In the words of Rafiki in The Lion King: IT IS TIME.
After hundreds of pages of manipulation, threats, coercion and unrelenting “woe-is-me” internal monologues by the bastard these books centre around, we are finally at the very last chapter of Darker.
Let’s have a moment of jubilant celebration:
Honestly, I will be so glad not to spend anything up to 8 or 9 hours a week, reading this horse shit and trying to hold onto my sanity, particularly as reading them forces me to remind myself that millions of people think these books are good.
No. They are awful. They romanticise and excuse abusive behaviour and portray a toxic relationship as an ideal worth aspiring to. They dangerously misrepresent BDSM and throw the lifestyle completely under the bus. There are shades (pun intended) of homophobia, misogyny and racism, along with all the other atrocities within the franchise. They are also written so appallingly badly that I can only assume the only other thing anyone who thinks these books are well written has ever read in their lives is their own weekly shopping list.
So, let’s get into the last chapter, shall we?!
Anyone who thought Ana’s cutesy keychain, which serves as her acceptance of Grey’s marriage proposal, might come right at the end of this chapter, will be surprised to learn that it’s literally the first thing that happens. I was only surprised, because I was so grossed out by Fifty Shades Darker when I read it, that I couldn’t actually remember what happens at the end of that book, when I started recapping this one.
Anyway, Ana’s birthday gift to Grey is a keychain with the word “YES” flashing on it. At the end of the last chapter, Ana was about to let Grey open his birthday present. This chapter opens seconds later, just as Grey is about to do just that:
Her smile is broad and she bites her lip, and if I’m not mistaken she’s a little nervous.
I give her a reassuring smile, unwrap the box, and open it. Nestled inside is a keychain that shows a pixelated picture of Seattle that flashes on and off. I take it out of the box, wondering what the significance might be, but I’m lost. I have no idea. I look to Ana for a clue.
“Turn it over,” she says.
I do. And the word “YES” flashes on and off.
One simple word. One profound meaning. A life-changer. Right here. Now. My heartbeat spikes and I gawk at her, hoping this means what I think it means.
“Happy birthday,” she whispers.
“You’ll marry me?” I don’t believe it. She nods.
I still don’t believe it. “Say it.” I need to hear it from her lips.
“Yes, I’ll marry you.”
Joy bursts in my heart—in my head, in my body, in my soul. It’s exhilarating. It’s overwhelming. Brimming with elation, I lunge forward and gather her in my arms and swing her around, laughing as I do. She clutches my biceps, her eyes shining, as she laughs, too. I stop, set her on her feet, and grab her face and kiss her. My lips tease hers and she opens for me, like a flower: my sweet Anastasia.
Sure, marry the guy you’ve only been back together with a week. Marry the dude who made stalking you a “cute joke.” Marry the arsehole who listened to you saying you wanted to make your own way in your career without his interference and then bought the company you work for to ensure he can control you, there. Why not?! Doesn’t sound like Stockholm Syndrome at all…
There’s a pointless bit of helicopter info, blatantly thrown in so EL James could claim she did research something:
“Baby, it will take more than a malfunctioning 135 to keep me away from you.”
“Charlie Tango. She’s a Eurocopter EC135, the safest in its class.”
But not today.
Also, that first line is meant to sound romantic, but coming from a known stalker, it just seems creepy and threatening, to me.
Grey then realises that Ana actually gave him his birthday gift before they went to visit Flynn, together, meaning that she was always planning on saying yes to his proposal. Given that he’s been hounding her for an answer ever since he asked the question, this new information annoys him:
“I wanted you to know that whatever Flynn said, it wouldn’t make a difference to me.”
“So all yesterday evening, when I was begging you for an answer, I had it already?” I’m feeling breathless—giddy, even—and a little pissed off. What the hell?
And naturally, this annoyance leads him to turn sex into a weapon. Again:
I don’t know whether to be angry or celebratory.
She confounds me, even now. Well, Grey, what are you going to do about it?
“All that worry,” I murmur darkly.
She gives me an impish grin and shrugs once more. “Oh, don’t try and get cute with me, Miss Steele. Right now, I want—”
I had the answer all the time.
I want her.
“I can’t believe you left me hanging.” She watches my expression as I construct a plan. Something worthy of such audacity. “I believe some retribution is in order, Miss Steele.” My voice is low. Ominous.
Ana takes a cautious step back. Is she going to run? “Is that the game? Because I will catch you.” Her smile is playful and infectious. “And you’re biting your lip,” I add.
She takes another step back and turns to run, but I pounce and grab her. She squeals and I hoist her over my shoulder, and head for my—no, our— bathroom.
“Christian!” She swats my behind.
I swat hers back. Hard.
I’m really struggling to find this anything but gross. I’ve red-inked the parts that creep me out. Sure, Ana is described as having a playful smile, but his descriptions of purposefully making his voice sound “ominous” and his decision that she needs to be punished for not immediately telling him she’d marry him… Just EW.
I’m having to remind myself this is the last chapter. Only 73 more pages and then I’m free, until the last instalment comes out.
As he carries her to the bathroom, he describes her as struggling and “feigning outrage,” but convinces himself that she’s really enjoying herself. Because we’re reading it from his perspective and not Ana’s, we can only take his word for it that he’s right.
He turns the shower on and starts washing Ana’s hair, before washing her breasts and allowing Ana to wash his chest, because she’s the only one to cure the darkness within or some such shit. Then, as Ana’s giving him a hand job, he remembers her birth control shot will have taken effect and they can have sex without protection:
I close my eyes as she tightens her fingers around me. I flex my hips and groan. This is exactly how to spend the early hours of a Saturday morning after a near-death experience.
Wait. I open my eyes and pin her with my gaze. “It’s Saturday.” I grasp her waist and pull her against my body and kiss her.
No more condoms.
I love that he doesn’t say it out loud, he just thinks that Saturday means no more condoms. Ana’s going to think he’s just really turned on by weekends.
As they start to have sex in the shower, Grey confirms that as far as he’s concerned, marriage = ownership:
“You are mine, Anastasia.”
Her answer makes me feel ten feet tall.
“And now we can let everyone know, because you said yes.”
Oh, Ana. Ana, Ana, Ana. You will never be a person in your own right ever again, from this moment forwards. You’re his property, now.
I’m so sick and tired of “love” stories, implying that being in a relationship means you are somehow owned by your partner. Sure, you can want to belong to someone. But this obsessive “you are mine” shit is suffocating and gross. And yes, saying “now the world will know you’re mine” could be romantic, if it was literally anyone else saying it. But Grey has treated his pursuit of Ana like a business deal, throughout these books. He’s been obsessive in his control of her, frequently ignoring her wants and needs, in order to favour his own. This isn’t romance. This is about making someone feel that they are not their own person, anymore. And it’s vile.
After their twenty seconds of sex, Ana cries and reminds Grey that she almost lost him and she couldn’t bear the thought. They have a melodramatic conversation about Grey’s near death experience and how it’s cemented their TWU WUV:
I swallow as my throat constricts, and an image comes to mind of the ground speeding toward me and Ros in the cockpit of Charlie Tango. I shudder. “I was scared,” I whisper.
“So you made light of it to reassure your family?”
“Yes. I was too low to land well. But somehow I did.”
She stares at me, fear on her face. “How close a call was it?”
“Close. For a few awful seconds, I thought I’d never see you again.” This feels like a dark, dark confession.
She moves and puts her arms around me. “I can’t imagine my life without you, Christian. I love you so much it frightens me.”
But I feel the same. “Me, too. My life would be empty without you. I love you so much.” I tighten my arms around her and kiss her hair. “I won’t ever let you go.”
“I don’t want to go, ever.”
I feel like this recap is going to involve a lot of GIFs like the one above.
Also, I don’t care that Ana says she doesn’t want to go; Grey’s “I won’t ever let you go” still makes me dry heave. Because this is the guy who decided he wanted her and tracked her mobile phone, turned up at her workplace to purposefully intimidate her and took her back to his hotel room when she was essentially comatose. Again, it comes down to the fact that that these declarations could be romantic, if they weren’t uttered by a total psychopath. It’s hard to just go “aaaaaw” in the face of the overwhelming amount of evidence of Grey’s arseholery that this book provides.
