Darker Chapter 1 (Thursday, June 9, 2011)

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Friends, followers, people who clicked the wrong link and are sticking around in dazed confusion…  THE TIME HAS COME.

I’ve had a lovely few weeks off.  I’ve eaten lots of delicious food.  I’ve spent time with amazing friends and family members.  Life, dare I say it, has been good.  But, like all good things, my period of freedom had to come to an end, some time.  And that time is now.

I’m kissing goodbye to a world in which I don’t have to read about a controlling, manipulative bastard as though he’s some kind of romantic hero.  I’m leaving the comfort of an existence that doesn’t include the perpetuation of offensive abuse myths and dangerous misrepresentation of BDSM, in order to jump head-first back into the world of EL James, Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele.

PRAY FOR MY SOUL.

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Firstly, there is a caveat in the small print at the start of the book (you know, the publishing date etc), that actually says this:

Portions of this book, including significant portions of the dialogue and e-mail exchanges, have previously appeared in the author’s prior works.

Shall we do a quick translation?  I do believe what that actually says is:

This author has no discernible talent and has copied and pasted much of her previous work into this book, in order to continue milking the badly-written cash-cow she created (by stealing Stephanie Meyer’s characters in the first place).  Don’t expect anything original here.

Emma Translate is much like Google Translate, except way, way bitchier.

We also get a list of contents, detailing the chapter titles (again, all named after the date the action takes place).  So, for fact fans, I can remind you all that the entirety of this book takes place over the course of nine days.  Remember all that stuff we’ve talked about, with regards to quick involvement being a sign of abuse?!  NINE FREAKING DAYS.  Their previous “relationship” only lasted a few weeks, too.

The dedication of the book reads:

For my readers.

Thank you for all that you’ve done for me.

This book is for you.

Yo, readers?  You made a book that glorifies abuse become such a massive part of popular culture, that people like myself, who actually lived through abuse at the hands of a man very much like Christian Grey, no longer have our voices heard, because suddenly this crap is “romantic.”  You also made a millionaire out of a woman who seemingly has no concern for others and who possesses so little writing talent, I honestly wonder whether she wrote the first book as a joke.

I also have a message for you:

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Aw, remember when I wanted to play nice, with these recaps?!  That was a more innocent time…

EL then goes on to make a full Oscars speech, thanking various people.  Hilariously, she credits her publishers for their “love of the written word,” which made me choke, because clearly if they appreciated good writing, this would still be in the bowels of HELL where it belongs.

She also mentions having an editorial team and, having read all of her previous, mistake-strewn crap, I say to that: HAHAHAHA, NO.

Interestingly, she mentions nothing about having had help researching BDSM, but does thank the people who helped her research helicopter accidents, soil science, the Pacific North West and “Americanisms.”  So, I’m expecting Grey to sound less like a ninety seven year old British bastard, in this book.

Finally, once EL has instructed her sons to “stay golden,” we get to the first chapter of this book.  YAY.

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Before we jump in, a quick reminder that text from the book will always appear in italics and anything I deem especially abusive will be in red.

We start out on Thursday the 9th of June 2011.  Yes, just two days after the last book ended.  Grey is parked outside Ana’s workplace, ready to pick her up and take her to José’s art exhibition.  He tells us he’s early and then bitches about how annoyed he is that she’s not outside, yet.  Because clearly, he’s still an asshole.

The atmosphere feels stifling, and though I’m trying to remain calm, the anticipation and anxiety are knotting my stomach and pressing down on my chest. Taylor sits in the driver’s seat, staring straight ahead, wordless, looking his usual composed self, while I can barely breathe. It’s irritating. Damn it. Where is she?

