Author's Prelude

When young billionaire philanthropist Christian Grey is asked to do the commencement address for the graduating class of WSU Vancouver, initially, he eagerly accepts. However, his personal assistant Andrea gives him the bad news that he is scheduled at the very same time for an important meeting with Taiwanese associates in order to negotiate buying their shipyard.

Fortunately, a famous alumnus of the school steps in to take Grey's place and the "Class of 2011 Special Edition" spotlight interview for the school's newspaper happens when the editor, Kate Kavanagh is not ill.

Unfortunately, this means that Christian Grey is not there that fateful day at the bar to pull a drunk José Rodriguez off of a drunk Anastasia Steele. José's unwanted advances end up putting him on the outs with his old Ana for a time. Ana misses out on his exhibit, but after some time (and some begging) from José, they slowly work towards becoming friends again after Ana has moved on with roommate Kate to Seattle.

While Kate is away in Barbados with family, Ana struggles to land a job after college. Because of the uncertainty in the job market and her lack of experience, she doesn't land any interviews with any of the major publishing firms in the area. Ana is discouraged, but knows that with a degree in English, she can land just about any office job that requires proofreading. She also knows that some time in an office environment will help her to land her dream job in publishing. So on that premise, Ana decides to cast a broad net into the ocean of Seattle in hopes to gather enough fish in order to hold her over until a publishing house comes calling.

Chapter 1 – No Money, Mo Problems


I stare mindlessly at the online job site. The job search is filtered for "publishing" jobs in "Seattle." I can see jobs at three separate publishing firms, but I qualify for none of them. If I knew that finding a job after college in my field would be this difficult, I would have chosen a different major. Jeez! "A bachelor's degree and a minimum of four years of related experience are required." Okay – one out of two ain't bad, but still. How am I supposed to get these "four years of related experience" if they won't even hire me! This is asinine.

I'm seriously running low on cash. I only have so much money remaining, stashed away in my savings from when I worked at the hardware store during my four years in college. I need to find a job quick or Kate will think that I'm not pulling my weight around here.

I would hate to take another retail position or even a waitressing gig. Those types of jobs would bring me further away from my ultimate goal. I need to at least obtain some experience in an office environment, even if the job isn't in publishing yet. I need to be able to tell a publishing firm that I have proofread documents, managed projects and fostered business relationships with third parties like vendors and such. I think that would round out my resume just a little bit more. Maybe a six-month stint somewhere prevalent would do the trick. I remove the search word "publishing" from the filter and start my search anew.

That morning, I submit three resumes: One at a title company and another one at a bank. I send my final resume of the day to a private company that specializes in global transportation and technologies. The company also owns stake in other businesses. It all seems a little confusing to me, but surely I can do something at a company that does a little bit of everything. I turn off the computer after sending my final resume and decide to tidy up the place a bit before I make myself lunch and read a book.

That evening, Kate comes in from her first day of work post-Barbados, and she looks absolutely beat. Her gorgeous blonde hair is in disarray and her purple blazer is slumped off of one shoulder exposing the strap of her sleeveless white blouse.

Dinner is ready. I have salmon steaks warming up on low in the oven, and herb rice and vegetables simmering on the stove. Kate closes her eyes and takes in a savoring whiff through her nose.
"Smells divine, Ana! I can get used to this. It's like having a housewife! I don't know what I'm going to do once you land a job," she chuckles.
"Don't you worry your pretty little head, Kate. No matter what happens, I will never let you cook," I laugh.

"It's probably best that you don't. My cooking is hazardous to everyone's health," she sighs. I giggle.
"Kate, you'll have to learn to cook eventually. We won't be living together forever, you know. And besides, you'll get married one day...then what?" I pose the question.
"Then my husband had better be rich because I'm hiring a chef," she says. We both laugh.
Kate settles in at home and changes out of her work clothes while I set the small dinette table up for dinner.


The next morning, I hear Kate outside of my bedroom door scrambling to not be late for work. I decide to get up, freshen my face and go out for a jog – which is out of the ordinary. I hate exercise but I need to do something with all of this pinned up energy. For the past couple of weeks since we've moved to Seattle, I've felt useless. One of those three jobs that I've applied for have to end up in an interview, or I will go nuts. Cooking, cleaning, job searching on Kate's laptop – that's been my modus operandi since we've moved into our cozy Pike Place Market area apartment.

