So I said I was NOT going to start another story but I guess I lied... because here is another story. It wouldn't leave my head and I had to get it out. This is going to be something different, a little lighter and more action and adventure. I hope you guys like it! Please follow and review.
I stand impassively outside my office and watch as an older man in saggy paint stained overalls carefully paints my name in silver gilding on the frosted glass panels that conceal my brand new office.
Anastasia Steele, CEO.
I'll admit that I get a small jolt every time my new moniker passes through my head. Not only am I one of the youngest CEO's in the country I am also the only female in my age bracket. I hear the whispers and the naysayers all chanting the same thing: Nepotism
I can understand why people feel that way, as an outsider looking in I might assume the same thing. My father is Raymond Steele Founder acting CEO and President of Steele Securities, the largest and most comprehensive private security company in the world. What people don't know is that I helped my father start this company when I was ten, the mustard seed idea came from me. By the time I turned fourteen I was planning large scale marketing campaigns between AP English and homeroom. I went to summer school on purpose to get gym credits out of the way so I could graduate at sixteen and I graduated second in my class from WSU-Vancouver, so small feat. Our valedictorian was Mia Grey, a child prodigy and a year younger then I was. She is also one of my closest friends.
My age, my face, my size and scale are looked upon as negatives, a determent to my ability to do business. I never saw it that way. While middle aged men with fat hanging over their four hundred dollar belts patted my head and rested their hairy knuckled hands on my thigh, I was taking over their companies and giving them the pink slip. To me being underestimated was my greatest asset in the fine art of corporate distraction.
So here I stand watching my name appear and I should be happy and excited, elated even but instead I feel hollow, and void of any real emotion. I have worked towards this goal for years, waiting for my father to have the faith in me and my abilities to put his beloved company on my hands. Here I am standing at the precipice and I feel nothing. Actually I feel nauseated; the toxic fumes from the paint are making me sick.
I turn away utterly disgusted and walk back to my old office two floors down.
Steele Securities is large compound in the rural outskirts of Seattle. My father bought the land for a song after the housing market crashed in 2008 and built a literal village on it. Our employees work long hard hours for exceptional pay and we keep them well fed and comfortable. It is a never ending project; we are always adding buildings and warehouses for equipment. A new government contract has opened us up to an entirely new world of intelligence development. We are in the process of adding a new building to house the interns we are amassing from the best schools around the country, tech nerds and programmers, former military and retired CIA, all coming together to form a think tank of sorts.
It's an exciting project which is what has drawn my father's gaze away from the everyday dealings of running SS and passing the baton on to me. As a former Navy Seal he is chomping at the bit to get in the "trenches" and "change the world as we know it". I have not seen him this excited since we started the company well over a decade ago and I'll admit it's really nice to have my old dad back. To see him happy and excited and full of anticipation, like a kid on Christmas morning. I may even be jealous, I can't remember the last time I felt that way about anything.
I sit behind my old wooden desk; it has been with me since I started working here summers and after school at the ripe old age of eleven. Back when we were in dusty old mouse infested warehouse right outside of Portland. I run my fingers over the worn wood, every nick every scratch tells a story. Tells my story and even though I have a shiny new desk arriving, this relic is coming home with me. I know just the spot.
"Miss Steele." My assistant's voice comes through the speaker phone.
"I have Miss Kavanagh on line two for you." Kate Kavanagh, my friend and confidant. The Laverne to my Shirley, the Betty to my Veronica. She took me under her wing our freshman year, I was younger by a full two years but she said I had an old soul and from that moment forward we were friends. She was like the older sister I never had and I was grateful that fate smiled on destiny when we were randomly chosen to be roommates. She got me thought some very dark days and her faith and friendship never wavered. She is the reason I am alive and kicking.
"Yes please patch her through… Hello Katie-bell…"
"ANA! God I knew you were still going to be at the office! It is almost eight on a Friday funday get your scrawny ass and your sexy as fuck body guard over here ASAP!"
"And where is here exactly?" I can hear the mumbling crowd and the unrelenting bass of a techno song in the background. From the slight slur in Kate's voice I would say she has had two beers and a shot and I can also guarantee she has not paid for any of them. That is my Kate, like moths to the flame the men burn off their grubby little wings trying to bask in her light.
"Club Escalva… You know the place Mia's aunt just opened… Mia is here, and Jose is coming… Oh and do you remember…" I tune Kate out as she rambles on about someone we went to college with sometimes Kate just never shuts up. Club Escalva, the name puts me off, why in the world would anyone name their club slave, a female slave no less. Granted it sounds more seductive in Spanish but so does asshole, I don't see anyone naming their club carbon anytime soon.
