Warning: This story will contain strong language and mature contents. Also, Christian will be an asshole in the beginning but he will eventually redeem himself with a little time and faith.
Christian Grey crumpled the piece of paper that was tightly grasped in his hand. If his anger was to be bestowed upon the world, a new biblical flood would descend from the skies right about now. He couldn't even see straight, such was his rage, and the lowly, greasy diner in his front served for nothing but to torment him further.
How could his mother demand such unbelievably ludicrous thing?
If she was not at death's gates, he would have given Grace a piece of his mind – or simply dismiss her proposition with an outraged and justified argument – but given her weak state, and despite what everyone believed him capable off, Christian would never had the heart to turn down his mother last wish.
And the wish, of all insanely ridiculous wishes, was to see her youngest son married. But not to anyone. No. Even that had been perfectly planned, effectively stripping Christian of all his power and will.
Out of the lot of well-groomed, classy, elegant and sophisticated women Grace could have taken her pick from, she decided an orphan girl – daughter of her long lost friend – would make the perfect match. Even though he racked his brain over and over, he couldn't fathom the motivations behind his own mother. Except that perhaps, somehow, that chosen bride had manipulated Grace into fixing this marriage up.
Yes, it had to be that.
Whoever this girl was, she had to be a gold-digger that managed to contact Grace after all these years and convinced her she was worthy of his name. Of his empire. Of his wealth. Of his power. Of him.
Christian snorted. Well, she wasn't and she would never be.
He didn't compact with scheming, greedy women who went above and beyond to obtain status and richness. If anything, it just made him hate her all the more – even though he knew nothing about her. He was only here, in her miserable workplace to unleash his fury, and then present an offer she could never refuse.
An offer that would benefice the both of them. An offer that would grant his mother her last wish.
With a heavy sigh and a migraine, he entered the damned place.
A bell rang, the sound resounding through the air and cutting through the noisy jukebox's music. The diner was almost empty – but then again, dinner wasn't until a few hours. Everything about the place instantly displeased him. The murky colors, the grimily smell, the ancient decoration; it all made his stomach churn unpleasantly. He wanted to get out of there as soon as possible, and so he chose the first booth that appeared private enough for his needs.
"Good evening sir," A blond woman came rustling through the greasy tables towards him. As soon as he settled on his cheap leather seat, an old menu was shoved into his hands. "Can I get you anything?"
Christian frowned, then looked attentively at the menu, even though he wasn't really paying attention to anything written there, finally he placed it down on the table away from him. He glanced at the blond and clearly heard her sharp intake of air. He was used to it by now. Women usually had that kind of reaction to his appearance but today he wasn't feeling like himself so he didn't even muster his trademark smirk.
"Are you Anastasia Steele?" He simply asked, raising his brows.
The waitress gulped loudly and shook her head. "N-no…" She stuttered finally.
"Is she here?"
Her blond curls bobbed up and down fiercely. "Hm-hm." She complied, her throat dry as a desert.
"Well then," Christian coached patiently. "Could you please get her here?"
The woman, whose nametag said Cindy, blinked slowly before nodding uncertainly. "Yes. I'll call her. Just a moment." Then, she turned around, still breathy and giddy at the gorgeous man who sat right in front of her eyes.
"Oh, I'll have a coffee." He called out after her.
The blond rushed to the other side of the diner as quickly as her chubby legs would allow her. It didn't take long, since the place wasn't that big. She had trouble locating Ana, though, given her blurry vision from all the excitement she felt bubbling inside.
"Ana!" She nearly shouted once she spotted the brunette. "Oh. My. God." She threw her manicured hands into the air and waved them around frenetically. "You will never believe."
"What?" Anastasia asked, turning towards her friend, a deep frown on her face. She had just finished serving the last table from her section and had every intention of taking a much needed break – she had been working nonstop since the lunch shift, after all. "What's going on? Did something happen?"
"Yes!" Cindy chirped in, too energized to keep her voice down. "Yes, something happened. There is a hunk of a man, seated in the farthest section, asking for you."
Ana's eyes widened painfully. She felt her own mouth pop open. "What?" She asked again, for lack of better expression. "What do you mean a hunk of a man?"
"I mean exactly that. A drop-your-panties kind of guy that is out there," She pointed towards the end of the diner with a determined finger, "Asking to speak to you."
"I… Does he have a name?"
"No. I mean, he must have. I just don't know it myself." Cindy's dark orbits glinted with excitement. It wasn't everyday a well dressed, sexy as hell gentleman entered through those doors. "So why don't you go and find out."
Anastasia shifted uncomfortably from one foot to another. Usually she didn't have visitors – all the other working girls had their loved ones dropping by occasionally – but whenever there was someone to see her, it meant one thing only: problems.
