Hi again!

Well, I've decided to do shorter chapters… I think they were too huge lately.

I want to thank you all for your support, with your favs, your follows and your reviews. You are amazing.

A special thank you to HannahWing for offering her help, and, as always, to my dear beta Ladybellatrix.

I hope you like this chapter :)


"Grace, last night's gala was lovely. You did an incredibly good job, as always, dear," Elena said before sipping her coffee. Her fake smile didn't reach her eyes.

"Thank you, Elena. All the hard work is worth it thanks to the generosity of all our guests included you. Coping Together will be able to accomplish all of its goals this next year; I'm so grateful!" Grace said with enthusiasm.

"Of course, dear…" Elena said without paying much attention. "The dinner was delicious, the decoration was exquisite and the music was quite good; interesting performance, don't you think so?" Elena questioned with a raised brow. She had to know who the hell was that little mousy chick with whom Christian had disappeared.

"Oh, yes, it was. It was a classy and elegant yet eclectic and with modern choices of musical pieces, so well performed… They are current musicians from the Fairmont Olympic Hotel," Grace answered proudly. She couldn't help thinking that Anastasia was also this young lady who had caught her lonely son's attention.

"Are they? I thought you maybe had contacted them through Christian… at least, he seemed to know that… girl, the singer, didn't he?" Elena tried to get some information about her. She was getting really pissed off, especially about the fact that Christian was ignoring her completely.

"Oh, that was a pleasant coincidence. It seems that they have known each other since some years ago, but didn't expect to meet yesterday." Grace felt a strange change in Elena's demeanour and decided not to elaborate more to her friend.

"Did they, really…?" Elena narrowed her eyes slightly, but immediately regained her usual cool smile after gulping the rest of her coffee.

_§ § 0 § §_

Christian watched Ana with a peaceful smile while they were eating their brunch. She timidly laughed, blushed and complained in turns about Elliot's remarks. His big brother was having the time of his life. Usually it would have bothered him extremely; he would have cursed something really awful and he would have rushed out of there before losing his temper, but, in that moment, he felt content and blissful, and just hearing her sweet tinkling giggle and seeing her lovely cheeks turn that sexy shade of pink made him more happy if possible.

"What have you done to my dear little brother, Ana? Usually it is way easier to drive him up the wall!" Elliot chuckled, teasing Ana again by making some reference to their embarrassing situation when he and Kate had come earlier. Christian was unusually and annoyingly calmed.

"Fuck off, Elliot!" Christian responded, still smiling and winking to Ana.

"Here you are; hallelujah! I thought I had lost you forever." Elliot said faking relief.

"I'm not that far, Elliot." Christian answered; a hint of sadness crossing his eyes for one second, which didn't go unnoticed by Ana.

Kate reminded Ana her imminent family trip to Barbados; she was travelling with her parents and her brother Ethan to the Caribbean island before beginning her internship in the Seattle Times. Elliot then informed them, to Kate's delight, that he finally had decided to join her.

The girls had planned to go dinner to a Thai restaurant and then go clubbing, and both brothers willingly joined them, with the only condition of telling Christian their exact plan of route for the night, to be able to arrange all the required security checks of the different places. Ana then realized a little more about the meaning of being 'the Christian Grey'.

Ana approached Christian as Elliot and Kate bid their romantic farewells.

"I don't want to leave… but I really have some work to do." Christian said snaking one of his arms around Ana's waist and closing the space between them.

"Don't worry, Mr. Grey. A very productive day is waiting for me too." She looked him in the eye, smiling. "I will miss you very much, though."

They stared at each other for a while, in silence. Christian brushed a strand of hair off her face, putting it behind her ear, and caressed her jaw line lovingly with one finger.

"Me too." he whispered.

Her mouth was only a few inches from his; they could feel each other's breath, warm and enticing, but instead of kissing her, Christian licked his lips slightly and, holding his breath, brushed the tip of his nose with hers, drawing a shy smile on her lips.

"I can't bear just one kiss…" He sighed. And with this, he kissed softly the tip of her nose. "I love your cute nose." He said, reluctant to leave.

_§ § 0 § §_

An extra thrilled Kate decided to begin the preparation of her luggage to Barbados; now that Elliot was coming, she had to choose thoroughly her outfits; she wanted to be simply astonishing for him anytime and anywhere. Ana decided to do the laundry, remembering the messy sheets of her bed, and hurried herself to her bedroom before Kate saw them and began mocking again. It must be the 'Elliot effect'; Kate was quite witty, but she had never been so humorous before. She sighed in relief once the sheets were into the washing machine, and then chuckled at her own ridiculous demeanour; for God's sake, she was behaving as a teenager trying to hide her romantic flings from her mum! But then again, she realized why she had done it when Kate approached her with a smirk on her face shaking the box she had in one of her hands.