Elena Trevelyan – Lincoln has given me the creeps since the moment I met her five years ago. She oozes insincerity and elitism, the air of women who buys and sells things or people with ease and very little thought. There in not a single thing about her that is real: her hair, her nail her boobs, her teeth are all reproductions. Not to say she is ugly because unfortunately she is not. She is stunning even, groomed and buffed to a showroom shine. I have seen her a hand full of times at a few family functions over the years and she always looks at me like she is starving and I am the buffet.
I cannot image for the life of me how she and Mia's mother Grace share an ounce of DNA but they do the same eyes and smile, only Grace is an unaltered beauty. In fact I believe she is the human embodiment of Glenda the good witch (making Elena the Wicked Witch of the West, complete with flying monkeys). Grace is sweet and kind, honest and open. She brings a sense of peace everywhere she goes. I have been lucky enough to be in her presence over the years she has been an aspirational beacon for me, a level to work towards. Her charity work, alone has inspired me to start my own. Safe and Secure a shelter for battered women and children. Out of all the deals and plans I am working right now this is what I am most excited about. I am ripe with ideas and they keep me up nights.
"So are you coming or what?" Kate's voice finally brings me back to the conversation and I ponder briefly what I want to do. It's Friday night, and my last Friday of freedom before I take the reins and step into my role as CEO. I can't remember the last time I went out and let loose. A glass of wine and an hour of TV are usually how I spend my Fridays.
"Yes, I will be there is half an hour." She lets out a glass shattering squeal and I have to pull the phone away from my ear to preserve my hearing. She goes on for a few moments about how she loves me like a sister and hangs up the phone.
"Yes Miss Steele."
"Send Taylor up please."
"Yes Miss Steele."
I met Taylor for the first time when I was twelve. The company has just cleared its second million in profits and we had just gotten national attention because of a huge government contract we had secured. My father felt it would be a good time to employ some security and Jason Taylor came highly recommended by my father's military contacts.
To say I had a childhood crush on Taylor is a massive understatement. He was twenty eight when I met him, tall and lean. Sandy blonde hair and light eyes that changed color depending on what he was wearing. Black was his usual go to so his eyes hovered around an awe inspiring sky at dusk or the water of a lake in the mountains. He was a man of few words and showed even less emotion, he worked for us for two years before I knew he had an ex-wife and daughter six years younger than I was.
He taught me about opera and classical music when I was fourteen, sick of hearing the "nasal twangs of pre-pubescent pop stars" coming from my room. After much trial and error Tristan und Isolde was my favorite, with La Boheme coming in for a very close second. When I turned sixteen he showed me how to drive a car and took me for my road test. When I turned eighteen Taylor took me to the shooting range and schooled me in the way of the gun. My father had taken me over the years but it was Taylor who really made me an expert.
There is seldom a memory where Taylor isn't silently standing in the corner, his watchful eye keeping me safe. Over the years many of an attempt has been made to kidnap me. The appeal of kidnapping the daughter of the man who owns largest security company in the world too big of a draw I guess. I would assume the bragging rights would be worth the possible jail time. Some have gotten closer than others but Taylor and his men have always been able to keep me out of harm's way – for the most part anyway.
"Yes Miss Steele." He stands at ease in my doorway, the light shining behind him casting a long shadow on my pale marble floors. I stand up from behind my desk and sit at the edge crossing my arms against my chest.
"Really Taylor, you really insist on this Miss Steele thing?" I smile and shake my head, always so formal. It seems so unnecessary and out of place now.
"Yes… Miss…Steele." It is his rare attempt at humor and I indulge him with my laughter.
"There has been a change of plans for tonight I'm afraid." He brow furrows slightly, I know he hates change, preferring the ease of structure and routine but it can't be helped. "I am meeting Kate tonight at Club Escalva."
"Ab-so-lu-tly not. No Ana." His eyes flicker with anger for a moment and then return to his usual pokerfaced glare.
"Jason, yes. Don't argue with me about this. I want to go out tonight and enjoy myself. It all starts Monday, ready or not. So please let's not argue." He takes several slow steps towards me and smiles at me, no it's a smirk really and I feel this one lone butterfly fluttering in my belly.
"You could stay in and enjoy yourself Miss Steele." Before I can respond, his lips are on mine gently at first and then becoming more urgent as his arms tighten around my waist. I can't say for sure when the nature of our relationship changed all I can say is that it started slowly, very slowly. A small smile here, a private joke there. He would touch my shoulder, I would touch his forearm. It was about six months ago when we had the talk; you know the talk that two people have when they want one another but are in a horrible circumstance in life.
He felt that he was too old ( which he was) I was too innocent ( which I am), that he couldn't do his job as effectively if he had feelings for me ( but he already had the feeling so that point was moot). Then there was my father, who made all his men sign a no-fucking Ana clause. It literally says no-fucking in the contract. I would not have believed it had I not seen it for myself. Oddly we have been able to usurp that rule because we don't fuck, we don't have sex. We kiss and touch and pleasure one another but that is all. Taylor says he allows him to maintain his contracts with a "gray area" and if my father ever asks him out right if he is fucking me he can say no and mean it. He is loyal to a fault. But truth be told our arrangement works and for whatever the reason we work.
