Ch. 1 THE QUAKE
As Ana attempts to leave the interview with CG, he accompanies her to the elevator. The elevator arrives. But, just as Ana enters it, an earthquake strikes. CG gets pushed toward the door by the jolt of the floor and they both tumble inside. The quake is a 7.0 and they're tossed around while the doors shut and the elevator gets jammed in between floors.. They become trapped in the elevator for hours.
Christian strokes his chin as I move toward the elevator and my escape from a most uncomfortable interview. He waits with me and attempts to engage me in conversation. What's all this about?
"We have an excellent internship program here at GEH, Miss Steele, you should certainly apply," he urges me with a seductive smile. He's actually flirting with me.
"I really don't think I'd fit in well with the group here at GEH," I assert as I turn my head toward the wall of shining metal elevator doors. I find Mr. Grey incredibly attractive but also arrogant and controlling. He's making me uncomfortable with his presence. What does Christian Grey want with me?
"Why would you think that?" he queries with a stunned look on his face.
"Oh…just a gut instinct," I answer vaguely. Is he kidding? I am such a far cry from the army of blond and perfectly coifed assistants that appear around every corner at GEH. Why the hell is he pursuing me, after the interview has been concluded?
"Listen, why don't you at least think about the internship before you reject the idea outright?" he advises while leaning against the wall nearest my chute. His grey eyes smolder with some unnamed emotion. He massages his chin thoughtfully while he continues to regard me with interest. Oh, how I need to get out of this building!
My gut quivers at the intensity of his gaze. What is it about Christian Grey that has me so rattled? I will admit, Christian is gorgeous and I don't often respond to men this way. The truth is, I've never felt so attracted to a man before. I could swear, I felt sparks of electricity a few moments ago, when he helped me with my jacket. There's something unsettling about the way he interacts with me though.
I sigh with relief when the elevator pings and opens. I quickly make my way to the entrance and begin to move inside. However, when I turn to say goodbye Mr. Grey puts his hand on the safety panel and starts to say something more with those sexy lips and enticing grey eyes…
Suddenly, the elevator jolts and shifts backwards. Christian gets tossed inside with me. We're having a powerful earthquake. The building and everything within it starts to gyrate. I grab the metal bar at the back of the box, as does Christian. However, the thrusting of the quake throws us both to the floor in an instant. My head hits the lower portion of the enclosure before I can secure myself.
Christian has managed to grab the stabilizing bar at the back of the elevator and away from my flailing body. He pulls himself free from where I am thrashing about. I have no control as the powerful quake reduces me to the status of a helpless ragdoll. My body continues to get flung around until Christian pulls me into his arms for safety. By the time the quake's thrusting has stopped, I'm bleeding from the mouth and have a golf ball sized lump on my head.
"Are you alright, Ana?" he asks with concern while securing me in a seated upright position against the back of the elevator. I feel nauseous and chilled.
"I…I'm feeling…strange," I say before slipping into unconsciousness. When I regain consciousness a moment later, my head is resting on Christian Grey's lap. He's looking at me with shock and concern. This must be a dream, I think.
"Miss Steele," he utters in a gentle voice. "Don't move. You've knocked your head against two surfaces and passed out for a moment." He rubs my arms and pats me softly as I stare up at his sculpted face from below. I feel entranced.
"Where am I?" I say while looking into the gaze of an Adonis. If I've died and this person is an angel, I'm happy that I've gone to heaven.
"You are at Grey Enterprises Holdings," he states firmly. "Do you remember interviewing me earlier today?"
I blink twice. "Oh…yes, Mr. Grey. But, what're we doing sitting on the floor of this elevator, together?"
"Seattle's been shaken by a very powerful earthquake, Ana. Just as you were leaving the interview, the quake threw us into the elevator box. Don't worry, Miss Steele, the shaking appears to have subsided for the moment," he explains carefully as if to a small child. He offers me one of his monogrammed white cotton handkerchiefs to clean the drips of blood now coming from my mouth.
