I stare up through gaps in the sea grass parasol at the bluest of skies, summer blue, Mediterranean blue with a contented sigh. Christian is beside me, stretched out on a sun lounger. My husband - my hot, beautiful husband, shirtless, and in cut-off jeans - is reading a book predicting the collapse of the Western banking system. By all accounts it's a page-turner; I haven't seen him sit this still, ever. He looks more like a student than the hotshot CEO of one the top privately owned companies in the United States.
On the final leg of our honeymoon, we laze in the afternoon sun on the beach of the aptly named Beach Plaza Monte Carlo in Monaco, although we're not actually staying in this hotel. I open my eyes and gaze out at the Fair Lady anchored in the harbor. We are staying, of course, on board a luxury motor yacht. Built in 1928, she floats majestically on the water, queen of the all the yachts in the harbor. She looks like a child's wind-up toy. Christian loves her - I suspect he's tempted to buy her. Honestly, boys and their toys.
Sitting back, I listen to the Christian Grey mix on my new iPod and doze in the late afternoon sun, idly remembering his proposal; oh his dreamy proposal in the boathouse . . . I can almost smell the scent of the meadow flowers . . .
"Can we marry tomorrow?" Christian murmurs softly in my ear. I am sprawled on his chest in the flowery bower in the boathouse, sated from our passionate lovemaking.
"Is that a yes?" I hear his hopeful surprise.
I sense his grin. "Miss Steele, are you incoherent?"
I grin. "Hmm."
He laughs and hugs me tightly, kissing the top of my head. "Vegas, tomorrow, it is then."
Sleepily I raise my head. "I don't think my parents would be very happy with that."
He thrums his fingertips up and down my naked back, caressing me gently.
"What do you want, Anastasia? Vegas? A big wedding with all the trimmings? Tell me."
"Not big . . . Just friends and family." I gaze up at him moved by the quiet entreaty in his glowing gray eyes. What does he want?
"Okay." He nods. "Where?"
"Could we do it here?" he asks tentatively.
"Your folks' place? Would they mind?"
He snorts. "My mother would be in seventh heaven."
"Okay, here. I'm sure my mom and dad would prefer that."
He strokes my hair. Could I be any happier?
"So, we've established where, now the when."
"Surely you should ask your mother."
"Hmm." Christian's smile dips. "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." I kiss his chest, a soft chaste kiss, and smile up at him.
"You'll burn." Christian whispers in my ear, startling me from my doze.
"Only for you." I give him my sweetest smile. The late afternoon sun has shifted, and I am under its full glare. He smirks and in one swift move pulls my sun lounger into the shade of the parasol.
"Out of the Mediterranean sun, Mrs. Grey."
"Thank you for your altruism, Mr. Grey."
"My pleasure, Mrs. Grey, and I'm not being altruistic at all. If you burn, I won't be able to touch you." He raises an eyebrow, his eyes shining with mirth, and my heart expands. "But I suspect you know that and you're laughing at me."
"Would I?" I gasp, feigning innocence.
"Yes you would and you do. Often. It's one of the many things I love about you." He leans down and kisses me, playfully biting my lower lip.
"I was hoping you'd rub me down with more suntan lotion." I pout against his lips.
"Mrs. Grey, it's a dirty job . . . but that's an offer I can't refuse. Sit up," he orders, his voice husky. I do as I'm told, and with slow meticulous strokes from strong and supple fingers, he coats me in sun lotion.
"You really are very lovely. I'm a lucky man," he murmurs as his fingers skim over my breasts, spreading the lotion.
"Yes you are, Mr. Grey." I gaze coyly up at him through my lashes.
"Modesty becomes you, Mrs. Grey. Turn over. I want to do your back."
Smiling, I roll over, and he undoes the back strap of my hideously expensive bikini.