Remember his truly gross comment from the first book, about preferring women to wear dresses, because he likes them accessible?  Well, apparently that extends to buildings, too.  Because he seems miffed that you can’t tell that SIP is a publishing firm, from outside:

Set back beyond a wide, open sidewalk, the building is shabby and in need of renovation; the company’s name is etched haphazardly in the glass, and the frosted effect on the window is peeling. The business behind those closed doors could be an insurance company or an accounting firm—they’re not displaying their wares. Well, that’s something I can rectify when I take control. SIP is mine. Almost. I’ve signed the revised heads of agreement.

And he’s taking over the company, why?  TO CONTROL THE WOMAN WHO HE’S CURRENTLY NOT IN A RELATIONSHIP WITH!  YAAAAAY!  OH, I HAVE MISSED THIS.

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Grey at least internally admits that he’s an asshole (sort of), as Taylor gets out of the car, to wait outside:

Taylor clears his throat and his eyes dart to mine in the rearview mirror. “I’ll wait outside, sir,” he says, surprising me, and he climbs out of the car before I can stop him. Maybe he’s more affected by my tension than I thought. Am I that obvious? Maybe he’s tense. But why? Maybe it’s because he’s had to deal with my ever-changing moods this past week, and I know I’ve not been easy.

You’ve not been easy ever.  This past week has just been additional levels of bastard, that’s all.  Feel free to change.

Whilst he sits alone in the car, Grey contemplates emailing Ana to let her know he’s outside, waiting.  It’s been two minutes since he last checked his watch, but you guys, time is just passing SO slowly whilst he waits for the woman he apparently now adores, but constantly refused to fully commit to a proper relationship with, during their time together, instead choosing to threaten, gaslight and manipulate her, literally the entire time.  Forgive me if my heart doesn’t exactly break for this guy.

He wonders whether Ana – who he says has been in relatively regular email contact with him, over the past couple of days – is only viewing tonight as a free ride to José’s show, rather than as a potential romantic reunion.

He recognises that he was the cause of their split, yet immediately becomes possessive and gross:

The image of Ana leaving surfaces in my mind’s eye: her sad, ashen face stricken with hurt and confusion. The memory is unwelcome. Painful. I made her that miserable. I took everything too far, too quickly. And it fills me with a despair that has become all too familiar since she left. Closing my eyes, I try to center myself, but I’m confronted by my deepest, darkest fear: she’s met someone else. She’s sharing her little white bed and her beautiful body with some fucking stranger.

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I wish, with every fibre of my being, that she had.

But don’t worry, you guys, Grey shakes himself out of his misery with sheer, bloody-minded determination that “no” is not an option Ana is ever allowed, where he’s concerned:

You’ll be seeing her shortly. Your plans are in place. You are going to win her back.

Red, because of the total absence of the possibility of her saying no.  And also because he sounds like a serial killer.

Then, despite having already admitted that he’s been full of mood-swings and difficult to be around, this supposedly very intelligent businessman notices that Taylor also looks nervous and fails to understand why his staff might also be hoping for some kind of positive resolution to this situation:

Taylor is pacing outside and glancing toward the front door. Christ, he looks as nervous as I feel. What the hell is it to him?

I DON’T KNOW, MAYBE HE’S HOPING YOU’LL BE LESS OF AN ASSHOLE IF YOU WIN ANA BACK??!!

Good LORD. Where is the evidence for this guy having a single freaking brain cell?!

And once again, he starts referring to his entire relationship with Ana as a business transaction:

This is worse than waiting for her in the Marble Bar, and the irony is not lost on me. I thought that was the biggest deal I’d ever negotiate with her and that didn’t turn out the way I expected. Nothing turns out as I expect with Miss Anastasia Steele. Panic knots my stomach once more. Today, I have to negotiate a bigger deal. I want her back.

She said she loved me… My heart rate spikes in response to the adrenaline that floods my body. No. No. Don’t think about that. She can’t feel that way about me. Calm down, Grey. Focus.

So, let me get this straight…  You’re crazy about this woman, supposedly, but she’s not allowed to love you?  Okay.  Sure.  I mean, I know this is supposed to play in to the whole “poor ickle Christian feels he’s not worthy of love” bullshit EL James is trying to spin, but… It’s just stupid.