"OK," I say but feel incredibly dizzy. I put my arms on his biceps in an attempt to pull myself up and look into Christian's eyes for reassurance. I feel so safe here. If this is a dream, I do not want to awaken. Is the jolt I feel a quake or something like a chemical reaction to Mr. Grey?
He looks with longing into my face but then pushes me back down as the elevator begins to gyrate again. "Just stay where you are, Ana. We don't want you hitting your head again," he advises while lowering my head into his lap. His fingers linger in my hair. I like his touch.
My head rests comfortably in Grey's lap while the still powerful aftershocks wiggle us back and forth in our temporary prison. He smells divine. His lips curve into a slight smile. Is he enjoying himself? I wonder how many women have had their heads in his lap before, and not because they've just passed out?
"Thank you, Mr. Grey…How strong was the earthquake?" I ask as I look up into his gorgeous face for more time than seems appropriate. He doesn't appear to mind.
"From the jolt we just experienced, I would estimate at least a 6.5 or more…," he states and pets my arm to reassure me and says, "Don't worry, Ana." Is the control freak actually a knight in shining armor?
After another few moments, the aftershocks subside in intensity but the elevator dances in its shaft for a while more. I bravely pull myself up and toward Christian's chest for protection. I feel frightened and hold him for security. He stiffens when my head rests against his shoulder. Oops!
He must think I'm quite brazen but what I feel is dizzy, disoriented and frightened. "I'm so sorry, Mr. Grey. I didn't mean to be so familiar…," I stutter. "I'm just a bit discombobulated, at the moment."
"That's fine, Miss Steele. It's not your fault…You have been injured…I'm just a bit uncomfortable when anyone touches my chest, however, " he adds while pulling me into a sitting position and adjusting me against the back of the elevator itself, away from his chest. He must not like being close to me. Do I smell?
"I'm a bit anxious about the earthquake is all…Thanks for all your help, Mr. Grey," I mutter while dabbing my bloody mouth again. Then, I attempt to stand up.
"Wait to stand up, Ana, until the shaking ceases," he commands. I nod in compliance and sit down next to him. Our shoulders touch at that moment. The electricity sparking between us shocks me. We both look at one another in stunned silence. He clears his throat to break the tension.
"I'll call my security team and determine the extent of the damage to the building and, more importantly, when they can rescue us from our current location…You may want to call your friends and family members to warn them about being late," he orders in his CEO mode.
Mr. Control Freak is now back in full operational mode I note. Yeah, I guess you can't spend too much time with the little people, I think.
"Taylor, what's the status of the GEH building? Any word about damages, yet?...Yes, I'm here.. Actually, I'm trapped in the elevator, leading from my office to the lobby, with a young woman from WSU…her name is Anastasia Steele. Do you have any idea how long it might be until we are freed from confinement?" The answer must be brief because he frowns and then clicks off without any salutation, only to begin another call.
His rapid fire questions on the phone speak volumes about the sort of service he expects from others, as well as his anxiety about being trapped…with me.
I call Kate. It goes to voice mail. "Hi Kate! Just wanted you to know that my interview's been concluded... I may extract additional details, however, because Mr. Grey and I are trapped in the elevator at GEH for an undetermined amount of time…You may have heard about Seattle's major quake on the news by now." I giggle about my sarcastic remark. "Cheers, Ana."
Then I text a similar message to my friend, Jose, as well as my mother and father.
Christian concludes his calls and looks over at me for a moment. "This quake came in at 7.0 on the Richter Scale…There's massive damage in downtown Seattle…It might be hours before the rescue teams can free us from this shaft, Miss Steele," he announces gravely and with obvious frustration.
"Well, let's think of something to pass the time," I suggest with an upbeat attitude and innocent smile.
"Tell me about your finals, then," he prods and then a look of consternation crosses his brow, "since you were in such a rush, to leave my office and study."
I tell him about the paper I'm writing on a Thomas Hardy novel called Return of the Native. He's familiar with British novelists from the 19th century. So, we discuss the themes I'm going to be tested on during finals week. He actually seems interested in the topics.
"I want to apologize for some of the questions that were asked during the interview," I pipe up, finally. I'm still mortified that I asked about his sexuality.
