Just Breathe, Chapter 1 – Graduation Day at WSUV
I don't know why I do these things. I hate crowds. I wouldn't do this for anyone or anything other than the farms at WSUV. I consented to an interview for the student magazine – although it netted me nothing. I wanted a marker with Keaton Kavanagh of Kavanagh Media I could call in when needed. The interview was scheduled with his daughter, the editor of the school magazine. Instead Miss Kavanagh gets the flu and I am interviewed by an obnoxious brat photographer named Levi Corbin. For security purposes, I don't allow pictures in my office or on the top floor of Grey House. He didn't want lobby pictures, so I took him outside. I leaned against the planter at the entry with the GEH logo over my head. Take that GQ! Christian Grey is smart as well as beautiful! I got that damned nosy photographer outdoors for the pictures and out of the building in record time. Damn inquisitive fucker asked me if I was gay – the one question my family won't even ask. Christ; doesn't he know that's politically incorrect? What is Miss Kavanagh teaching her staff? I'm given an extra bonus when the skies start pouring rain on the photographer as I yell goodbye and sprint for my building.
Breathe, control and project. Get through handing out diplomas today and then return to your real world. Flynn's having a field day with my current situation. He gave me his Skype address so I could contact him while he's on vacation if the WSUV graduation gets to me or if I contract with a new submissive. I don't know why it's taken so long to arrange for a new submissive since the Susannah fiasco. It would feel good to have a new submissive. I fantasize about the initial interview where I see she is physically pleasing – a petite brunette with pale skin and long hair. The thought of discussing our limits and discovering how compatible we are excites me. I anticipate the joy of sharing the playroom when I'm testing her limits, watching her pale skin turn pink under my hand as I spank her – feel the singing desire in her skin after I flog her – feel the resistance of her muscles when I forbid her to climax. Hear her breathy, "Yes, Master" when I order her to please me orally. Then the memory of Susannah breaking one of my hard limits effectively cock blocks my sexual fantasies.
Susannah wasn't answering her cell or text messages that Sunday. I called Sawyer to check if she was asleep. I knew something was wrong when I asked him to relay the message I was on my way home from my parents' house in Bellevue. He didn't want to say, but Susannah was flashing her bits in the sauna room downstairs. He advised her not to use the gym and sauna; but she ignored him. I stopped in the sauna and grabbed her by the arm, pulling her half-nude body into the elevator. I don't like to share. I wanted to cane the shit out of her, but instead I coldly terminated our contract. When I stepped off the elevator with her; I gave Taylor 15 minutes to remove her from my home and change the codes to deny her access. I called Barney to have him block her cell phone and email from contacting me again.
Both Flynn and I are amazed I didn't beat the shit out of Susannah. Flynn suggests a filter went off in my head. He suggests a subconscious unpleasant memory of my treatment at Elena's cruel Domme hands stopped me from beating Susannah black and blue and then fucking her unconscious. I believe I did not want to touch her after knowing she was flirting with a stranger when she should have been in my home, waiting for my return.
Elena hounds me to interview potential submissives; but I can't ignore the nagging thoughts in my head about her vetting Susannah. When I contracted with Susannah, I wanted a submissive with minimal limits and extreme stamina. I wanted someone lithe, graceful and well-trained. Susannah might have been an excellent long-term submissive if she had behaved properly. I haven't had a submissive with extreme stamina since Sabine. I haven't had a long-term submissive since Leila. I acknowledge that Leila and my contract may have existed for too long. Leila wanted more; she thought she was in love with me. Leila wanted me to step up and declare my love for her. I did not love her; I was fond of her – but there was no way that I would have offered anything to her other than a D/s contract. After we terminated, she married someone else almost immediately. So much for her loving me forever.
Well, stun me! Katherine Kavanagh gave a good speech. "You've graduated…and four years of working towards a goal have come to fruition. Look beyond your immediate future to your next set of goals…" I join in the standing ovation for her just to have the opportunity to stretch my legs. Next is conferring diplomas. God, why did I agree to do this? The university asked because it's good press. Having a proven track record with my corporation, the university can seek more grants and donations from other large corporations. Once this is over, Taylor and I can go back to Seattle. No more donor lunches or dinners, no more donor invitations to college plays or musicals and reviews of college art. My kingdom for stock in Purell. I wish I could be rude and disinfect after shaking hands with some of these fuckers.
