A/N: Reviewers, Readers, Followers, Favorites... so many of you have asked for a glimpse inside CG's head and until the revelation of his memory and PTSD, I couldn't because it would have given it away. But now that the secret is out, I am posted a snippet of his mind. This is the day he first sees Ana and the painting. I'm sure you all have an image of CG because he is so commanding and appealing a presence. I tried to give you something that you will like and I hope you do. Here are some answers to questions I anticipate: 1) Is CG still wanting Ana as a sub? No. Once he realized who she was and started getting drawn to her beyond just this initial meeting, he wanted more. 2) Is Larissa in this story, Jane Doe? No. Jane Doe will be revealed in due time. 3) When was the first time CG saw the paintings? - In this chapter, on the same day that Ana got her visa denial.
I so hope you like it. As always, thank you in advance for your support! xoxoxo, Ani
DAVID AND GOLIATH
Please listen to the Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven before reading. Eyes closed.
Moonlight Sonata. C-sharp, minor. Beethoven. Five minutes, 31 seconds. Moon, light, moonlight, music, music box, crystal, shaped like a piano, engraved inside "For the love of my life for the love of her life, you'll be a great mom." Mom. I wake up.
I don't open my eyes. I don't have to. I know where I am. I'm sitting on the white modern sofa, facing the fireplace of the penthouse of the Four Seasons Hotel in Seattle. Behind me is the glass wall, behind the glass wall is Elliot Bay. In my ears, I have the ear pods from my iPhone, set to wake me up to the sonata at precisely 2 minutes and 54 seconds.
With my eyes closed, I wait for the sonata to finish. The beast in my head is already awake, waiting. 1984. Moon. Window. Beach. Sand. Woman's silhouette. Walking away. Don't go there, Grey. The sonata ends. And images, tastes, and sounds shift like rolodex cards. I know enough to keep my emotions out of it by now. But when I wake up, there are always facts and data waiting there – no doubt because of some mysterious process inside the black box or the subconscious that catapults them into conscience when I'm asleep.
Example. Today, May 7, 2012. Eight years ago today, I graduated from UW. Summa Cum Laude. Fucking ridiculous. They should have given it to someone who actually had to work hard. My mother, red suit, Chanel No. 5. Giles, stoic in his uniform, nods like he did in May 1998 for my high school graduation. My father wearing Drakar Noir and a blue paisley tie – what the fuck was he thinking. The memories move like dominos, one pushing the other.
Come on, Grey, focus on here and now. I'm wearing my Armani trousers, nothing else. Cock? Tamed. Body? Still wound up. Brain? Fucked up as always, maybe even worse. The gas fire is still on in the fireplace. 7.2 million was a good deal for the penthouse. Much better – and cheaper in the long run – than continuing to have this place on hold 24/7 for the fuck of the hour…or the night.
Case in point, Larissa Forteskaya. She is in the master bedroom, asleep. Closed though my eyes still are, I see her. Blonde hair, blue eyes, full lips, 5'10'', about 120 pounds, tits size 34C, Brazilian wax. Beautiful. And absolutely average. I have no attachment to her in any form. Bluntly, my interest died the moment I came inside her. The first time, that is. By the third time, it was sheer biology. I was backed up. I needed release.
And yet, Larissa Forteskaya, I will always remember you. As little as you mean to me, your voice – with its Russian accent – will be there when I am 70 – assuming I live that long – saying "Oh fuck, yes, yes, harder, harder, oh my fucking God, I'm coming, I'm coming, I'm coming." I'll remember your slack mouth, your strange high-pitch laugh, and the slightly tangy smell of your cunt. I will remember that you agreed this was a one-time only and that you know I won't be here when you wake up. And I'll remember that you don't give a shit about that, just like I don't. You're here for the good life for an evening and I am here because I needed a fuck and because I'm addicted to the idea of finding something that will hold me even though I know the whole effort is fucking useless. That's because I have an all-eating monster inside my head, which will devour everything about you whether I want it to or not. It's called eidetic memory and it's a real whore. Exactly so, Larissa Forteskaya. Exactly so.
