I've been running for about twenty minutes, pounding the pavement hard in an attempt to clear my head and my heart. The rain is starting to come down on this gloomy Seattle morning. It doesn't help improve my mood at all.
As the light rain turns into a harsh thunderstorm, I dash into Pike Place Market to escape the cold rain, wind and lightning. This place isn't as packed as I've heard it can be. A few people here and there, but mostly just people who work here.
I find myself being drawn to the produce stand near the very front. The brightness of the fruit and vegetables is a high contrast to the dark skies just outside. I pick up one of the ripe red strawberries to inspect it.
"You know it's frowned upon to touch the fruit if you haven't bought it." A deep voice says behind me causing me to immediately drop the strawberry and spin around. I come face to face with Christian Grey.
I place a hand over my chest thinking I was actually in trouble for dropping the strawberry, but the mischievous glint in his eyes tell me differently.
"What are you doing here?" I ask him while I take in his clothes. He has on running shoes, athletic shorts, a quick dry t-shirt and a gray nike jacket. His hair is wet along with his clothes from the rain.
He smiles a toothy smile before responding.
"I was out for a run and got caught in the thunderstorm. This was the closest place I could duck into." He responds while moving closer to me. I'm transfixed on his smile that I don't even notice how close he is until I have to look up at him to continue looking at his smile.
"What about you Ana? Stealing fruit this early in the morning?" He teases me and I narrow my eyes at him.
"No" I say with mock annoyance but fighting a smile. "I also was out for a run when this storm caught me by surprise."
"Have you ever been here before?" He asks me while letting his eyes drift over my body.
"I have not. I've only seen it once or twice as we've driven by. It's kind of beautiful though." I look around the unique space. There are booths for days and they are all so unique.
"It is." He frowns but it's quickly gone. "I guess I've never really noticed that before."
I divert my gaze to the outside weather. It's only getting darker as the storm passes over Seattle. I have no idea how people live in this rainy city.
I look back at him to see him staring at me intently.
"Would you like to grab breakfast since we are stuck here? I'm starving and…" he asks nervously while running a hand through his hair.
"Christian-" I begin but he cuts me off.
"I mean, I know we have plans later to do the tasting and that you said no to dinner yesterday, but-" he rambles on and I can tell he is nervous. Does he not do this much? Ask girls out? He's acting like I'm the first girl he's ever spoken to.
"Christian." I can't contain my giggle at his odd behavior. "I'm starving, so I would love to grab breakfast, but-"
"But? Damn. I knew I shouldn't have asked again so quickly after yesterday." He mumbles and I can't help but giggle again.
"Christian, are you going to let me finish my sentence? You've cut me off twice." This behavior would usually upset me, but I'm amused instead.
"Sorry, I'm sorry. What were you saying?" The pink tint on his cheeks lets me know he's embarrassed and I inwardly smile. Embarrassed Christian is adorable.
"I was saying I'm starving, but I don't think I'm dressed appropriately to eat in a restaurant." His eyes travel down my body once more before they meet my eyes.
"I think you look beautiful." He says truthfully and for some reason I blush at his sincerity. "But you could wear my jacket if you'd like." He holds out his jacket and I take it from him. My mind immediately wanders to Gabe and that familiar pang enters my heart.
I stare at the jacket for a moment before putting it on. It's been over three years since I've worn another man's clothes. It shouldn't be a big deal, but it is. I shake my head to rid myself of these deep thoughts. I was doing so good until now.
"So, where is a good place to eat?" I ask him a little too cheerfully, trying to mask the annoyance that is slowly creeping back in.
"There's this little place near the back. It's casual, but my sister says they have the best mimosas." He points towards the back.
"Shall we?" He asks while offering me his arm. I hesitate before linking my arm through his. I refuse to feel guilty in this moment.
Breakfast with Christian Grey was completely unexpected. I honestly cannot remember the last time I went anywhere with a man alone with the exception of Gabe.
That thought alone is sobering after the wonderful breakfast I just had with exceptional company. I would have never in a million years done this before, so why now? I've always put everyone else's feelings first my whole life. Now, I'm jeopardizing Gabe's feelings. That thought doesn't sit well with me.
"Ana?" Christian questions pulling me out of my thoughts.