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Finally, Ana emerges from the doors of SIP and she’s wearing Kate’s plum dress.  Because this woman has no other clothes, apparently.

But it’s not just the dress that Grey notices.  It’s her weight.

But it’s not her clothing or her hair that holds my attention. Her face is pale, almost translucent. There are dark circles beneath her eyes, and she’s thinner. Thinner. Guilt lances through me. Christ. She’s suffered, too.

Ten points to Slytherin, for actually recognising that someone else is allowed to suffer.

But then, in literally the next sentence…

My concern at her appearance turns to anger. No. Fury.

Nine million points from Slytherin, for being Christian FUCKING ABUSIVE HELL BEAST SHIT FACE BASTARD Grey.

And it just keeps going from there:

She hasn’t been eating. She’s lost, what, five or six pounds in the last few days? She glances at some random guy behind her and he gives her a broad smile. He’s a good-looking son of a bitch, full of himself. Asshole. Their carefree exchange only fuels my rage. He watches her with blatant male appreciation as she walks toward the car, and my wrath increases with each of her steps.

I HAVE SO MUCH TO SAY.

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  1. THIS GUY LITERALLY WENT AROUND, IN THE LAST FEW CHAPTERS OF “GREY,” REFUSING TO EAT AND MOPING CONSTANTLY.  BUT ANA IS NOT ALLOWED TO DO THE SAME?!  DESPITE THE FACT THAT HE HAS JUST ACKNOWLEDGED THAT HE WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR HER PAIN?!
  2. THEY ARE NOT IN A RELATIONSHIP.  THIS LEVEL OF FURY, BASED ON A BRIEF SMILE GIVEN TO – PRESUMEDLY – A WORKMATE IS SO UNHEALTHY I CAN’T EVEN BELIEVE I AM HAVING TO EXPLAIN THAT IT’S NOT SOMETHING THAT HAS ANY PLACE IN A “LOVE” STORY.
  3. HIS GRAND PLAN TO WOO HER BACK IS NOW DITCHED IN FAVOUR OF HAVING A GO AT HER AND I FAIL TO SEE HOW ANYONE WOULD GO BACK TO THIS UTTER PIECE OF SHIT.

Seriously, you guys, I was so incensed by this, that I had to go downstairs and get myself a blackcurrant sundae tart, in order to eat my feelings.  And I’m meant to be dieting.

Of course, the vileness doesn’t stop, there.  Because literally the first thing Grey does when Ana gets into the car is start bitching at her:

“When did you last eat?” I snap, struggling to keep my composure. Her blue eyes peer up at me, stripping me bare and leaving me as raw as they did the first time I met her.

“Hello, Christian. Yes, it’s nice to see you, too,” she says.

What. The. Fuck. “I don’t want your smart mouth now. Answer me.” She stares at her hands in her lap, so that I’ve no idea what she’s thinking, then trots out some lame excuse about eating a yogurt and a banana. That’s not eating!

I try, really try, to keep a rein on my temper.

No, you don’t, you lying scumbag.  We’re inside your putrid head.  We can see how little effort you’re putting into controlling your temper.  You could have said “hi, Ana.  I’ve missed you.  Are you okay?  You look like you’ve lost weight.”  THAT would have been keeping a rein on your temper.  But you snapped at her the second she got into the car.  This woman, you supposedly missed so much, you were moping around, driving past her apartment in order to freaking stalk her.  If this is you, keeping a rein on your temper, I would hate to see you lose it.

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Now, we progress to Jack Hyde.  Okay, I know he’s a baddie (but then again so is the “hero” of this book), but the crucial thing at this point, is that Grey doesn’t.  And what’s the betting that when he finds out, he’ll be smug and vile about it, thinking “ha!  I knew it!”  when in fact, the only issue he has about Jack Hyde right now is that Jack has a penis and he’s someone Ana knows.  That’s literally it.