As Grey suggests they head to bed, there’s a weird moment thrown in, seemingly for no reason other than as a “nudge-wink, Grey likes BDSM” reminder:
“Come—let’s get you dry and into bed. I’m tired and you look beat.”
She lifts an eyebrow.
“You have something to say, Miss Steele?”
She shakes her head and stands, waiting for me.
I assume the word “beat” is meant to make us all titter into our lace handkerchiefs, or something.
They clean their teeth and make frothy faces at each other, which Grey says makes him feel “fourteen again. In a good way.”
They get into bed and the “might be better if anyone else on the planet said it” dialogue continues:
“I would have told you earlier, but since it was going to be your birthday…” Ana lifts her shoulder. “What do you give the man who has everything? I thought I’d give you…me.”
Moments later, Ana decides to call Grey out on the fact that he didn’t call to let everyone know he was safe, after the helicopter crash. What’s more, she tells him she knows it was because of his jealousy of her friendship with José:
“Can I ask you something?” she adds.
“Of course.” “You didn’t call on your trip back from Portland. Was that really because of José? You were worried about me being here alone with him?”
I feel like an idiot. I thought she was at the bar having a good time. I had no idea—
Because you are a petty twat.
Ana continues to reproach him, telling him he put her and the rest of his family through unnecessary stress and it’s about time he realised how loved he actually is. Of course, whether he ever will realise this is anyone’s guess. After all, if he realises it, he’ll have to find something else to play his tiny violin over, because he won’t be able to pull the “nobody loves me” routine, anymore.
Ana tells him she’s got him another present for his birthday, but he’ll have it later, after they’ve slept. I’m so excited, you guys. I can hardly wait to find out what it is.
They fall asleep and Grey has a nightmare that turns into a beautiful, lovely dream:
Ana, burnished hair and broad smiles, is with me in Charlie Tango.
Let’s chase the dawn.
She laughs. Carefree. Young. My girl.
The light around us is golden.
I cough. There’s smoke. Smoke everywhere.
I can’t see Ana. She’s gone in the smoke.
And we’re diving down.
Hurtling fast. In Charlie Tango. The ground is coming up to meet me.
I close my eyes, waiting for the impact. It never comes.
We’re in the orchard.
The trees are laden with apples.
Ana smiles, her hair free and wafting in the breeze.
She holds out two apples. A red apple. A green apple.
I smile. And take the red apple. The sweeter apple.
Ana takes my hand and we walk. Hand in hand.
Past the alcoholics and addicts outside the liquor store in Detroit. They wave and hold up their brown paper bags in salute.
Past Esclava. Elena smiles and waves.
Past Leila. Leila smiles and waves.
Ana takes my apple. She bites into it. Mmm…tasty. She licks her lips.
Delicious. I love it.
I made it. With Grandpa.
Wow. You’re so capable.
She smiles and whirls around, her hair flying.
I love you, she cries. I love you, Christian Grey.
“Wow. You’re so capable.” Excuse me, whilst I cough up a lung, laughing.
Grey wakes, feeling startled, but also content. Which… Is not a thing.
Ana is not in bed beside him and so Grey decides to plan a better proposal for her. He leaves a voicemail message with a florist and realises he needs to go and buy a ring. But first, he creeps out of the bedroom, heads towards the living room and eavesdrops on Ana’s conversation with José, during which he adds his own grim little internal comments:
“You really like him, don’t you?” José says.
“I love him, José.” That’s my girl.
“What’s not to love?” José says and I think he’s referring to my apartment.
“Gee, thanks!” Ana exclaims, sounding hurt. What an asshole.
“Hey, Ana, just kidding.” José tries to placate her. “Seriously, I’m kidding. You’ve never been that kind of girl.”
No. She’s not. You dick.
Grey then “strides” into the room, which sounds exactly like the sort of bullshit macho walking method this moron would use.
Also, as a side note, Grey strides into the kitchen, whereupon he surprises Ana and José, but before, when he was eavesdropping, his internal monologue told us he headed towards the living room, where he heard voices.
Grey immediately sets about metaphorically pissing all over Ana and inwardly bitching at José. Ana has just agreed to marry this fuckwit and he’s still behaving like a petulant two year old:
“José.” I greet him with a nod.
“Christian.” José returns my nod.
Yeah. I heard you, you fucker, disrespecting my girl. She’s giving me an odd look. She knows what I’m doing.
And yet she’s still marrying you…
“I was going to bring you breakfast in bed,” she says.
I saunter over to her, in front of the photographer, tilt up her chin, and kiss her, long, hard, and noisily. “Good morning, Anastasia,” I whisper.
“Good morning, Christian. Happy birthday.” She gives me a shy smile.
“I’m looking forward to my other present,” I state, and she blushes and looks nervously in Rodriguez’s direction.
Oh. What does she have planned?
Rodriguez looks like he’s swallowed a lemon.
Grey asks José what he’s got planned for the day and is annoyed when it turns out that José is off fishing with not only his dad, but Ana’s stepfather, Ray. Because obviously, no man is allowed to associate with anyone connected to Ana, besides Grey.
Grey then gets into a fantastically dull conversation about fishing with José, who he eventually decides might not be such a dick, after all. Because he… knows a lot about fishing?! I don’t even know, anymore.
Indeed, as the conversation drifts towards sports, Grey realises he might even like José:
I realize that José and I have much in common.
Including loving the same woman.
The woman who has agreed to be my wife.
I’m dying to tell him, but I behave.
Ah. So, he doesn’t like him enough to not want to be smug bastard, towards him. Noted.
José heads out for his fishing trip and Grey and Ana follow him to the door:
“Thanks for letting me crash here.” He shakes my hand.
“Anytime,” I respond. And I’m surprised that I actually mean it. He seems harmless enough, like a puppy.
He hugs Ana, and to my surprise, I don’t want to rip his arms off.
Is… Is this the change we’re meant to see in Christian Grey? Because if this is it – not wanting to brutally attack someone for hugging his fiancée – I think we should be aiming roughly a billion miles higher.
After José leaves, Grey tells Ana it’s still obvious that José wants her, but then backs up and says he doesn’t want to fight about it. Why mention it, then?! Haven’t you done this subject to death, multiple times before?!
Grey comments that Ana didn’t tell José that she’s now engaged:
“No. I figured I ought to tell Mom and Ray first.”
“Yes, you’re right. And I…um, I should ask your father.”
She laughs. “Oh, Christian—this isn’t the eighteenth century.”
“It’s traditional.” And I never thought I’d have to ask any father for his daughter’s hand in marriage. Give me this moment. Please.
Because it’s all about you. And because women are property.
Ana tells Grey she wants to give him the rest of his birthday presents. She takes him back to the bedroom and hands him two, gift-wrapped boxes. The first, she tells him, contains something she bought before the crash yesterday and now feels a bit unsure about. It’s the parts to make a little wooden helicopter. The rotor is solar-powered and Grey can’t believe how thoughtful Ana is. It then causes him to have a childhood flashback to his first Christmas with the Grey family:
My helicopter can fly.
My helicopter is blue.
It flies around the Christmas tree.
It flies over the piano and lands in the middle of the white.
It flies over Mommy and flies over Daddy.
And flies over Lelliot as he plays with his Legos.
POINTLESS PADDING ALERT. Have I mentioned that this chapter is over 80 A4 pages long?!
We then get smacked in the face with what a caring, decent guy Grey is, because he’s all about renewable energy:
I beam at Ana and go over to the balcony window, where I watch the rotors start to spin under the warm rays of the sun. “Look at that. What we can already do with this technology.”
I hold the helicopter at eye level, watching how easily solar energy is converted to mechanical energy. The rotors spin and spin, faster and faster.
Wow. All this in a child’s toy.