I bid my best friend adieu as she gapes at me, surprised to see me up so early and in running clothes. I ignore her expression and head out into the gloomy Seattle air for a run.

The morning air is damp, but crisp. Occasionally, a more experienced runner would dart past me, but I keep a decent pace with my favorite band Snow Patrol providing the soundtrack. Surely, all of these runners have jobs, unlike me. Across the way, I see the Elliott Bay waterfront. The backdrop is absolutely gorgeous. I can make out a male runner in gray sweats and a hoodie. He's in the zone, pounding the pavement like nobody's business. His form is impeccable – graceful even. I wonder what he's listening to.

I eventually return home and take a quick shower before grabbing a bowl of cereal and firing up Kate's laptop to check my email.

From: Karen Newman
Subject: Career Opportunity
Date: June 21, 2011 07:23
To: Anastasia Steele

Dear Miss Steele,

My name is Karen and I am a recruiter and career advisor at Grey Enterprises Holdings, Incorporated. I came across your resume and noticed that you are a recent WSU Vancouver graduate. Our company is a strong partner with the WSU Vancouver farming and agriculture program. We are excited to extend an invitation to a WSU alumna to interview at our company.

I see that you are an English Literature major. Although our business does not currently have a publishing arm, we have many other positions in our 20-story Seattle location that I am sure will provide you with a similar challenge.

Grey Enterprises Holdings, Incorporated is a multi-billion dollar privately owned company with locations across the globe. Our business specializes in commercial transportation, mainly shipping, as well as technological innovation. We also have obtained primary ownership in many other types of industries. Our main headquarters is located in downtown Seattle in the Grey House tower.

If you are interested in a post-graduate opportunity with our firm, please feel free to reply to this message and I will call you to arrange for an interview. Thank you so much and I wish you the very best in your future endeavors.

Karen Newman
New Graduate Program, Grey Enterprises Holdings, Inc.

Hell, you can be a manufacturer of dog food at this point, lady – I don't care. I need a job. I immediately reply to Ms. Newman expressing my interest for an interview, and provide her with my cell phone number. She calls me ten minutes later.

"Miss Steele?" a confident, yet warm female voice greets me after I answer.
"Yes," I confirm.
"This is Karen from GEH, Inc. Thank you so much for replying to my email! I would like you to come in for an interview. What day works best for you?" she inquires.

Shit, I'll come in today if she'll let me! But something tells me that they are way too busy of a company to take interviews on such short notice.

"Whatever works for you – I am very flexible," I put out there.
"How about this afternoon?" Ms. Newman proposes. I gape in surprise. Damn, that was quick!

"Sure!" I say, unable to withhold my excitement.
"Great! Meet me today at one o'clock on the first floor lobby of our headquarters. I will email you directions," Ms. Newman responds.
"Awesome! Thank you so much, Ms. Newman. I'll see you at one," I say in a bubbly tone before we disconnect.

Okay – so I landed an interview. Now what? Clothes. Surely, I can't come in there with combat boots. Time to raid Kavanagh's closet.

I settle on a straight black dress and tan blazer with black pumps. It's been a while since I've worn heels, so I practice prancing around the house so that I don't fall on my ass at my interview.

At a quarter to one, I park my VW Beetle, affectionately called Wanda, in the visitor's lot. As I exit into the dreary Seattle afternoon air, I peer up at the mammoth 20-story tower. It's truly a work of art – all windows, curved and sturdy with the title of the building lingering over the grand doors. I enter the building, carrying the leather portfolio that my mother sent me as a graduation present.

The lobby takes me aback. It's glass, it's sandstone, and it's impeccable. A shapely blonde in a dark skirt suit behind the desk greets me.
"Hello, I'm here to see Ms. Karen Newman," I say nervously. Get it together, Ana.
"Miss Steele?" she asks. I'm taken aback at her efficiency.
"Yes," I confirm.
"Please have a seat over there. Karen will be here shortly."

I walk thirty feet over from the reception area to a group of plush cream leather sofas. I sit in front of a glass table that has an assorted sprawl of magazines. I take one and mindlessly thumb through it.