"I'm sorry, what were you saying?" I feel the heat rise on my cheeks, thoroughly embarrassed that I wasn't paying attention to what he was saying.
"I asked if you wanted another mimosa?" He waves his empty glass around goofily. I can't help but smile.
"I think I will pass. If I have another, I won't be able to help you later today." I say honestly.
"Well then-" he begins but is cut off by my phone ringing. I pull it out of the jacket pocket to see it's Gabe calling. I check my watch for the time. No way is he in New York in less than 4 hours.
"Are you going to get that?" Christian questions me with a raised eyebrow.
"Um- no. They can leave a message." I stammer out, unsure if I want to pick up or not. I'm enjoying this small bit of freedom, but my mind is creating terrible scenarios of why he could be calling when he is supposed to be in the air.
"Is it your boyfriend?" He asks quietly while averting his gaze.
"It's work." I answer quietly even though it's a lie. Well, technically Gabe is my coworker so it isn't a lie. Christian finally makes eye contact again.
"Sorry if that was-" he begins to apologize but I stop him with a wave of my hand.
"No, don't apologize. It's fine." I give him a reassuring smile and I see the tension leave his face.
"Have you and your boyfriend been together long? If you don't mind me asking…" again, he looks nervous as he asks.
"Yeah, a few years give or take. What about you? Anyone special in your life?" I question hoping I misread him asking me to dinner yesterday.
"No, no one special. Honestly, I've never been interested in having a special someone before." His gaze is penetrating me as if he is trying to send a message without saying the actual words. I guess I was wrong about yesterday. He was asking me out because he is interested in me. Butterflies form in my stomach and I fight a smile from forming on my lips at the thought.
"Do I know him?" He asks while handing the waiter his credit card.
"Hey! Let me pay for mine, please!" I try to grab the waiter's arm, but he's gone before I can catch him.
"You're sneaky Grey." I narrow my eyes at him. He lets out a hearty laugh and I take a mental image of this moment. He looks so much younger when he laughs. I did that. I made him laugh. I feel rather successful at this very moment.
"You didn't answer my question." He says through a chuckle. I look at him confused. What did he ask?
"Do I know him?" He repeats himself and I am still confused. "Your boyfriend. Do I know him? Is he from Seattle?" He clarifies. I'm a little shocked at his questions, but I find ease in answering them.
"No, he isn't. He's from New York." I smile letting him know he hasn't offended me.
"Oh...but I don't know him?" He asks curiously.
"No…" lie "He's private. We are very private." I shake my head no, but I feel like he can see right through me. Like he knows who my boyfriend is and this is all a test.
After a wonderful morning with the one and only Ana Steele, Taylor and I are dropping her off at her hotel. Once the weather cleared, he picked us up. Of course he could have picked us up before the weather cleared, but I felt like the universe was giving me an opportunity. I wasn't going to ignore it.
"Thank you so much for the wonderful breakfast." Ana says as we come to a stop outside the hotel. I give her my best smile before I get out and round the car so I can open her door.
"You are very welcome." I say while helping her out of the suv. I walk her to the front door of the hotel. She turns around, leans up and gives me a kiss on the cheek.
"I'll see you later on for menu tasting? What time again?" She questions while looking at her ringing phone again. I know deep down it's probably her boyfriend even though she said it wasn't.
"How about I pick you up at 1?" I suggest, hoping I get to spend a little more time with her if I pick her up and take her home. She looks up at me, blue to gray staring at one another. I can tell she's fighting it inside.
"Okay, that sounds good. Saves me a cab ride or walk in this unpredictable west coast weather." She smiles and I can't help but to smile as well.
Before I can stop her, she turns around and begins her walk inside the hotel lobby.
"Bye Christian! I'll see you at 1!" She calls over her shoulder before making her way inside. I raise my hand up to my cheek, where her plump lips left a tingling sensation. I feel like a school boy who just received his very first kiss from the hottest girl in the class.
I turn around and climb back into the waiting suv.
"Taylor, I want to know who Miss Steele's boyfriend is. Get Welch on it immediately." I bark at my right hand man as we drive towards Escala. I've never felt this type of jealousy before. I feel caged in and ready to explode until I have the answers.
At least I'm the one spending the weekend with her. Me - not him.