Fifty Shades Freed (Fifty Shades #3)(8)

by E.L. James

"I have an idea." He leaps n**ed out of bed and heads to the bathroom.

What on earth is he doing? He returns moments later, carrying a glass of water, a mug, my razor, his shaving brush, soap, and a towel. He puts the water, brush, soap, and razor on the bedside table and gazes down at me, holding the towel.

Oh no! My subconscious slams down her Complete Works of Charles Dickens, leaps up from her armchair, and puts her hands on her hips.

"No. No. No," I squeak.

"Mrs. Grey, if a job's worth doing, it's worth doing well. Lift your hips." His eyes glow, summer storm gray.

"Christian! You are not shaving me."

He tilts his head to one side. "Why ever not?"

I flush . . . isn't it obvious? "Because . . . It's just too . . ."

"Intimate?" he whispers. "Ana, I crave intimacy with you - you know that. Besides, after some of the things we've done, don't get all squeamish on me now. And, I know this part of your body better than you do."

I gape at him. Of all the arrogant . . . true, he does - but still. "It's just wrong!" My voice is prissy and whiney.

"This isn't wrong - this is hot."

Hot? Really? "This turns you on?" I can't keep the astonishment out of my voice.

He snorts. "Can't you tell?" He glances down at his arousal. "I want to shave you," he whispers

Oh, what the hell. I lie back, throwing my arm over my face so I don't have to watch.

"If it makes you happy, Christian, go ahead. You are so kinky," I mutter, as I lift my hips, and he slips the towel beneath me. He kisses my inner thigh.

"Oh baby, how right you are."

I hear the slosh of water as he dips the shaving brush in the glass of water, then the soft swirl of the brush in the mug. He grasps my left ankle and parts my legs, and the bed dips as he sits between my legs.

"I'd really like to tie you up right now," he murmurs.

"I promise to keep still."

"Good."

I gasp as he runs the lathered brush over my pubic bone. It's warm. The water in the glass must be hot. I squirm a little. It tickles . . . but in a good way.

"Don't move," Christian admonishes and applies the brush again.

"Or I will tie you down," he adds darkly, and a delicious shiver runs down my spine.

"Have you done this before?" I ask tentatively when he reaches for the razor.

"No."

"Oh. Good." I grin.

"Another first, Mrs. Grey."

"Hmm. I like firsts."

"Me, too. Here goes." And with a gentleness that surprises me, he runs the razor over my sensitive flesh. "Keep still," he says distractedly, and I know he's concentrating hard.

It only takes a matter of minutes before he grabs the towel and wipes all the excess lather off me.

"There - that's more like it," he muses, and I finally lift my arm to look at him as he sits back to admire his handiwork.

"Happy?" I ask, my voice hoarse.

"Very." He grins wickedly and slowly eases a finger inside me.

"But that was fun," he says his eyes gently mocking.

"For you maybe." I try to pout - but he's right . . . it was . . . arousing.

"I seem to recall the aftermath was very satisfying." Christian returns to finishing his shave. I glance quickly down at my fingers. Yes, it was. I had no idea that the absence of pubic hair could make such a difference.

"Hey, I'm just teasing. Isn't that what husbands who are hopelessly in love with their wives do?" Christian tips my chin up and gazes at me, his eyes suddenly filled with apprehension as he endeavors to read my expression.

Hmm . . . payback time.

"Sit," I mutter.

He blinks at me, not understanding. I push him gently toward the lone white stool in the bathroom. He sits down, gazing at me puzzled, and I take the razor from him.

"Ana," he warns as he realizes my intention. I lean down and kiss him.

"Head back," I whisper.

He hesitates.

"Tit for tat, Mr. Grey."

He stares at me with wary, amused disbelief. "You know what you're doing?" he asks, his voice low. I shake my head slowly, deliberately, trying to look as serious as possible. He closes his eyes and shakes his head then tilts his head back in surrender. Holy shit, he's going to let me shave him. My inner goddess flexes and stretches her arms outward, her fingers interlocked, palms out, limbering up. Tentatively I slide my hand into the damp hair at his forehead, gripping tightly to hold him still. He clenches his eyes closed and parts his lips as he inhales. Very gently, I stroke his razor up from his neck to his chin, revealing a path of skin beneath the lather. Christian exhales.

"Did you think I was going to hurt you?"

"I never know what you're going to do, Ana, but no - not intentionally."

I run the razor up his neck again, clearing a wider path in the lather.

"I would never intentionally hurt you, Christian."

He opens his eyes and circles his arms around me as I gently drag the razor down his cheek from the bottom of his sideburn.

"I know," he says, angling his face so I can shave the rest of his cheek. Two more strokes and I've finished.

"All done, and not a drop of blood spilt." I grin proudly. He runs his hand up my leg so that my nightdress rides up my thigh and pulls me on to his lap so that I'm astride him. I steady myself with my hands on his upper arms. He's really very muscular.

"Can I take you somewhere today?"

"No sunbathing?" I arch a caustic brow at him.

He licks his lips nervously. "No. No sunbathing today. I thought you might prefer that."

"Well, since you've covered me in hickeys and effectively put the kibosh on that, sure, why not?"

