Christian brushed his fingertips between them while staring at the screen of his laptop. He was sitting in his bed, with the Mac on his crossed legs. This was not about work, so he had decided not to be in his office. What was he going to do? Was it a good idea? He closed down the screen. Dammit, why was he so goddamn hesitating? It was only a simple e-mail!
He had decided to use a pen-name. But which one? First impressions were important. Christian slid both his hands through his face and hair. If he were so fucking asshole at work he never would get a good deal! Then, a name came to his mind: Fifty Shades. "Fifty Shades of fucked up", he thought. Well, better only Fifty Shades.
With trembling fingers he typed the URL of WSU radio page and clicked on the e-mail button. He filled the subject space with "Midnight Sun" and then he wrote the most personal e-mail he had never written to anyone. Ending with a "Happy Christmas" he pressed the send button and closed the laptop. With a sigh, he got up and went to the shower before going to his parents' house to celebrate Christmas.
He raised his head, letting the hot water fall upon his face. Then, he bowed it and placed both his palms on the cold wall of the shower; the hot cascade massaging his broad shoulders. Facing to the floor, he opened his eyes and smiled a genuine smile. He was a little bit scared for what he had done, but he couldn't help feeling somehow relieved.
"Happy Christmas to you, Annie. I've missed you too! You're so grown up". Ray separated a little from Ana, just to look her straight in the eye; his gaze full of pride. "You know, Annie, I'm really proud of you. You have become an incredible woman. A beautiful, intelligent and talented woman".
Anastasia felt the tears in the back of her eyes, threatening to shed. "Thank you, daddy. It's all because of you".
They enjoyed the delicious filled turkey that Anastasia prepared, and then Ray made some coffee for him and a cup of tea for Ana.
"Tell me about the music band, darling. When is your next concert?"
"It's great, daddy! I love it! You know, it is hard sometimes, with all the rehearsals and my English Literature subjects. I'm working very hard, specially now that is my last year in college, but I'm enjoying a lot. We still don't have any dates for the next concerts. I'll keep you informed". Ana said while sipping her tea.
"And what about the radio program?"
"Well, I'm enjoying it so much too. You know, I love music. It's incredible just being able to spend my time listening to good songs, and talking about it" Ana said shrugging.
Ray fidgeted his fingers, looking down to the table. "I heard you singing last day".
Ana widened her eyes and looked embarrassed. "Well, it was just another one of José's tricks. I was not supposed to be heard!" She pouted.
"But you have a beautiful voice, Ana. You don't have to be ashamed".
"Look, I love singing, but I'm too shy for it. I can hide behind my piano while playing, but singing is another thing..."
"Maybe you could try shutting your eyes" Ray said with a smirk.
"Oh, yes, or maybe I should sing blindfolded!" They both laughed heartily with tears spilling from their eyes, until they were exhausted. Ray cleaned his face with the back of his hand. "Annie, dear, can I ask you something?" His eyes were a little bit worried, but his smile was warm.
"Sure daddy". Anastasia felt alarmed and she straightened on the sofa.
"Well, I was wondering... I mean, I know you are a grown up woman and all this stuff, but you will always be my little girl". Ray looked embarrassed, but he continued his plea. "I was wondering... who is this boy you always dedicate your last song? He seems to be always on your mind..."
Ana felt she just wanted to crawl under a rock and die. Dammit! Was she so obvious? Shit and doble shit! "Oh, daddy... he is a boy I met once. He is no one... I mean, nothing important. You know, a teenage silly thing. Nothing". She said opening her eyes wide with a fake smile.
"I'm sorry Ana. You don't have to tell me". Ray grasped her hand warmly.
"It's okay, dad. I don't mind at all" she lied, waving her hand nonchalantly.
