Fifty Shades of Grey
Author:E.L. James

"I'll be fine. I'll see you later."

I've worked at Clayton's since I started at WSU. It's the largest independent hardware store in the Portland area, and over the four years I've worked here, I've come to know a little bit about most everything we sell - although ironically, I'm crap at any DIY. I leave all that to my dad. I'm much more of a curl-up-with-a-book-in-a-comfy-chair-by-the-fire kind of girl. I'm glad I can make my shift as it gives me something to focus on that isn't Christian Grey. We're busy - it's the start of the summer season, and folks are redecorating their homes. Mrs. Clayton is pleased to see me.

"Ana! I thought you weren't going to make it today."

"My appointment didn't take as long as I thought. I can do a couple of hours."

"I'm real pleased to see you."

She sends me to the storeroom to start re-stocking shelves, and I'm soon absorbed in the task.

When I arrive home later, Katherine is wearing headphones and working on her laptop.

Her nose is still pink, but she has her teeth into a story, so she's concentrating and typing furiously. I'm thoroughly drained - exhausted by the long drive, the grueling interview, and by being rushed off my feet at Clayton's. I slump on to the couch, thinking about the essay I have to finish and all the studying I haven't done today because I was holed up with ... him.

"You've got some good stuff here, Ana. Well done. I can't believe you didn't take him up on his offer to show you around. He obviously wanted to spend more time with you."

She gives me a fleeting quizzical look.

I flush, and my heart rate inexplicably increases. That wasn't the reason, surelyHe just wanted to show me around so I could see that he was lord of all he surveyed. I realize I'm biting my lip, and I hope Kate doesn't notice. But she seems absorbed in her transcrip-tion."I hear what you mean about formal. Did you take any notes?" she asks.

"Um... no, I didn't."

"That's fine. I can still make a fine article with this. Shame we don't have some original stills. Good-looking son of a bitch, isn't he?"

I flush.

"I suppose so." I try hard to sound disinterested, and I think I succeed.

"Oh come on, Ana - even you can't be immune to his looks." She arches a perfect eyebrow at me.

Crap! I distract her with flattery, always a good ploy.

"You probably would have got a lot more out of him."

"I doubt that, Ana. Come on - he practically offered you a job. Given that I foisted this on you at the last minute, you did very well." She glances up at me speculatively. I make a hasty retreat into the kitchen.

"So what did you really think of him?" Damn, she's inquisitive. Why can't she just let this goThink of something - quick.

"He's very driven, controlling, arrogant - scary really, but very charismatic. I can understand the fascination," I add truthfully, as I peer round the door at her hoping this will shut her up once and for all.

"You, fascinated by a manThat's a first," she snorts.

I start gathering the makings of a sandwich so she can't see my face.

"Why did you want to know if he was gayIncidentally, that was the most embarrassing question. I was mortified, and he was pissed to be asked too." I scowl at the memory.

"Whenever he's in the society pages, he never has a date."

"It was embarrassing. The whole thing was embarrassing. I'm glad I'll never have to lay eyes on him again."

"Oh, Ana, it can't have been that bad. I think he sounds quite taken with you."

Taken with me Now Kate's being ridiculous.

"Would you like a sandwich?"

"Please."