Exclusive Excerpt: E.L. James Introduces You to 'The Mister'
So long, Christian Grey—there's a new sexy millionaire in town. E.L. James, author of the erotic bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey, is back with another tantalizing love story. Set in London, The Mister follows modern-day aristocrat Maxim Trevelyan as he struggles with his desire for Alessia Demachi, a musician haunted by the past. Get a sneak peek before The Mister hits bookshelves on April 16. Add it to your Want to Read shelf here.
Who the hell is this timid creature standing in my hallway? I’m completely bemused. Have I seen her before? An image from a forgotten dream develops like a Polaroid in my memory, an angel in blue hovering at my bedside. But that was days ago. Could it have been her? And now she’s here, rooted to the hallway floor, her impish face pale, her eyes downcast. Her knuckles grow whiter as she clasps the broom handle tighter and tighter, as if it’s anchoring her to the Earth. The headscarf conceals her hair, and an oversize, old-fashioned nylon housecoat swamps her small frame. She looks totally out of place.
One peek from her dark, fathomless eyes and I’m . . . unsettled. She’s at least a head shorter than me, perhaps five feet five to my six feet two. Her features are delicate: high cheekbones, an upturned nose, clear fair skin, and pale lips. It’s obvious that she’s cleaning. But why her? Why here? Has she replaced my old daily?
“Where’s Krystyna?” I ask, growing a little frustrated at her silence. Perhaps she’s Krystyna’s daughter—or granddaughter.
She continues to stare at the floor, her brow furrowed.
Look at me, I will her. I want to reach forward and tilt her chin up, but as if she reads my mind, she raises her head. Her eyes meet mine, and her tongue darts out, and nervously she licks her upper lip. My whole body tightens in a hot, heavy rush as desire hits me like a demolition ball.
Fuck a duck!
I narrow my eyes as annoyance swiftly follows my desire. What the hell is wrong with me? Why does a woman I’ve never met have such an effect on me? It’s irritating. Beneath fine arched brows, her eyes grow wider, and she takes a step back, fumbling with the broom so that it falls from her hands and clatters onto the floor. She bends with easy, economic grace to pick it up, and when she’s standing once more, she fixates on the handle, a slow flush staining her cheeks as she mumbles something unintelligible.
Bloody hell! Am I intimidating the poor girl?
I don’t mean to.
I’m annoyed at myself. Not her.
Or maybe it’s another reason.
“Perhaps you don’t understand me,” I say, more to myself, and I run a hand through my hair as I bring my body to heel. Krystyna’s mastery of English extended to the words “yes” and “here,” which often meant lots of gesticulating on my part when I needed her to undertake tasks that went beyond her usual cleaning routine. This girl is probably Polish, too.
“I am cleaner, Mister,” she whispers, her eyes still downcast and her eyelashes fanned out above her luminous cheeks.
“She has returned to Poland.”
“Since last week.”
This is news. Why the hell did I not know this? I liked Krystyna. She’d cleaned for me for three years and knew all my dirty little secrets. And I never got to say good-bye. Maybe it’s temporary.
“Is she coming back?” I ask.
The lines in the girl’s forehead deepen, but she says nothing, though her eyes flick to my bare feet. For some unknown reason, this makes me feel self-conscious. Placing both hands on my hips, I step backward as my bewilderment grows. “How long have you been here?”
She responds in a breathless, barely audible voice. “In England?”
“Look at me, please,” I ask. Why is she so reluctant to look up?
Her slim fingers tighten around the broom again, as if she might brandish it as a weapon, then she swallows and raises her head, regarding me with large, liquid brown eyes. Eyes I could drown in. My mouth dries as my body comes to attention again.
“I have been in England since three weeks.” Her voice is clearer and stronger, with an accent I don’t recognize, and as she speaks, she pushes her small chin toward me in defiance. Her lips are now rosy, her bottom lip plumper than her top, and she licks the upper one again.
I’m aroused once more. I take another step away from her. “Three weeks?” I mumble, baffled by my reaction to her.
Why is this happening to me?
What is it about her?
She’s fucking exquisite, the still, small voice roars in my head.
Yes. For a woman dressed in a nylon housecoat, she’s hot.
She hasn’t answered my question. “No. I meant how long have you been here in my flat.”
Where does this girl come from? I rack my brain. Mrs. Blake had organized Krystyna through some contact she had. But Krystyna’s replacement remains silent.
“You speak English?” I ask, willing her to speak. “What’s your name?”
She frowns, looking at me like I’m an idiot. “Yes. I speak English. My name is Alessia Demachi. I have been in your apartment since ten o’clock this morning.”
Wow. She really does speak English.
“Right. Well. How do you do, Alessia Demachi. My name is . . .”
What should I say?
Excerpted selection of The Mister by E.L. James. Copyright © 2019 by E.L. James.
E.L. James' The Mister is on sale April 16. Add it to your Want to Read shelf here.
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