"Oh… sorry, Kate. I had completely forgotten. I was going to replace them as soon as possible." Ana said blushing profusely seeing the condom box in Kate's hand.

"Ummm… I've counted three of them missed… You both really needed to finally meet; quite good for a first time! Are you sore?" Kate said trying to hide her laugh.

"Kate!" Ana shouted completely embarrassed.

"Well, you must be. He seems to be exceptionally well-endowed." Kate said matter-of-factly, stifling a guffaw while sitting on the bed next to her. Ana widened her blue eyes, which seemed about to sprout out of her sockets, furiously blushing.

"How do you… know?" Ana stammered, frowning.

Then Kate pointed at two letters written on the box with her index finger: XL. Ana's eyes went wide again and Kate burst into laughter, immediately followed by her. They both were lying flat on the bed wiping away their tears when Ana resumed her talking. "I assure you I hadn't read it. You know… I was a little bit nervous!" They kept laughing for a while. "Ok, answering your previous question… I'm maybe a little bit sore, but I'm not uncomfortable. Just…"

"Just remembering he's been there… Yes, I love it too." Kate finished Ana's sentence with a beaming smile on her face. Ana simply nodded.

"Yes, we are two really lucky girls." Kate said with a look of satisfaction leaning on her elbows. She stared at her best friend, feeling extremely happy for her, and suddenly she was hugging her tightly. "You have found him, Ana" She said full of joy.

Ana nodded again, unable to speak because of the lump in her throat. After a while, she recomposed herself.

"It was magical, Kate. We were connected in some deep level. It's… overwhelming." Ana sighed heavily and then smiled. "We were talking for hours. There were a lot of things to say…" Ana stared at some undefined point on the wall, lost in her thoughts for a moment.

"Ana…" Kate said taking Ana's hands with hers and squeezing them, "I know this has been only one night, but I can tell this will turn into your first serious relationship. In fact, it's kind of weird, but I think it began the moment you both reconnected again some months ago." Kate stopped for a moment to find the right words. "I just want to tell you that when I first met Christian the day of the interview, I had some mixed feelings about him. I'm sure he's more than meets the eye; I felt there was something behind that controlled façade, maybe something dark. I just don't want you to get hurt." She sighed and looked at Ana with a careful expression. "But I also believe he's a good man and, what's most important to me, that he has strong feelings for you."

"Thank you so much for caring, Kate. I think I am perfectly aware of what I'm getting myself into, and I'm completely sure that Christian will never hurt me… at least not intentionally. But it really comforts me having you with me." Ana said smiling back at Kate.

"You are a sister to me, Ana. I will always care for you."

With another heartfelt hug they separated. Ana busied herself with the rest of the laundry while listening to the radio.

Lately, I've been, I've been losing sleep
dreaming about the things that we could be.
But baby, I've been, I've been praying hard.
Said, no more counting dollars.
We'll be counting stars, yeah we'll be counting stars.

She began jumping and spinning around the bedroom matching the rhythm of the song, until she fell flat on the bed with her eyes closed. She was feeling a little bit dizzy, but not from her turns but from the sensations inside her. After so many nights wondering where he could be, if he still was in pain and maybe if he was thinking about her… They were finally together. She had never felt this way; there were butterflies in her belly and there was a sweet longing on her chest. And she was feeling lonely and incomplete without his arms around her, cocooning her.

I feel something so right
doing the wrong thing.
I feel something so wrong
doing the right thing.
I could lie, couldn't I, could lie;
everything that kills me makes me feel alive.

Yes, definitely there was something dark inside Christian… but it wasn't wrong at all, and she was missing him so damn much right in that moment.

_§ § 0 § §_

Christian drove back to Escala recalling all the small details of the best night of his life, including that harsh conversation between them, fixing them in his mind in stone, while listening to the song on the radio.

Lately, I've been, I've been losing sleep

Dreaming about the things that we could be.

But baby, I've been, I've been praying hard.

Said, no more counting dollars.

We'll be counting stars, yeah we'll be counting stars.

After all these years thinking about her, it was the time to count stars. His walls of control had begun trembling and were about to collapse right from their foundations, but he didn't matter. The only thing that mattered was she.

I feel the love and I feel it burn

Down this river, every turn.

Hope is a four-letter word.

Make that money, watch it burn.

Old, but I'm not that old.

Young, but I'm not that bold.

I don't think the world is sold;

I'm just doing what we're told.

I feel something so wrong

Doing the right thing.

I could lie, could lie, could lie;

Everything that drowns me makes me wanna fly.

