50 shades of grey

Text-only Preview

First published by The Writer's Coffee Shop, 2011
Copyright (c) E L James, 2011
The right of E L James to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her
under the Copyright Amendment (Moral Rights) Act 2000
This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968,
no part maybe reproduced, copied, scanned, stored in a retrieval system, recorded or
transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either a prod-
uct of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual people
living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
The Writer's Coffee Shop
(Australia) PO Box 2013 Hornsby Westfield NSW 1635
(USA) PO Box 2116 Waxahachie TX 75168
Paperback ISBN-978-1-61213-028-6
E-book ISBN-978-1-61213-029-3
A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the US Congress Library.
Cover image by: (c) Papuga2006 | Dreamstime.com
Cover design by: Jennifer McGuire

E L James is a TV executive, wife, and mother of two, based in West London. Since early
childhood, she dreamt of writing stories that readers would fall in love with, but put those
dreams on hold to focus on her family and her career. She finally plucked up the courage
to put pen to paper with her first novel, Fifty Shades of Grey.
E L James is currently working on the sequel to Fifty Shades of Grey and a new romantic
thriller with a supernatural twist.

I am indebted to the following people for their help and support:
To my husband Niall - thank you for tolerating my obsession, being a domestic god and doing
the first edit.
To my boss Lisa - thank you for putting up with me over the last year or so while I indulged in
this madness.
To CCL - I'll never tell but thank you.
To the original bunker babes - thank you for your friendship and constant support.
To SR - thank you for all the helpful advice from the start and for going first.
To Sue - thanks for sorting me out.
To Amanda and all at TWCS - thank you for taking a punt.

I scowl with frustration at myself in the mirror. Damn my hair - it just won't behave,
and damn Katherine Kavanagh for being ill and subjecting me to this ordeal. I should be
studying for my final exams, which are next week, yet here I am trying to brush my hair
into submission. I must not sleep with it wet. I must not sleep with it wet. Reciting this
mantra several times, I attempt, once more, to bring it under control with the brush. I roll
my eyes in exasperation and gaze at the pale, brown-haired girl with blue eyes too big for
her face staring back at me, and give up. My only option is to restrain my wayward hair in
a ponytail and hope that I look semi presentable.
Kate is my roommate, and she has chosen today of all days to succumb to the flu.
Therefore, she cannot attend the interview she'd arranged to do, with some mega-industri-
alist tycoon I've never heard of, for the student newspaper. So I have been volunteered. I
have final exams to cram for, one essay to finish, and I'm supposed to be working this af-
ternoon, but no - today I have to drive a hundred and sixty-five miles to downtown Seattle
in order to meet the enigmatic CEO of Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. As an exceptional
entrepreneur and major benefactor of our University, his time is extraordinarily precious
- much more precious than mine - but he has granted Kate an interview. A real coup, she
tells me. Damn her extra-curricular activities.
Kate is huddled on the couch in the living room.