"Congratulations, Miss Steele." Ow! I'm shocked when a petite brunette shakes my hand. "Are you all right – sorry to shock you." I say as smoothly as I can, still feeling current running between us. Her beautiful blue eyes reflect how startled she is by the connection.
"Yes sir," she says quietly, glancing up at me through lush eyelashes, a lovely blush capturing my attention.
My body freezes, but my blood races hot and strong. I let her hand go and watch as she walks a few feet; giving Katherine Kavanagh a high five on her way down the stairs and back to her seat. The breeze catches her brunette hair and I realize – She knows Kavanagh! I am still stunned from the current that ran between us – I can't think – I have to concentrate. Thank god we're in the last of the S names and there isn't much more alphabet to go.
Post-graduation I'm surrounded by the university president, vice president and provosts. They drag me into a marquee for a quick drink and more introductions to people I will never see again in my life. I catch Taylor's eye and flash 10 at him, knowing he wants to get back home as fast as I do. Charlie Tango is on standby here. We can be in Seattle in less than two hours once we clear out of this place. Sawyer can drive the SUV back, Taylor will co-pilot with me.
Once I tasted the miserable excuse for white wine. I switch to mineral water. Mentally, I'm counting down the minutes until Taylor and I can depart. Suddenly I'm approached by Katherine Kavanagh. She wants me to sign the magazine article for her. I step away from the sycophants and follow her. I engage her in conversation, offering my condolences for her illness; congratulating her on the article and on her valedictorian status before we arrive at a group of people. She introduces me to her parents and her brother – who has just finished hugging my brunette. My brunette? Get a grip Grey! He lets her go to shake my hand. She is startled to see me again when Katherine introduces her roommate, Anastasia Steele. I feel a current pass between us again, when she shakes my hand. Then I'm introduced to Raymond Steele, Anastasia's father. Keaton Kavanagh asks what my plans are now that the ceremony is over. Now that Miss Steele is out of that shapeless graduation gown, I can see her appealing petite body. I don't stare; but she's got great tits, a tiny waist, long legs and alabaster skin. I want to see more of Miss Steele.
I make a quiet but impassioned plea to Kavanagh to please invite me for a drink, lunch or an impromptu business meeting. I tell him I need to get away from the president, provosts and all the professors hovering by the bar waiting for me to return and be introduced. It is decided we should go to lunch. I haven't checked out of the Heathman yet. I convince the group it is easier to get lunch sent up to my suite than to find an open restaurant in the surging after-graduation crowd. Keaton Kavanagh is zealous to talk to me in a private setting. His attitude sets the right tone for our adventure.
A photographer approaches; surprising me. I step away from Keaton, which puts me next to the luscious Miss Steele. My presence unnerves her and she stumbles back. I catch her, snaking my arm around her to steady her. She glances up at me, peeking under those long lashes. The photographer gets our picture. Part of me wants to contact my communications office and squash the picture. Another part of me wants to see if Miss Anastasia Steele looks as good in close proximity to me as I want her to. The small crowd I'm with laughs about the eager photographer, including the lovely Miss Steele. She has the sweetest giggle. It is throaty and warm and envelops me like sunshine warming my bones.
"Thank you, Mr. Grey," the photographer says, offering me his card. I have to release Miss Steele to take the card. "And you are…?" He questions Anastasia.
"Anastasia Steele," Katherine Kavanagh replies, spelling Anastasia's last name for him. "Ana graduated Summa Cum Laude." She says proudly.
My blue-eyed beauty is smart, but she rolls her eyes at Katherine, who sticks her tongue out in reply. Normally, I'd like to spank both their asses for being rude; but it is obvious they are good friends; almost like sisters. I recognize their antics as ones exchanged between Elliott and Mia.
