The Runaway

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I'm in Starbucks for my lunch break. It's all medium wood and green decor, the smell of coffee wreathing around me like smoke or fog or whatever. I can't wait to get a latte, I imagine it's going to be refreshing and rejuvenating, like a spring shower in April or May. The guy behind the counter takes my order and asks for my name. "Ana. Short for Anastasia" I reply.

"Like the Russian princess?" he asks. "I'll just put Princess down, shall I, gorgeous?"

Jeez! I'm sure he's mocking me. As if I could be compared to a princess! I mean, I'm far too skinny and pale and my hair is a mess, cascading over my shoulders in artful waves and my designer clothes weren't pressed after the early morning quickie I had with super-hot Christian Grey this morning. I still don't understand why he wants me, mousy Ana Steele, when he could have someone like Miss Cheeky Smile Barista who's making my drink.

As if on cue like he'd been summoned, Christian suddenly ruptured into the coffee shop and strode towards me. He was wearing a crisp suit and tie and his copper hair glowed in the soft lighting. He looked so hot. All the women in the store turned to stare at him and Miss Cheeky Smile Barista almost dropped my latte. "Come," he ordered, and grabbing my wrist, he pulled me out onto the pavement. Uh oh, someone's in trouble, my subconscious sneers, peering over the cover of Persuasion.

"What's the matter?" I questioned.

Christian opened the door of the Audi and gesticulated for me to enter with his outstretched hand. "That man was flirting with you, Ana," he growled.

"Me!?" I gasp, flushing pink. Then I frowned. "Wait, how did you even know what he said?"

"Never mind that," Christian snapped coldly. Oh my, this beautiful, mercurial man. Will I ever be able to predict his moods? "I ran a background check on the staff here. That barista dated two customers. He wants what's mine, baby." Then he grabs his iPhone 7. It's silver and has lots of apps. "Mark. That barista from the Starbucks on Seventh. Have him fired." Then he turns to me, his gaze smouldering. "From now on, Taylor will fetch your coffee."

Taylor's eyes meet mine in the mirror, which reflects our eyes. He's been watching me in the mirror a lot lately. I'm sure he keeps checking to make sure he's not hallucinating and it's really ugly skinny me with Christian and not some blonde bombshell.

"But Christian, I can get my own coffee," I dissent argumentatively.

Christian's eyes darken. "Are you defying me, Miss Steele? Because I will have to punish you for that."

Holy crap and double cow! My inner goddess pauses in the middle of donning her sluttiest fishnet pantyhose and wonders whether she should be hiding or celebrating.

Back at the Escala, Christian gets straight back to work. I should be at work too, I realise, but Christian's brought me here instead. I wander around for a bit, marvelling at all the rooms, and then peep in on Christian. He's taken off his suit jacket and loosened his tie and he's so beautiful I want to cry. 

"Yes, Starbucks," he barks into the iPhone. "Buy it. All of it. It's shit or bust time. We need to think outside the box here."

Suddenly, I sense a presence behind me and I turn to see Taylor looking sadly at me. I open my mouth to speak, but before I can, he puts a warning finger to his lips, telling me to be silent and motions for me to follow him. After we pass a few rooms, we reach his office. I look at all the CCTV, trying to find Christian. Is he really going to buy Starbucks just because of the barista? He did say he'd buy every place you worked at, my subconscious reminds me from behind her copy of Wuthering Heights. Why not buy all the places you eat at too?

"Miss Steele, forgive me for being so forward, but you're in danger," Taylor warns me. Danger? What kind of danger could be worse than Mrs Robinson, Leila and Jack Hyde? I ask him that, and he glances towards the CCTV. "It's Mr Grey... he's getting more and more paranoid. Surely you've noticed?"

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