Thornfield Manor lies in the quiet neighborhood of Haller Lake twenty miles north of the downtown Seattle area. The lake itself has been dubbed “lake of refuge” and is known for its historical significance from the local Native American tribes that reside close the area. For the Elliot and Christian Grey, it is a place they called home.
Ana Steele drove her car up the secluded hill to the mansion. Even with the evening constellations illuminating her path, she could make out the sculpted iron gates and the European influenced limestone architecture of the house. The landscaped terrace on the exterior housed a combination of exotic plants while a series of trimmed bushes served as a background for rare arbor trees and colorful floral arrangements. Doric columns made from the finest marble were presented at the front of the house while Italian wood trimmed the base of the entire home in opulent detail. Impressed by the estate, the young intern parked her car two blocks down the road feeling a bit embarrassed that her little beat up Volkswagen paled in comparison to the dozen of luxury sports cars parked out in front. Sitting in her vehicle for a few minutes she inhaled a breath as got out.
Standing in front of her ride, she checked herself in the mirror before heading inside. She could not believe Jose’s gift for hair and make-up. The coloring he selected matched her pale skin tone perfectly while he pinned her dark hair back allowing the long curls to cascade across her bare back. For once, Ana felt pretty. Her eyes darted down to her Dior dress that Elena gave her.
The strapless corseted bodice fit her beautifully accentuating the well form shape of her breasts, her small waistline, and round curves of her hips and buttocks. A mixture of silver sequence, pink and red crinkling lace tulle, and silk roses added the finishing touches on her ball gown from the skirt to her top that gave her the illusion of an ethereal goddess. However the piece de resistance that showcased the outfit was the diamond webbed necklace and matching chandelier earrings that she wore. Ana imagined herself as a rare Madame Alexander doll.
Slipping her car keys in her thrift store clutch bag, she held the porcelain mask in her other hand and headed up the hill to the mansion. Her Stuart Weitzman silver shoes made clicking sounds on the pavement as she made her way up the steps to the front door and rang the doorbell. An imposing man, approximately six feet in height, wearing a tuxedo answered the door. She guessed he was of European descent as determined by his black hair and olive complexion but it was his presence that gave off a dangerous vibe. Angry black eyes stared down at her causing her to develop an uneasy feeling about him. Ana lifted her eyes away.
“Can I help you?” The stranger growled.
“Luke! Stop it you’re scaring her!”
A soft, sweet voice made her presence known. At 5’6, a pretty red headed woman with green eyes wearing a black Victorian gown and sporting an apron peeked from behind the door. She let a friendly smile and extended her hand.
“You must be Ana,” the redheaded woman greeted. “Hi I’m Rosalind Trevelyn, the Greys’ housekeeper.”
“Hel…hello,” Ana managed to say.
“Excuse my husband Luke here,” said Rosalind. “He’s not much of a people person. He has a tendency of scaring people. Come inside.”
Ana nervously smiled and entered toward the foyer. Her eyes quickly darted to the extravagant structure of the manor’s interior filled with an array of priceless artwork, sculptures, and antique furniture. The young intern imagined herself inside a museum afraid to touch anything within the confines of the Greys’ historical walls.
“Do you have your invitation?” Rosalind asked.
Reaching inside her clutch, she pulled out the invite and handed to the housekeeper. The young woman’s mind drifted to the Grey brothers dwelling completely in awe of how the other half lived.
“I can take your clutch,” the red headed housekeeper suggested. Ana notice her grinning. “Trust me, you won’t be needing it.”
“Thank you,” replied the dark haired beauty handing her handbag over to her.
Rosalind pointed down the hallway. “The guests are assembled in Thornfield’s Grand Hall. Have fun.” A wicked grin formed on her lips. “My God, you’re beautiful. Mistress Elena has good taste.”