"Yeah, some of the questions seemed inappropriate, I will admit," he states with a stern look on his brow. His sour mood passes in the course of a moment though. Then a crooked smile suddenly appears on his face. "Tell me, though, what did you enjoy learning about me, in the interview?"
"I was impressed with your charity work in Darfur," I admit and then add as an afterthought, "also with the funding you provided to WSU."
He puffs up with pride. "It's important to give back, Anastasia. If it weren't for my adoption, I'd probably be living on the streets or hooked on drugs." A sad and haunted look appears on his lovely face before he turns back to me again.
"I'm sorry. What happened to your parents, Mr. Grey?" I suddenly feel so much sympathy for this master of the universe.
"It's not something I care to discuss at the moment, Miss Steele," he asserts and then quickly changes the subject. "Tell me about your family," he commands while his game face reappears.
And just like that, I'm on the spot. "There's not much to tell, Mr. Grey…I am an only child. My scatterbrained mother raised me until I was about fifteen and then I lived with my stepfather Ray, until college started. I had a relatively happy childhood."
"Scatterbrained mother, eh? You didn't get along with her?" he's suddenly interested in my relationship with Carla.
"We're two very different people, I think. She loves me and wants the best for me but I'm more her parent than the reverse. That's why I chose to live with my stepdad, Ray, when she married for the third time…" I trail off. "Now she's on her fourth husband."
"Then, your mother is difficult to live with?"
"No, she's quite upbeat but she can't seem to stick with any plan for long. I think she tried to be reliable in her care of me while I was a young child but not later on," I explain with a flush. Why am I telling him all my deepest and darkest secrets about Carla?
"So, she let you down with her marriages. So I take it that you liked your stepdad, Ray, a bit more than her other husbands," he observes.
"Yeah. It's amazing but the two of us, though unrelated biologically, actually have similar personalities."
"Let me guess…Somewhat passive, shy and taciturn?" he suggests.
He thinks I'm mousey, klutzy and boring, I sigh. "Yes, Mr. Grey, I much prefer spending an evening reading books than going out drinking and partying…I'm not as passive as I appear, however."
"There's nothing wrong with that Miss Steele," he suddenly concurs with enthusiasm. "Then you spend most of your time studying, going to class, and thinking…You must have a high GPA at the university," he infers. His eyes show interest and enthusiasm. I can't believe someone as debonair as Mr. Grey would find the likes of me fascinating at all.
"I will be graduating Summa Cum Laude…And, I'm not a total bookworm since I actually have a job working at a sporting goods store near campus. So, yes I do get out of the campus community, on a regular basis," I assert and note that I sound defensive yet also proud. That's so like Ray.
"Then, there's an athletic streak in you, after all," he notes in surprise. He looks at my body for a long moment, with interest.
I hate to disappoint him with the news that I rarely engage in anything more strenuous than a brisk walk between campus and my apartment, so I don't. It's time to ask about him again.
"You seem to have many active hobbies, Mr. Grey. Of those you mentioned previously; gliding, sailing and flying, which is your favorite?"
He chuckles with a sly smile before responding, "I enjoy gliding the most since it feels so peaceful…but I have interests that extend beyond sports. Very singular interests…," he admits and places his long graceful index finger across his lips. He regards me with a curious tilt to his head. There's a hidden message here but I have no interest in exploring it further.
His phone buzzes at that moment. "Yes, Taylor, we're fine for now. Miss Steele has a slight concussion but seems great at the moment," he smiles at me in an endearing manner. "So we might be confined in our elevator for a few hours?" he shakes his head in wonder as he processes the info, then clicks off.
"A few hours?" I repeat. I note that it's getting hot in our enclosed space. I'm also hungry. "Would you like a Power Bar, Mr. Grey? I've got a few in my bag, along with some water," I announce. He lights up with joy as I open my satchel to share my meager resources.
AN: Thank you so much to all those who PM'd and reviewed me and to my true supporters. You know who you are and I treasure all of your input. If you want to contact me, I'm at anna at jsluxor dot com. XXOXX