Taylor pulls away from the curb, and Ana waves to the prick who followed her out of the building. “Who’s that?”

“My boss.”

So that’s Jack Hyde. I recall the employee details I flipped through this morning: from Detroit, scholarship to Princeton, worked his way up at a publishing firm in New York but has moved on every few years, working his way across the country. He never retains an assistant—they don’t last more than three months. He’s on my watch list, and I’ll have my security adviser Welch find out more.

I can’t stress this enough: Grey’s determination to get some dirt on Hyde has nothing to do with any real concern for his assistants.  Look at the way Christian treats women, for crying out loud, including his staff!  It’s just about the fact that Jack Hyde is a man and Ana is going to be spending time around him.  Honestly, I’m shocked Grey hasn’t just pissed all down Ana’s leg in order to mark his territory.

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When Ana doesn’t provide any further details about her boss, Grey returns to lecturing her about food, instead:

“Well? Your last meal?”

“Christian, that really is none of your concern,” she whispers.

“Whatever you do concerns me. Tell me.” Don’t write me off, Anastasia.

Red, because right at this particular moment, nothing she does is his business.  She’s not in a relationship with him.  She has every right to refuse to answer his invasive questions.  And let’s face it, he’s not really concerned for her wellbeing.  He’s just angry that for a week, he hasn’t been controlling everything she flaming well does.

But, rather than be horrified by this prick’s actions since she got in the car, Ana…  Well, Ana finds it cute and smiles.  Because this book wants me to die of some kind of rage-induced aneurism.

She sighs in frustration and rolls her eyes to piss me off. And I see it—a soft smile pulling at the corner of her mouth. She’s trying not to laugh. She’s trying not to laugh at me. After all the heartache I’ve suffered, it’s so refreshing that it cracks through my anger. It’s so Ana. I find myself mirroring her, and I try to mask my smile.

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I thought – naively, it turns out – that we’d maybe get a chapter or two before this shit got really bad.  My mistake.  I will never doubt EL James’ ability to make abuse “cute” right from chapter one, ever again.

Ana admits that she hasn’t eaten a proper meal since the last one she ate with him and Grey is horrified.  He wants to hit her, then realises he can’t and doesn’t know what to do instead.

I can’t believe I’m having to write this, but…  If you honestly don’t know what to do instead of beating your partner – or in this case ex – then please, please seek help.  You are a danger to the people you claim to care about.  And if this is how your partner treats you, please know that you deserve a million times better.  Help is out there.  Talk to someone.

Still, we don’t dwell too long on Grey not knowing how to react if he isn’t allowed to hit her, because he then takes comfort in her misery, because it becomes clear to him that she can’t have met anyone else.  No, really:

As I study her it becomes achingly clear that my biggest fear is unfounded. I know she didn’t get drunk and meet someone. Looking at how she is now, I know she’s been on her own, tucked up in her bed, weeping her heart out. The thought is at once comforting and distressing. I’m responsible for her misery. Me. I’m the monster. I did this to her. How can I ever win her back?

Don’t try.  Fuck off.

Instead, we get:

“How are you?” I ask, because I want to hear her voice.

Not because he gives a shit about the reply.

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Thank you, Google image search, for reminding me of a film I’ve not seen in ages.  That’s going on my to-do list.

Back in Hell, Ana replies and Grey completely manipulates the situation:

“If I told you I was fine, I’d be lying.”

Damn. I’m right. She’s been suffering—and it’s all my fault. But her words give me a modicum of hope. Perhaps she’s missed me. Maybe? Encouraged, I cling to that thought. “Me, too. I miss you.” I reach for her hand because I can’t live another minute without touching her. Her hand feels small and ice-cold engulfed in the warmth of mine.

“Christian. I—” She stops, her voice cracking, but she doesn’t pull her hand from mine.

“Ana, please. We need to talk.”