There is so much more that we could do with this simple technology. The challenge is how to store this energy. Graphene is the way to go…but can we build efficient enough batteries? Batteries that charge quickly and hold their charge—
Look, I’m as passionate about the future of the planet as anyone with their head screwed on, but did we need this bit right here?! All it does is detract from the so-called “plot” of this book. We’ve had various scenes thrown in at random points throughout the novel, during which Grey discusses renewable energy sources and those scenes are almost always totally incongruent and don’t do anything to further the story. If you’re going to make this a character trait, do it consistently and make it a proper plot point. Grey’s job has very little – if anything – to do with the actual story, besides the fact that it’s made him a gazillionaire, so random snippets of exceptionally dull meetings about solar-powered tablets or nutrients in soil do nothing but slow the already boring plot down even more.
Grey takes the helicopter out of the sunlight and the rotors stop spinning. This, for some reason, makes him exceptionally emo:
I move my hand out of the light and the rotors slow and come to a complete stop.
We move in the light.
We slow in the shadows.
We stop in the dark.
Hmm. Philosophical, Grey.
This is what Ana has done for me. She’s dragged me into the light and I quite like it.
She hasn’t though, has she? You’re still a self-obsessed, self-pitying, controlling, manipulative shit. All of which are pretty dark qualities. Just so you know.
The other box has a card inside, on which Ana has written:
On your birthday
Do rude things to me.
Your Ana x
“Do rude things to me” sounds really childish, which I guess you could argue fits in with Ana’s naive persona, but she’s been around the sexual block at least once, now. She’s done quite a bit with him. Couldn’t she bring herself to write what she actually wants?! Because, it turns out, what she really wants is a trip back into the playroom.
Oh, good. I haven’t read enough awful sex scenes in this book…
The box also contains something of a BDSM package, that Ana has put together, using stuff she’s found in the apartment:
I rip open the tissue that conceals the box’s contents and retrieve an eye mask. Okay, she wants to be blindfolded. Next are some nipple clamps. Oh, not these. They’re vicious. Not beginner level. Beneath the clamps is a butt plug, but this one is way too big. She’s enclosed my iPod, too, which pleases me. She must like my music choices. And here’s my silver gray Brioni tie, so she wants to be tied up.
Last, as I suspected, there’s the key to my playroom.
Grey asks if she’s sure and Ana responds that she doesn’t want the “whips and stuff.”
Grey thinks back to the times Ana has hinted about wanting this and it just comes across as EL James yelling “SHE CONSENTS!” at her critics, as though the BDSM aspect is the only thing anyone could possibly take issue with:
If this is what she wants—and her words come back to me in a swirl. She’s asked me and asked me and asked me.
Outside the playroom door, Ana says something that sounds like a very creepy concern, given what we know about the way Grey bribes ex subs into staying silent, and Grey responds in a way that is equally creepy for the same reason:
“Anything you don’t want to do?”
She’s thoughtful for a moment. “I don’t want you to take photos of me.”
Why the hell would she say that? Why would I want to take pictures of her? Grey. Of course you would, if she’d let you.
“Okay,” I agree, concerned about what has motivated this question.
Does she know? That’s impossible.
Grey gets Ana to confirm that she does indeed want this as much as he does:
“Are we in here because you think I want to be in here?”
“No. I want to be in here, too.”
She is a siren.
Grey instructs Ana to get naked, which she does. He puts his tie around her neck and tells her she looks “mighty fine.” File that under things 28 year old dudes definitely say.
He braids her hair and tells her that all she has to do is tell him to stop at any time and he will. He goes on to explain that for “an anal virgin,” the butt plug she put in his birthday box is too large and that he’ll be using his little finger, instead. This apparently shocks Ana, for some reason. He then informs her that he wants to use a gentler pair of nipple clamps than the ones she selected, too. Ana asks how she should behave. Grey’s response makes it sound distinctly like you can’t do BDSM with people you’re in love with:
It’s a strange question. “However you want to.” And I wonder out loud if she was expecting my alter ego.
“Well, yes. I like him,” she says.
“Do you, now?” I run my thumb across her lower lip, tempted to kiss it again. “I’m your lover, Anastasia, not your Dom. I love to hear your laugh and your girlish giggle. I like you relaxed and happy, like you are in José’s photos. That’s the girl that fell into my office. That’s the girl I fell in love with.
“But, having said all that, I also like to do rude things to you, Miss Steele, and my alter ego knows a trick or two. So do as you’re told and turn around.”
She obeys, her face glowing with excitement.
I love you, Ana. Simple.
Just because EL James did no BDSM research and therefore hasn’t made this as plain as it should be: you CAN be someone’s lover AND their Dom. The two are not mutually exclusive. BDSM can be part of a loving relationship and to so much as hint that it can’t be, really grinds my gears, given that EL James has made a huge fucking WAD of cash, out of a lifestyle she has singularly failed to understand or accurately portray.
Let me just take a moment to bask in Rachel Bloom’s gloriousness until I’m less enraged…
Aaaand I’m ready to carry on.
Grey cuffs Ana’s hands behind her back and when she tries to kiss him, he threatens her with something that some of us remember is one of Ana’s limits:
“Arms behind your back. I’m going to cuff you.” I show her the leather elbow cuffs and lean around her to put them on. She turns and runs her parted lips along my jaw, her tongue teasing my stubble.
I close my eyes and for a moment revel in the contact, suppressing a groan. Pulling back, I admonish her, “Stop. Or this will be over far quicker than either of us wants.”
“Am I, now?” She nods, looking impertinent.
“Well, don’t distract me, or I’ll gag you.”
Red-inking that shit, because Ana has told Grey more than once that she doesn’t like the idea of being gagged, because she worries she won’t be able to breathe. Threatening someone with something they’ve openly referred to as a limit? Not cool.
Grey puts a mask on Ana so that she can’t see. He then refers to his penis as being sentient, for the ninety thousandth time:
Back at the drawers, I gather the items I need and slip off my T-shirt. I keep my jeans on, even though they are a little uncomfortable, because I don’t want her distracted by my impatient dick.
I’m assuming this is meant to be sexy, but it conjures up an image so hilarious, I’m going to bank it for the next time I’m depressed. I’m picturing a human-sized penis with an angry face, queue-jumping and generally behaving like… well, an impatient dick. Feel free to store that comedy gold for your own personal use.
Grey removes the tie he put on Ana earlier and uses massage oil on her, frustrating her by not touching her breasts, but eventually rubbing it on her clitoris. He gets her to suck a bullet vibrator, telling her he’s going to put it inside her. He attaches nipple clamps, fingers her, whilst applying oil to her ass, then inserts the vibrator. He then puts lube on his little finger and puts it in her ass.
Look, I’m summarising. I’m sure you can imagine this is all extremely arousing to read in full.
Ana, the “anal virgin” is immediately tipped over the orgasmic edge by this:
She gasps, then groans and kneels up a little higher, and I know she’s close. Her lips start to move, but whatever she’s saying, it’s soundless. Suddenly she screams as her orgasm strikes.
With my free hand I release first one, then the other nipple clamp, and she cries out. I hold her close as her body pulses through her climax, still easing my finger in and out of her. “No,” she shouts, and I know she’s had enough.
I’m amazed this guy understands what the word “no” means, but hey. First time for everything.
Grey undoes Ana’s braid and gently rubs her shoulders and arms. There’s some God-awful dialogue about how Ana thinks he’s trying to kill her through pleasure and he tells her that death by orgasm would be a great way to go.
Then, because BDSM is not compatible with a loving relationship in this fucked up universe, Grey tells her all he really wants to do is make love to her.
Taking her hand, I kiss her knuckles. I’m so proud of her. She never lets me down in here.
She cups my face between her hands and kisses me. I stop, pulling back. “This is what I want to do,” I whisper. From beneath the pillow, I pull out the remote and change the song. I press the button, knowing it will play on repeat, and ease Ana onto her back. “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”—Roberta Flack’s classic fills the room. “I want to make love to you,” I murmur. My lips seek and find hers, and her fingers entwine in my hair.
Oh, good. More sex. I’m not at all sick of this.
The sex is exceptionally brief, even by Grey’s standards. Afterwards, Ana sobs because she just loves him so damn much. No, really:
“Hey.” I clasp her head in my hands. Did I hurt her? “Why are you crying?”