A short time afterwards, I hear a group of people enter the building, but I don't look up right away. An appetizing recipe for a crockpot pot roast steals my attention.

"I hope you had a wonderful lunch meeting, Mr. Grey," the woman says, almost too friendly. I don't hear a response, but by the time I turn around to look at who the receptionist was just speaking to, they're already in the elevator.

Whoa, the dude who's name this building bear's actually works here. That must be nerve racking. I turn to glance at the receptionist and notice that she is now blushing and fanning herself with a manila file folder before reaching over for a glass of water. I hope she's okay. I didn't think it was that warm in here. Oh well. I turn back to my magazine.

"Miss Steele?" A female voice calls out. I look up and see a tall slender blonde with hair neatly placed in a bun. She is wearing a stunning gray skirt suit ensemble and tall black heels. Whoa, are all of the chicks that work here hot and blonde? I definitely don't qualify. Let me go ahead with this interview and humor myself. At the very least, I'll have some interviewing practice under my belt.

"Yes – Ms. Newman?" I respond, awkwardly standing to my feet.
"Karen – please. It's a pleasure to finally meet you face to face," she says, firmly shaking my hand. Impressive handshake, I must say.

"Follow me this way to the meeting room," Karen directs. I trail three feet behind her.

She guides me into a small, but still intimidating conference room. I swear, this is an art gallery, not an office building. Karen extends her hand for me to take a seat and she follows suit directly across from me.

We start with small talk. She asked me how I liked Seattle so far. I told her that my roommate and me live in the Pike Place Market area and how I enjoy being able to walk to the bay. The woman smiles with envy, expressing how that area is also one of her favorite sights as well.

Karen then gets into my career aspirations. I carefully tell her that I originally wanted a position with a publishing house, but decided that rounding out my work experience is more important right now. Karen smiles warmly and reassures that I am currently taking the best possible path. She also expresses her wishes in helping me seek my full potential, no matter where my career goals ultimately take me. I immediately take a liking to this woman. She seems very warm and genuine and she appears to truly enjoy her job.

"Between you and me, I always wanted to be a career counselor. I saw myself working at a university. However, I did exactly what you are doing. I took a job here at GEH four years ago, and I haven't looked back. I get to do what I love, which is helping recent graduates reach their full potential. Who's to say if you'll end up falling in love with GEH yourself and finding your niche here and spending most of your career here?" Karen beams warmly at me. I give her a weak grin. Honestly, I'm happy that things worked out so well for her. But if I was even fortunate enough to land a job here, my true dream is to work in publishing. And unless GEH acquires a publishing firm, I don't see myself working here past the end of the year.

"Can you start tomorrow?" Karen abruptly says. I wince at her. Is she serious?
"Why…sure," I bumble, not believing what I am hearing.
"Great. The plan of action is to round out your overall experience. Tomorrow, we start you out in finance on the 8th floor. You will meet with me in my office biweekly for a status update. We will put you on a one-year program on four three-month-long rotations. I will email you a final copy of your offer letter, but I have a duplicate for you right here," the attractive blonde says, handing me a sheet of paper. I gape at her. Wait – did this woman already know that she was going to hire me?

"Did you have any questions? I can tell by your expression that you might have a couple," Karen chuckles. I glance over the offer letter and my eyes grow big and wide. Holy shit! Sixty thousand dollars?! What kind of company is this!

"Um – is this correct?" I breathe, pointing to the salary.
"Yes, Miss Steele," she responds.
"Ana – please call me Ana," I implore her, still shaking over the large starting salary. Holy fuck.

"Ana, we have done our research on you. We know that you have graduated with honors and a 4.0 grade point average. We would like to pay you accordingly. We know that your career aspirations are currently elsewhere. But with a starting salary like this and with a potential to reach six figures in a very short period, I think working here will be more appealing to you than a position at a publishing house would ever be. Just take things one day at a time here. You don't have to stay the full year if you don't want to. Try it out. I also think that our follow-up meetings will be key to your success," Karen presents.