Problems that always involved a debt she had to pay in order to live with the minimal survival conditions – electricity, water, taxes, mortgages, gas, medical expenses… you name it, and she probably couldn't afford it.
With a deep, troubled sigh, she nodded and walked towards the lonely booth Cindy indicated earlier. "Could you look after my tables, please?"
"Yes, yes. Don't worry. Go now, I'm dying to know who he is." The blond said, clapping her hands together and giggling like a schoolgirl.
With a quick, uneasy stride she made her way towards the far end of the diner. Indeed, in an isolated table, close to the window, stood a dark and large figure. His shoulders were broad and undeniably masculine, his hair dark and unruly. By the crisp look of his suit, he wasn't the kind of creditor Anastasia was used to dealing with. That made her all the more nervous. He seemed far more powerful and threatening than anyone she had ever seen.
Gulping, she reached his side. "Hi there," She said timidly. The man turned to face her and for a moment, she was completely dazzled. Cindy was right – he was a hunk of a man. His face was all strong and sharp angles, his eyes stormy and entrancing, his lips voluptuous and inviting. There was a stubble worth of a couple of days in his jaw that made him all the more rough. Even to an inexperienced girl such as herself, there was no denying this man oozed danger.
Christian quirked his brow distastefully – he knew he shouldn't have expected much. This was a poor, motherless person who waitressed at a local diner to make her living. She wouldn't have been a goddess, or a supermodel, or even a very well groomed lady to begin with. But this mousy, unkempt, little brunette proved worst than his darkest nightmare.
Nothing can get worst than this, he thought grudgingly to himself.
"I'm Anastasia Steele." She finally broke the silence, extending her tiny hand. He glanced warily at it before shaking it with the quickest of gestures, dropping her hand immediately as if she had some kind of awful disease. The petite girl frowned, a bit hurt by his attitude.
She looked even more unpleasant with a frown, Christian mused, regarding her pale face. She was small and thin, her hair wild and dark – she couldn't be farther apart from the usual women he bedded. He growled in anger. How could his mother do this to him?
"Christian Grey." He said crisply. "Take a seat."
Anastasia stood there, unsure for a few seconds. Finally, she conceded and sat down opposite to him. If indeed he was the bringer of bad news she had to face it head on. Cindy chose that moment to appear with a sly grin and a mischievous glint to her eyes. She placed a mug of steamy coffee in front of Christian and winked discreetly at her friend.
"Will you need anything else?" The blond asked.
"No." Both ladies got surprised at the iciness of his tone but Christian added nothing else to smooth the ambience.
"Very well. If you need, call for me." Cindy said before walking away a little stung.
"Don't you know who I am?" The businessman-alike finally asked when the other waitress was far away enough for his pleasing. His steely eyes accessed the brunette that sat warily before him. Her hands were firmly clasped atop of the table and her cheeks visibly pallid. It was obvious to anyone within a mile radius, she wasn't comfortable there, and that only fueled his intrigue and displeasure further.
Finally, after what felt like dreadful hours, her thickened tongue managed to come alive. "No." Anastasia breathed uneasily. "I'm afraid I don't recognize you sir."
"Hmm." Christian mumbled, rubbing his chin with his thumb. She almost looks innocent, he thought to himself. But he only got more aggravated at that realization. This girl was nothing but a good actress. A very good actress. "That's convenient. Are you sure my name doesn't sound familiar?" He insisted. She only grew more pale and thin under his hard stare. He sighed annoyed. "Perhaps this one will ring some bells… Grace Trevelyan-Grey?"
Anastasia's eyes grew wider, recognition striking her. Grey? He was the Christian Grey? Grace's son? The one she's been hearing about since she was a kid? Suddenly the room seemed to grow even smaller. Christian was taking away all the air, all the energy, all the space. It made sense – how he looked, how he dressed, how he presented himself – his posture was of someone with importance.
And now that she looked closely, she could see the similarities. The eyes. Those deep, silvery pools that resembled so much Grace's. Except his were hard and guarded and hers were always kind and smiling. This was not the mental image Anastasia had drawn of him after all those praises and stories she had heard. All these years of letter correspondence and sporadic phones calls with his mother, made Ana grew fond of him. Grace always had a nice word about her younger son, a new accomplishment to tell, some achievement to gush about.
Anastasia grew up to believe Christian was a charming person. An amazing man. A brilliant mind. An astute entrepreneur. A devoted sibling. A caring son. He was almost like a prince, but never in her short-lived life, did she have any pretensions of actually meeting him – she wasn't a princess herself.