'Hope' he thought absentmindedly. Love was also a four-letter word. Burning love. Was love this strange sensation inside him? He felt weak and strong at the same time. He couldn't breathe properly thinking about her; and sure as hell he couldn't help thinking about her all the time. God, it was almost annoying. But in despite of that funny feeling, he was ecstatic. He took a deep needed breath, and then screamed at the top of his lungs. It felt good. Then, he began laughing and sighed heavily; how the hell could he spend all the entire day without her?

_§ § 0 § §_

Taylor went to the foyer, next to the elevator, once he saw in the monitors of the security cameras that his boss was coming. He was pissed off with him. He had spent all the fucking entire night in the car in front of the door of that building, and his back was aching, despite the massage his beloved Gail had provided him. For God's sake, the night before he had ran away from him as an elusive teenager! He located him thanks to the GPS installed in the car, the same as in all his means of transport, and he was about to rush into the building when a hopeful but very unlikely idea came to his mind: maybe the boss was meeting with that girl at the gala, the singer. Sure as hell that she was his type; brunette, slim, petite; the same as all his submissive's. But he never had seen that look on Mr. Grey's eyes, a look of pure awe, of reverence. So, he decided to wait, and wait, and wait, until he had seen Mr. Elliot and Ms. Kavanagh coming.

Christian went out of the elevator and saw Taylor waiting by the door.

"Good morning, Taylor. Everything ok?" He said with a poker face, avoiding direct eye contact and trying to hide the guilt on his face.

"Good morning, sir. Everything's fine." Taylor answered with an impassive face.

"Good. I'll be in my office for the rest of the day. I won't need you until late evening." Christian said leaving to his office. He saw sideways a ghost of a smile playing on the lips of his head of security.

First thing he did was to call his mother. She contained herself from asking him too personal questions, but it was obvious that she was aching to know more about Anastasia, and that she was wondering if they had spent the night together. He didn't elaborate much, but told her how happy was he feeling in that moment, a comment that made Grace gasp and shed a tear of joy. She immediately loved Ana, despite all that odd story, despite Carrick's suspicions, she had waited almost twenty-seven years to see Christian happy. That was the only thing that counted.

"Why don't you ask her to join us tomorrow for lunch, dear? It will be lovely to know her. Elliot and Katherine are also coming, so she might feel less intimidated." Grace asked with hope in her voice.

Christian thought about his mother's proposal. Was he ready for introducing Ana to his family? Hell yes; he wanted the whole world to know she belonged to him!

"Of course, mum. I'll ask her later. But please, tell Mia to behave."

_§ § 0 § §_

Christian spent all the day working, only making a brief stop for a quick lunch, because he wanted to finish all the pending stuff to spend the day after with Ana without having to worry about anything related to work. It was not so productive as usual though, because he couldn't help his mind going from production indexes and profit margins to powder blue eyes and soft plump lips in a nanosecond. He decided to call her in the late afternoon. The sweetness of her voice calmed him instantly.

"Anastasia," Christian whispered, softly caressing the syllables with his tongue. His deep voice sounded so sexy and yet so needy.

"Hi, Christian," she whispered back, feeling that softly caress in the back of her neck. "How is your day going?"

"Fine… Missing you." He admitted.

"I miss you too…" Ana replied. Her voice was filled with relief at the realization of his need. "Can't wait to see you." Ana said huskily. Christian groaned inwardly. He just wanted to rush to her in that moment and lose himself in her.

"Oh, Ana," he moaned. "Fuck, I would like to come right now… but I have to set a few issues before meeting tonight. I think I won't be able to pick you up on time at your apartment," he apologized.

"Don't worry, Christian. I can go to the restaurant with Elliot and Kate and we can meet there." Ana tried to reassure him everything was ok. "Guess what I was doing right now?"

"You were thinking about me?" He said with a playful tone in his voice.

"Of course I was… I meant besides thinking about you…" she answered giggling.

"Playing the guitar?" Christian tried to guess. How he loved that lovely sound!

"Almost there… an idea came to my mind, and I began composing something." She said, suddenly feeling shy.

"I didn't know you compose, Ana. You didn't tell me last night." Christian replied with pride in his voice.

"Well, it isn't something that I usually do. I think I forgot." She said blushing slightly.

"Are you blushing?" Christian asked amusingly.

"How do you know?" She answered turning beet red.

"Baby, you must be blushing so hard I can feel it from here!" Christian laughed. "Would you show me, your song?" He pleaded, avid to know everything about her.

"I have never shown to anyone any of my song writings, but I promise I will show you when finished."

