I never should have eaten at the House of Broccoli for lunch before our first date.
Christian leads me through a corridor away from the Bat-Cave. At the end of it is a door. He opens it. I try to peek through, shivering in antici...payshun.
Hmm... another door.
Beyond that one is an aperture, after the aperture, an egress. Once through the egress, we come upon--not a door--but a gate. He opens the gate, and, once through it he bends down and opens a hatch on the floor, like the one in the movie Gravity, but with oxygen. Through the hatchway, I see an opening.
But an opening to what?
I have no idea, but I must find out.
"Christian! Where are you taking me?" I ask, putting away my thesaurus.
"Did you have broccoli for lunch?"
"Jeez," he says, holds his nose, and enters the portal.
I follow him into a large room. It smells of oak and leather. The smell is overpowering, like a bathroom over-sprayed with air freshener. Um, not that I would know why anyone would need to over-spray a bathroom with air freshener.
I would describe the furniture decorating this room, but writing's hard work. When you combine a lack of imagination with a lack of gumption, all you're going to get is a lack of description.
I look on his bookshelf. Hmm.. The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure. I look at his DVD collection. Nine & 1/2 Weeks, with Kim Bassinger and Mickey Rourke back when he used to bathe. Something familiar about all that, but I can't quite make the connection. My attention is diverted when I see...
In the middle of the room is a bed. A big bed. A huge bed. Round, like the one in the master bedroom of the Playboy mansion, except without the 100-year-old horny dead guy in it.
On the bed, I see something. I walk over and pick it up. It's small, and fits easily in my hand. It has a thin leather handle about eight inches long. Kate tells me eight inches are good, but she won't tell me why. At one end of the handle is a flat square, maybe four inches by four inches, also made of leather.
Christian is eyeing me intently.
"It's called a fly-swatter," he says, his voice quiet and soft. "It amuses me to see how quickly one's skin turns pink after the first slap."
"I don't understand," I tell him. "You... hit people?"
"I hit women."
"And they let you."
"Of course they let me... I'm rich!"
"And they like it?"
"I like it, and, in the end, isn't that what's important?"
"Does it... hurt?"
"Not a bit." He thought about what he just said. "Um, you were talking about me, weren't you? Because it sure does hurt the other person... a lot."
"And where do I fit into all this, Christian?"
Christian pauses. Thinks. And then says, "I... want you to be... my... girlfriend."
"You're girlfriend? Aren't you too old to have a girlfriend?"
"And aren't you too old to have never been kissed?"
I don't answer. He takes my hand and leads me to the bed.
"But I won't hurt you, Ana," he promises, and I believe that promise. If there's one thing you can believe in from a guy who's trying to get you into a round bed, it's his promise.
"What do you want me to do?"
"I'm glad you asked. This room--this bed--is yours... if you want it. You can decorate it however you like."
"Can I change the color?"
I think about that. And then it hits me.
"You want me to move in?"
"Of course not, Ana. Don't make me laugh. Ah, ha, ha, ha! I SAID DON'T MAKE ME LAUGH!" He scrapes something from the bottom of his shoe. "No, Ana, sweet Ana. What I want is for you to be at my beck and call. When I crook my finger, I want you to run. When I say jump, I want you to ask me 'How high?' "
I knew it. He does like me!
"How many women?" I blurt. Darn that broccoli.
"How many women what?"
"How many women have you... done this to?"
"Done what to?"
"Whatever it is you're talking about?"
"What am I talking about?"
"Well, I assume you want me to do something?"
"That's what I'm trying to find out!"
"Don't worry about what you're going to have to do just yet. First I have to explain The Rules to you."
"No, The Rules."
"Oh, The Rules."
He pauses. Time passes. Somewhere in the distance, a dog howls.
"The Rules?" I ask again.
"Yes, The Rules."
Hmm... The Rules.
The Do's & Don'ts?
What's this control freak narcissist going to call them next?
