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Home > Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades #1)(8)

Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades #1)(8)
Author: E.L. James

Holy crap. What the hell is he doing here looking all tousled-hair and outdoorsy in his cream chunky-knit sweater, jeans, and walking bootsI think my mouth has popped open, and I can't locate my brain or my voice.

"Mr. Grey," I whisper, because that's all I can manage. There's a ghost of a smile on his lips and his eyes are alight with humor, as if he's enjoying some private joke.

"I was in the area," he says by way of explanation. "I need to stock up on a few things.

It's a pleasure to see you again, Miss Steele." His voice is warm and husky like dark melted chocolate fudge caramel... or something.

I shake my head to gather my wits. My heart is pounding a frantic tattoo, and for some reason I'm blushing furiously under his steady scrutiny. I am utterly thrown by the sight of him standing before me. My memories of him did not do him justice. He's not merely good-looking - he's the epitome of male beauty, breathtaking, and he's here. Here in Clayton's Hardware Store. Go figure. Finally my cognitive functions are restored and reconnected with the rest of my body.

"Ana. My name's Ana," I mutter. "What can I help you with, Mr. Grey?"

He smiles, and again it's like he's privy to some big secret. It is so disconcerting. Taking a deep breath, I put on my professional I've-worked-in-this-shop-for-years fa?ade. I can do this.

"There are a few items I need. To start with, I'd like some cable ties," he murmurs, his gray eyes cool but amused.

Cable ties?

"We stock various lengths. Shall I show you?" I mutter, my voice soft and wavery.

Get a grip, Steele. A slight frown mars Grey's rather lovely brow.

"Please. Lead the way, Miss Steele," he says. I try for nonchalance as I come out from behind the counter, but really I'm concentrating hard on not falling over my own feet - my legs are suddenly the consistency of Jell-O. I'm so glad I decided to wear my best jeans this morning.

"They're in with the electrical goods, aisle eight." My voice is a little too bright. I glance up at him and regret it almost immediately. Damn, he's handsome. I blush.

"After you," he murmurs, gesturing with his long-fingered, beautifully manicured hand.With my heart almost strangling me - because it's in my throat trying to escape from my mouth - I head down one of the aisles to the electrical section. Why is he in Portland?

Why is he here at Clayton's And from a very tiny, underused part of my brain - probably located at the base of my medulla oblongata where my subconscious dwells - comes the thought: he's here to see you. No way! I dismiss it immediately. Why would this beautiful, powerful, urbane man want to see meThe idea is preposterous, and I kick it out of my head.

"Are you in Portland on business?" I ask, and my voice is too high, like I've got my finger trapped in a door or something. Damn! Try to be cool Ana!

"I was visiting the WSU farming division. It's based at Vancouver. I'm currently funding some research there in crop rotation and soil science," he says matter-of-factly. See?

Not here to find you at all, my subconscious sneers at me, loud, proud, and pouty. I flush at my foolish wayward thoughts.

"All part of your feed-the-world plan?" I tease.

"Something like that," he acknowledges, and his lips quirk up in a half smile.

He gazes at the selection of cable ties we stock at Clayton's. What on Earth is he going to do with thoseI cannot picture him as a do-it-yourselfer at all. His fingers trail across the various packages displayed, and for some inexplicable reason, I have to look away. He bends and selects a packet.

"These will do," he says with his oh-so-secret smile, and I blush.

"Is there anything else?"

"I'd like some masking tape."

Masking tape?

"Are you redecorating?" The words are out before I can stop them. Surely he hires laborers or has staff to help him decorate?

"No, not redecorating," he says quickly then smirks, and I have the uncanny feeling that he's laughing at me.

Am I that funnyFunny looking?

"This way," I murmur embarrassed. "Masking tape is in the decorating aisle."

I glance behind me as he follows.

"Have you worked here long?" His voice is low, and he's gazing at me, gray eyes concentrating hard. I blush even more brightly. Why the hell does he have this effect on me?

I feel like I'm fourteen years old - gauche, as always, and out of place. Eyes front Steele!

"Four years," I mutter as we reach our goal. To distract myself, I reach down and select the two widths of masking tape that we stock.

"I'll take that one," Grey says softly pointing to the wider tape, which I pass to him.

Our fingers brush very briefly, and the current is there again, zapping through me like I've touched an exposed wire. I gasp involuntarily as I feel it, all the way down to somewhere dark and unexplored, deep in my belly. Desperately, I scrabble around for my equilibrium.

"Anything else?" My voice is husky and breathy. His eyes widen slightly.

"Some rope, I think." His voice mirrors mine, husky.

"This way." I duck my head down to hide my recurring blush and head for the aisle.

"What sort were you afterWe have synthetic and natural filament rope... twine...

cable cord... " I halt at his expression, his eyes darkening. Holy cow.

"I'll take five yards of the natural filament rope please."

Quickly, with trembling fingers, I measure out five yards against the fixed ruler, aware that his hot gray gaze is on me. I dare not look at him. Jeez, could I feel any more self-consciousTaking my Stanley knife from the back pocket of my jeans, I cut it then coil it neatly before tying it in a slipknot. By some miracle, I manage not to remove a finger with my knife.

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