"That means a lot to me, Ana." He said sincerely, feeling a joyful sensation expanding in his chest. Then, he took a deep breath, and resumed his conversation. "Ana, can I ask you something?" His voice was suddenly a little bit dubious. They had barely met yesterday, but he felt as if Ana and he would have been together since forever. In spite of this, Ana maybe could not feel the same, though.

"Of course you can. Whatever." Ana answered without hesitation.

"I would like you to come to my parents' house tomorrow for lunch." He quickly said, as if this way he could prevent her to say no. "My mum asked me this morning, and, besides, there will be Elliot and Kate too. But if you don't feel like going I understand…"

"I would love to go, Christian." She interrupted him. A wave of relief washed over her. Noticing that previous hint of doubt in his voice, she didn't know what he was going to tell her; maybe he had changed his mind about them. But he only wanted her to meet his parents. Suddenly, she panicked at the thought.

"Thanks baby. Don't worry; they will like you a lot!"

There he was again, guessing her thoughts through the telephone!

_§ § 0 § §_

Ana was staring at her open closet. Her brow was furrowed as in deep concentration and her eyes were slightly narrowed, searching for the appropriate outfit between her spare clothing.

"Jeans." She said out loud. Yes, that was the best outfit to go clubbing, ever.

She was standing still with her hands on her hips when Kate entered the room.

"What about that silver top I bought you for Christmas? I think it really suits you and it will go great with jeans." Kate said leaned on the door frame.

"Oh, great idea Kate! What would I do without your wise advice?" Ana said with a beaming smile.

"Oh, Ana; you would get lost in a sea of non-matching clothes!" She said laughing.

Ana chuckled and shrugged with an innocent face. Kate was absolutely right; she didn't have any clue about fashion. She had never minded so much indeed, but Christian seemed so cool; he managed to look as a top model of a random fancy magazine even with a plain shirt and jeans… She looked at herself on the mirror and sighed. She had never minded about appearances, and she was completely sure that Christian's good looks were only the less important of his multiple qualities, and that the most valuable ones were deep inside him, but damn, he was simply gorgeous… She sighed again, resigned. She picked up the silver top that Kate had recommended her and her favourite jeans. Yes, it was fancy and sexy, but still it was so… her.

Kate put some music on as they were getting ready for their night out, and Ana couldn't help smiling at the words, and getting caught by the tune, that somehow reminded her of his sinful smirk and invited her to get lost in his sexy spell.

There's something 'about the night

And the way it hides all the things I like

Little black butterflies

Deep inside me.

What would my mama do

If she knew about me and you?

What would my daddy say

If he saw me hurt this way?

Suddenly she thought about her parents, especially Ray. She had to tell them something; she was going to meet Christian's parents, anyway.

_§ § 0 § §_

Christian ended his last business call with a satisfied smile. He was happy for two reasons; the first one, he finally had been able to solve the major problems related to their new shipyard. And second and most important one, he finally will meet Ana again; see her, touch her, smell her, kiss her, forget the rest of the world and lose himself in her.

Elliot had just texted him they had arrived safely to the restaurant. He informed Taylor of their prompt exit and went to his bedroom. He took a quick shower and dressed in a grey V-neck t-shirt, jeans and a black blazer with black Converse. When he was finished, something made him go up the stairs instead of walking towards the foyer. He found himself in front of the door of the Playroom. It was locked. The last time he had entered it was on New Year's Eve. He placed one of his hands flat on its surface and closed his eyes. He tried to steady his breathing, which was turning heavy and irregular. The idea of hurting Ana in any way was abhorrent to him, but he couldn't help thinking about her completely at his mercy, to worship her body and bring her to the limits of pleasure there in that room. The words of a song he had discovered through Ana's musical program came to his mind:

Welcome to my hide away, my secret place

How I arrived I can't explain

You're welcome too, if you wanna stay

But everyone just runs away.

He ran his hand through his still wet hair. She had clearly stated her view of the situation last night. She had not run to the hills and neither had she completely rejected the idea of trying with him, but… did he really want to ruin her that way?

I hide from those that try to find me

Scary things that's right behind me

I lost myself, I must confess

I can't explain how I got this mess.

He dismissed the idea shaking his head. He didn't need that anymore; he had Ana now. He needed her, but he didn't need to control her. Smiling, he led his way to the stairs when he found Taylor looking for him with a strange look in his eyes.

"What's the matter, Taylor" He asked puzzled.

"Mrs. Lincoln is in her way up in the elevator, sir." Taylor answered after looking sideways the Playroom door.

"Fuck!" He yelled through clenched teeth. What the hell would Elena want in that precise moment?

Here you are this chapter's songs:

Counting stars. One republic.

Mama do. Pixie Lot.

My secret place. Megadeth.

I hope you had enjoyed it! Please, review!