“Um…thank you?” Ana did not know to respond to her comment. Even more so was the surreal comment in reference to her boss. She watched Rosalind disappear into the kitchen area with Luke and slowly walked to the Grand Hall. Upon entering the large chamber she could hear the sounds of a string quartet and blasts of clarinets playing in the background. She recognized Francesco Cilea’s Romanza in A Minor instantly and assumed that this was Christian Grey’s doing. Continuing on toward the doorway, she followed the blares of trumpets and noticed the various speakers situated on one side of the room. The Grey brothers certainly were familiar with great acoustics and she admired the amazing sound system. Then she finally took notice of the Grand Hall.
Grand Hall could not begin to describe the room. The chamber was immaculate. Limestone, fine brick, and expensive wood defined the huge gathering area. Bronze statues filled every corner of the area while luxurious art lined against the walls and ceiling. Slowly making her way inside the Grand Hall, she noticed other attendees dressed in costume observing her as she entered. Weird lascivious looks came her way as she meandered through the row of invites. Feeling like a hor d’oeuvre being served on a platter, Ana attempted to remain inconspicuous. Unfortunately the Grey brothers heading toward her direction did not make the situation any easier.
“Ana!” Elliot Grey greeted her. Costumed in a Victorian style jacket and trousers, the clothing appeared to have been molded into his skin. He gave the young woman a hug noticing how his strong hands caressed the back of her naked skin. Her intuition became even more evident when she broke free from his embrace only to notice the large bulge in his pants.
“Hello Ana,” said his brother Christian standing next to him. Dressed in a similar Victorian garb, she noticed his exquisite gray eyes undressing her in the corseted bodice that she wore. She nearly melted. “I see you received the necklace we sent you.”
Stroking her hand through the piece of fine jewelry across her neck, she feigned a smile. “It’s lovely. Thank you. It’s a big extravagant so please don’t take this the wrong way but I must give decline this gift.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” said Elliot rolling his eyes. “It is yours. It’s a gift and you can’t deny a gift.”
“But I can’t…” The young woman protested.
The dark blond man put a finger to her lips. “Shhh. Just enjoy this moment Ana. It’s all for you.” His hand slipped into hers sending a tingling thrill to her body. Blue eyes again met her own as she felt his strong fingers remove the porcelain mask from her grip. “May I?” He straightened the small silk cords on both ends of the mask and offered to put it on her. Ana could not resist. She agreed.
Turning her back to him, Elliot gently placed the mask to her eyes. Careful and meticulous, her host straightened the porcelain domino to her face tightening the knot behind her head. He complimented her beauty allowing the masculine echoes to invade her mind as he grabbed her hand to lead her away to the dance floor.
“Dance with me.”
Ana does not protest and follows him. Already others join in the merriment. The classical music swells louder as she finds herself swaying to the beat of the manufactured orchestra of the sound system surrounding her. Nervous energy starts to shoot through her but Elliot holds her close offering her support, kindness, and something else. The something else is what she secretly wanted to know more about. Elliot smiled as he placed a small kiss to her bare shoulder while they swayed to the rhythm of Romanza.
“Why did you do that?” She questioned unsure of his intentions. The young intern never enjoyed being touched especially from strange men but with Elliot she felt safe. She granted him permission to do it again.
“Because I wanted to,” smirked the eldest Grey sibling. “I’m hoping I’m not overstepping my bounds by saying again how truly beautiful you look tonight?”
Her inner voice told her to wise up. “That depends. Are you complimenting me and sending me expensive gifts just to impress me? You do know that you can’t win my approval for writing a fair and impartial article for Catwalk.”
Elliot laughed as he twirled her around. “Ahhh. The strong woman in control finally comes out! I find that such a turn on.”
Getting lost in his devilish smile, Ana forced herself to turn away. Her eyes glanced toward his younger brother Christian looking quite tortured watching them dance arm in arm with one another. His sadness appearing his gray eyes haunted her and left her with questions. Why was he staring at her so intently? Could be it jealously? It couldn’t possibly be.
“YOU BITCH! STAY AWAY FROM ELLIOT! HE’S MINE!”