I am overwhelmed. I think I'll actually be bringing home more money than Kate now. Unbelievable. I try to snap out of my trance.
"Sounds good," I spit out.
"Great. When you enter the building tomorrow at eight, tell the receptionist that today is your first day and that you need an ID badge. Show them your driver's license and they will get you all squared away. Once you get your badge, take the elevator up to the 8th floor and let the receptionist know who you are. She'll get you all set up at a desk with your new computer and will introduce you to your new team. Got it?" Karen beams at me. I nod nervously with a forced smile. I'm absolutely terrified. This is all too much, too fast.

"Fantastic. And if you need anything at all, I am here for you. Here's my card. Call me anytime. I am here to help you to succeed here at GEH," Karen offers genuinely. Slowly, my mind eases, but I am still frightened out of my mind. What if I fail? What if they find out that they made a mistake? Well, it's a job. It's a job paying an obscene amount of money for a brand new college graduate. Let's see if these folks at GEH play by the book.

Fifteen minutes later, I am back in Wanda, starting her up to head for my short trip home.


"Knock 'em dead, Steele! Stop worrying! You'll do absolutely fine!"

Kate coaches me as we are both dressed for work, standing in the kitchen on a Wednesday morning. She looks impeccable in a summery yellow pants suit and I keep it plain in Kate's black skirt and a royal blue blouse. I must go shopping for work clothes when I get my very first obscene paycheck.

"I think my dad does business with GEH. I'll give him a call this week and ask him what he knows about them," Kate proposes.

"Who knows, you might meet a hot guy there," she winks. I scowl at her.
"I would never go out with a guy that I worked with, Kate," I scold her.
"Nor would you go out with a guy that you went to school with. Where do you draw the line, Ana?" she borderline snaps at me.

"I really don't know. I haven't met the man of my dreams yet," I say longingly. It's true. I haven't met a man that could garner my attention for more than a second. Maybe I just despise guys my age. My mom always said that I had an old soul.
"Hey, you know Ethan's coming to live with us in a couple of weeks. I always thought he had a crush on you," Kate teases. I frown at her.

Ethan Kavanagh – Kate's tall, blond and very good looking older brother. However, I've always seen Ethan as an older brother to me too. Kate senses my hesitation.

"Ana, you'll be dead before the perfect man comes along," Kate chuckles in response. I narrow my eyes at her.
"What about you? Did you meet your dream guy in Barbados?" I taunt.
"Of course not. You already know this. Just a fun night here and there while the folks were asleep, but nothing I was willing to bring back home with me to Seattle," Kate says, rolling her beautiful brown eyes. I laugh.

"So you and I are in the same boat. Perhaps we'll have pink bunny pajama time this weekend," I propose.
"You got it," my best friend beams at me as we hug.
We each grab a granola bar and a banana before heading off on our separate ways.


At the main reception area at Grey House, a different blonde escorts me to the back to get my new ID picture taken. After that is done, she wishes me a great day as I enter an already open elevator door, press the button for the 8th floor and take a few steps back in order to lean back against the wall.

Shortly before the door closes, a hand reaches in, stopping the elevator. A young man impeccably dressed in what I deem to be a very expensive dark gray suit with unruly copper hair steps in and presses the button to the 20th floor. He doesn't look back at me. Damn, he smells so good. The doors finally close all the way and the elevator starts to move.

I nervously gaze up at his profile as his eyes are fixated on the sterile silver doors. He is absolutely gorgeous. My word. He has perfectly chiseled features and a nice posture. I can even make out that his arms, which are concealed in his suit jacket, have a muscular shape to them. My lips pucker in and my eyes go down to the floor to stop my gawking. Suddenly, the 8th floor dings and I rush out past him, not turning to look back. I am flustered, already – so early in the morning. I spy a water cooler by the reception desk and quickly grab myself a drink.

"Anastasia Steele?" a blonde behind the desk greets. She has on a stylish dark pantsuit and I suddenly feel severely underdressed.
"Yes," I say while simultaneously gulping down the swig of water.
"Welcome to the team. I'm Melissa. I will show you to your desk," she warmly greets, standing to offer me her hand. I shake it.

"How was your drive in this morning, Anastasia?" Melissa says, kindly making small talk as she leads me towards an area of cubicles.
"Please, call me Ana. It wasn't too bad," I say nonchalantly.