In fact the only reason why she even knew Grace was because she had been best friends with her mother since kids. Unfortunately upon their high-school graduation they parted ways. Grace went to medical school in Seattle whilst Carla got stuck serving tables in the same diner where her daughter was now. Their lives grew so apart, the connection eventually burnt down. Fate only chose to bring them together under drastic events – Carla was diagnosed with breast cancer, and after several years of frustrating battles, she was finally sent to a specialist in Seattle in a last effort to find survival.
Survival she hadn't found. Instead she re-discovered her long lost friend, to whom she pleaded to take care of Anastasia.
Grace tried to fulfill that promise the best could. She wanted to have Anastasia moved out of Vancouver and onto her house. The girl refused to leave her father. And so, without being able to do more, Grace kept in touch. She kept in touch with Anastasia after Carla died. She wrote her letters, called her on especial occasions. Even offered to fly her over whenever she wanted. But the girl refused again. After turning sixteen, Anastasia began working to pay the medical bills her mother had left. Then, she worked harder to make ends meet. Then, she worked even harder to support herself after Ray had fallen sick. Now, she simply worked to have some canned chicken noodles for supper every night.
So seeing here – out of all places in the world – a person she had never even thought possible to meet, rose alarms signs in her head. Anastasia fidgeted with her hands. "Did something happen to Grace?"
"Oh. So, you already are on first name basis?"
The venom on his tone made the poor girl flinch. What did he mean? "We are friends." She tried to clarify, but her voice came out hesitant and unsure.
"That's precious." Christian spat. Normally he wouldn't show so many emotions on a single conversation but these weren't ordinary conditions. "And when, exactly, during your friendship with my mother, did you manage to convince her it would be a good idea to marry me?"
"W-What?" Anastasia squeaked horrified. By the grave tone of his voice she knew he wasn't kidding, but it made no sense to her. It was so illogical and unexpected that the sudden shock turned into uncontrollable laughter. Her? Marrying Christian Grey? Even when she hadn't met him, she knew that was absurd. He was a successful CEO. He was drop-dead-gorgeous. He was completely out of her league.
"You find this entertaining?"
She shook her head. "No. It's just… ridiculous."
Christian's brows shot to the roof. Ridiculous. Yes, that was it. He couldn't have said it better himself. But why was she saying that, if this had been her plan all along – to play Grace into forcing him to marriage? Why was she laughing?
Perhaps she's just trying to appear destitute of guilt. Perhaps this is a role-playing thing. It just simply had to be that. There was no chance in hell the stupid looking girl was actually innocent. No, it couldn't be.
"Believe me, Miss Steele, I'm perfectly aware of that." He leaned forward, resting his elbows atop of the table, inching closer, growing more intimidating. "So let's cut the games. You got want you wanted."
Anastasia tried to melt her back into the uncomfortable leather seat. Having Christian's gorgeous yet menacing face just inches from hers made her sweat uncontrollably. Nothing was making sense to her; his presence here, his awfully cold demeanor, his outrageous suggestion that they should marry? It seemed like he was crazy. Absolutely insane.
"I don't think I understand what you mean." She whispered confused.
"I have got an offer to make." He continued, completely ignoring her inputs. "I will marry you," Christian almost choked saying that word, but he forced himself to carry on. "For a year. And I will pay you five million dollars to keep our arrangement confidential after the divorce. And to keep you satisfied and established for life, of course."
There was a dead silence lingering between them. Then a loud pang resounded through the tiny cubicle – it was Anastasia's heart reviving. "I beg your pardon?" She finally asked, her voice trembling.
"Five millions aren't enough?" Christian asked crisply. He knew she was a gold-digger but a few millions were a good deal. If she wanted more, then she was even dirtier than he initially imagined.
"Five mi-millions?" She stuttered, her eyes growing painfully wide. "Tha-That's… Millions?" Anastasia took a deep breath and rubbed her temples briefly. She knew she wasn't making any sense but it was kind of hard to think, let alone articulate ideas, after such proposal. "Mr. Grey," Her voice managed to sound collected. "I'm really not following you here."
Christian growled internally. Was she dumb too? That was just his luck, to have an ignorant bride as well. "My mother has kindly demanded that I marry before she dies. If you are, as you put it, 'friends' I'm sure you are up to date with Grace's condition." The poor girl flinched at the mention of Grace's health – after seeing both her mother and father pass away precariously, she didn't deal well with sicknesses. "And, it appears your lying and scheming ways prevailed, because it is you I'm supposed to marry."
Anastasia furrowed her brows thoughtfully. It still sounded strange, but she was trying really hard to follow his explanation first, before lashing out. "What… What happens if you don't marry?"
"Then, why are you marrying, if you're clearly so opposed to it?"
Christian grew irritated with her questions. Would she just take the money already? "Because that is my mother's last wish. I'm not heartless."