Ana woke up from her Christian Grey trance to see a blonde haired woman marching toward her and Elliot on the dance floor. She could sense the wealth exuding from her jealous rival’s pores as she took in the expensive, revealing nineteenth century gown that the woman wore. The young intern wanted to run away and hide.
“Leila! I’ve already told you it’s over!” Elliot spat. He broke away from his dance partner’s embrace to address the angry woman. “Now stop embarrassing yourself and find someone else!”
“SO THIS IS YOUR NEW WHORE!” The woman named Leila screamed. Her eyes shot with murderous rage at Ana. “LISTEN YOU BITCH! ELLIOT IS MY MASTER! YOU WON’T TAKE HIM AWAY FROM ME!”
Whispers and murmurs surrounded the crowd. Attendees watched with delight the drama unfold on the dance floor as Elliot yanked Leila aside to scold her. Left humiliated and embarrassed, Ana felt an aggressive arm pull at her and glanced up to see Christian drag her away from the melee. They sprinted across the Grand Hall down a long corridor that led out to the garden outside.
Moonlight rays glowed across her face allowing the young entrepreneur to finally have a moment alone with the magazine intern. Shyness took over her body to the point that Ana had to hold herself while the businessman analyzed her. Gray eyes raked her over absorbing inch of her from the curve of her back to the soft flesh of her bare shoulders. He was intrigued by her.
“Sorry for what happened back there,” apologized Christian. He raked a hand through his copper hair which caused her face to flush a scarlet hue. “About what you heard…”
“Is this how you treat all your women?” Ana asked bluntly. Anger hidden within her rose to the surface. “You use them to the point they develop feelings for you and discard them like yesterday’s news. Is this the Grey brothers’ secret that everyone tiptoes around? That you and your brother are nothing more than philanderers and womanizers?”
His face revealed a silent anger. Then he formed a cocky smile. “I wish it was that easy, Ana. Sure the media paints us as procurers of women but the truth is we are always up front with the females we date. Elliot and I do not fall in love. In fact, we’re both incapable of it. It is sex, plain and simple, and it is arrangement we make with our partners in the beginning. It is not our fault that they choose to believe in something otherwise. We never led them on!”
Christian Grey’s admittance hit a nerve. “I doubt that! I mean just look at that Leila! That poor woman is in love with your brother! It shows in her eyes. Instead all you two do is make a mockery of your relationships and throw it back in your lovers’ faces. I can’t believe I’m even here! I’m so disgusted right now that I’m considering just telling Elena to scrap this article!”
“Then why are you here!” Christian snapped. His face leaned in closer to hers that she could feel his breath in alignment with her mouth. “If you were so disgusted, you would have walked out the door right now!”
She could not believe the gall of this man. How dare he assume that he knows what she is thinking right now? He has no idea who she is. Fury glowed through her powder blue eyes.
“You know what Mr. Grey?” She shouted. “You’re right! I’m already offended! Thank you for a lovely evening! Too bad I can’t bestow any compliments to the hosts!” Her silver shoes moved past him to the door. “Oh and another thing, Christian Grey! You might be used to women falling to your feet due to your good looks but you’re nothing but pampered, spoiled rich boy who will always be jealous of his older brother!” Christian appeared stunned. “Yes, I know you’re envious of what he has! I saw it in your eyes when he danced with me! You can’t stand the fact that your brother is more classy and debonair than you!”
The swishing sound the tulle of her ball gown dragged across the ground as Ana grabbed the latch of the door that followed to the inside corridor. Suddenly a rough hand grabbed her wrist pulling her back as she felt her body slam into someone muscular, virile, and lithe. Gazing at sparkling gray eyes, she found herself a captive in the embrace of Christian Grey.
Touching his nose to hers, the gorgeous man presses his mouth into a hard line. “For the record, I’m never jealous of what my brother has. We always share our toys!” Christian made this abundantly clear as his mouth crushed hers.
