Where is she?

For one sweet moment I forget all that transpired yesterday—then it floods back.

She’s gone.

Fuck.

The evidence of my desire presses into the mattress—but the memory of her bright eyes, clouded with hurt and humiliation as she left, soon solves that problem.

Feeling like shit, I lie on my back and stare at the ceiling, arms behind my head. The day stretches out before me, and for the first time in years, I don’t know what to do with myself. I check the time again: 5:58.

Hell, I might as well go for a run.

PROKOFIEV’S “ARRIVAL OF THE Montagues and Capulets” blares in my ears as I pound the sidewalk through the early morning quiet of Fourth Avenue. I ache everywhere—my lungs are bursting, my head is throbbing, and the yawning, dull ache of loss eats away at my insides. I cannot run from this pain, though I’m trying. I stop to change the music and drag precious air into my lungs. I want something…violent. “Pump It,” by the Black Eyed Peas, yeah. I pick up the pace.

I find myself running down Vine Street, and I know it’s insane, but I hope to see her. As I near her street my heart races still harder and my anxiety escalates. I’m not desperate to see her—I just want to check that she’s okay. No, that’s not true. I want to see her. Finally on her street, I pace past her apartment building.

All is quiet—an Oldsmobile trundles up the road, two dog walkers are out—but there’s no sign of life from inside her apartment. Crossing the street, I pause on the sidewalk opposite, then duck into the doorway of an apartment building to catch my breath.

The curtains of one room are closed, the others open. Perhaps that’s her room. Maybe she’s still asleep—if she’s there at all. A nightmare scenario forms in my mind: she went out last night, got drunk, met someone…

No.

Bile rises in my throat. The thought of her body in someone else’s hands, some asshole basking in the warmth of her smile, making her giggle, making her laugh—making her come. It takes all my self-control not to go barging through the front door of her apartment to check that she’s there and on her own.

You brought this on yourself, Grey.

Forget her. She’s not for you.

I tug my Seahawks cap low over my face and sprint on down Western Avenue.

My jealousy is raw and angry; it fills the gaping hole. I hate it—it stirs something deep in my psyche that I really don’t want to examine. I run harder, away from that memory, away from the pain, away from Anastasia Steele.

IT’S DUSK OVER SEATTLE. I stand up and stretch. I’ve been at my desk in my study all day, and it’s been productive. Ros has worked hard, too. She’s prepared and sent me a first draft business plan and letter of intent for SIP.

At least I’ll be able to keep an eye on Ana.

The thought is painful and appealing in equal measure.

I’ve read and commented on two patent applications, a few contracts, and a new design spec, and while lost in the detail of those, I have not thought about her. The little glider is still on my desk, taunting me, reminding me of happier times, like she said. I picture her standing in the doorway of my study, wearing one of my T-shirts, all long legs and blue eyes, just before she seduced me.

Another first.

I miss her.

There—I admit it. I check my phone, hoping in vain, and there’s a text from Elliot.

Beer, hotshot?

I respond:

No. Busy.

Elliot’s response is immediate.

Fuck you, then.

Yeah. Fuck me.

Nothing from Ana: no missed call. No e-mail. The nagging pain in my gut intensifies. She’s not going to call. She wanted out. She wanted to get away from me, and I can’t blame her.

It’s for the best.

I head to the kitchen for a change of scenery.

Gail is back. The kitchen has been cleaned, and there’s a pot bubbling on the stove. Smells good…but I’m not hungry. She walks in while I’m eyeing what’s cooking.

“Good evening, sir.”

“Gail.”

She pauses—surprised by something. Surprised by me? Shit, I must look bad.

“Chicken Chasseur?” she asks, her voice uncertain.

“Sure,” I mutter.

“For two?” she asks.

I stare at her, and she looks embarrassed.

“For one.”

“Ten minutes?” she says, her voice wavering.

“Fine.” My voice is frigid.

I turn to leave.

“Mr. Grey?” She stops me.

“What, Gail?”

“It’s nothing. Sorry to disturb you.” She turns to the stove to stir the chicken, and I head off to have another shower.

Christ, even my staff have noticed that something’s rotten in the state of fucking Denmark.

MONDAY, JUNE 6, 2011

* * *

I dread going to bed. It’s after midnight, and I’m tired, but I sit at my piano, playing the Bach Marcello piece over and over again. Remembering her head resting on my shoulder, I can almost smell her sweet fragrance.

For fuck’s sake, she said she’d try!

I stop playing and clutch my head in both hands, my elbows hammering out two discordant chords as I lean on the keys. She said she’d try, but she fell at the first hurdle.

Then she ran.

Why did I hit her so hard?

Deep inside I know the answer—because she asked me to, and I was too impetuous and selfish to resist the temptation. Seduced by her challenge, I seized the opportunity to move us on to where I wanted us to be. And she didn’t safe-word, and I hurt her more than she could take—when I promised her I’d never do that.

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