work out his expression, and something tells me I don't want to, so I head to the marina, speeding across the blue water of the Mediterranean that shimmers in the late afternoon sun. At the dock, I wait and let Taylor pull up ahead of me. His expression is bleak, and my heart sinks, though Gaston looks vaguely amused. I wonder briefly if something has happened to chill GallicAmerican relations, but deep down I suspect the problem is probably me. Gaston leaps out of the motorboat and ties it to the moorings while Taylor directs me to come alongside. Very gently I ease the Jet Ski into position beside the boat and line up beside him. His expression softens a little.
"Just switch off the ignition, Mrs. Grey," he says calmly, reaching for the handlebars and holding out a hand to help me into the motorboat. I nimbly climb aboard, impressed that I don't fall in.
"Mrs. Grey," Taylor blinks nervously, his cheeks pink once more.
"Mr. Grey is not entirely comfortable with you riding on the Jet Ski."
He's practically squirming with embarrassment, and I realize he's had an irate call from Christian. Oh my poor, pathologically overprotective husband, what am I going to do with you?
I smile serenely at Taylor. "I see. Well, Taylor, Mr. Grey is not here, and if he's not entirely comfortable, I'm sure he'll give me the courtesy of telling me himself when I'm back on board."
Taylor winces. "Very good, Mrs. Grey," he says quietly, handing me my purse.
As I climb out of the boat, I catch a glimpse of his reluctant smile, and it makes me want to smile, too. I cannot believe how fond I am of Taylor, but I really don't appreciate being scolded by him - he's not my father or my husband.
Crap, Christian's mad - and he has enough to worry about at the moment. What was I thinking? As I stand on the dock waiting for Taylor to climb up, I feel my BlackBerry vibrate in my purse and fish it out. Sade's "Your Love is King" is my ring tone for Christian - only for Christian.
"Hi," I murmur.
"Hi," he says.
"I'll come back on the boat. Don't be mad."
I hear his small gasp of surprise. "Um . . ."
"It was fun, though," I whisper.
He sighs. "Well, far be it for me to curtail your fun, Mrs. Grey. Just be careful. Please."
Oh my! Permission to have fun! "I will. Anything you want from town?"
"Just you, back in one piece."
"I'll do my best to comply, Mr. Grey."
"I'm glad to hear it, Mrs. Grey."
"We aim to please," I respond with a giggle.
I hear his smile in his voice. "I have another call - laters, baby."
He hangs up. Jet Ski crisis averted, I think. The car is waiting, and Taylor holds the door open for me. I wink at him as I climb in, and he shakes his head in amusement.
In the car, I fire up the e-mail on my BlackBerry.
From: Anastasia Grey
Subject: Thank You
Date: August 17, 2011 16:55
To: Christian Grey
For not being too grouchy.
Your loving wife
From: Christian Grey
Subject: Trying to Stay Calm
Date: August 17, 2011 16:59
To: Anastasia Grey
Come back in one piece.
This is not a request.
CEO & Overprotective Husband, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.
His response makes me smile. My control freak.
Why did I want to come shopping? I hate shopping. But deep down I know why, and I walk determinedly past Chanel, Gucci, Dior, and the other designer boutiques and eventually find the antidote to what ails me in a small, overstocked, touristy store. It's a little silver ankle bracelet with small hearts and little bells. It tinkles sweetly and it costs five euros. As soon as I've bought it, I put it on. This is me - this is what I like. Immediately I feel more comfortable. I don't want to lose touch with the girl who likes this, ever. Deep down I know that I'm not only overwhelmed by Christian himself but also by his wealth. Will I ever get used to it?
Taylor and Gaston follow me dutifully through the late afternoon crowds, and I soon forget they are there. I want to buy something for Christian, something to take his mind off what's happening in Seattle. But what do I buy for the man who has everything? I pause in a small modern square surrounded by stores and gaze at each one in turn. When I spy an electronics store, our visit to the gallery earlier today and our visit to the Louvre come back to me. We were looking at the Venus de Milo at the time . . . Christian's words echo in my head, "We can all appreciate the female form. We love to look whether in marble or oils or satin or film."
It gives me an idea, a daring idea. I just need help choosing the right one, and there's only one person who can help me. I wrestle my BlackBerry out of my purse and call Jose.
"Who . . . ?" he mumbles sleepily.
"Jose, it's Ana."
"Ana? Do you have any idea what time it is?" he says grumpily. Holy crap - I thought I had a better handle on the time zones.
"Where are you? You okay?" He sounds more alert now, concerned.
"I'm in Cannes in the South of France, and I'm fine."
"South of France, huh? You in some fancy hotel?"
"Um . . . no. We're staying on a boat."
"A big boat." I clarify, sighing.
"I see." His tone chills. . . Shit, I should not have called him. I don't need this right now.
"Jose, I need your advice."
"My advice?" He sounds stunned. "Sure," he says, and this time he's much more friendly. I tell him my plan.
Two hours later, Taylor helps me out of the motor launch onto the steps up to the deck. Gaston is helping the deckhand with the Jet Ski. Christian is nowhere to be seen, and I scurry down to our cabin to wrap his present, feeling a childish sense of delight.
"You were gone some time." Christian startles me just as I am applying the last piece of tape. I turn to find him standing in the doorway to the cabin, watching me intently. Holy shit! Am I still in trouble over the Jet Ski? Or is it the fire at his office?
"Everything in control at your office?" I ask tentatively.
"More or less," he says, an annoyed frown flitting across his face.
"I did a little shopping," I murmur, hoping to lighten his mood, and praying his annoyance is not directed at me. He smiles warmly, and I know we're okay.
"What did you buy?"
"This," I put my foot up on the bed and show him my ankle chain.
"Very nice," he says. He steps over to me and fondles the tiny bells so that they jingle sweetly around my ankle. He frowns again at the mark left by the cuffs and runs his fingers lightly along the line, sending tingles up my leg.
"And this." I hold out the box, hoping to distract him.
"For me?" he asks in surprise. I nod shyly. He takes the box and shakes it gently. He grins his boyish, dazzling smile and sits down beside me on the bed. Leaning over, he grasps my chin and kisses me.
"Thank you," he says with shy delight.
"You haven't opened it yet."
"I'll love it, whatever it is." He gazes down at me, his eyes glowing.
"I don't get many presents."
"It's hard to buy you things. You have everything."
"I have you."
"You do." I grin at him. Oh, you so do, Christian.
He makes short work of the wrapping paper. "A Nikon?" He glances up at me, puzzled.
"I know you have your compact digital camera but this is for . . . um . . . portraits and the like. It comes with two lenses."
He blinks at me, still not understanding.
"Today in the gallery you liked the Florence D'elle photographs. And I remember what you said in the Louvre. And of course, there were those other photographs." I swallow, trying my best not to recall the images I found in his closet.
He stops breathing, his eyes widening as realization dawns, and I continue hurriedly before I lose my nerve.
"I thought you might, um . . . like to take pictures of . . . me."
"Pictures. Of you?" He gapes at me ignoring the box on his lap. I nod, desperately trying to gauge his reaction. Finally he gazes back down at the box, his fingers tracing over the illustration of the camera on the front with fascinated reverence.