“Because I love you so much,” she says, and I close my eyes, letting her words wash over me.
“And I you, Ana. You make me…whole.”
But no less of a bastard. And that’s an important point to keep ramming home, because the fans of this franchise like to insist that Ana makes Grey a better person. Well, here we are in the final chapter of the second book. Ana has agreed to marry this dick. And he’s still vile.
Ana asks where Grey gets his music choices from and he says that when he’s by himself and he can’t sleep, he plays piano or trawls iTunes. Then he guilt-trips Ana for leaving him at the end of the first book. Again.
“I don’t like to think about you unable to sleep and on your own. It sounds lonely,” Ana says, her compassion showing.
“To be honest, I never felt lonely until you left. I didn’t realize how miserable I was.”
She cups my face. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t apologize, Ana. What I did was wrong.”
She puts her finger over my lips. “Hush,” she says. “I love you just the way you are.”
“That’s a song.”
DO NOT BRING BILLY JOEL INTO THIS, YOU PAIR OF BASTARDS.
Ana tells Grey that they’ve “come a long way.” I mean, sure. As far as you can go in what, three weeks?! Less than that?! I don’t even know or care, anymore.
She reminisces about the photo shoot that José did, to go along with Grey’s interview, shortly after they first met. Ana does an impression of Kate, bossing everyone around. For someone who’s meant to be Kate’s best friend, Ana sure is a shit. Grey laughs and thanks “the common cold” for the fact that it was Ana who came to interview him and not Kate. Because Kate would have stood for precisely none of his bullshit, I have no doubt. Ana corrects him, saying Kate had the flu, but it’s too little, too late, seeing as she’s just been mocking her friend.
Ana notices that all the canes are gone from the playroom and Grey says he realised she’d probably never get past that particular hard limit. Ana agrees. Grey offers to get rid of all the floggers and crops too, but Ana picks two that she’d like him to keep. Grey tells her she’s full of surprises and Ana responds that so is he and that that’s one of the things she loves about him.
Grey decides he needs to know what else she loves about him.
Strap yourselves in, guys, this could be about to get both laughable and vomit-inducing. Let’s break it down, shall we?!
“This,” she says, and traces her finger across my lips, tickling them. “I love this, and what comes out of it, and what you do to me with it.
So she likes being kissed. Someone non-abusive could do that.
And what’s in here.” She strokes the side of my head. “You’re so smart and witty and knowledgeable, competent in so many things.
I have never seen any evidence of Grey being “witty.” None of his “witty” dialogue in this book has been remotely funny or clever. And whilst he does seem knowledgeable in many areas, he is also supremely arrogant, which is a massive turn off.
But most of all, I love what’s in here.” She presses her palm against my chest. “You are the most compassionate man I’ve ever met.
HAVE YOU LITERALLY NEVER MET ANY OTHER MAN?! This twat, who threatens you – even now – with “punishments” you don’t like, if you don’t do exactly as he says, this bastard who treats his staff like dirt on his shoes, this wanker who talks shit about your friends, even when you ask him to stop, this dick who puts his own needs consistently ahead of yours… Where is he compassionate? EVER?!
This is yet another example of EL James’s piss poor writing. She’s trying to tell us Grey is this amazing, sweet, compassionate guy, despite never having shown us anything to back it up with. As a result, it’s ludicrous. Ana may as well be talking about one of her university lecturers. She certainly isn’t giving an honest description of Christian Grey.
What you do. How you work. It’s awe-inspiring.”
Perhaps his supposed dedication to renewable energy sources is awe-inspiring. The way he works – barking orders at people, being certain all his female employees fancy him and making a point of not learning certain people’s names – is enough to make his company one that nobody with a brain cell wants to work at.
This book. This fucking book.
I want to shake EL James by the shoulders until the stupid falls out of her brain. You can’t write a character listing all these positive attributes about another character, who has shown precisely none of them. That’s not how it works! You don’t get to point to scenes like this and say “see? Look at all the ways Christian Grey is a wonderful guy!” when you’ve also shown him stalking, manipulating, threatening, controlling and behaving possessively in every chapter.
UGH, I can’t wait for this to be over, now.
Ana then “launches herself” at him, but thankfully we’re spared another sex scene, by a jump cut to straight after, in which Ana offers to go and cook Grey something. Before she does, however, they agree to go and shower and when Ana is dressed, Grey decides to become possessive of her again (see what I mean, EL?!):
Once Ana is dressed she takes all the wet clothes from last night out of her sink and heads out the door. Wearing a tiny blue dress, she’s all legs.
Too much leg.
Well at least it’s just us.
I stop shaving for a moment. “Leave them for Mrs. Jones,” I call after her. She glances over her shoulder and smiles.
Firstly, it’s her body and she can wear whatever the fuck she likes, asshole.
Secondly, let her bloody tidy her own clothes up! There is no way you pay Gail Jones enough for all the shit she has to deal with, as it is.
Whilst Ana is cooking, Grey goes through all the messages he had, yesterday, when people were worried he might have been dead. He realises how worried everyone was and thinks he ought to have called them. Ya THINK?! He saves all the messages, aside from one from Elena, then sorts out a ring for Ana and returns a call to Sam, his company’s PR dude.
All of this is fascinating. FASCINATING.
Because Sam is keen to capitalise on the media interest surrounding the helicopter crash, by recommending Grey does some TV or print interviews to promote the company, Grey genuinely starts thinking about getting rid of him. He’s so compassionate. I love how he works…
Taylor tells Grey that the wreckage of Charlie Tango is being recovered and that they’ll hopefully get some answers from it. Grey sends him off to the jewellers for him. Because actually going out to personally choose and purchase his fiancée’s engagement ring is far too much to expect Christian Grey to do, apparently.
Ana emails Grey to say lunch is almost ready and she uses the term “kinky-fuckery” twice, which is enough to make anyone else lose their appetite, to be honest.
Grey replies asking what aspect of the kinky-fuckery was most mind-blowing and decides to wander into the kitchen and kiss Ana as she’s replying. Rather than actually having a conversation, however, he then saunters back into his office to read her response. I just… UGH.
Grey rings his mother and tells her that he and Ana are engaged. She has the good sense to think it’s very sudden, although she also seems to think Ana is the first girl Grey has ever been with, and when she finds out that’s not the case, she’s suddenly completely on board. Grey tells her that he’s having flowers delivered to his parents’ boathouse, because his first proposal was “a bit crap.” He also asks her to keep the engagement a secret, so he can make an announcement, later.
This last chapter is dragging, you guys.
Ana comes into Grey’s study to let him know that lunch is ready. He comments on the length of her dress. Again.
“That dress is very short.”
“You like it?” Ana pirouettes in the doorway and her skirt flares up, providing a tantalizing glimpse of her lacy underwear.
“You look fantastic in it, Ana. I just don’t want anyone else to see you like that.”
“Oh!” She looks upset. “We’re at home, Christian. No one but the staff.”
I don’t want to upset her. I nod as graciously as I can manage and she turns and heads back to the kitchen. Grey, get a grip.
Staff don’t count as people, apparently. And Grey’s controlling line gets red-inked, because Ana has never agreed to let him dictate her wardrobe.
Grey calls Ray to ask for Ana’s hand in marriage and how does he get Ray’s number?
From Ana’s file, I get Ray’s mobile number.
FROM THE CREEPTASTIC FILE HE KEEPS ON ANA, OF COURSE! She’s never given him Ray’s number, as far as I know. Nor did she willingly give Grey her bank details (and she was pissed to know he had them), but the next thing Grey does, after being forced to leave a message with Ray, who has no signal, is this:
While I have Ana’s file on my desk, I decide to deposit some money into her bank account. She’ll have to get used to having money.
It’s been a while you guys, but for the last time in this set of recaps…
He transfers fifty thousand dollars into Ana’s account. And sure, some people reading this crap might think “oh wow, I wish I had a guy who’d just give me all that cash!” But I think “oh wow, I’m so glad nobody wants to BUY me, using bank details I NEVER GAVE THEM in order to do so.”
Horses for courses.