Wisely he chooses to ignore my tone. "It's a drive, but it's worth a visit from what I've read. My dad recommended we visit. It's a hilltop village called Saint Paul de Vence. There are some galleries there. I thought we could pick out some paintings or sculptures for the new house, if we find anything we like."

Holy crap. I lean back and gaze at him. Art . . . he wants to buy art. How can I buy art?

"What?" he asks.

"I know nothing about art, Christian."

He shrugs and smiles at me indulgently. "We'll only buy what we like. This isn't about investment."

Investment? Jeez.

"What?" he says again.

I shake my head.

"Look, I know we only got the architect's drawings the other day -

but there's no harm in looking, and the town is an ancient, medieval place."

Oh - the architect, he had to remind me of her . . . a good friend of Elliot's, Gia Matteo. During our meetings, she'd been all over Christian like a rash.

"What now?" Christian exclaims. I shake my head. "Tell me," he urges.

How can I tell him that I don't like Gia? My dislike is irrational. I don't want to come across as the jealous wife.

"You're not still mad about what I did yesterday?" He sighs and nuzzles his face between my br**sts.

"No. I'm hungry," I mutter, knowing full well that this will distract him from this line of questioning.

"Why didn't you say?" He eases me off his lap and stands.

Saint Paul de Vence is a medieval fortified hilltop village, one of the most picturesque places I have ever seen. I stroll arm in arm with Christian through the narrow cobbled streets, my hand in the back pocket of his shorts. Taylor and either Gaston or Philippe - I can't tell the difference between them - trail behind us. We pass a tree-covered square where three old men, one wearing a traditional beret in spite of the heat, are playing boules. It's quite crowded with tourists, but I feel comfortable tucked under Christian's arm. There is so much to see -

little alleys and passageways leading to courtyards with intricate stone fountains, ancient and modern sculptures, and fascinating little boutiques and shops.

In the first gallery, Christian gazes distractedly at the erotic photographs in front of us, sucking gently on the arm of his aviator specs. They are the work of Florence D'elle - n**ed women in various poses.

"Not quite what I had in mind," I mumble disapprovingly. They make me think of the box of photographs I found in his closet, our closet. I wonder if he ever did destroy them.

"Me neither," Christian says, grinning down at me. He takes my hand and we stroll to the next artist. Idly, I wonder if I should let him take photos of me after all. My inner goddess nods frantically with approval.

The next display is by a female painter who specializes in figurative art - fruit and vegetables super close up and in rich, glorious color.

"I like those." I point to three paintings of peppers. "They remind me of you chopping vegetables in my apartment." I giggle. Christian's mouth twists as he tries and fails to hide his amusement.

"I thought I managed that quite competently," he mutters. "I was just a bit slow, and anyway" - he pulls me into an embrace - "you were distracting me. Where would you put them?"

"What?"

Christian is nuzzling my ear. "The paintings - where would you put them?" He bites my earlobe and I feel it in my groin.

"Kitchen," I murmur.

"Hmm. Nice idea, Mrs. Grey."

I squint at the price. Five thousand euros each. Holy shit!

"They're really expensive!" I gasp.

"So?" He nuzzles me again. "Get used to it, Ana." He releases me and saunters over to the desk where a young woman dressed entirely in white is standing gaping at him. I want to roll my eyes, but turn my attention back to the paintings. Five thousand euros . . . jeez.

We have finished lunch and are relaxing over coffee at the Hotel Le Saint Paul. The view of the surrounding countryside is stunning. Vineyards and fields of sunflowers form a patchwork across the plain, interspersed here and there with neat little French farmhouses. It's such a clear, beautiful day we can see all the way to the sea, glinting faintly on the horizon. Christian interrupts my reverie.

"You asked me why I braid your hair," he murmurs. His tone alarms me. He looks . . . guilty.

"Yes." Oh shit.

"The crack whore used to let me play with her hair, I think. I don't know if it's a memory or a dream."

Whoa! His birth mom.

He gazes at me, his expression unreadable. My heart leaps into my mouth. What do I say when he says things like this?

"I like you playing with my hair." My voice is gentle and hesitant. He blinks, his eyes wide, and fearful.

"Do you?"

"Yes." It's the truth. Reaching over I grasp his hand. "I think you loved your birth mother, Christian." His eyes widen even more and he stares at me impassively, saying nothing.

Holy shit. Have I gone too far? Say something, Fifty - please. But he remains resolutely mute, gazing at me with fathomless gray eyes while the silence stretches between us.

What are you thinking, husband of mine? He looks lost. He glances down at my hand on his and he frowns.

"Say something," I whisper, because I cannot bear the silence any longer.

He blinks then shakes his head, exhaling deeply.

"Let's go." He releases my hand and stands. His expression guarded. Have I overstepped the mark? I have no idea. My heart sinks and I don't know whether to say anything else or just let it go. I decide on the latter and follow him dutifully out of the restaurant. In the lovely narrow street, he takes my hand.

"Where do you want to go?"

He speaks! And he's not mad at me - thank heavens. I exhale, relieved, and shrug. "I am just glad you're still speaking to me."

"You know I don't like talking about all that shit. It's done. Finished," he says quietly .