His strong hands wrap around my ass and pull me towards his body, I can smell his soap and shampoo, the faint hint of coffee and mint on his breath. I can feel his body heat warming me as his lips trail down my next and gently places kisses along my collar bone.
"Ana darlin' please let's just go back to the apartment and well you know."
"Please Jason; I just want to feel twenty – two while I can. I have to age twenty years over the weekend. Let me just have tonight." I can see just the edges of his eyes soften, a look he has been giving more for more than half my life. There are so many layers to what I feel for him, so many shades of love and deep down I know that he won't allow himself to feel the same way. He won't let his wall down, not even for a moment, still blaming himself for the one time when he did. He kisses the tip of my nose and then my lips pressing his dick into my belly.
"Fine, two hours."
The club is packed and looks just like I assumed it would, black, white and gold. Gaudy. There are huge vulgar black and white nudes on the walls that are spotted in different colored lights depending on the beat of the song. The tables are black lacquer and the booths a tufted white patent leather. The Lucite bar looks like it is floating and the bartenders are in various states of undress. Black leather bikinis for the women and black leather hot pants for the men. There are "performers" chained to walls with blindfolds on and caged dancers randomly placed around the large room. All the staff are adorned with leather studded collars with leashes hanging down their backs. If it wasn't done with a wink and a nod this place would be scary but Elena has managed to get her point across without taking it to far.
Taylor is behind me at all times, I can feel his breath on the top of my hair and his hand at the small of my back guiding me through the club. I know there are at least three of his men scattered around and one in the control room watching me from the cameras. Taylor called to prearrange everything. I see Kate from a far in a private corner table, standing on the tufted booth gyrating to the music, all eyes are on her and I know this was her goal. Mia is sitting beside her feet laughing and bouncing with the music, some man who I don't know, bit looks vaguely familiar has his arm around her shoulder and he looks disgusted by the entire thing.
Jose is sitting off to the side, sipping a beer as he talks to a gorgeous red head. I know he is really passionate about whatever he is saying because his hands are moving wildly, despite the beer he is holding. Jose is a bit of an outsider to our group; his mother Maya is my father's housekeeper. Jose and I have grown up together, the closest thing I will ever have to a sibling and one of the very few people who Taylor trusts me alone with.
Mia's older brother Elliot is one of Kate's many admirers, he is standing there with a group of his friends who I recall but don't remember. His eyes are wide and fixed on her ass. I have seen her naked and let me tell you her ass isn't even her nicest attribute. Elliott is not only a friend but he is also my contractor. He had helped my father and I build the compound, my father's new house, our summer place in Napa and our winter place in Sundance. Elliott and I have a very similar aesthetic, modern but cozy and we work very well together because I trust his taste. We have an early meeting in Monday to discuss some new projects I have planned for the office and the shelter. Just another thing on the never ending to do list.
Jose sees me first and without warning walks away from his red-head greeting me with a warm smile and hug. He whispers something in my ear, a saying from our childhood and I respond the same way every time.
"Maybe one day…Jose…" He nods and smiles at Taylor who returns the same gesture in kind, their special brand of non-verbal communication.
"So Monday is the big day lady executive."
"That it is… I am so nervous."
"Ahhhh you'll be fine you always are. You dad his no worries." Jose has been working for my father for years on and off as a gopher of sorts while he gets his degree. The truth is Jose is like the son her never had and he likes having him around and on the company payroll.
I can feel the heated gaze of little red riding hood in the corner, she is throwing daggers as if I threw a bucket of pigs blood over her well-coiffed head.
"Jose… the natives are getting restless. You better get back over there before she tries to kill me with telekinesis. He looks back towards her sheepishly and shrugs.
"Yeah I guess, we were just about to leave actually. I want to show her my, uh, work." She and Taylor share a silent smirk; Jose still has not grown out of his man whore ways. Looking the ay that he does it's understandable. I was a man that looked like Jose; I would fuck everything in sight too. He is Brazilian and Irish, so his skin is the color of creamy coffee but his eyes are a pale dreamy green and when he catches the sun his curly hair lightens to a golden blonde. He really is a sight to behold, I have had my fair share of naught thoughts over the years but we are more important than a few X rated whims.
"Yeah sure you do Don Juan… have fun." I give him a hug and a kiss on the cheek just to piss little red off a bit more.
Taylor's grip tightens on my waist and I almost regret coming at all. I really am making his life and job so much harder than it needs to be. I make myself a mental note to make it up to him later. Kate finally sees me in the crowd and jumps off the booth with the grace of a well-trained gymnast. She flies at me like a Nigerian runner and has her arms wrapped around my waist, squeezing whatever air she didn't already knocked out of me. If Taylor had not been right behind me we both would have fallen over.