Ray calls Grey back and Grey asks for permission to marry Ana. Ray tells him to hand the phone to “Annie.” Ana is pissed off that Grey’s actually told her dad, which I don’t blame her for, seeing as she did tell him earlier it’s not the eighteenth century and he doesn’t need to ask for her hand. She disappears to have a conversation with Ray and when she comes stomping back, still annoyed, she gives the phone back to Grey and Ray says it’s obvious Ana’s crazy about him, but that if Grey hurts her, Ray will kill him.
Grey tells Ana that Ray has given them his blessing and Ana admits that Ray was freaked out at the idea and that now she’s going to have to tell her mother.
They have lunch and Grey says:
“Damn, you’re a good cook, woman.”
My abuser used to call me “woman,” because he was a misogynistic twat. I can only assume Grey refers to Ana that way for the same reason.
Grey decides to ask Ana why she didn’t want him to take her photo, earlier and it’s for the exact reason he suspected:
“Ana? Why did you ask me not to take your photo?” Her consternation deepens, worrying me. “Ana, what is it?” My tone is sharper than I intended and she jumps.
A good sign, straight away, right guys?!
“I found your photos,” she says, as if she’s committed some terrible sin.
What photos? But as I say the words, I realize exactly what she’s talking about. And I feel like I’m back in my father’s study, waiting for a pompous dressing-down for some infraction I’ve committed. “You’ve been in the safe?” How the hell did she do that?
“Safe? No. I didn’t know you had a safe.”
“I don’t understand.”
“In your closet. The box. I was looking for your tie, and the box was under your jeans. The ones you normally wear in the playroom…Except today.”
Fuck. No one should see those photographs. Especially Ana. How did they get there?
Oh, good. Let’s blame the mentally unwell character for moving the creepy, invasive bribery photos that Grey shouldn’t have in the first fucking place.
Grey is forced to explain what the photos are for:
You’ve already alluded to the depths of your depravity.
This is it, baby. Fifty shades.
How many times is he going to say this shit in his head?!
“This is going to sound cold, but—they’re an insurance policy.”
I watch her face as she realizes what I mean. “Oh.” She closes her eyes as if she’s trying to erase what I’ve told her. “Yes. You’re right,” she says quietly. “That does sound cold.” She stands and starts to clear the dishes; it’s to avoid me.
“Do they know? The girls. The subs?”
“Of course they know.”
Before she can escape to the sink, I fold her into my arms. “Those photos are supposed to be in the safe. They’re not for recreational use.”
They were once upon a time, Grey.
Even now, when he’s being all “this is it, baby, Fifty Shades,” he’s still not giving her quite the full story. He never does.
He asks Ana if she wants him to get rid of the photos and Ana, clearly upset, tells him they’re his to do whatever he wants with. He insists that he doesn’t want “that life,” once again insinuating that BDSM is dirty and bad and totally at odds with a loving relationship. Gee, EL James has done so much good for kinksters.
I know she struggles with not being enough for me. Maybe she thinks I want to do those things to her and photograph her.
Grey, be honest, of course you would.
But I’d never do it without her permission. I had all my submissives’ consent to having their photographs taken.
But did they also know you’d be keeping those photos on file as an insurance policy?! It’s one thing, consenting to sexy photographs in the moment. Quite another to keep them in order to silence anyone who may be thinking of coming forward in the future. I cannot tell you how much this grosses me out. I don’t want to victim-blame, because I know what it’s like to be in love with an abusive man and to excuse all his vile behaviour, but this is a HUGE red flag that Ana is about to casually get over and ignore.
Grey manages to persuade Ana that their relationship is TWU WUV, not like that dirty, kinky life he had before. He tells her he’ll shred the photos and then says he has to go into work for a while. Ana, instantly placated, tells him she’s going to ring her mother and tell her about their engagement, then bake Grey a birthday cake. Grey asks if it’ll be chocolate and Ana says she’ll see what she can do.
Why does Grey think of chocolate cake?
Because he has a vivid memory (not alluded to here, but which I remember) of his birth mother making him a chocolate cake for his birthday. You remember his birth mother? The bitch he hates, because she never did anything for him?!
Before going to work, Grey goes to shred the photos and manages to be as creepy and gross about it as you’d expect:
There’s a certain irony in sitting at my desk and shredding these photographs: relics of my old life. The first photograph is of Susannah, bound and gagged, on her knees on the wooden floor. It’s not a bad photograph, and briefly I wonder what José would make of this subject matter. The thought amuses me, but I put the first few photographs through the shredder. I turn the rest of the pile over so I can’t see the images and within twelve minutes they’re all gone.
You still have the negatives.
GET RID OF THE FUCKING NEGATIVES AS WELL, YOU UTTERLY GROSS BASTARD.
Also, it took twelve minutes to shred all these photos? How many did he take?! He had fifteen subs before Ana and the shredder we have at work can shred a photo in seconds. It should have been a five or six minute job. The fact that it wasn’t, means – as far as I’m concerned – that he had multiple pictures of each woman. And there’s no need to keep more than one “insurance policy” for each ex sub (I dispute that there’s a need to keep even one, obviously, seeing as he made them all sign an NDA, however unenforceable). This upped the creep factor massively, as far as I’m concerned.
Grey checks his text messages. He has several from people like his mother, Elliot, Mia etc and because EL James is all about padding this shit out, we have to read every single one. He has three from Elena, the first asking if he’s okay, the second saying she’s relieved to have seen on the news that he is okay and asking him to call her, then the third asking if he’s ignoring her.
Grey scowls to himself, thinking Elena needs to leave him to the fuck alone. But he doesn’t text her to actually say “I’d like you to get out of my life” or anything like that, because if he did that, yet another non-plot would be instantly resolved, and we couldn’t possibly have that. Instead, he just thinks he’ll deal with her “at some point.”
Grey can smell the cake Ana is baking him and he recalls “the crack whore” making him a birthday cake. He even describes it as a happy memory, so keep that in mind next time he claims to have no happy memories of his time with her.
Ana comes in to say she’s popping to the shops and this happens:
“I’m just heading to the store to pick up some ingredients,” she says.
“Okay.” Not dressed like that, surely?
“You going to put some jeans on or something?”
“Christian, they’re just legs,” she says dismissively, and I grit my teeth.
“What if we were at the beach?” she says.
“We’re not at the beach.”
“Would you object if we were at the beach?”
We’d be on a private beach. “No,” I respond.
She gives me a wicked smile. “Well, just imagine we are. Laters.” She turns and bolts.
What? She’s running?
And before I know it, I’m out of my seat and going after her. I see a flash of turquoise exit through the main entrance at speed and I pursue her into the foyer, but she’s in the elevator and the doors are closing when I catch up with her. She gives me a wave from inside and then she’s gone. Her haste is such an overreaction, I want to laugh.
What did she think I’d do?
Beat her, like the many times you’ve threatened to? Demand she changes, making threats to manipulate her into doing so?!
Also, for the eleven billionth time: SHE CAN WEAR WHATEVER SHE WANTS, YOU ASSHOLE.
Taylor arrives with some guys from the jewellery store, who’ve come to the apartment with a selection of engagement rings for Grey to choose from. So, I guess at least he is picking out Ana’s ring, himself. I genuinely thought he was going to make Taylor do it.
After he’s chosen a ring and also had a phone conversation about a Eurocopter specialist, who’s flying in to take a look at the wreckage of Charlie Tango, Grey notices Ana is back. And it’s guilt-trip and unnecessary anger time!
Ana is standing in the doorway, watching me, looking pensive and a little worried. “Hi,” she says, and she enters my study and walks around my desk until she’s standing in front of me. I want to ask her why she ran, but she preempts me.
“I’m back. Are you mad at me?”
I sigh and lift her into my lap. “Yes,” I whisper.
You ran from me, and the last time you did that, you left me.
“I’m sorry. I don’t know what came over me.” She curls into me, and rests her hand and her head against my chest. Her weight is a comfort.
“Me, neither. Wear what you like.” I place my hand on her knee just to reassure her, but as soon as I touch her, I want more. My desire is like an electric current through my body. It jolts me awake and makes me feel alive. I run my hand up her thigh. “Besides, this dress has its advantages.”