In the afternoon, Ray was feeling a little sleepy and he went for a nap. Ana borrowed his laptop to check her e-mails. She was sitting on the sofa, sipping another cup of tea and listening to Christmas classical hits in the background. She began thinking about her conversation with Ray. Why did she kept thinking about that boy like a silly teenager? She was really annoyed with herself. Kate was always telling her she had to move on. José kept teasing her too, telling her she had to open herself to the "dating world" (although she suspected it was him he wanted her to open for), and now, her dad was wondering who this boy was. Sure they were right; it was not a healthy behaviour to keep fantasizing with a man she even didn't know in fact. He was only a shadow, a kind of tender-handsome-mysterious dark knight who happened to appear and disappear of her life in a rush, leaving a indelible track and entering in her dreams, her wilder ones. For God's sake, she even didn't know his name! She had tried going out with other boys, some of them really nice ones, but when they had tried to get closer, she rejected them. There was some kind of invisible wall that she could not run through. When she was with a boy, she only could think about Him. They were His arms that were embracing her; they were His hands that were entangled through her hair. They were His lips kissing her. She even could smell His scent. It was driving her insane, so she had decided some time ago to give up with all the dating stuff.
And now, she had realized it was so ridiculously obvious that everyone around her had noticed. Dammit! She instinctively reached her hand to touch her bottom lip, remembering his electrical touch, a bad habit that she used to do to reassure herself when she felt stressed. Doble dammit! Annoyed with herself, really pissed-off, she tried to focus in her e-mails.
Since the day she had sung on-air the week before, there had been a lot of e-mails to Midnight Sun talking about it. José's trick had been a kind of commotion in the campus. Deep in her soul, she was thrilled that people liked her singing, but she never admited it. She took a quick look over the e-mails until one of them catched her attention. He was using a pen-name. Fifty Shades? She felt a shiver through her spine reading those two words. She quickly clicked the link and began reading it:
Dear Midnight Sun,
I don't know you, but I feel somehow connected to you. I think you remind me of someone I met in the past; someone who I really didn't get to know neither. There's something in your sweet voice that I'm attached to; something in the things you say, the way you talk, and even in your silences. The songs you choose seem to fit me so well, as if they were meant to me. I don't understand why, but it gives me hope, and it also scares me a little, but at the same time it relieves me. It sounds crazy, doesn't it? It probably sounds strange, but that's the way I feel.
I want to hear your beautiful voice singing again. I know the other day you were singing for someone special for you; it was crystal clear, but I'm a selfish man. Please, keep singing for him. I'm only asking your permission to get enchanted by your sweet spell too.
I have a very dark side, but it seems you bring light into it.
Yours sincerely, Fifty Shades.
Ana closed her eyes and gulped. Her mouth had gone dry, and her breath was harsh and erratic. She placed her left hand on her chest, over her heart, and she felt it pounding heavily. She tried to stand up to get some air, but her legs were weak. She drank the rest of her tea in one shot, to hydrate her dry throat. What was happening to her? What was all about? He seem to know her, but then again he seemed not. And she didn't know why, but he sounded strangely familiar, like in an old repeated dream. She reread the e-mail again. It was so personal; too intimate reading those things from a complete stranger, but at the same time it felt just right. She was confused. Who was this Fifty Shades? Did she really wanted to know?
"Mum, I'm not alone! I have Kate and José. And I have you, and Ray, and Bob. And I also have my music. It is all I need".
"But darling... José... He is a really good boy, isn't he? And really handsome!"
"Mum, don't! José is only a good friend. Look, mum; currently I'm not interested in dating anyone, that's all".
"And that other boy?" Carla asked with hope in her voice.
"What boy?" Ana asked frowning.
"Well, that boy you keep mentioning in your programme... Are you in love with him?"
Ana gulped. She wanted to stand up and leave, but she kept calm. Finally, she sighed and decided to be sincere, not only with her mum but with herself. "Can I miss someone I don't know?" Carla frowned and grabbed Ana's hands with hers. "Mum... I met a boy in Seattle before leaving with Ray. It was only a brief encounter. I don't know why, but it has been etched in my mind. We talked a little, and that's all. He played the piano beautifully, too."
"Did he like you too?" Carla asked tenderly, remembering those harsh days.
"I don't know... I don't think so. He was older than me, and I don't think he could be interested in me in any way".
Carla pulled Ana's chin up. "Don't think like this, sweetheart. You were a beautiful girl, and now you are a beautiful woman. Not only beautiful, but talented and interesting. But I think you feel lonely, and that you are using the memory of that boy as a shield. Live your precious life, darling".