And with all that, to no one's surprise, least of all my own, I feel nothing after fucking you, just like I feel nothing after I fuck any other woman. Nothing except boredom and a not-so-insignificant amount of disgust with myself. Why boredom, Larissa? Because I have seen something like you 46 times. That's not my total number, just the number that is a version of you. Same tan, same bleached blonde look, even your lip gloss I have tasted 11 times – it's Yves Saint Laurent Gold Gloss, isn't it? Why do I know? Because I have seen 11 women apply it and reapply it in my presence. Then, it's the same inane questions, what do you do, how much money do you make, oh my God that's so awesome, are you married? Fucking old.
Why disgust? Because it's not your fault. You've done well for yourself, with your college degree in fashion design. You've got a happy attitude, nothing to escape from, you haven't seen death or loss except apparently your cat that died last month.
No, the problem is with me. For as long as I can remember – and that's a fucking long time – I have been on a rampage for something new even though I know that at first sight, new will become old for me. It's a penance, trying to forget some things only so that I can remember others. I don't know why I still try. As Einstein said, the definition of insanity is to do something over and over again and expect a different result. I guess I'm insane.
Well, at least I am not at home. I try not to add any more memories to my home than I absolutely have to. There is a reason my home is sterile white. Very little association with anything else, the literal carte blanche. The only exception I make to my no-home rule is my subs. Not that I have been getting them recently. I get them to relieve violence during the demons, not boredom.
Wait… Maybe I should get a sub to relieve boredom. Instead of whips, I'll give orders only. Today, you will be Jane Eyre. Today, Anna Karenina, minus the suicide. Today, Elizabeth Bennett. Those were women. Fuck, that's a brilliant idea. Why haven't I done that before? It would take care of boredom… Fuck me! I'm doing it. Subs of Seattle – fuck that – subs of the world, which one of you can play all these heroines? Jane's kind conscience, Karenina's spirit, Bennett's strength and intelligence… Tall order. She'll have to be extraordinary of mind to pull this off. Fuck, if I do find her, I'll spend good money to go the whole thing. Not the playroom this time. It's gotten fucking old. I'll buy a mansion and change it constantly to fit the time period. For Jane Eyre, it will be Thornfield Hall. For Karenina, it will be Vronksi's estate. For Elizabeth Bennett, I'll do Pemberley. Grey, this is one of the best fucking ideas you've ever had.
All right, I might as well open my eyes. I look at my watch. 4:00 in the morning. I stand and stretch. I down what's left in my Scotch glass. Balvanie. Cheers, Giles! I get dressed, my clothes trailing on the floor to the bedroom and leave. Taylor – my right-hand man - is waiting outside the door.
"Good morning, Sir."
"Good morning, Taylor. I may be forgetting, but I'm sure I told you not to wait."
Taylor laughs. He knows I am not forgetting. "I was hoping you'd change your mind on Ms. Forteskaya and I'd be needed to jump in."
I laugh. He is lying and we both know it. For the penthouse fucks, he waits in case he needs to wake me up from my nightmares. Useless effort since I take care of that by not falling asleep or by sleeping alone with my ear plugs in tuned to the Moonlight Sonata. But Taylor is Taylor, he won't leave me.
In the Four Seasons lobby, there's the same receptionist that has been here for the last 5 years, Gregory Stall, and an idiot heading to the gym already with tight leggings or some shit – his junk for everyone to see. Dude, what the fuck is wrong with regular gym shorts? Now, I have to remember your junk for the rest of my life. Fucking asshole.
I walk to Gregory.
"Leaving already, Sir?"
"Send the usual upstairs in the morning, Sir?"
"Yes, thank you."
The usual is breakfast, day at the spa, shopping spree or whatever shit Larissa and her predecessors want today before they leave.
"Will do, Sir. Have a great day."
I like Gregory. He never really asks questions, he just makes the answers sound like questions.
The valet brings the Audi at a nod from Gregory and Taylor takes the wheel.
"Grey House, Sir?" Taylor is like Gregory too. Few words, knows the answers before I say them, doesn't take up space in my head.
There's no need to go home. I can start work early, finish negotiations with Malaysia, buy my mom' s birthday present even though she is still in London, and then get started on researching my mental sub. Mental Sub? I guess it works. Not that I don't plan to fuck her. If this woman exists and manages the mental fortitude required to pull of these heroines, I will fuck her gladly until the day I die. Or get bored, whichever.
