Freed (Fifty Shades as Told by Christian #3) by E.L. James

For Eva and Sue.

            Thank you, thank you, thank you for all that you do.

            And for Catherine.

            We are a woman down.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

            We lie in postcoital bliss beneath pink paper lanterns, meadow flowers, and fairy lights that twinkle in the rafters. As my breathing slows, I hold Anastasia close. She’s sprawled all over me, her cheek against my chest, her hand resting on my racing heart. The darkness is absent, driven out by my dream catcher…my fiancée. My love. My light.

            Could I be happier than I am right now?

            I commit the scene to memory: the boathouse, the soothing rhythm of the lapping waters, the flora, the lights. Closing my eyes, I memorize the feel of the woman in my arms, her weight on top of me, the slow rise and fall of her back as she breathes, her legs entwined with mine. The scent of her hair fills my nostrils soothing all my corners and jagged edges. This is my happy place. Dr. Flynn would be proud. This beautiful woman has consented to be mine. In every way. Again.

            “Can we marry tomorrow?” I whisper near her ear.

            “Hmm.” The sound in her throat reverberates with a soft strum across my skin.

            “Is that a yes?”


            “A no?”


            I grin. She’s spent. “Miss Steele, are you incoherent?” I sense her answering smile and my joy erupts in a laugh, as I tighten my arms around her and kiss her hair. “Vegas, tomorrow, it is then.” She raises her head, eyes half closed in the soft light from the lanterns—she looks sleepy yet sated.

            “I don’t think my parents would be very happy with that.” She lowers her head and I skim my fingertips across her naked back, enjoying the warmth of her sleek skin.

            “What do you want, Anastasia? Vegas? A big wedding with all the trimmings? Tell me.”

            “Not big. Just friends and family.”

            “Okay. Where?”

            She shrugs, and I’m guessing she hasn’t thought about it.

            “Could we do it here?” I ask.

            “Your folks’ place? Would they mind?”

            I laugh. Grace would leap at the chance. “My mother would be in seventh heaven.”

            “Okay, here. I’m sure my mom and dad would prefer that.”

            So would I.

            For once we’re in agreement. No arguing.

            Is this a first?

            Gently, I stroke her hair, that’s a little mussed from our spent passion. “So, we’ve established where, now the when.”

            “Surely you should ask your mother?”

            “Hmm. She can have a month, that’s it. I want you too much to wait any longer.”

            “Christian, you have me. You’ve had me for a while. But okay, a month it is.” She plants a tender kiss on my chest and I’m grateful that the darkness remains quiet. Her presence is keeping it at bay.

            “We’d better head back. I don’t want Mia interrupting us like she did that time.”