I explain the change of plans to Taylor. He suggests it would be best if we depart in my SUV and Miss Kavanagh's car as they are in private parking and close to an exit. We will not be caught in the parking garage for hours trying to get out with the rest of the lemmings. It's settled then; Katherine and her brother will ride in Katherine's car, the Kavanaghs and Steeles with me. Taylor, Miss Steele and I are in the front seat, the Kavanaghs and Mr. Steele are in the back seat. I loved fastening her seatbelt when she fumbled and could not get it fastened. I loved taking it from her soft petite hand and fastening it for her. I imagine her secured in my playroom, unable to slip away from me. I angle my body to talk to Kavanagh, with my arm resting on the seat. My knee is close to Miss Steele.
Taylor, hit a pothole, so my hand slips off the back of the seat and touches that alabaster skin available through the open back of her halter dress. It's a lovely dress, it matches my grey tie. God, I fantasize about securing her to my playroom bed with my tie and having my wicked way with her. I love her giggle. Would she giggle when I tease her with my mouth on the inside of her thighs? Would she giggle when I restrained and tormented her by tickling?
I keep an interested tone with my guests until we arrive at the Heathman. It gives me great pleasure to take Miss Steele's tiny hand in mine and help her out of the SUV. I feel the current pass between us again.
"Thank you, sir," she murmurs politely to me. Her eyes peek at me under those lush eyelashes again. She's wearing minimum makeup…OMG, are those real? God, that mouth – I want to fuck that mouth. No, I want to kiss that mouth until her lips are swollen and bruised and she can't catch her breath – then I want to fuck that mouth.
One of Mr. Grey's bodyguards, Sawyer, confers with Mrs. K. over the room service menu. They order an appropriate graduation lunch which is billed to Mr. Grey's room. He explains he's taking Mr. K. away from celebrating his daughter's achievements to talk business so it is only appropriate that he provide lunch. Ray and Ethan head toward a guest bathroom. Kate and I follow Taylor to the ensuite attached to the master bedroom.
Oh my god...I can't think. I spent ten minutes in that man's bathroom, just smelling his body wash. It makes me want to go to luxury stores and find sample cards of that smell! I have licentious thoughts about what I would do to be with that man in his bed. I've spent too much time reading proper English classics and not enough time reading bodice rippers or erotica. I don't have a clue how to talk to that man. I'm so lacking in fundamental feminine skills. I don't know how to flirt. Kate is a black belt master at flirting! Hair and makeup and clothes come so easily to Kate. I think Mr. Grey's interested in Kate, because he keeps looking over at us...unless it's Ethan he's checking out. Crap! I slap my inner goddess for thinking he is gay.
As ice breakers; I explain the WSUV farms grant. Part of their research is new technology for sustainable farming. As part of their funding, I require each professor in the program to donate time to horticulture or agriculture-based community programs. One of their professors is involved in a greenhouse project at a local high school. Ten percent of the food they grow is used in the culinary classes at the high school. The remainder is donated to charity. Two of their professors work with the city to find reclaimable open spaces. Some of the open spaces became community garden spots for people who live in apartments or trailer parks and have no space to garden. Some of the open spaces became mini-orchards. They estimate there will be harvests to donate to the local food banks in less than three years. One of the professors works with Cooperative Extension as a 4-H leader. She runs a Junior Master Gardener program year around. One of the professors is an avid beekeeper. He teaches beekeeping classes, collects swarms and rotates his hives at the open spaces mini orchards to promote pollination.
Kavanagh reveals he's was considering buying Seattle Independent Publishing. He claims it requires building renovation and staff reorganization. He theorizes a free fall will occur after the beginning of the next fiscal year unless SIP is proactive about reorganizing and modernizing. He hints there are HR issues. In the past, he was guaranteed one or two of SIP's interns would interview with Kavanagh Media after they competed SIP internships. In the past few years, most of SIP's interns depart before their probationary period ends.
I ask Kavanagh to share the information he has on SIP, because that is the kind of company I buy to fix or sell. I give him my card and ask to have the SIP information messengered before Saturday.
Everyone gives us a wide berth as we talk business in low tones before lunch is delivered. We are cognizant there are non-business entities in the room and do our best not to interrupt their conversations. However, I'm aware of Miss Steele's movements through my suite. I see Taylor take them to my bedroom, obviously showing them the ensuite – and I feel overwhelmed.