"Ana! You came! I knew you would come…" She gives me a sloppy wet kiss on the cheek, grabs my hand and leads me back to the table. I glace back at Taylor who just smirks and shrugs his shoulders. I sometimes think he is an alien with the ability to read minds because he knows I already want to go.
Elliott has now slid into the booth beside Mia who is sandwiched between him and mystery man, whose impassive stare lingers over the throbbing crowded dance floor. Kate slides next to Elliott and I am at the end. Usual protocol, I am always seated at the end or with my back to a wall, preferably both. This leaves less room for approach and make a get-way easier. Taylor stands beside me about two feet away, at attention. Every so often he talks to the guys from his ear piece.
"Ana, Kate said you were going to come but I didn't believe you would!" Mia yells over the music. "Isn't this place fantastic, Aunt Elena did a great job didn't she?" I smile and nod, looking around the space, giving it a second chance but no my first impression was dead on. Gaudy.
"Mia this place is fucking awful, Ana come-on you can't really like this?" Elliott knows my taste and shutters as he looks around the space; I am relieved to learn that he didn't have a hand in this – uh – design.
"I have to defer to Elliott on all things of a design nature. Now Mia if I wanted to know what the medical term was for a… I don't know… a knee cap was you would be the person I would go to…"
"It's called the patella…" Mia laughs and finishes the last sip of her drink. "It's not that bad is it?" She whines like a child; somehow I think her hand might have played a role in this monstrosity of this – uh – space.
"It's a cluster fuck of awful!" Mystery man finally speaks, he face snarled up in anger, his forearms tight, the sinewy muscle flexing. Wait, what the fuck, why am I looking at his tanned taught sinewy arm?
"Christian it's not that bad!" I feel my mouth drop open a bit, Christian Grey. Mia and Elliott's older brother. He looks like a darker, larger, younger version Carrick, that's why he seems familiar. I have heard a lot about him and honesty none of it is very good. He has had a very complicated past and I know he has been a cross to bear from his father Carrick and his step-mother Grace. "Oh Shit! Christian this is Ana Steele, how rude am I! I forgot you two have never met… "
He leans forward, past Mia and Elliott and Kate and extends his hand towards me, feel like everything has gone into this strange slow motion as I reach my hand up to take his. I feel a surge of energy flow from his body to mine then from mine back to his, like a never ending wave. His face changes for a second just barely a look of confusion before he pulls his hand away and sits back down.
Well if I didn't need a drink before I certainly do now. Elliott waves over a scantily clad woman with long bleached blonde hair and very large breasts, she take our order quickly and spends a good thirty seconds staring at Christian. He is oblivious, staring off into the crowd emotionlessly once again. She flicks her hair over her shoulder, visiably pissed at his ignorance and walks away with annoyance inher step. Elliott lighty swats him in the back of the head, and Christian eyes burn with fire.
"What the fuck Ell…"
"Bro, that POA was scoping you out… Look alive would ya…" I see Christian's lips move but I can't make out what he is saying, he turns his body away from the group slightly and that is the last I hear from him all night. Like a shade has come down over a window, he is done for the night.
As promised after two hours of a few strong drinks, several embarrassing stories I start to make my goodbyes. Kate does her usual whining and moaning begging me to stay. I firm up plans for my meeting with Elliott on Monday and promise to me Mia for brunch one Sunday. Christian gives me a curt nod which kind of pisses me off considering that he barely spoke a word to me all night, but whatever. I have more important things to worry about.
I am sitting in the back of bomb proof, gun proof, theft proof, two million dollar limo. I slip off my heels and ease back into the custom made leather seats. I moan loudly, the music in the club gave me a headache and I am grateful for the silence.
"You okay Sugar?" I catch is eye in the rearview mirror and smile, his eyes just kill me. Seriously it's almost not fair.
"Yeah, I am just tired. Really tired. Thank you for tonight I had fun."
"Did you really?"
"As much fun I guess I am capable of having. It is what it is Jay… I can't stop living my life."
"I know but tonight opened you up to so many possibilities, I can imagine you were able to relax and I noticed that you barely finished your drink." He never missed a single detail, if a vase was out of place in my apartment he would go to the video room to see how and why it was moved. Anyone new that moved into our building got a full background check; everyone on our staff was subject to the same scrutiny. His job was daunting and to be honest I didn't know how he kept it up.
"I haven't relaxed since… "I stop before I allow my mind to go there and recover quickly, I don't want his mind going there either. " God I don't think I have ever relaxed." I chuckle nervously, pressing the palm of my hand to my forehead looking for some relief from this throbbing headache.
"I have seen you relax… in fact I have been the cause of said relaxation."