“Christian. I…please. I’ve cried so much,” she whispers, and her words, and the sight of her fighting back tears, pierce what’s left of my heart.

“Oh, baby, no.” I tug her hand and before she can protest I lift her into my lap, circling her with my arms.

Gross, gross, gross.  She’s visibly upset.  She’s trying to force out what she wants to say to him and rather than give her the space she needs to do that, he grabs her “before she can protest” because he wants to touch her and because he knows how easily manipulated she is by said touch.

Jeez, I really didn’t expect to be this angry and upset by this book so early on.  I should have.  I really should have.

“I’ve missed you so much, Anastasia.” She’s too light, too fragile, and I want to shout in frustration, but instead I bury my nose in her hair, overwhelmed by her intoxicating scent. It’s reminiscent of happier times: An orchard in the fall. Laughter at home. Bright eyes, full of humor and mischief…and desire. My sweet, sweet Ana.

Mine. At first, she’s stiff with resistance, but after a beat she relaxes against me, her head resting on my shoulder. Emboldened, I take a risk and, closing my eyes, I kiss her hair. She doesn’t struggle out of my hold, and it’s a relief. I’ve yearned for this woman. But I must be careful. I don’t want her to bolt again. I hold her, enjoying the feel of her in my arms and this simple moment of tranquility.

Red-ink here, because she’s stiff with resistance, which shows why he should not be forcing all this physical contact on her and because he even expects her to wriggle away from him when he kisses her hair.  Why?  Because this guy is fully aware that this behaviour is too much.  And he still doesn’t stop it.

 

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They arrive at a building with a helipad on the top of it, from which they’re going to fly to Portland for José’s exhibition.  Ana makes an innocent comment to Taylor about giving him back the handkerchief that he gave her when she left (because she was snotty-crying) and it turns Grey into even more of a possessive shitbag:

“I should give you back your handkerchief,” she says to Taylor with a coy smile.

“Keep it, Miss Steele, with my best wishes.”

What the hell is going on between them? “Nine?” I interrupt, not just to remind him what time he’ll pick us up in Portland, but to stop him from talking to Ana.

“Yes, sir,” he says quietly. Damn right. She’s my girl. Handkerchiefs are my business, not his.

It’s a handkerchief, you freakish moron, not his penis, for crying out loud.  And she IS NOT YOUR GIRL RIGHT NOW.

Is it possible that this book is already worse than its predecessor?!  IN THE FIRST GODDAMN CHAPTER???!!!

He thinks wistfully – I shit you not – of her vomiting outside the club when he tracked her phone and of the fact that he gave her his handkerchief, before taking her back to his hotel room and creepily watching her sleep.

Back in the here and now, they get out of the car and into an elevator to go up to the top of the building with the helipad.  And because they’re in an elevator, Grey starts thinking about sex:

The elevator is small, and we’re no longer touching.

But I sense her.

All of her.

Here. Now.

Shit. I swallow. Is it because she’s so near? Darkening eyes look up at mine. Oh, Ana. Her proximity is arousing. She inhales sharply and looks at the floor. “I feel it, too.” I reach for her hand again and caress her knuckles with my thumb. She looks up at me, her fathomless eyes clouding with desire.

Fuck. I want her. She bites her lip.

“Please don’t bite your lip, Anastasia.” My voice is low, full of longing.

Just as a pro-tip: A person inhaling sharply and looking at the floor does not necessarily mean “I FEEL CHEMISTRY, WE SHOULD TOTES HAVE SEX RIGHT NOW!”  And yet that is exactly how Grey interprets it, because it’s what he wants.  I mean, sure, Ana is a living sex doll who practically becomes aroused by Grey blinking at her, but she’s been visibly nervous, upset and resistant to him on the whole, for their meeting so far.  There’s little reason to assume she’s feeling the same need for sexy-times as he is.

I’ve not even finished the first chapter and I want to rip this book to shreds.  This does not bode well.