"Ana, I'm sorry. It took me nine months to get this interview. It will take another
six to reschedule, and we'll both have graduated by then. As the editor, I can't blow this
off. Please," Kate begs me in her rasping, sore throat voice. How does she do it? Even
ill she looks gamine and gorgeous, strawberry blonde hair in place and green eyes bright,
although now red-rimmed and runny. I ignore my pang of unwelcome sympathy.
"Of course I'll go Kate. You should get back to bed. Would you like some Nyquil or
"Nyquil, please. Here are the questions and my mini-disc recorder. Just press record
here. Make notes, I'll transcribe it all."
"I know nothing about him," I murmur, trying and failing to suppress my rising panic.
"The questions will see you through. Go. It's a long drive. I don't want you to be late."
"Okay, I'm going. Get back to bed. I made you some soup to heat up later." I stare at
her fondly. Only for you, Kate, would I do this.
"I will. Good luck. And thanks Ana - as usual, you're my lifesaver."
Gathering my satchel, I smile wryly at her, then head out the door to the car. I can-
not believe I have let Kate talk me into this. But then Kate can talk anyone into anything.
She'll make an exceptional journalist. She's articulate, strong, persuasive, argumentative,
beautiful - and she's my dearest, dearest friend.
The roads are clear as I set off from Vancouver, WA toward Portland and the I-5. It's early,
and I don't have to be in Seattle until two this afternoon. Fortunately, Kate's lent me her
sporty Mercedes CLK. I'm not sure Wanda, my old VW Beetle, would make the journey in
time. Oh, the Merc is a fun drive, and the miles slip away as I floor the pedal to the metal.
My destination is the headquarters of Mr. Grey's global enterprise. It's a huge twenty-
story office building, all curved glass and steel, an architect's utilitarian fantasy, with Grey
House written discreetly in steel over the glass front doors. It's a quarter to two when I
arrive, greatly relieved that I'm not late as I walk into the enormous - and frankly intimi-
dating - glass, steel, and white sandstone lobby.
Behind the solid sandstone desk, a very attractive, groomed, blonde young woman
smiles pleasantly at me. She's wearing the sharpest charcoal suit jacket and white shirt I
have ever seen. She looks immaculate.
"I'm here to see Mr. Grey. Anastasia Steele for Katherine Kavanagh."
"Excuse me one moment, Miss Steele." She arches her eyebrow slightly as I stand self-
consciously before her. I am beginning to wish I'd borrowed one of Kate's formal blazers
rather than wear my navy blue jacket. I have made an effort and worn my one and only
skirt, my sensible brown knee-length boots and a blue sweater. For me, this is smart. I tuck
one of the escaped tendrils of my hair behind my ear as I pretend she doesn't intimidate me.
"Miss Kavanagh is expected. Please sign in here, Miss Steele. You'll want the last
elevator on the right, press for the twentieth floor." She smiles kindly at me, amused no
doubt, as I sign in.
She hands me a security pass that has VISITOR very firmly stamped on the front. I
can't help my smirk. Surely it's obvious that I'm just visiting. I don't fit in here at all.
Nothing changes, I inwardly sigh. Thanking her, I walk over to the bank of elevators past

the two security men who are both far more smartly dressed than I am in their well-cut
black suits.
The elevator whisks me with terminal velocity to the twentieth floor. The doors slide
open, and I'm in another large lobby - again all glass, steel, and white sandstone. I'm
confronted by another desk of sandstone and another young blonde woman dressed impec-
cably in black and white who rises to greet me.
"Miss Steele, could you wait here, please?" She points to a seated area of white leather
Behind the leather chairs is a spacious glass-walled meeting room with an equally spa-
cious dark wood table and at least twenty matching chairs around it. Beyond that, there is
a floor-to-ceiling window with a view of the Seattle skyline that looks out through the city
toward the Sound. It's a stunning vista, and I'm momentarily paralyzed by the view. Wow.
I sit down, fish the questions from my satchel, and go through them, inwardly curs-
ing Kate for not providing me with a brief biography. I know nothing about this man I'm
about to interview. He could be ninety or he could be thirty. The uncertainty is galling,
and my nerves resurface, making me fidget. I've never been comfortable with one-on-one
interviews, preferring the anonymity of a group discussion where I can sit inconspicuously
at the back of the room. To be honest, I prefer my own company, reading a classic British
novel, curled up in a chair in the campus library. Not sitting twitching nervously in a colos-
sal glass and stone edifice.
I roll my eyes at myself. Get a grip, Steele. Judging from the building, which is too
clinical and modern, I guess Grey is in his forties: fit, tanned, and fair-haired to match the
rest of the personnel.
Another elegant, flawlessly dressed blonde comes out of a large door to the right. What
is it with all the immaculate blondes? It's like Stepford here. Taking a deep breath, I stand
up. "Miss Steele?" the latest blonde asks.
"Yes," I croak, and clear my throat. "Yes." There, that sounded more confident.
"Mr. Grey will see you in a moment. May I take your jacket?"
"Oh please." I struggle out of the jacket.
"Have you been offered any refreshment?"
"Um - no." Oh dear, is Blonde Number One in trouble?
Blonde Number Two frowns and eyes the young woman at the desk.
"Would you like tea, coffee, water?" she asks, turning her attention back to me.
"A glass of water. Thank you," I murmur.
"Olivia, please fetch Miss Steele a glass of water." Her voice is stern. Olivia scoots up
immediately and scurries to a door on the other side of the foyer.
"My apologies, Miss Steele, Olivia is our new intern. Please be seated. Mr. Grey will
be another five minutes."
Olivia returns with a glass of iced water.
"Here you go, Miss Steele."
"Thank you."
Blonde Number Two marches over to the large desk, her heels clicking and echoing on
the sandstone floor. She sits down, and they both continue their work.