"Good. Well we have restrooms in either direction. There's a kitchenette just a few feet away from where you'll be sitting. There's a coffee station, a fridge and a microwave. There's also a café on the 2nd floor. Here's your desk," she points. The area looks prime and it's within sight of windows, which is good. It doesn't seem like a prison. The area is actually extremely pleasant. I see my nametag already in place, hanging up in my cubical. Directly across from me, I just notice a young man in a dark suit looking at Melissa and me. He has shortly buzzed dark hair.

"Ana, this is Gunther Lewis. He'll be your neighbor during your first rotation," Melissa introduces. Gunther stands and walks over to me to shake my hand.
"Welcome, Ana. I was in the new graduate program about a year and a half ago. So anything you'd like to know about it, please feel free to pick my brain," he smiles warmly.

"Thank you," I smile shyly.
"Gunther is one of our finance analysts. So, one of your assignments here is to make sure that all documented processes and procedures are written in such a way that someone walking in the door can understand it. On your computer is a folder of processes and procedures for each role in the department. If you don't understand the content, please feel free to talk to the owner of that role for clarity. Got it?" Melissa instructs. I nod. So this is how they are using my English background to start. Impressive.

"Good. You'll meet the finance manager, Brad Smith later today. He's tied up in executive meetings all morning. I will also take you around after lunch to introduce you to the rest of the team. Please stop by up front or give me a call if you have any questions. The team directory is located right above your desk phone," Melissa says. I nod.

"Alright, your temporary logon info is right in front of your computer. Go ahead and get set up. There's also some training modules loaded on the desktop if you want to get started on that. There are brand new headphones in your desk for the audio portion," Melissa runs down.

"Great, I'll get started," I say as I take my seat and place my purse down on the desk. I am truly overwhelmed.
"Sounds good, Ana! I'll see you later," Melissa beams before she leaves me alone. I slowly look down at the log on info before firing up the machine and getting to work.

"Don't sweat it," I hear a male's voice say. I look up and see Gunther standing over me. I look up at him and smile nervously at him.
"It's not as hard as she makes it seem. I'm just over there if you have any questions," he offers warmly.
"Thank you," I murmur.
"GEH is a great company. I came here to Seattle wanting to work at Boeing. But for some reason, I fell in love with finance. I honestly can't see myself working anyplace else," Gunther reveals. My interest is now peeked.

"So from building jets to crunching numbers. How did you make that connection?" I chuckle. He laughs too. He takes a seat at the spare chair in my cubical and scoots closer to me.

"GEH does a lot for the community. Also, the company's quest in technological advancement – I just feel really good when I go to sleep at night working for a company such as this one," Gunther shares. I nod in understanding.

"That's reassuring," I smile at him – because it is.
"They saw something in you, Ana when they chose you to come here. Always remember that," he reassures. I give him a confused look, but then I remember myself and give him a warm smile instead. This kid is sounding kind of cultish to me.

"Well, like I said. I'm just over here if you need me," he says, standing up and returning the chair to its proper spot before heading back over to his desk.
"Thanks," I tell him before I return to my computer.

Close to noon, I've advanced to the fourth training module so far. Time has surely flown by.

"Hey Ana, do you want to do lunch? Me and Lacy from M&A are heading over to a cool soup and sandwich place nearby if you would like to join us," Gunther offers from across the aisle.
"Sure," I respond. It'll be nice to meet some other people.

Shortly afterwards on the main floor, Gunther and I meet a petite blonde – yes, another blonde – wearing a gorgeous blue dress. Kate would truly feel at home working here.
"Lacy, this is Ana Steele. She's new to my group from the recent graduate program," Gunther introduces.
"Hi Ana, nice to meet you!" the girl smiles warmly. She appears genuine and I take to her immediately.
"Likewise," I smile, shaking her hand.
"Let's head out," Gunther says.


Earlier at lunch, the petite blonde revealed to me that she's executive assistant to the head of mergers and acquisitions on the 15th floor where Gunther once had a rotation. Currently, Gunther and Lacy are in the middle of a gossip tirade. They aren't too keen of anyone who works on the 18th through 20th floors at Grey House.

"Yeah Ana, stay away from anyone that works from the 18th floor and above. They are high strung," Lacy frowns.
"That's the high society folk. Assholes. They sometimes think that they are better than everyone else in the building," Gunther adds with a sneer.