Ana gasped for breath but quickly adapted to breathing through her nostrils. He pulled her into his arms allowing her to feel the full length of his body. An aching need existed between them as he ran his fingers through her long, dark hair and teases the gentle nape of her neck. The kiss begins gentle, becoming more forceful sucking on her bottom lip causing her blood to flame. For a woman inexperienced in the ways of men, she learned to adapt quickly. She compromised her innocent the moment his tongue twisted into hers.
“Christian!” A female voice purred in the darkness. “I see you found us a playmate.”
Startled by the feminine presence watching them, the two broke from their embrace. Standing in the shadows, shrouded by the foliage of the garden a brown haired woman wearing a next-to-nothing costume entered. Ana blushed due to her boldness.
“Elizabeth!” Christian sneered. “What the hell are you doing here? You weren’t invited!”
“Baby, I’ve missed you,” the strange woman grinned. “I crashed the party. I forgive you for what you did to me the other day and I’ll prove it by having a threesome with your new sub there!”
The young intern became shocked. “Sub? Threesome? What the fuck is wrong with you people?” She raced past Christian and Elizabeth bolted for the door.
“Ana wait! I can explain…” said Christian blocking her path. Ana responded with a slap to his face.
“Get away from me you sick freak!”
Gripping the lever of the garden door, she left the two lovers to their own devices while she headed down the corridor. Unfortunately Thornfield Manor was like a maze to which she learned the hard way as she got lost in a nearby parlor. Slipping into the room to catch her breath, she realized she was not alone. An older gentleman with brown hair and wearing a costumed tux sat on sofa sipping a bottle of brandy. He gestured toward her.
“You seem out of breath, my dear,” he noted. “Are you okay?”
Ana placed a hand to her bodice to inhale for a moment. “I’m just having a really bad night. I’m trying to find the front entrance out of this place.”
“Oh you poor thing,” voiced the man with concern. He pointed to the couch across from him. “Why don’t you rest for a bit?” The stranger got up from the couch to pour a glass of champagne from the table. Handing the drink to the young woman, she accepted it with grace. “First time at one of these functions, huh?”
“Yes and to be truthful, I’m not having a good time,” confessed Ana. She sipped a bit of her glass to calm her nerves.
The man smiled to which she noticed the stranger’s cleft on his chin and the mustache that he sported. “I know what you mean. I’m not much for these things so I tend to hide away from the festivities. I’m Paul Dodds, by the way.” He extended his hand.
She shook his hand in response. “Please to meet you. I’m Ana Steele.” She gulped more of the champagne. “So Paul, what do you do?”
“I own several shipping companies on the east coast,” Paul informed her. “I sometimes have business here in Seattle so I have to attend events like this for work. How about yourself, Ana?”
“I’m interning for SIP,” she replied. “It’s a publishing house that markets several magazine titles. I’m doing a story on the Greys.”
“Fascinating,” remarked the older gentleman. “So what brings you to the Scelus Sceleris event?”
Ana gulped the final contents of her champagne. “I was invited. Though I’m still not sure what his private party is about. Perhaps you can enlighten me.”
“Scelus Sceleris is Latin for Sin,” answered Paul. “It represents a den of sin where decadence and every pleasurable, deviant behavior can be accepted. It’s a gathering of likeminded individuals who prefer to engage in adult activities.”
The young woman gasped. “You mean like an orgy?” She jumped off the couch but felt the ground beneath her start to wobble. Her feet shrank into the floor just as the room began to spin out of control. Her body felt like jello as she fell back against the cushions.
“That’s one part of it!” She heard Paul say. Her eyes went in and out of consciousness as she glimpsed to see the older man smirking over body. Panic started to set in when she noticed she was unable to move.
“What…what…do you put in my drink…” she heard herself ask him.
“Rohypnol,” he grinned. Evil eyes staring down causing her vision to blur as the world around her became foggy.
“Now let’s have some real fun.”