Ana kept quiet for a moment, drinking in her mother's words. "I'll give it a try, mum".
Susannah changed imperceptibly her expression. "Are you all right, sir? Have I done something to disturb you?" Her voice was monotone and soulless.
"Come here" He ordered her. She stood up graciously and went to the spot Christian was signaling, just beneath the beginning of the ceiling grid. "Lift your arms above your head". Christian ordered Susannah, taking a pair of shackles with leather cuffs from his back pocket. When he was about to fasten them, there She was again, smiling at him, reaching his soul with her piercing blue eyes. "Fuck!" Christian shouted through gritted teeth. He fastened quickly the handcuffs and blindfolded her. That was not what he had planned, but he couldn't look her in the eye. Now, with Susannah helpless he felt a little more relaxed. "Ok, let's have some fun". Christian said, more to himself. He sighed and run his eyes over Susannah's naked body. "Nice view" he whispered in her ear, sending shivers through her spine. Then, he began teasing her with a flogger through her belly, her back, then her breasts, her buttocks. Susannah, with her head turned back couldn't contain her soft moans. "Hush now" Christian growled. "I want to see you". He removed the blindfold and grabbed her hair near the back of her head, crashing his body to hers and lifting her head with the movement. And there She was again, warming his soul with her bright stare and her lovely smile. "Don't give up on me..." She whispered into his mind, with Her voice being the one of the girl on the radio, Midnight Sun.
"I can't do this". Christian said letting her go. Susannah frowned deeply, astonished. Christian lowered both her arms and reached for a bath robe that he offered to Susannah. "Sorry, Susannah. I can't do this anymore".
Now her face was clueless. "What... what do you mean, sir?". She said while putting on the robe.
Christian felt ridiculous, but he understood he owed an explanation to Susannah. "Ok, I'm going to be sincere, Susannah. I think I'm thinking about another person... and I just can't help it."
Susannah widened her eyes and nodded. "I understand. May I speak freely?" Christian nodded. "Ok... I didn't know why, but you were different lately... maybe distracted?"
"Distracted, uh?" Christian said smirking. Susannah shrugged. "Well, I'm sorry, then". He apologized. "I think we have to move beyond. Our contract is finished. It's been a pleasure". Christian offered his hand to Susannah and she shook it.
"The pleasure had been mine, sir".
After seeing off Susannah, Christian went to his bedroom to change his clothes and rushed to his parents house. Maybe he could begin the New Year in a different, better way.
"Good morning, Kate" Ana covered her head with the pillow. "How much energy the very first day after the holidays!"
"Oh, Ana, don't be half-hearted! Your voice is amazing, and your popularity has raised to the top! There's an incredible review about you in the campus journal web page. Not mine!" Kate said putting her right hand across her heart and raising the left one.
"Kate, promise me you won't reveal my identity to anyone!" Ana said alarmed.
"I promise. I only think it would be good for your career to show your talent; it is such a great extracurricular activity for your last year at college, and you are such a good professional... but don't worry. My lips are sealed".
"Thanks" Ana smiled.
They had breakfast in the bar of the kitchen. Kate was still trying to convince Ana to end her anonimity.
"I want to show you something". Ana said while grabbing Kate's laptop. "There you are. Read this and tell me what you think". Ana showed her the e-mail sent by Fifty Shades. Kate read it carefully, paying attention to every single word and then she looked to Ana. "Ok... what do you think?" Ana required.
"Fifty Shades... It sounds interesting". Kate said vaguely.
"Nothing else?" Ana insisted.
"Well, there you have your first real fan, don't you think? But it sounds weird". Kate answered frowning.
"It doesn't sound weird to me, but familiar". Ana fidgeted her fingers, avoiding Kate's eyes.
"Familiar? Do you think you know him?"
"Maybe, I'm not sure..."
"Oh, no! Don't tell me you think he is that boy of yours!" Kate said mimicking the quotation marks with her fingers. "Ana, this is the real world, not a romantic story!"
"I know Kate. I'm not a fool. But there's something in this guy that attracts me, a lot. I think I'm going to play his game".