"And only the special people can go to the 20th floor. That's the office of the CEO. There's no reason for anyone to go up there unless you are summoned. And unless you're on the executive management team, nothing good ever comes out being called up to the 20th floor. It pretty much means that you are getting fired," Gunther says plainly. I gape at him.

"Really?" I frown. I quickly recall the delicious smelling gentleman that was heading up to the 20th floor this morning. I sincerely hope that he didn't get fired.
"Even the EA's from the 20th floor don't participate in our EA group events and luncheons. They have to be at Mr. Grey's every beck and call," Lacy says, rolling her eyes.

"I heard Andrea Parker is making a shitload of money. She's Mr. Grey's personal assistant," Gunther says directly to me. I narrow my eyes at him. Why should he care what someone else is making? Sheesh!

"Oh, I know she is. He calls her all hours of the night for the most random requests. It's that paycheck keeps her from quitting," Lacy chuckles before taking another slurp of her soup. Oh boy. Do I really want to work there?

"I personally couldn't work for Mr. Grey. Marco is so laid back. I know his wife and kids. He's a fantastic boss," Lacy praises. Marco Inglis is the head of GEH M&A, so I've learned today.
"Mr. Grey is a very difficult person to read – so I hear," Gunther adds.

"Anyway, Ana – please don't let us scare you. You'll probably never meet Mr. Grey. I haven't in the almost three years that I've been at GEH," Gunther reassures her. I relax in my seat. I resolve to just stay in my lane and not break any rules. Just keep the fat paychecks coming, and I'll enjoy the ride while I'm here so I can further enrich my resume.

The three of us return to Grey House from lunch. Just before I can enter the elevator with Gunther and Lacy, the receptionist calls my name.

"Miss Steele, I have something for you," the blonde who was present for my interview yesterday calls out to me. 'It must be time for her shift now,' I think to myself.

"You two go ahead. I'll see you upstairs, Gunther. It was nice meeting you, Lacy," I say to my lunch dates.
"Absolutely! Lunch again tomorrow?" Lacy extends me another invitation.
"Sure," I beam at her. Lacy is really nice. I think we'll become good friends. I definitely need more friends to hang out with in Seattle.

"Alright Ana, see you upstairs," Gunther calls out before him and Lacy go up the elevator. I walk back to the receptionist and obtain some additional paperwork from HR that I need to complete. I promise to return it to her when I leave this afternoon for the day.

After I turn away from the reception area, I hurry towards the open elevator door. Thinking I am alone, I wince in surprise when I see Mr. Smell Good In a Suit again, right at the buttons. I gasp. This time, he looks me right in my face. Holy shit.

All the breath leaves my body. If I thought he was simply beautiful before, I was sorely mistaken. He's heart-stoppingly magnificent. I've never seen the likes of him before. Ever.

"What floor?" he says in a voice that tingles every part of me.

I snap out of my trance and I feel my face warm in sheer embarrassment.
"Eighth, please. Thank you," I say weakly. Get me out of this elevator now.

"Finance?" he says with a lazy smile. I nod at him.
I glance over at the lit numbers on the panel and see that "8" and "20" are selected.
Enter foot-in-mouth syndrome. Something Anastasia Steele is quite infamous for.

"I see that you're special," I say under my breath. He arches a brow at me.
"Why do you say that?" he smirks.
"Well, I was told that only assholes work above the 17th floor and that only special people or people about to get fired go up to the 20th. Since this is my second time seeing you go up to the 20th floor today, you must be quite special," I spit out. He stares at me with an unreadable expression. Oh boy, Ana – you've really done it now.

"I see," he simply says. I immediately look up at the numbers above the doors, praying that we're on the 8th floor. My prayers are answered.
"Are you new?" he asks. Again – I can't tell what he is thinking. I nod.
"First day," I respond. Shit, I don't know who this hot guy is, but if he knows the head guy, I might be in some serious trouble.

The doors part open and I quickly dash out.
"Have a great day," he calls out to me. I turn around to look at his face as he looks at mine, and the doors close between us.

I can't move. I am frozen in place.

A/N: Next chapter, Ana finds out who runs the joint in the most embarrassing way. Let me know what you think of the story so far. – ST2