I want to take that girl in the bathroom. I want to watch her face in the mirror as I surprise her. I want to braid that long hair and wrap it around my wrist. I want to pull her into me, tipping her head so I can nip her neck from her ear to her collarbone. I want to mark her as mine by biting that alabaster skin on her shoulder blade. I want to shove my hand up under that skirt and stroke the apex of those long legs. I want to feel her perfectly round little ass press against my erection. She is an alluring little creature.
Kavanagh drones on about his research in podcasts and emergent social media sites. He has decided to purchase and fund the expansion of a mainstream podcast out of Seattle. The investment is sound; the podcast has national attention, the staff is creative and not overpaid. I tune him out and concentrate on the conversation going on between Katherine and Anastasia.
"Will it be awkward?" I hear Katherine ask Anastasia.
"Please, it's been awkward for four years. Paul doesn't understand no IS my answer. I told him; tomorrow is my last day of work. Saturday we're moving to Seattle. July 1 he's in New York at his internship. We are never going to get together because we're too far apart and I don't just mean space. I just want to finish at Clayton's tomorrow and close that chapter of my life...sans Paul Clayton trying to kiss me goodbye." Anastasia grimaced.
"Or cop a feel after four years?" Katherine said.
"Awkward much?" Anastasia murmured as they walked away.
Who is this Paul Clayton fucker that wants in Anastasia's pants?
While Mr. Grey allowed Mrs. K. to choose lunch and libations, he has a definite opinion about where people should sit at his table. Ray is on his right, I'm on his left and we sit across the table from the Kavanaghs. Mr. Grey remarked it is a good view out the windows for all of us, since the table is surrounded by floor to ceiling windows. He can converse with everyone since he's in the middle of the table. I wish he didn't plan to converse with me. His proximity unnerves me. I haven't forgotten my reaction to shaking his hand, stumbling into him before the picture, sitting next to him in the SUV, or when he held my hand to help me out of the SUV. My senses are dazed by the heat emanating from his body; and the smell of him… subtle but intoxicating cologne and masculine pheromones. My inner goddess pleads with me to use the right fork. I just want to drown her with champagne.
"The starters are Chesapeake Bay Crab Stuffed Mushrooms and Scallops Escobeche with savory Baked Romano Cheese and Cracked Black Pepper Madelines." The server sets beautiful plates before us. I wait for everyone to start and make appropriate noises of appreciation before I taste mine. I select the Chesapeake Bay Crab stuffed mushrooms starter and begin. My inner goddess melts when Mr. Grey looks at me quizzically.
"Ana, take a picture of the Madeleines," Kate urged. "You can have fun making different ones to go with soups you cook."
"I don't have my cell phone handy, Kate." I respond. Mr. Grey fishes his Blackberry out of his pocket and captures the shot for me.
"Do you cook?" He asks.
"She's a great cook," Ray asserted. "Her Tex-Mex Beef Stew is one of my favorites."
"I'll trade you the picture of the Savory Madeleines for your Tex-Mex Beef Stew recipe." Mr. Grey offers. "My housekeeper is always searching for a new recipe." He looks at me expectantly; waiting for my email address. I give him the generic Hotmail address I give to nosy business people or websites who insist on an email address. Kate's eyes twinkle. She knows what I have done. She taught me to have an email address for junk emails.
"Annie stuffs my freezer with several dozen meals when she comes to see me. I ran out of Tex-Mex Beef Stew a few weeks ago." Ray explains. "She cooks half a dozen casseroles or stews that will feed twelve people. Then she preps them as single servings to keep me in meals for a couple months or more."
"If I didn't cook for you each time I visit; you'd live on toast, takeout and tasteless frozen dinners," I laugh. "Or worse, you would inflict them on me."
"Yeah, Ana is a domestic goddess," Ethan chimes in. "I propose every time I eat her lasagna, but she turns me down every time."
Mr. Grey looks at me and I blush. Mrs. K. stares at me and I blush even more. "You don't want me Ethan;" I say to my lap, in hopes people will quit looking at me. "You want some nice Italian girl whose mom and dad own an Italian restaurant they inherited from their mom and dad. I keep telling you, there are six excellent Italian restaurants in Seattle and its suburbs. I'm sure some bella signora is looking for a blonde god like you."
The Kavanaghs laugh at Ethan and I'm pleased the conversation wanders away from me.