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Grey thinks some rapetastic thoughts:

I want to fuck her here, and make her mine again…

...I am used to control—and I’m practically drooling over her because her teeth are pressing into her lip. “You know what it does to me.” And right now, baby, I want to take you in this elevator, but I don’t think you’ll let me.

He doesn’t think she’d let him, but he’s still all “BUT I WANNA.”  Ew.  So much ew.

Thankfully, the elevator doors open and they walk onto the roof.  Remember how angry Grey was about Ana having lost weight?  Well, now he’s apparently okay with it:

She feels too slight, but her petite frame fits perfectly under my arm. See? We fit together so well, Ana.

And hey, they’re a perfect fit, now!  I mean, aside from him wanting to non-consensually beat her all the time and control her life against her will, they’re just perfect for each other!  YAY!  ROMANCE!

Because – as we’ve been warned – EL James has bugger all new to tell us in this book, Grey straps Ana into her seat and gets all excited, because bondage:

As I strap her into the seat, her breath hitches. The sound travels straight to my groin. I cinch the straps extra-tight, trying to ignore my body’s reaction to her.

“This should keep you in your place.” The thought runs through my head, and I realize I’ve said it out loud. “I must say, I like this harness on you. Don’t touch anything.”

She flushes. Finally, some color stains her face—and I can’t resist. I run the back of my index finger down her cheek, tracing the line of her blush.

Again, sometimes people blush because they’re embarrassed, or even angry or frustrated.  And even if she’s blushing because she’s turned on, what will that prove?  They are still totally incompatible.  Grey hasn’t changed.  He hasn’t used any of his time away from her to really think about how he could treat her better.  He seems to think if they shag, everything will be okay again.  That’s…  That’s not how relationships work.

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There’s a bit of boring flight stuff, just tossed in to prove that EL James researched something, then Grey starts thinking about how determined he is to enjoy his time with Ana and how proud Dr Flynn would be of him.  Um…  Okay?  I mean, a good therapist would be horrified by your anger issues and your possessive nature, but then again, we’ve established that Dr Flynn is a useless quack, milking you of money whilst he smiles and tells you what great progress you’re making.  So… Sure.

He starts talking about “chasing the dusk” and points out various landmarks.  It’s important to note here that Ana actively reminds him that they’re not a couple, anymore and changes the subject when he tries to suggest taking her out:

“Escala’s over there. Boeing there—and you can just see the Space Needle.”

Curious as ever, she cranes her slim neck to look. “I’ve never been,” she says.

“I’ll take you. We can eat there.”

“Christian, we broke up.” I hear the dismay in her voice. That is not what I want to hear, but I try not to overreact.

“I know. I can still take you there. And feed you.” I give her a pointed look and she blushes a lovely pale rose.

“It’s very beautiful up here. Thank you.” She changes the subject.

No, Grey.  You can’t necessarily still take her to the freaking Space Needle.  Not if she isn’t interested in going with you.  Side-note, I have been to the Space Needle and I liked it and now I’m sad it’s connected with this trash.

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Ana tells him it’s impressive that he can fly a helicopter, to which Grey reminds her that he’s “a man of many talents.”  She does the whole flirty “I’m fully aware of that” response, which is depressing.  I mean, I know they get back together, but for a few, wonderful pages, she did ever so well at pretending like she didn’t want to.  Oh, Ana.  You could have let me have my moment for a little longer…

Grey asks Ana about work:

“What’s your boss like?”

“Oh. He’s okay.” She sounds less than enthusiastic about Jack Hyde. Has he tried anything with her?

“What’s wrong?” I want to know—has that prick done anything inappropriate? I will fire his ass if he has.

HOLY FORESHADOWING, BATMAN!

But let’s not get carried away, because as I said earlier, Jack doesn’t have to be a rapist or anything like that for Grey to want to fire him.  All he’d have to do is give Ana a consensual hug and Grey would have him hung, drawn and quartered, for daring touch his property.