The Ten Commandments?
"I also call them The Ten Commandments," he says, handing me several sheets of paper and a potato.
"What's with the potato?" I ask him.
Hmm... The Ten Commandments.
Unlike Moses, he's oblivious to the burning bush. I can't believe it, over a hundred pages in, and I still haven't seen any action.
I look at the cover sheet. At the top is Christian's company's logo. A cross. But instead of a crucified Overlord Xenu in Galactic Prison, the one being crucified is a winking Christian Grey himself. And with one loose hand, he's offering--not salvation--but a shiny new penny.
Underneath are two words written in a foreign language. Latin perhaps?
I don't understand the significance. Or the symbolism. But I do understand I'm hungry.
"Before I go through this..." he says, indicating the contract, "...with you, I just want you to know that you don't have to do this. You're free to leave at any time, no hard feelings."
No hard feelings? So what else is new?
He goes on: "I'll call Crockett. He'll be more than happy to take you home and put a bullet in your head."
Just as I eye the potato for immediate ingestion, he casually takes it from my hand.
Dang that Christian Grey! How does he know?
He places the raw root in the front pocket of his pants, giving him a nice bulging effect that Kate likes to call the "nice bulging effect."
My thoughts are swirling in my head like flies around an unwashed chimichanga. I have butterflies in my stomach. I hope Christian doesn't notice them missing from his collection. I'm so confused.
"Can I have that potato back?" I ask him.
That Christian Grey! That Christian Grey! Oh, how I hate that Christian Grey. He wants to talk, I want to play. Oh, how I hate that Christian Grey.
He removes the cover sheet and we go through the contract line by line.
He asks me, "Will you do it on that bed..." and he points to the bed in question, as if there are any other beds. What does he take me for? An idiot? "...you idiot?"
I answer him, "I will do it on that bed."
"Will you do it on your head?"
"I will do it on that bed. I will do it on my head. I will do it all, you'll see. And I will do it all for free."
"Will you do it in this room? Will you do it very soon?"
"I will do it in this room, and I will do it very soon, and I will do it on that bed, and I will do it on my head. I will do it all, I swear. And I will do it all with flair."
"Will you surrender yourself to me? Will you surrender willingly?"
"I will surrender myself to you. Willingly? That's what I do. And I will do it in this room, and I will do it very soon. And I will do it on that bed, and I will do it on my head. There is nothing that I won't do, as long as I do it all for you."
"Will you do it and beg me please? Will you beg me, 'Please, with cheese'?"
"I will do it and beg you please. I'll even beg you 'please, with cheese.' I will surrender myself to you. Thrillingly, fillingly, willingly, too. In this room, and very soon. In this bed, and on my head. All these things, I swear I'll do. All these things, and others, too."
"Will you promise not to tell? Will you promise not to smell?"
"I wouldn't, couldn't ever smell. My hygiene's good. I wash with gel. And I will keep my lips closed tight. Unless, of course, they're nudged just right. I'll egg and beg you 'please, with cheese,' and sweet surrender willingly."
"Like a brain-washed Limbaugh manatee?"
"Like a mind-numbed robot chimpanzee. And I will do it on that bed. And I will do it on my head. And I will do it in this roomie, with an itchie hitchie gitchie goomie. Just, please, let's do it very soonie. Let's bip and bop and bang and boomie. Yes, I will do all that you say. And I'll do YOU, my Christian Grey."
Christian eyes me intently.
"I think we're ready to take this to the next level," he finally says, reaches into his pant pocket and pulls something out and offers it to me.
OMG! What can it be? A ring? So soon?
"Here," he says. "Have a potato."
After dinner I take a closer look through the sheets of paper.
Hmm... the only thing they have typed on them is "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." Over and over again. Every one.
All except for the last two pages.
The first one is a purchase order for my soul in exchange for carnal pleasure. The other one is an I.O.U. for my firstborn male child.
"Do you want me to sign these, too?" I ask.
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