"Good?" Mr. Grey murmurs to me when I sip the champagne again.
"Very good," I respond quietly.
"Enjoy – it isn't every day that you graduate from college. I should know, I'm a Harvard dropout myself." He reveals.
"Really? Why?" I can't help it; now it's my turn for quizzical looks and frowns.
"Boring classes? Homesick for my family? Ready to start my life?" He shrugs. "I haven't really given it a thought since I started my own business. I learned what I wanted and needed to learn in a classroom setting. There are things you have to learn by doing."
He offers to refill my champagne glass. I refuse.
'Annie's not much of a drinker," Ray explained.
"It's all about knowing your limits," I murmured, netting me another quirky look from Mr. Grey. "Since my scholarship to WSUV was in track and field, I didn't drink for performance reasons. Keeping my scholarship was more important than drinking."
"What events?" He asked.
"Sixty and one-hundred meter sprints; sixty and one-hundred meter hurdles," I shrugged.
"She's always the designated driver." Kate announced.
"I don't understand how she's a designated driver," Ray clowns. "Annie, how many college students fit in your vintage powder-blue Beetle, Wanda?
"She will have to leave Vancouver at least two hours ahead of the moving van if she's to get to our new digs around Pike Place Market in Seattle before dark on Saturday." Kate voiced her opinion.
"Is Wanda roadworthy?" Mr. Grey asked.
"Yes, she may not have power steering or power brakes, but José services her regularly. I've replaced almost every part of her engine over the last four years. I trust her!" I sip my water and stare out the window. Who the hell is he to question my car? Oh, that's right…Mr. CEO Christian Grey…who probably doesn't have a driver's license of his own since he has a security team to ferry him where he wants to go. "Ray, José just spent the better part of two weeks and $200 servicing Wanda for the move to Seattle."
"That and the end of the school year have kept him busy. I promised José Sr. I would stock fish with him and José this year. We start in a couple weeks." Ray announced.
"Camping overnight?" Ethan asked.
"Yes, we're filling the two tank trunks with fish before six in the morning and driving to the stock location. We'll bed down for the night and then release the fish before dawn the next morning. Then we'll breakfast, break camp, drive back to the fishery and reload the tanks. We're stocking five sites in ten days. I'll be staying with José Sr. on the odd days we're at the fishery, so if you need me, you can get me there. They are driving the trucks; I'm just along for the fresh air and sunshine." Ray explained excitedly.
"Plus scouting future fishing locations," I teased.
"Will José be back in time for his exhibition in Portland?" Kate asked.
"We're scheduled for the last two weeks of May; it will give the fish time to grow some before fishing season opens July 1. José's exhibition has been changed at the Portland Art House. It opens the first Thursday in July and closes the last Monday of July. I think he's hoping for a couple more shots to finish the exhibition while we are out." Ray shrugged.
"Do you want to see the exhibition?" I asked Ray.
"José is putting creating a slide show of his exhibition to share with José Sr. during the trip, so I'll see it then. Unless I need to attend the exhibition because the two of you are making some sort of announcement at the exhibition that I need to witness?" He teased.
"Ray; José is my friend. José Sr. is your friend. If the two of you want a closer relationship...marry each other. I'll be glad to give you away...and I'm sure José will be glad to give José Sr. away." I sip my wine.
"Not my lifestyle, little girl." He started paying a lot of attention to his lunch and did his best not to look at Mr. Grey.
Mr. Grey chuckled like he knew we were wondering 'Are you gay, Mr. Grey?' Then he polished off his glass of wine. "Taylor, you know the roads better than I do. What do you think of Miss Steele driving to Seattle?"
Taylor responded instinctively, safety is always a good starting point in conversations between girls and their fathers. "Personally, I believe you should put Wanda on a vehicle trailer and tow it behind the moving van. There is safety in numbers with both Miss Steele and Miss Kavanagh riding together to Seattle and entering the new condo together. You can both be there when the moving van arrives."
"That's an excellent idea, Annie." Ray agreed. "I won't have to worry about you breaking down on the side of the road. It would be safer if you were together. We don't know anyone who works for the moving company or who lives in your building. I'd feel better if you were together and providing back up for one another."
"Excellent suggestion," Mr. K. concurred.