Perhaps Mr. Grey insists on all his employees being blonde. I'm wondering idly if
that's legal, when the office door opens and a tall, elegantly dressed, attractive African-
American man with short dreads exits. I have definitely worn the wrong clothes.
He turns and says through the door. "Golf, this week, Grey."
I don't hear the reply. He turns, sees me, and smiles, his dark eyes crinkling at the
corners. Olivia has jumped up and called the elevator. She seems to excel at jumping from
her seat. She's more nervous than me!
"Good afternoon ladies," he says as he departs through the sliding door.
"Mr. Grey will see you now, Miss Steele. Do go through," Blonde Number Two says.
I stand rather shakily trying to suppress my nerves. Gathering up my satchel, I abandon my
glass of water and make my way to the partially open door.
"You don't need to knock - just go in." She smiles kindly.
I push open the door and stumble through, tripping over my own feet, and falling head
first into the office.
Double crap - me and my two left feet! I am on my hands and knees in the doorway
to Mr. Grey's office, and gentle hands are around me helping me to stand. I am so em-
barrassed, damn my clumsiness. I have to steel myself to glance up. Holy cow - he's so
"Miss Kavanagh." He extends a long-fingered hand to me once I'm upright. "I'm
Christian Grey. Are you all right? Would you like to sit?"
So young - and attractive, very attractive. He's tall, dressed in a fine gray suit, white
shirt, and black tie with unruly dark copper colored hair and intense, bright gray eyes that
regard me shrewdly. It takes a moment for me to find my voice.
"Um. Actually-" I mutter. If this guy is over thirty then I'm a monkey's uncle. In a
daze, I place my hand in his and we shake. As our fingers touch, I feel an odd exhilarating
shiver run through me. I withdraw my hand hastily, embarrassed. Must be static. I blink
rapidly, my eyelids matching my heart rate.
"Miss Kavanagh is indisposed, so she sent me. I hope you don't mind, Mr. Grey."
"And you are?" His voice is warm, possibly amused, but it's difficult to tell from his
impassive expression. He looks mildly interested, but above all, polite.
"Anastasia Steele. I'm studying English Literature with Kate, um... Katherine...
um... Miss Kavanagh at Washington State."
"I see," he says simply. I think I see the ghost of a smile in his expression, but I'm not
sure. "Would you like to sit?" He waves me toward a white leather buttoned L-shaped couch.
His office is way too big for just one man. In front of the floor-to-ceiling windows,
there's a huge modern dark-wood desk that six people could comfortably eat around. It
matches the coffee table by the couch. Everything else is white - ceiling, floors, and walls
except, on the wall by the door, where a mosaic of small paintings hang, thirty-six of them
arranged in a square. They are exquisite - a series of mundane, forgotten objects painted in
such precise detail they look like photographs. Displayed together, they are breathtaking.
"A local artist. Trouton," says Grey when he catches my gaze.
"They're lovely. Raising the ordinary to extraordinary," I murmur, distracted both by
him and the paintings. He cocks his head to one side and regards me intently.