They fuck in Grey’s chair, with basically no foreplay. Because Ana is, remember, a sentient sex doll.
During the sex, Grey thinks this gross thought:
There’s a desperation in her movements, as if she wants to make amends.
For WHAT?! Wearing a dress she was fully entitled to wear?! Running away from you, because you’ve got a proven record for controlling and threatening her?! SCREW YOU.
“He changes, he gets so much better.” The next fan who says that to me is getting the full force of my high-pitched scream, right in their face.
Just to re-enforce my hatred of him, after the sex, he tells her:
“I LIKE YOUR VERSION of sorry,” I whisper.
Ana replies that she likes his, too.
We get some seriously clumsy foreshadowing of her pregnancy:
I hope she always sits in my lap like this. She fits perfectly.
BUT SHE WON’T WHEN THERE’S A BABY IN HER BELLY, RIGHT GUYS? GUYS?! AM I RIGHT?!
We get yet more “from darkness into light” bollocks:
There are shadows on the streets below. Down there it’s already dusk, but up here the light is still golden. Maybe that’s why I live here. To be in the light. I’ve been striving for it since I was a small boy. And it’s taken an extraordinary young woman to make me realize that.
Ana is my guiding light.
I’m her lost boy, now found.
VOM. It’s bad enough when he infantilises her, but now he’s doing it to himself. FUN.
Twenty three pages left. I can do this. I WILL DO THIS.
Ana finishes Grey’s birthday cake and brings it to him, with a candle flickering on top:
She sings “Happy Birthday” to me in her sweet musical voice, and I realize I’ve never heard her sing.
I blow out the candle, closing my eyes to make my wish.
I wish that Ana will always love me. And never leave me.
“I’ve made my wish,” I inform her.
I’ve just had to eat a large bowl of ice cream to force myself to finish this damn recap, and I swear EL James is desperate for me to see it again in reverse.
He thinks “here goes” as Ana hands him a slice of cake, which is a bit rich, seeing as he’s always harping on about what a great cook she is. Sure enough, it’s delicious and Grey tells her “this is why I want to marry you.”
In fairness, I’d marry pretty much anyone who made me cake, so I can’t comment.
On the way to his parents’ house, Ana finally brings up the subject of the money Grey transferred into her account, earlier:
“There was an additional fifty thousand dollars in my bank account this afternoon.”
“Ana, you’re going to be my wife. Please. Let’s not fight about this.”
She takes a deep breath and is silent for a while as we cruise just above the pink and dusky waters of Lake Washington. “Okay,” she says. “Thank you.”
“You’re most welcome.” I breathe a sigh of relief.
See, that wasn’t so hard, was it Ana? On Monday, I’ll take care of your student loans.
I… I just… Whatever. I’m actually past giving a shit. Fine, you wanna be rich, go for it. I hope you both get paper cuts from hundred dollar bills and bleed to death.
They arrive at the Grey family home and Kate quickly accosts them. There’s a long scene that I want to break into chunks:
“You two! I want to talk to you,” she gripes. Ana gives me a blank look and I shrug. I have no idea what Kavanagh’s beef is but we follow her into the empty dining room. She shuts the door and turns on Ana. “What the fuck is this?” she hisses and waves a piece of paper at her.
Ana takes it from her and reads it. Almost immediately she blanches and her startled eyes meet mine.
What the hell?
Ana steps between me and Katherine. “What is it?” I ask, feeling anxious.
SPOILER: It’s Ana’s email response to the BDSM contract Grey sent her. Remember, he printed it out, so he could bring it with him to discuss it with her.
Ana ignores me and addresses Kavanagh. “Kate! This has nothing to do with you.” Katherine is surprised by her reaction.
What the fuck are they talking about?
“Ana, what is it?”
“Christian, would you just go, please?”
“No. Show me.”
I hold out my hand and reluctantly she passes the piece of paper to me. It’s her e-mail response to the contract. Shit.
“What’s he done to you?” Katherine asks, ignoring me.
“That’s none of your business, Kate.” Ana sounds exasperated.
Technically, it sort of is Kate’s business, in as much as Ana is her best friend and she’s seen her sobbing over Grey, so finding something in which Ana is writing about some kind of sex contract that she’s not meant to tell anyone about is bound to concern Kate.
“Where did you get this?” I ask.
Kavanagh blushes. “That’s irrelevant.” But I stare at her and she continues. “It was in the pocket of a jacket, which I assume is yours, that I found on the back of Ana’s bedroom door.” She scowls at me, ready for battle.
“Have you told anyone?” I ask.
“No! Of course not,” she snaps, and has the gall to look offended.
She probably is offended, given that she’s clearly been waiting to discuss this with Ana, rather than go blabbing to anyone else. Sure, she shouldn’t have been looking through Grey’s pockets, but frankly, if I thought someone was mistreating my best friend – as Kate almost certainly did, regarding Grey – I would be bloody determined to show them up for what they were. I’m going to cut her a bit of slack, here.
Good. I walk over to the fireplace and taking a lighter from the small porcelain bowl on the mantelpiece I set fire to the corner of the printout and let it float, burning, into the grate. Both women are silent, watching me. Once it’s reduced to ashes, I turn my attention back to them.
“Not even Elliot?” Ana asks.
“No one,” Katherine says, and she sounds emphatic. She looks a little puzzled and maybe hurt.
I’m not surprised. She’s probably wishing she could have had this conversation alone with Ana. She’s clearly very concerned about her welfare and isn’t necessarily keen on the way this whole scenario is playing out.
“I just want to know you’re okay, Ana,” she says, concerned. Unseen by them both, I roll my eyes.
This is the guy who claims to care more about Ana’s wellbeing than anyone else. And yet when someone else is concerned, it just annoys him. Yes, Kate is concerned about his relationship with Ana, so he’s bound to be miffed, but is he so self-absorbed that he can’t see why someone might be worried about their very naive, previously totally inexperienced friend getting involved in a lifestyle she knows nothing about? Surely if he really loved Ana, he’d understand her friend’s concerns and if anything, be glad of them, because they prove she cares for Ana?!
“I’m fine, Kate. More than fine. Please, Christian and I are good, really good—this is old news. Please ignore it,” Ana pleads with her.
“Ignore it?” she says. “How can I ignore that? What’s he done to you?”
“He hasn’t done anything to me, Kate. Honestly—I’m good.”
He’s tracked your phone. He’s taken you back to his hotel when you could not consent. He’s stalked you hundreds of miles away when you asked for space. He’s beaten you with a belt and not stopped, despite seeing you in tears from the pain. He’s threatened, manipulated and coerced you. He’s bought your workplace so he can control your career. WOULD YOU LIKE ME TO GO ON?!
“Really?” she asks. For fuck’s sake. I wrap my arm around Ana and stare at Katherine, trying and probably failing to keep the animosity out of my expression. “Ana has consented to be my wife, Katherine.”
This would have been a great time for a speech along the lines of “I really love your friend, Kate. I know that email looked bad out of context, but it was between two consenting adults. It’s not something we adhere to, anymore. I love Ana very much and I would never hurt her.”
Instead, he chooses to glare at her and merely snaps that they’re getting married.
BUT HE’S CHANGED SO MUCH, YOU GUYS, HE REALLY HAS!!!11!!!!ONE!!!
“Wife!” she exclaims, her eyes widening in disbelief.
“We’re getting married. We’re going to announce our engagement this evening,” I inform her.
“Oh!” Katherine stares at Ana, stunned. “I leave you alone for sixteen days, and this happens? It’s very sudden. So yesterday, when I said—” She stops. “Where does that e-mail fit into all this?”
“It doesn’t, Kate. Forget it—please. I love him and he loves me. Don’t do this. Don’t ruin his party and our night,” Ana begs.
“Don’t spoil our fun with your actual concern for me, you total bitch.”
Man, I’m glad Ana’s not my best friend.
Katherine’s eyes fill with tears.
Shit. She’s going to cry.
“No. Of course I won’t. You’re okay?”
“I’ve never been happier,” Ana whispers, and my heart quickens.