"I'll take care of the logistics tomorrow, Ana." Kate offered. "I know you have your last day of work at Clayton's Hardware."
The server removes our starters and replaces it with elegant plates of Raspberry Spinach Salad. The spinach and watercress is topped with diced orange segments, whole raspberries and almond slices and dressed with Raspberry Vinaigrette. He refills the basket of Madelines. He pours white wine for Mr. Grey to taste. With Mr. Grey's approval, he pours wine for everyone and places the bottle in an ice bucket on a breakfront near the table.
"Thank you, Kate, for taking good care of Annie," Ray said. "I appreciate it more than you know."
"Ray, what was my GPA in college?" I asked quietly. I'm tired of everyone thinking I'm some fragile creature they need to protect. I don't look up from the salad I've cut into bite size pieces.
"You graduated Summa Cum Laude." He said proudly.
"In other words…I do my homework," I chided gently. "If I am offered an internship at either place I interview; I know the most expedient routes to each. I know the location of the nearest parking lots and how far it is to walk to work from them. I know the daily, weekly and monthly parking rates for both parking lots. There is a bus stop one block from our condo. I have the bus schedules laid out for both places. I know where to purchase the debit card I need to pay for bus rides. I have the phone number for a 24/7 taxi service if I need it. I have estimates for the taxi rides. I have the address and phone number for a mechanic who specializes in vintage Beetles because José won't have time to come to Seattle to winterize Wanda. If I don't buy fresh fish and vegetables in Pike Market; I have programmed directions to nearest grocery store in my phone. I programmed directions to the nearest hospital in my phone. Depending on clothing needs for jobs, I have three consignment clothing stores programmed into my phone. I've checked into places to run – I can run the perimeter of the park near Pike Place Market. Additionally, the nearest senior center has a running track and they allow runners at no cost." I paused and took a breath, looking Ray squarely in the eye, "I did my homework, Ray. Please trust I'm prepared for this new adventure in my life." When I look away from Ray, Mr. Grey looks oddly at me. What did I do now?
"That's my Annie," Ray beamed with pride. "Be sure to share that information with your mother. I don't want her to demand I spend every available weekend saving you from Seattle."
I wish she wouldn't think her research is her safety net. If she were mine, she wouldn't have to worry about car repairs, bus routes, parking lots and expedient routes. I would buy her a new Audi. She wouldn't have to worry about grocery or clothing stores. I would take her to Escala and have Mrs. Jones feed her. I would buy her work appropriate clothing. I would buy her matching silk lingerie, thigh-high stockings and skyscraper heels. I would pay for personal grooming at Esclava. God, my thoughts are all over the place. However, her father's remark about saving her from Seattle every weekend strikes a note of discomfort. If she were my submissive – I'd claim her body on weekends. Raymond Steele would shoot me if he had a clue the things I have been thinking about his daughter.
I converse with all my guests; ensuring that no one, especially Miss Steele; is left out of the conversation. My mother would be very proud of my social skills today. Although, every time I ask Miss Steele a question; she blushes. Taciturn, self-contained – she and her father. Katherine interviewed and has been hired at Seattle Times as an intern. Ethan returns to college in the fall to pursue his master's degree in psychology. He obtained a part-time work-study job in the psychology department at UW.
When our salad plates were cleared; the server announced, "Your lunch selection is Campanelle with Pecans, Ricotta and Lemon, Herbed Tenderloin and Braised Asparagus." Our server set beautiful plates before us, refreshed wine glasses and I waited for everyone to begin.
"Do you always do that?" Mr. Grey asked.
"Do what?" I queried in response.
"Wait for everyone to start eating before you do?" He had cut a bite of the tenderloin but it hadn't made it to his beautiful mouth because he watched me.
"Oh," Kate laughed. "It's a cook thing. She wants to judge how you react to dishes before she tastes them for herself. So, Mr. Grey, do you have any tips for Ana when she goes to her interviews next week?" Kate threw me under the bus.
"Yes; my first tip is Grey House has internships if you don't get an offer from your interviews. We would be delighted to get an intern who graduated Summa Cum Laude. Our internship program runs for six-twelve months with pay and benefits comparable to other internship programs offered in Seattle. We have various departments in Grey House; I'm sure one of them would interest you. Where are you interviewing?" He asked politely.