The day goes by in the usual blur. Conference call with Malaysia. Always a cluster fuck. I'm buying three of the country's biggest electronics' companies. Malaysia is strong in computer engineering because Intel has a strong presence there. Every one wants to contract with Intel. This is going to make me a shit ton of money. Not that I need anymore of it. I could quit today and have enough money to last me a lifetime and to keep a small country – say, Albania – afloat for at least 80 years after my death. But winning is a game with me. An addictive game that takes the edge off memories and that has gotten me to the very top. If it wasn't for the game, I'd have told the Malaysian CEOs to go fuck themselves. As it is, I will buy their companies and sell them off to Intel, piece by piece.
I take off at 2 p.m. to buy my mom's present. She's been in an art kick lately. She and my dad are in London in a third honeymoon – they still fuck like rabbits, disgusting. We are on better terms now than we were seven years ago, or even before then for that matter. It was mostly my fault, but they didn't help with their image of the perfect son. They wanted Alyosha Karamazov and got Ivan instead. Not that I blame them. Ever since they adopted me, I gave them nothing but grief. But still, things may have gone differently if they would have worked harder to keep my eidetic memory private than to advertise it to the whole world.
"What? You haven't heard about Christian? Oh my, let me tell you. He has total recall! Can you believe it? I know. I'm the mother of a genius. Oh, I have no doubt Harvard or Oxford will have him. Cary wants Yale but I think Oxford is better. And Diane Sawyer wants to interview him but he…well… he wasn't very nice to her on the phone. He's always been a prickly kid but I really think the sky is the limit for him."
I have listened to 3,672 such phone conversations in my life. And that's my mom only.
Taylor drops me off in front of Hyde Art, the gallery of Seattle's fast-rising star, Jack Hyde. He popped out of thin air three years ago and became an overnight Da Vinci. He rarely gives interviews or talks about his paintings. I have to admit, I'm intrigued by the man. As someone with skeletons in my closet, I find similarities in his chosen seclusion. His paintings are not modern like my preferred style but they look alive. He has this smooth brushing technique that is so detailed that at first, you think you are looking at a photo. Mom will like this.
I walk in the gallery and scan it. The beast inside my head eats it up. The only one here is a blonde at a tiny white polished podium. She reminds me of Larissa. Bleached hair, tanned, blue eyes, slightly Botoxed lips, fake tits. She looks up. In three seconds, her mouth will pop open. Three, two, one…yep, there it is. Yeah, yeah, I know. Okay, that's enough now. Any minute. No? Fine. I clear my throat.
She closes her mouth and her posture changes, tits out, back arched, ass out too. Nice but futile. Chances of me fucking this girl are nil. One, she's fake. Two, I know this type. She smells money on me. Three, I'm tired of the game. In fact, I think I might go in a bout of celibacy until I find my Mental Sub. I'm getting on that right after I finish here.
"Welcome to Hyde Art. My name is Kasia Moss. What can I do for you today?" She says. She is speaking strangely. I think she is trying to have a British accent. I remember exactly what various British accents sound like. And I am a sucker for them. I'd fuck the Duchess of Cornwell if she talked during sex. A doubtful premise. But this girl is as American as apple pie.
"Good afternoon, Ms. Moss. I'm Christian Grey. I'd like to peruse the paintings but I'd like to do so alone. Would you mind leaving me?" I have two reasons for this. One, her drooling is annoying as shit. Two, I'm going to have to look at the paintings on the wall and she will hover behind me. And I don't do that.
She looks at me like I'm speaking Martian. Maybe she recognizes the name. I give her my impassive stare or what my mother calls the "Grey hauteur." Kasia gapes some more, blinks furiously, and then remembers her English – her accent slips a little.
"Ummm… yeah, of course." And then she scuttles off. I'm sure she will be back in no time. The moment she disappears, I make a beeline for the painting that caught my eye – or I should say breath – the moment I walked in.