Katherine grabs her hand, even though I still have my arm wrapped around Ana. “You really are okay?” she asks, her voice full of hope.
“Yes.” Ana sounds happier and she shrugs out of my hold to hug her.
“Oh, Ana—I was so worried when I read this. I didn’t know what to think. Will you explain it to me?” she asks.
“One day, not now.”
“Good. I won’t tell anyone. I love you so much, Ana, like my own sister. I just thought—” She shakes her head. “I didn’t know what to think. I’m sorry. If you’re happy, then I’m happy.” Katherine looks at me. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to intrude.”
I give her a nod. Maybe she does care about Ana, but how Elliot puts up with her I’ll never know.
I have 19 pages left. And then I am free until the next bloody book comes out. You guys have no idea how much I’m struggling with this shit, right now. And to cap it all off, our shitty WiFi is playing up, so it’s taking me longer to do basically everything and I’m starting to wonder what time I’m going to get to bed tonight, because it’s already not far off 10pm and I started writing this at one o’clock this afternoon.
Grey’s mother comes into the room to ask if everything’s okay and to remind Grey that there is a whole throng of people waiting to wish him happy birthday. As everyone leaves the room, Kate makes one last apology and Grey takes one last opportunity to be as ungracious as possible:
“Christian, I really do apologize,” Katherine says. I acknowledge her with the briefest of nods and we walk into the hallway.
“The briefest of nods.” Sure, he’s pissy that she read something that wasn’t for her eyes, but she was acting out of concern for her friend and he needs to get over it. He mentioned himself in the last book that Kate would go mad if she knew what he wanted to do to Ana, after all! She was only doing what he predicted she’d do!
They finally get to see all the guests who’ve assembled for Grey’s birthday party. Everyone is there, from Dr Flynn to Elena Lincoln. Elena makes a beeline for Grey and notice how Ana reacts – and how Grey reacts in turn:
Elena is first to reach us, and I take Ana’s free hand. “Christian, I was so worried.” Elena kisses me on both cheeks before I have a chance to react. Ana tries to free her hand but I tighten my hold on her.
Ana has told Grey that she doesn’t want to be anywhere near Elena. She’s mentioned that she would prefer not to associate with her at all. And so, when Elena comes scurrying over, Ana understandably tries to get away, but Grey won’t let her.
That, folks, is gross. I don’t care what his reasons are. He knows what Ana’s reasons are and he needs to respect her. As per usual, he doesn’t. I’m fairly sure his reason for refusing to let Ana go is so he can use her to prove a point to Elena. “I have someone else, go away!”
Sure enough, when Elena asks why he didn’t reply to her messages, Grey hugs Ana even closer to him. He then tells Elena that he and Ana have an announcement to make.
GEE, I WONDER WHAT IT’LL BE?!
Grey announces that he and Ana are engaged and hey, who’s missing the whole “marriage = ownership” vibes?! Well, don’t worry, they’re back!
My announcement is met with a few gasps, a cheer, and another spontaneous round of applause. I turn to Ana, who looks flushed and beautiful, tip her chin up and give her a swift, chaste kiss. “You’ll soon be mine.”
“I am already.”
“Legally,” I mouth at her, with a wicked grin.
Mia asks where Ana’s engagement ring is and Grey replies that they’re going to choose one together. Which is… A lie. But then, when is this dude ever fully honest?!
Dr Flynn makes reference to Grey announcing his engagement in front of Elena and suggests they talk about it later. He also begins chatting about Leila’s progress and confirms that she moved the photos from Grey’s safe in order to “rattle Ana.”
Still not heaping blame on her for this when it’s much easier to blame Grey for having them in the first place, though.
Mia accosts Ana and drags her away for cocktails. Grey starts chatting to Mac (the dude from his boat) and helping himself to dinner, but then he decides to rescue Ana from his sister. However, as he heads off to look for her, he finds an altogether different scene. I’m going to recap it in full, because I swear EL James was watching reruns of Dynasty or something, when she wrote this:
“Don’t you dare tell me what I’m getting myself into!”
Shit. What gives?
“When will you learn? It’s none of your goddamned business!” Ana rages. I try to open the door, but someone is in the way. The person moves and the door swings open. Ana is bristling with anger. Her complexion reddening. She’s shaking with fury. Elena stands before her, drenched in what must have been Ana’s drink.
I shut the door and stand between them. “What the fuck are you doing, Elena?” I snarl. I told you to leave her alone. She wipes her face with the back of her hand.
“She’s not right for you, Christian.”
“What?” I yell and I’m so loud that I’m sure I’ve startled Ana because Elena jumps, too. But I don’t give a fuck. I’ve warned her. And warned her. “How the fuck do you know what’s right for me?”
“You have needs, Christian,” she says, her voice softer, and I know she’s trying to placate me.
“I’ve told you before, this is none of your fucking business.” I’m surprised by my own vehemence. “What is this?” I scowl at her. “Do you think it’s you? You? You think you’re right for me?”
Elena’s expression hardens, her eyes like flint. She stands taller and steps toward me. “I was the best thing that ever happened to you,” she hisses, with unrestrained arrogance. “Look at you now. One of the richest, most successful entrepreneurs in the United States. Controlled, driven, you need nothing. You are master of your universe.”
ORIGINAL FANFIC TITLE DROP.
She’s going there.
I step back.
“You loved it, Christian, don’t try and kid yourself. You were on the road to self-destruction, and I saved you from that, saved you from a life behind bars. Believe me, baby, that’s where you would have ended up. I taught you everything you know, everything you need.”
I cannot remember a time when I’ve felt such rage. “You taught me how to fuck, Elena. But it’s empty, like you. No wonder Linc left.”
She gasps. Shocked.
“You never once held me. You never once said you loved me.”
Her ice-blue eyes narrow. “Love is for fools, Christian.”
TELL me you’re not imagining this all happening in an 80s TV drama, featuring a LOT of shoulder-pads and I will call you a liar.
Of course, seeing as nobody is exactly being quiet about this whole situation, this is the moment Grey’s mother realises what Elena did to her son and she bursts in, telling Elena to get out of her house.
Grace slaps her hard across her face, astonishing us all. The sound resonates off the walls. “Take your filthy paws off my son, you whore, and get out of my house—now!” Grace seethes through gritted teeth.
I can almost hear the Dynasty theme tune, at this point. But it might just be because I’m getting delirious.
Grace asks to be alone with her son, so Ana leaves the room. She asks Grey how long his relationship with Elena went on and he admits it was “a few years.” Then Grace asks how old he was and despite knowing how much hurt Elena has caused his family and his fiancée, Grey thinks:
I have to be careful here. I don’t want to cause trouble for Elena.
Now, for a moment, I honestly thought he was protecting her. Because that’s how it’s written. And then I thought about it and realised… He’s protecting himself. Why did he keep those photos of ex subs? To ensure their silence. Because being into BDSM is a hugely shameful thing, apparently, and he’s such a hugely famous businessman, he’d never live it down, if it got out. So, after a few minutes’ consideration, I’ve realised this is less about not wanting to cause trouble for Elena and more about stopping her from retaliating by dropping him in it.
Still, eventually, Grace gets the truth out of him:
“Sixteen,” I whisper.
She narrows her eyes and cocks her head to one side. “Try again.” Her voice is chillingly quiet.
Hell. How does she know?
“Christian,” she warns, prompting me.
She closes her eyes like I’ve stabbed her, her hand flying to her mouth as she stifles a sob. When she opens them, they’re filled with pain and unshed tears.
“Mom…” I try to think of something to say to take that pain away. I step toward her and she holds up her hand to stop me.
“Christian. I am so mad at you right now. I suggest you don’t come any closer.”
“How did you know? That I lied,” I ask.
“For heaven’s sake, Christian—I’m your mother,” she snaps and dashes a fallen tear from her cheek.
I feel myself blushing, feeling stupid and slightly piqued at the same time. Only my mom can make me feel this way. My mom. And Ana.
I thought I was a better liar.
Well, you’re certainly well practised, I’ll give you that.