"Puget Sound Publishing and Seattle Independent Publishing." I smiled.
"Is publishing something you want to do?" He and Keaton Kavanagh exchange a significant look.
"I think so." I admitted. "I love books. I am now the proud owner of a bachelor's degree in literary studies with a double minor in English and classical literature. I think I could put my degree to good use at a publishing house."
"Puget is an established classic publishing house. While your GPA is excellent, they will be more interested your ability to proofread and catch consistency errors. Be prepared to complete a one hour competency test in English usage at Puget. SIP takes more creative chances than Puget. I doubt you will have a competency test there. Research the last twelve books SIP published. Know the status of the books. Find out if they are from authors who often write series. Think about what you could offer them as a creative editor in the future. Research e-books and e-publishing. Take a look at future publishing trends." He explained.
"My interviews are three hours apart with Puget first at one o'clock. I'll need to wear something appropriate for both if I'm required to test." I speculate.
"Do you wear jeans a lot?" Mr. Grey asked.
"Well, they were the haute couture of campus and working at the hardware store, but I expect to dress appropriately for my job." I shrug.
"Well, if your interviews are back to back, a dress with jacket is appropriate for both. Don't wear black; wear a color which compliments you. You only get one shot to impress – but don't wear designer clothes that cost more than a month's salary. Wear a good watch, classic jewelry. Pumps, not flats or ballet slippers." He sipped his wine. "There's a very good salon named Esclava near Pike Place Market. It's in Post Alley. If you go there early Monday morning, they can give you a manicure – taupe or beige nails, or a natural French manicure are best if you don't go with acrylic or gel tips. They have hair and makeup aestheticians. Ask for neutral day makeup. Ask for a shampoo and trim. They can create a professional, but easy updo. Don't wear ponytails or braids as they will mark you as college material not business material."
"How do you know so much about Esclava?" Mrs. K. asked with a hint of humor in her voice. She shared a knowing look with Kate.
My inner goddess wants to slap both of them.
"It's owned by my mother's friend. I buy Esclava spa days for my mom, grandmother and sister for their birthdays. My mom likes their hot stone massage. My grandmother likes the mimosas. My sister likes the sleek updos Selena Gomez wears."
No, not gay at all, my subconscious snorts. I sip my wine again hoping I remember everything he says.
"Carry a briefcase purse with four or five extra copies of your résumé which is printed on good paper; especially if you are interviewing with a panel. Carry a nice pen, something better than you use to take notes in class. Don't tuck a copy of one of their latest bestsellers in your briefcase to read if your interview is delayed. Take a real book, something classic, to read at Puget. Take an e-reader to read at SIP, but don't read it. Read one of the magazines they stylishly display on their reading racks. Turn your electronics off before you enter their parking lot. Do not check your phone while you wait for your interview. Don't use their WIFI. It is an open invitation for their IT department to check your emails, phone messages, reading lists, etc. It's too late to take down a Facebook page if you have one. I guarantee their HR checked it before they offered you an interview. It's one of the vulnerable areas for potential employees. Be willing to negotiate perks in lieu of salary – a parking spot, paid sick leave after 90 or 180 days instead of waiting a year, any bonuses paid directly to your student loans, clothing allowance for black tie events, etc. Ask for pre-tax insurance deductible or if you already have insurance, ask they pay you an extra $2 an hour to maintain your current insurance rather than them purchasing insurance for you."
"Thank you," I murmured, amazed at his advice; but once again … DESPERATE to get the conversation shifted away from me.
"Two last words of caution – stay away from any phrase which requires definition from the urban dictionary and be prepared for the zinger."
"Zinger?" Kate asked.
"Zinger – the one question for which you may be unprepared. For example," he paused and twirled his wine glass before glaring at Kate, "a recent WSUV interviewer asked me a politically incorrect question regarding my sexual orientation. However, instead of throwing him out of my office, I said no. I was even maintained my calm and allowed him to take publicity stills."
I choke. Or rather, my inner goddess chokes me. I know exactly what he's talking about. Kate put that damned "are you gay, Mr. Grey" question on the list of questions Levi asked.