It's a simple painting, but what a masterpiece it is. Plunged into darkness are the flawless jawline, neck, collarbone, and a hint of cleavage of a woman. Her hair is up except slight wisps on her neck. Brunette. The painting is black and white, her flawless skin almost silver and luminous. She looks like she is breathing under my gaze. I squint my eyes and have this sudden image of pressing my lips at the dip of her throat. As such fantasies go, it is my most reverential and most chaste. In fact, it's my first. Usually, I don't get a hard-on over a throat. But there is something so exquisite and virtuous about the woman that I'm afraid anything more than an imagined – not even real – kiss would defile her. The neck curves gracefully to the side: it's both a rejection and an invitation. She is looking away from the painter – away from me. A light shines upon her shoulder. No marks anywhere. Absolutely perfect.
I watch her over and over again. She breathes. There is no other way to describe it. I search the painting for some emotion. There is a melancholic edge to it. A perfect saint in both loneliness and peace. And the peaceful aura she emanates is contagious. The more I look at her neckline, the calmer I feel. The calmness is almost soporific. My eyes want to close and I am drifting. It's not sleep, it's rest. Rest evades me. That's the rule of my life. Not today. I'm sure Hyde painted this woman in black and white and made her unidentifiable so that she could be anyone. But she is singular.
Jack Hyde is a fucking genius to have imagined this. Because there is no way she is real.
I hear the clicks of high heels from the corner. I feel like I've been walked in on something intimate. I turn, and the sight of Kasia is a brutal awakening. A vulgar interference in the perfect bubble of the woman in the painting. I'm pissed. I want to tell her to fuck off but she knows who I am and she's just doing her job.
"Still doing okay, Mr. Grey?" She asks.
I put as much contempt in my voice as possible. "I was."
Kasia looks uncomfortable. I don't care. I turn to the painting, and watch some more. It's imprinted in my memory now for posterity but I am unable look away. It's not so much the skin and cleavage – although they're something else - as it is this lonely-star quality that might brighten or warm you if you stand close enough. She is virtue among sin. I am nobody's virtue – in fact, Lucifer is a more kindred spirit – but in the woman's presence, I feel almost...acceptable.
"Would you like something to drink Mr. Grey?"
God fucking damn it. Shut the fuck up. "I did not realize that it is advisable to drink in an art gallery." I say keeping my contempt as thick as possible so she will leave me the fuck alone. I keep my eyes on the painting. I'm buying it. That way I can watch without interruption. Inside my head, for once it's quiet. Rolodex cards have stopped spinning. They haven't felt rest before. Maybe if I buy the painting, rest will continue. And maybe this strange sense of virtue in sin will continue too. Plus, suddenly the idea of anyone else watching Her – why my brain capitalizes the H, I have no fucking clue – is revolting.
"We can have that painting done in color as well. But the artist feels that the black, white, and gray colors allow the real beauty to shine through."
Hmm, that's not a bad idea. Maybe I will commission it in color. I try to picture it. I don't want anyone else to see Her in color. It's a level of exposure so private to Her alone that maybe even I shouldn't see it. Her true colors, as it were.
"Ana! Why are you standing there? You know Jack's instructions." Kasia has lost flirtation – and some of her accent – and she sounds like she is hissing at an offensive character. I turn to see who the unfortunate soul is.
And here, before me, taking two steps in my direction is the most exquisite woman I have ever seen, short of this painting. She looks up at me.
Two things happen at the same time. First, my brain kicks on high-alert like it does when it senses fear or danger. There is no danger here but she has a restrained sadness about her and I have a vision of hiding her behind me, and standing between her and the world. Second, for the first time in my life, my memory stutters. What. The. Fuck.
It's a tiny stutter, but a stutter nonetheless. The rolodex cards spin furiously but come up with nothing. I have never seen her. There is no question about it. But my memory falters like it doesn't want to accept that fact. She looks slightly familiar but I know she cannot be. Odd. I have never had the "looks familiar" feeling. I either know something or I don't. This limbo is… new. The beast in my head sniffs around, looking for its prey. It knows it's here somewhere but it can't see it. Like a blind predator smelling the blood but unable to locate it. Then, the predator gives up and lurks away in familiar waters. It's been only a few seconds. The rolodex cards stop. The stutter ends.
Seriously, what the fuck just happened?