"Hmm," The brunette bit her lower lip and adverted her eyes from the brooding man standing in the other side of the booth. "Then, doesn't it defeat the purpose? I mean, this deal you are proposing. You're saying you would marry, uhn, me for only a year and… paying me for it?" Saying it aloud made her cheeks burn.
"A year seems enough time."
"Enough time for what? For Grace to die?" Her voice suddenly took a dangerous tone. It angered her to think Christian, the supposedly perfect child, was just waiting around the corner for his own mother to pass away.
His stormy eyes grew darker. A vein in his neck threatened to burst. "No." He growled viciously, making Anastasia jump in her seat. "I'll make sure to do anything for Grace to be alive in the years to come. But this deal seems sufficient enough to make her happy and give her strength to carry on."
"But, I'm sure Grace wouldn't put you through something like this against your will?"
Christian snorted. "My mother believes this," He waved a long-fingered hand between their opposite bodies. "Is what I need."
"Then, she must have her own reasons." Anastasia concluded solemnly, knowing full well Grace never did anything that wasn't deeply reflected upon.
"Her reasons come simply from your manipulation." And there it was again, the suggestion that she had anything to do would any of this. She was just as stunned as Christian, yet he kept saying she lied and schemed her way towards this deal.
She was still shaking like flimsy leaves on the inside, too dumbfounded with the situation, but she closed her eyes and inhaled sharply trying to regain focus. The charade had to stop there. She was supposed to be working. "Look, Mr. Grey, I'm deeply sorry and very concerned about Grace's health. She is an amazing person that didn't deserve such misfortune, and I hope you give her all my best wishes, but whatever it is you are suggesting it's simply absurd and frankly insulting."
"Miss Steele, I'm giving you what you want. You can drop the act."
Anastasia huffed a strand of hair out of her face and folded her arms under her chest. "There is no act!" She said exasperatedly. "I haven't even spoke to Grace in months! The last time I heard from her, she was beginning her new treatment. Whatever involvement you think I have in this, it's absurd. Now, it that's all you have say, I'll have to excuse myself. I have work to do."
She got up, ready to leave, feeling surprisingly insulted with his suggestions. She was used to getting looked down upon, people always had something awful to say about a lowly life waitress, but for some reason his views on her stung more than the average costumers'. Probably because she had heard so much about him, and had thought he was charming and caring person.
Right when Anastasia was about to pass through his seat, Christian's hand darted towards her wrist, grabbing it a bit more forcefully than needed. She buckled under his pressure, immediately. "Listen, you fucking gold-digger, let's cut to the chase. Name your price and we'll settle the arrangement."
Her first instinct was to slap him right across his face, but then she refrained from doing so. Firstly because she was on her work place and Mr. Carter wouldn't deal well with having his costumers assaulted – even if they deserved it. Secondly because as infuriating as he was, he was still Grace's son, the one she had heard great things about. But thirdly, and most importantly, because she stopped breathing as soon as his skin touched hers.
A wave of heat formed under his hand and travelled all the way to her shoulder, rising goose-bumps on every inch of her arm, burning her whole body.
It was strange, unwelcomed and… fuzzy. She shrugged her hand out of his grasp and tried to collect her emotions as best as possible under the circumstances – it wasn't an easy task.
"I don't appreciate to be mocked or offended Mr. Grey. I believe our conversation is over. I bid you a good evening and all my best wishes."
With that, Anastasia turned around and speeded through the old tables towards her section, huffing and panting all the way. Her heart couldn't stop the frenetic beating and her eardrums were almost exploding with the blood rushing through her hears. That had to be the most surreal encounter she had ever experienced.
She wasn't even sure what the hell had really happened.
Christian Grey was here and wanted to marry her? And to pay her millions of dollars for it? And then, he insulted her and accused her of having any part on that particularly insane ordeal?
Absurd. Ridiculous. Fucking crazy.
That was all Anastasia could conclude. She may be a poor, uneducated young woman but she wasn't stupid. Christian was jesting with her – big time. He probably found hilarious to disrespect and make fun of others who where beneath his precious designer shoes.
Damn her luck.
From the corner of the diner, though, Christian was less than satisfied with the outcome himself. For some brief moments he had been too stunned to act. The way Miss Steele had reacted wasn't something he counted on. He thought she would greedily take the money and make everything easy for them. Instead she acted insulted and blew him off. Just like that. Just like someone who was innocent.
But that couldn't be.
No, she had to be behind this plan. Why else would Grace come up with such awful desire? Why now? Why Anastasia Steele of all the women in the world?
With a troubled sigh he got up, dropped a couple of bills on the table and walked out of the claustrophobic place. He needed to readjust his strategy. She was probably just playing hard to get.
He would be back tomorrow to solve the matter, once and for all.