Mr. Grey stops glaring at Kate and pats me on the back, handing my glass of white wine to me. I do my best not to gulp, but my inner goddess melts into primordial goo at the feel of Christian Grey's hand on my back. There is a definite current passing between us. Can he feel it too?
She's choking? Is she surprised by the question Katherine proposed or is she choking because she wonders if it is true. Oh baby – I would be glad to show you how NOT GAY I am. I hand her glass of wine to her. She takes a gulp, washing down her food – but then her breath catches and she blushes. I realize I am patting her on the back– her silky hair touches my hand. My cock rages in my pants, wanting to touch more of her. I want to see her naked…I bet her skin is alabaster and soft all over. If I spanked her…would her ass turn the same color as the blush on her cheeks?
"Kate, you didn't!" Mr. K. glared at her. "Just because you can articulate a question does not mean you should!"
"It's all right. It was my reminder to have answers prepared in advance for all questions," I looked at Anastasia. "I'm sure you will not be asked about your sexual orientation; but research potential interview questions online and have some prepared answers." I take a drink of wine. "Especially be prepared for the standard 'what do you want to achieve in five years' question."
At this point, Kate has a smirk on her face and my inner goddess wants to slap Kate. I glare at Kate and she presses her lips together and stares down at her plate. Mr. Grey looks at Kate and then at me, like he's trying to figure out a piece of the puzzle. I swear to god, I will throw Katherine Kavanagh off the roof of this building if she mentions my V-card at the table in front of her parents, my father, her brother...and Mr. Christian-can-you-make-me-any-hotter-Grey.
Over dessert, which neither Mr. Grey or I eat; Katherine convinces everyone I make better Crème Brulee. That assertion starts a conversation about Mr. Grey's sister studying at a culinary school in Paris. That starts the discussion of vacations after graduation and Kate's family discuss their upcoming trip to Barbados. Ray answers questions about the five fishing sites he plans to visit. Mr. Grey asks about my plans. I reveal after the interviews Monday; I may to go to Savannah, Georgia for a few days to see my mom.
Lunch winds to a halt and I'm pleased to say I've enjoyed entertaining the Kavanaghs and the Steeles – especially Anastasia. Taylor calls WSUV campus police and announces the campus is more accessible now. It is determined Katherine and Anastasia will go home in Katherine's car, while the Kavanaghs and Mr. Steele are campus bound to retrieve their vehicles. Sawyer will drive them. I insist on accompanying everyone down to the parking garage. I don't want to let Anastasia go but I have no reason to detain her. I can't insist I want to interview her for an internship, because my HR staff does that.
My desire to touch her one last time is answered. The elevator lurches to a stop at the parking level and Anastasia is thrown backwards into my arms. I touch the soft skin of her shoulders. I breathe the scent of her hair. Her finely rounded ass makes contact with my crotch. She blushes furiously; she's embarrassed. I'm swept away, thinking of braiding that mane of hair and pulling her backward into me and – oh my god! If we were alone in the elevator – I would push my hands under her bodice and cup those breasts; pressing my groin into her ass until she knew what I wanted and wanted it too. Her breath catches and for one minute I fantasize she's thinking about me the way I'm thinking about her. My thoughts are like a flying trapeze act on the carabineers of my playroom! I need a cold shower!
I shake hands goodbye with everyone, including the appealing Anastasia. There is a current between us as we touch. I watch as Katherine and Anastasia depart the parking garage. Back in my suite, I download Anastasia's picture off the CCTV. I email it Welch along with the information I know and ask him to do a background check. I frame the email that Miss Anastasia Steele may be applying to GEH next week for an internship and I need a thorough background check. I send her email to Barney to run an electronic sweep. I want to know who she communicates with; what websites she surfs and how vulnerable she is to electronic hacking.
A/N: In my story, Kate was sick but she didn't send Ana to interview; she sent Levi. Levi is a character in FSOG, book one. He was not available to take pictures of CG in the book; so José does. In this storyline, Levi does the interview and takes the pictures. He gives his notes and pictures to Kate who writes the article. Therefore, Kate does not meet Grey until graduation day and neither does Anastasia.
I do not own Fifty Shades Trilogy or the characters. They belong to E. L. James. My story is the interpretation of my thoughts about how the characters could have, should have, would have acted.