Despite the fact that we all know Grey would go insane if he thought someone had taken advantage of Mia when she was underage, Grey seems genuinely unable to understand why his mother is as upset as she is:
“I knew something happened when you were fifteen. She was the reason, wasn’t she? The reason you suddenly calmed down, seemed to focus? Oh, Christian. What did she do to you?”
Mom! Why is she overreacting? Do I tell her that Elena brought me under control? I don’t have to tell her how. “Yes,” I murmur.
I’m pretty sure she’s not overreacting. Grace has every right to be mortified that a woman she thought was her close friend committed statutory rape against her son. She sobs, wondering what Grey’s father is going to think, which leads to Grey inwardly bitching about how he doesn’t need a lecture on acceptable behaviour.
Honestly? I think he really, really does.
Grace then remembers, with horror, that Elena’s tastes are “exotic.” I’m assuming Elena has talked about her predilection for kinky sex, during one of the boozy nights that she and Grace have apparently shared. Grey shuts down any discussion of the type of sex he and Elena had.
Grace tells Grey to cut Elena out of his life completely. Grey, despite the fact that all he’s done in this book is inwardly – and sometimes outwardly – bitch and moan about Elena, is surprisingly reluctant:
“Mom, um…Elena and I run a very successful business together.”
“No, Christian. You cut your ties with her.”
I stare at her, speechless. How can she tell me what to do? I’m twenty-eight years old, for fuck’s sake.
Man. It sucks when someone tries to control you against your will, right?! I mean, you would never do that to Ana, would you, you absolute cretin?!
Next, Grace threatens to call the police and report Elena. Which she has every right to do.
“No, Christian—I’m serious. If you don’t, I will go to the police.”
I pale. “You wouldn’t.”
“I will. I couldn’t stop it then, but I can now.”
“You’re just real mad, Mom, and I don’t blame you—but you’re overreacting.”
“Don’t tell me I’m overreacting,” she yells. “You are not going to have any kind of relationship with someone who can abuse a troubled, immature child! She should come with a health warning.”
Grace repeats that Grey needs to cut all ties with Elena and he suggests he do so as a wedding present to Ana. Grace is naturally horrified by this and sighs that he has no idea, which is at least true. She then asks if he understands why she’s so upset, which leads to her saying some fluffy shit that I don’t buy into for a second:
“I don’t know, Mom. Because you didn’t know? Because she’s your friend?”
She reaches up and gently strokes my hair, like she used to when I was small. The only place she would touch me, because it was the only place I let her. “For all those reasons and because she abused you, darling. And you are so deserving of love. You’re so easy to love. You always have been.”
Oh, Grace. And I liked you, until then. Christian Grey is the hardest character to love I have ever read about. Seriously, name me vile characters from books and I will give you lovable traits I found in them. Your son? Has no fucking redeeming qualities whatsoever.
Grace reminds Grey that she’ll have to tell his father, once the party is over, then she sends him off to find Ana. En route, Grey asks Elliot if he’s seen Ana and when Elliot jokes that maybe she’s seen sense and run off, Grey replies:
“Fuck off, Lelliot.”
Because Grey is five years old. AND SO EASY TO LOVE!
He eventually finds Ana, standing on the landing, outside his old bedroom. Ana asks how Grace is and Grey tells her she’s furious, inwardly still thinking that it’s a complete overreaction.
Ana asks what will happen to Elena’s businesses, thinking Grey might liquidate them. But Grey says he’ll gift them to her, because he “owe(s) her that much.”
He owes her nothing. I still can’t help but feel he’s treating Elena better than he treats Ana, at this point.
Because we’ve not had the “have you eaten?” argument for a while, Grey asks Ana that very question and she says no, which gives him a chance to lecture her:
I hold up my hand. “No arguing, Anastasia. If you’re going to drink and toss alcohol on my exes, you need to eat. It’s rule number one. I believe we’ve already had that discussion after our first night together.”
An image of her lying comatose on my bed at The Heathman comes to mind. We stop in the hallway and I caress her face, my fingers skimming her jaw. “I lay awake for hours and watched you sleep,” I whisper. “I might have loved you even then.”
They discussed her drinking on an empty stomach after HE took her back to his hotel when SHE was too pissed to consent. He even fondly recollects her being comatose! THIS ISN’T FUCKING ROMANTIC, IT’S CREEPY AND DISGUSTING AND I NEED THIS BOOK TO END PLEASE, BEFORE I HURL MYSELF OUT OF MY BEDROOM WINDOW.
After Ana has eaten, Grey tells her he has something to show her in the boathouse. As they walk, Ana tells him she wants to go to church, the next day, because she prayed for his safe return after the helicopter crash and he came home unscathed. She then asks where he plans on hanging the photos of her that José took and Grey suggests they hang them in the new house, telling her he bought it after they looked round it. Ana pleads with him not to knock it down and Grey agrees to have an architect come over to discuss alterations they can make, instead.
Ana recalls the last time they went into the boathouse:
“I remember the last time you took me to the boathouse.”
Oh yes. I was in the moment. “Oh, that was fun. In fact—” I stop and scoop her up over my shoulder and she squeals.
“You were really angry, if I remember correctly,” Ana observes while she bounces on my shoulder.
“Anastasia, I’m always really angry.”
“No, you’re not.”
I swat her behind and slide her down my body when I get to the door of the boathouse. I take her head in my hands. “No, not anymore.”
Yes you are, prick.
Because this book wants to torture my soul to its very limit before it finally ends, Grey pauses outside the boathouse door and thinks:
When I recap Freed, we’re making the horrific overuse of that phrase a drinking game. It’s the only way I’ll get through it.
Grey opens the door and shows Ana that the boathouse has been filled with flowers. Now, I am a huge fan of the TV show Friends, but I always think the scene in which both Chandler and Monica try to propose to one another is nauseatingly sugary and OTT. But congratulations, EL James, this is worse!
“You wanted hearts and flowers.”
She stares at me in disbelief.
“You have my heart.” And I wave at the room.
“And here are the flowers,” she murmurs. “Christian, it’s lovely.” Her voice is hoarse and I know she’s close to tears.
Plucking up my courage, I lead her farther into the room. In the center of the arbor, I sink onto one knee. Ana catches her breath, and her hands fly to her mouth. From my inside jacket pocket, I pull out the ring and hold it up for her. “Anastasia Steele. I love you. I want to love, cherish, and protect you for the rest of my life. Be mine. Always. Share my life with me. Marry me.”
Why does he have to pluck up courage? He’s asked her already and she’s said yes. I mean, sure, if she had any sense, she’d change her mind, but we all know she’s just an ever-ready vagina that talks.
And it gets worse:
This woman who has dragged me into the light. This woman who loves me in spite of my past, in spite of my wrongdoings. This woman who’s agreed to be mine for the rest of her life.
And that, you fabulous bunch of people who have supported me and kept me going every time I’ve wanted to ditch these recaps, is the end of this sodding book.
Personally, I can’t decide whether or not I think it was worse than Grey. I probably need to sleep on it. I think Grey was probably much creepier, in terms of it making it blatant that Christian was going to pursue this innocent young woman and not take no for an answer (although we got plenty of that at the start of this book), but this one has been one long exercise in “woe is me” on behalf of the “hero,” not to mention a continuation of his refusal to relinquish control over Ana’s life. The constant referral to marriage as meaning she will officially be HIS made me feel sick, too.
I am hoping for a long gap, before Freed is released, because I’ll be honest with you, these recaps genuinely do take a lot out of me. They’re not always fun to write and they take up an entire day, each time I sit down to write one. To illustrate my point, it’s now well after 11pm and I started working on this shortly after I ate lunch.
I’m also hoping for a gap, because there are certain scenes that are inexcusable and I know EL James will try to find a way to make Grey somehow sympathetic, in them. The scene where he bruises Ana’s body without consent, as punishment for her sunbathing topless, for example. Or the scene where he reacts to her pregnancy and blames it entirely on her, as though he had nothing to do with it. I found both of those scenes abhorrent to read from Ana’s perspective, so how gross they’re going to be when written from his, with the intention of justifying his behaviour, I can’t even begin to imagine.
But for now, we’re done. We’re free of this crap for a little while. Let’s go and enjoy our lives.