Home > Darker (Fifty Shades as Told by Christian #2)

Darker (Fifty Shades as Told by Christian #2)
Author: E.L. James


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

 


* * *

 

Thanks to:

Everyone at Vintage, for your dedication and professionalism. I am constantly inspired by your expertise, good humor, and love for the written word.

Anne Messitte, for your faith in me. I will forever be indebted to you.

Tony Chirico, Russell Perreault, and Paul Bogaards for your invaluable support.

The wonderful production, editorial, and design team who brought this project together: Megan Wilson, Lydia Buechler, Kathy Hourigan, Andy Hughes, Chris Zucker, and Amy Brosey.

Niall Leonard, for your love, support, and guidance, and for being less grumpy.

Valerie Hoskins, my agent—thank you for everything every day.

Kathleen Blandino, for the pre-read, and for all things Web.

Brian Brunetti, once again, for your invaluable insight into helicopter accidents.

Laura Edmonston for sharing your knowledge of the Pacific Northwest.

Professor Chris Collins, for enlightening me about soil science.

Ruth, Debra, Helena, and Liv for the encouragement and word challenges, and for making me get this done.

Dawn and Daisy, for your friendship and advice.

Andrea, BG, Becca, Bee, Britt, Catherine, Jada, Jill, Kellie, Kelly, Leis, Liz, Nora, Raizie, QT, Susi—how many years is it now? And we’re still going strong. Thank you for the Americanisms.

And all my author and book world friends—you know who you are—you inspire me every day.

And lastly, thank you to my children. I love you unconditionally. I will always be so proud of the wonderful young men you have become. You bring me such joy.

Stay golden. Both of you.

 

 

THURSDAY, JUNE 9, 2011

 


* * *

 

I sit. Waiting. My heart is thumping. It’s 5:36 and I stare through the privacy glass of my Audi at the front door of her building. I know I’m early, but I’ve been looking forward to this moment all day.

I’m going to see her.

I shift in my seat in the rear of the car. The atmosphere feels stifling, and though I’m trying to remain calm, the anticipation and anxiety are knotting my stomach and pressing down on my chest. Taylor sits in the driver’s seat, staring straight ahead, wordless, looking his usual composed self, while I can barely breathe. It’s irritating.

Damn it. Where is she?

She’s inside—inside Seattle Independent Publishing. Set back beyond a wide, open sidewalk, the building is shabby and in need of renovation; the company’s name is etched haphazardly in the glass, and the frosted effect on the window is peeling. The business behind those closed doors could be an insurance company or an accounting firm—they’re not displaying their wares. Well, that’s something I can rectify when I take control. SIP is mine. Almost. I’ve signed the revised heads of agreement.

Taylor clears his throat and his eyes dart to mine in the rearview mirror. “I’ll wait outside, sir,” he says, surprising me, and he climbs out of the car before I can stop him.

Maybe he’s more affected by my tension than I thought. Am I that obvious? Maybe he’s tense. But why? Maybe it’s because he’s had to deal with my ever-changing moods this past week, and I know I’ve not been easy.

But today has been different. Hopeful. It’s the first productive day I’ve had since she left me, or so it feels. My optimism has driven me through my meetings with enthusiasm. Ten hours until I see her. Nine. Eight. Seven…My patience has been tested by the clock as it ticks closer to my reunion with Miss Anastasia Steele.

And now that I’m sitting here, alone and waiting, the determination and confidence I’ve enjoyed all day are evaporating.

Perhaps she’s changed her mind.

Will it be a reunion? Or am I just the free ride to Portland?

I check my watch again.

5:38.

Shit. Why does time move so slowly?

I contemplate sending her an e-mail to let her know I’m outside, but as I fumble for my phone, I realize I don’t want to take my eyes off the front door. Leaning back, I run through her recent e-mails in my mind. I know them by heart, all of them friendly and concise but without a hint that she’s been missing me.

Maybe I am the free ride.

I dismiss the thought and stare at the doorway, willing her to appear.

Anastasia Steele, I’m waiting.

The door opens and my heart soars into overdrive but then quickly stutters with disappointment. It’s not her.

Damn.

She has always kept me waiting. A humorless smile tugs at my lips: waiting at Clayton’s, at The Heathman after the photo shoot, and again when I sent her the Thomas Hardy books.

Tess…

I wonder if she still has them. She wanted to give them back to me; she wanted to give them to a charity.

I don’t want anything that will remind me of you.

The image of Ana leaving surfaces in my mind’s eye: her sad, ashen face stricken with hurt and confusion. The memory is unwelcome. Painful.

I made her that miserable. I took everything too far, too quickly. And it fills me with a despair that has become all too familiar since she left. Closing my eyes, I try to center myself, but I’m confronted by my deepest, darkest fear: she’s met someone else. She’s sharing her little white bed and her beautiful body with some fucking stranger.

Damn it, Grey. Stay positive.

Don’t go there. All is not lost. You’ll be seeing her shortly. Your plans are in place. You are going to win her back. Opening my eyes, I stare at the front door through the window, my mood now as dark as the Audi’s tinted glass. More people leave the building, but still no Ana.

Where is she?

Taylor is pacing outside and glancing toward the front door. Christ, he looks as nervous as I feel. What the hell is it to him?

My watch says 5:43. She’ll be out in a moment. I take a deep breath and tug at my cuffs, then try to straighten my tie, only to find I’m not wearing one. Hell. Raking my hand through my hair, I try to dismiss my doubts, but they continue to plague me. Am I just a free ride to her? Will she have missed me? Will she want me back? Is there someone else? I have no idea. This is worse than waiting for her in the Marble Bar, and the irony is not lost on me. I thought that was the biggest deal I’d ever negotiate with her and that didn’t turn out the way I expected. Nothing turns out as I expect with Miss Anastasia Steele. Panic knots my stomach once more. Today, I have to negotiate a bigger deal.

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