I have to call Kate. She'll be ecstatic. And elated. And enraptured. And other words that begin with e and make me glad I own a Thesaurus.
"Who's this?" she demands when she answers the phone.
To the point, as ever.
"Kate!" I squeal. "It's Ana!"
"Ana. Ana Steele."
"Doesn't ring a bell."
"Ana, your roommate."
"Ana's not home," she cheeches to my chong.
As predicted, when I am finally able to prove my identity by answering a gauntlet of password questions, she is euphoric.
"Wait a minute," she says, cutting me off. "Anthony Wiener just texted me those photographs you were telling me about. I'm looking at them now... ewww!"
"Let's just say we'll need some new pictures."
Now it was my turn to be excited. This means I'll get to talk to Christian Grey again, and maybe even see him again.
I immediately call José, who conveniently happens to be a professional photographer when he isn't busy rolling drunks outside of the Old Plantation, a local gay bar in Downtown El Paso.
"Who are they gonna call?" he once justified his actions to me. "The police? Don't make me laugh. Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha! I SAID DON'T MAKE ME LAUGH!"
So I call him.
"Ana who?" he says.
When we finally get everything straightened out, he's excited too.
"Have you seen the pictures Kate just sent me?" he asks me. "Boy, am I in the mood for a cucumber salad."
In the end, I have to talk him into taking the new photos of Mr. Grey for Kate and myself.
"Why would I want to do something that so obviously would be good for my career?" his enquiring mind wants to know.
"How about for a shiny new penny..."
"...that's been up Christian Grey's oompa-loompa?"
José squeals with delight, and then I hear a muffle sound. I guess José is playing hide-the-gerbil with his phone again.
I take that as a yes.
Now, all I have to do is call Mr. Grey. I dial 4-1-1.
"This is Information," the operator flirted.
"Yes," I tell him. "I'd like the personal number of Christian Grey the billionaire."
"Hold please." There's a brief pause. When he comes back, do I detect a hint of jealousy in his voice? "His number is..."
I've wasted so much time on the phone that my shift is over, and I go to clock out. I don't see Paul on my way out. In fact, I haven't seen him for a while. I wonder where he is?
Well, I can't worry about it now.
It's the next day, and we're at the Old Plantation waiting for the Man of the Hour to arrive.
Kate pulled some strings and other body parts, and we're using the special Smegma Room. It's a lot nicer than it sounds.
It's me, Kate, José, and Travis. Travis is a friend of José's who I'm just now introducing for no apparent reason.
The time we spend waiting gives us an opportunity to get to know one another better.
"You know, José," I say, "in all the time I've known you, I still don't know what your last name is?"
"It's Schwartz," he says, proudly.
"Schwartz?" Kate interjects. "What kind of a name is 'Schwartz' for an illegal alien from Mexico?"
"It's my given name," he tells her.
"Give it back," she tells him, rudely.
As I'm removing José's hands from around Kate's neck, the fatally seductive Christian Grey makes his grand entrance, fashionably late, like Kate's period.
Kate immediately takes control of the whole affair.
"Here," she tells him, "put on this hat. And these shoes. And this red rubber ball. On your nose! What do you think I'm talking about?"
When we're done, we're all more tired than Oprah Winfrey's excuses for not marrying Steadman.
Not Christian Grey, though. He looks as fresh and energetic and ready to conquer the world as if he just graduated from Clown College.
"Miss Steele," he says, looking not just into my eyes, but into my soul. My knees grow weak. "Would you care to join me for coffee?"
Care to? Care to? I would love to! But...
"I'm afraid I can't," I offer, weakly. "I have to drive my three huge friends and all this photography equipment back in my tiny little Volkswagen Beetle."
I wave my hands toward them like a Sesame Street muppet.
"No problem," he tells me. "Crockett!"
From out of nowhere, his driver/slash/bodyguard/slash/optometrist is standing next to him.
"Yeah, pal?" he says. He's wearing an Armani sports jacket with a powder-blue t-shirt and white linen pants. Slip-on loafers, no socks. His hair is more suited to the beaches of Miami, not Downtown El Paso.
Mr. Grey waves a hand dismissively in the direction of my friends.
"Take care of these three, would you?"
"Whatever you say, pal," Crockett says, and pulls a gun out from beneath his jacket. I think it's a Bren Ten, a stainless-steel handgun manufactured by Dornaus & Dixon.
"No, no," Mr. Grey corrects him gently, stroking the barrel of the gun with the tips of his long fingers as if it was a... um... ah... well... something longer than it is wide, if you get my drift. "I mean, take them home."
Mr. Grey promises to take me to a world-famous restaurant.
And he does.
"Would you like something to eat?" he asks, like the gentleman that he is.
I sit in the chair he offers, and avert my eyes, looking at the top of the table as he walks to the counter. I don't get it. Is this a date or what? I eat it anyway. I don't know what it is, but it's definitely not a date. Maybe a fig.
He comes back carrying a McDonaldland tray. On it is coffee for him, and two Big Macs, a large order of fries, plus two-for-one-dollar apple pies, and a cup with hot water for me.
"I asked for hot tea," I tell him in my small voice. My subconscious rolls her eyes at my meekness. They roll under someone's shoe where she can't get them.
"And hot tea you shall have, my dear," he says as he reaches into his breast pocket. He pulls out a teabag of Earl Grey tea still in its packaging envelope. Say what you will about Christian Grey, the man has class.
I pick up the teabag, put it in my purse (for later), and take a sip of the hot liquid in front of me.
"I like my tea weak," I explain.
"I guess you do," he says, eyeing me appreciatively. "Tell me about yourself, Miss Steele. I want to know all about you."
When I wake him up twenty minutes later, I'm done with my delicious water and he's ready to leave.
We walk down the street, and stop at the corner of Norfolk and Way for a red light. We're waiting for the little green man to show up. Little green man? What the heck am I talking about? I have no idea.
Embarrassed with myself, I turn to run away, and smack headfirst into a lamppost. I bounce back into Christian's strong arms, thinking, "It's not the heat, it's the stupidity."
I look up into his eyes, and he looks down into mine. I hope there's nothing dangling from my nostrils.
His are immaculate.
Holy crap! Is he gonna kiss me, or what?
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