Maybe it's because this Ana is so stunning, she stumped even my brain. She has odd color eyes, almost deep purple. There is something very dignified about her eyes. Like despite her sadness, she is still standing. Her dark, almost black, hair falls in waves down to her waist. Her skin glows, and my memory stutters fractionally again before it becomes absorbed with her full lips that are slightly parted like breathing is costing her some effort.
She looks like she is from another land, from another time. An old movie star perhaps, or someone you might see stepping out of an Austen novel. Both humble and aristocratic. Even her clothes – gray skirt slightly below the knee, pearl earrings – look like something that was fashionable decades ago. But instead of out of date, she looks…relevant.
Who is she? I look at the rest of her body that, until now, had been eclipsed by her impossible face. Fuck. Me. If feminine ever walked the earth, she is it. Her body is vintage too. She has a tiny waist, perfect tits and a petite frame. And just like that, my cock reverts to puberty. It twitches and I have an immediate vision of ripping off her sensible clothes and taking her right here, right now. Jesus Christ. I have to find out who she is. And then I can also figure out why she looks sad. Did something happen to her? Bad break-up? Family trouble? Kasia the whore? She treated Ana like shit. Whatever it is, I will find out and see if I can help her. How hard can it be?
I turn and walk up to Kasia – not much time has passed. That's one good thing about my brain. It's fucking fast. Kasia flutters her eyelashes at me. Save it, bitch. I'm furious. I'm not gallant but for whatever reason the way she talked to this sad Ana pisses me off to no end. I might even get her fired. Catty whore. No doubt jealous because she needs 5 pounds of lip gloss, 10 pounds of tanning chemicals, 15 pounds of bleach, and 30 pounds of silicone to look like an echo of an echo of an echo of Ana… and she still can't.
"I will purchase the painting." I say with as much distaste as possible, and give her my credit card. "Is it part of a series?"
She blushes and mumbles and her hands are shaking. Any fucking time now.
"Umm, no…I mean, yes. Yes, it is. The one you are purchasing is the first. There are three others in the back. Would you like to see them?"
"No. I will buy them." I'm still aware of Ana a few feet from me, to the side.
"Will there be any upcoming paintings from this series?" I ask Kasia. I take a lot more time than necessary to read the Curator Agreement. The same lawyer that wrote the Agreement for the gallery I usually frequent must be providing services for Hyde because there is a typo in the words "equitable remedies" in the exact same spot.
"Yes, I know the artist is working on one more. If you leave your contact information, I can call you when it's finished, Mr. Grey."
In your fucking dreams, Kasia, and even in those, I wouldn't even let you suck my cock. I keep my eyes on the Curator Agreement. "No. I will pre-purchase it today. Double the price if it is finished by the weekend."
I hear a gasp from Kasia's lips. I'm surprised she can move them at all with all that shit on them. I don't look up.
"Ana? Now, please." She barks at Ana.
That's it, I've had it. I give Kasia my most vicious glare and wait for Ana to do her biding. From the corner of my eye I see her scuttle away in her little heels. Don't worry, baby, I'll find you. And we'll fix whatever is making you sad. Then, we can celebrate. Have you heard of a thing called nipple orgasm? Well, it's coming for you. And maybe more. Maybe you will be my Mental Sub. You have the old world look for it. My cock twitches in anticipation. It finds the idea of intellectual fucking even more arousing than the whips and canes. The words fuck one's brains out just took on a new meaning.
When Ana disappears behind the corner and her heels die down, I let Kasia have it.
"Ms. Moss, from the moment I walked into this gallery, you have annoyed me but I tolerated it because I think you're just trying to do your job. But let me make two things crystal clear. One. The chances of me taking you to bed are nonexistent so spare the breath, the lashes, and the fake accent. Two. If this is the way you treat your employees, I will take my business elsewhere and will demand from the Seattle elite that constitute your clientele to boycott Hyde Art. Trust me, it will only take one word from me. In fact, I came here to buy another painting but after what I just witnessed, I will go to a gallery where human beings are not treated like vermin. You make sure you tell that to Mr. Hyde. And tell him I will pay close attention at his treatment of personnel and should I find out that they have been so much as looked at askew, Hyde Art is finished. Now, kindly give me back my credit card, prepare my paintings, and my assistant and I will come back to pick them up when ready. Good day to you."
And with that, I walk out. I feel much better.