Now, I cut out a lot of shit from these recaps.  There’s more waffle in these books than you’d find at a branch of IHOP.  But it’s important to say how utterly shoe-horned the whole, tormented refrain of “will she ever take me back?” has been, in this chapter.  It’s been every few paragraphs.  We’re supposed to believe that Christian Grey is in deep, emotional turmoil, asking himself over and over whether his beloved Ana could ever possibly want to be with him again, after what he did to her.  Of course, all of that is undone constantly by his actions and his other thoughts – all of which present Christian as he really is: an abusive fuckwit who fully expects to get whatever he wants and to hell with anyone else.  But we have yet more of the “oh, what if she won’t take me back” crap here and I want to highlight it, because the whole point of these repeated refrains is to make Christian Grey seem vulnerable.  Because, you see, if we feel sorry for him, he’ll seem sweet and normal and we can put his abusive behaviour down to his emotions being all over the place.  I’m rolling my eyes so hard right now, I’ve given myself a headache…

But as we near our destination my confidence falters. I hope to God that my plan works. I need to take her somewhere private. To dinner, maybe. Damn it. I should have booked a table somewhere. She needs feeding. If I get her to dinner, I’ll just need to find the right words. These last few days have shown me that I need someone—I need her. I want her, but will she have me? Can I convince her to give me a second chance?

Time will tell, Grey—just take it easy. Don’t frighten her off again.

See, we get shit like this in his internal monologue, but what are his actions?!  Oh, yes.  Yelling at her about her weight the second he sees her, thinking about how much he wants to non-consensually hit her for it and then overly sexualising their every interaction.

He’s not vulnerable.  He’s a creepy, abusive shit.  And EL James is merely trying to manipulate her readers into feeling sorry for him (AGAIN, just like she did in the first book, via his nightmares), so they make excuses for his behaviour.  Vile.  This is genuinely vile.

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We get yet another one of these manipulative passages, once the helicopter lands in Portland:

I need to tell her how I feel, and that’s going to be hard—because I don’t understand my feelings toward her. I know that I’ve missed her, that I’ve been miserable without her, and that I’m willing to try a relationship her way. But will it be enough for her? Will it be enough for me?

OH, CAN ANYONE LOVE ME?!  I AM SUCH A MONSTER!

As they climb out of Charlie Tango, Grey refers to José as “the boy,” which feels racist, seeing as José is only a few years younger than Grey, so he’s hardly young enough for Grey to refer to him as a child, but he is non-white.  I could be wrong, but I wouldn’t be surprised if “massive racist dick-wipe” was yet another of Grey’s “enviable” qualities.

They have to take the stairs down from the roof, as the elevator is out of order.  Grey is thrilled about this, as it gives him an “excuse” to put his arm around her (he remembers her falling into his office and jokes that she needs to be careful going down the stairs in her high heeled boots).

Grey then starts worrying that José and Ana may have become a couple during the last week and Ana somehow manages to read his mind and tells him “José is just a friend” as they walk down the stairs.

We then get some hypocrisy so brilliant (unintentionally, of course, EL James isn’t that clever) that I have to share it.  So, in the car on the way to the exhibition, Grey makes Ana promise to eat.  She agrees and he snaps that he “means it.”  Then this happens:

“Do you, now?” Her voice is laced with sarcasm, and I almost have to sit on my hands. Fuck this. 

She’s sarcastic towards her and it makes him feel like he almost has to sit on his hands, presumedly so he doesn’t spank her, seeing as that’s what he always threatened when she was snarky with him.  So, we can see that he is exactly the same as he always was.  And yet, this is the moment he decides to tell her he wants her back and this is Ana’s response, complete with his inner thoughts:

“But nothing’s changed.” Her expression shifts to a frown.

Oh, Ana, it has—there’s been a seismic shift in me.

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WHERE???!!  IN WHAT WAY HAVE YOU CHANGED, BEYOND THAT YOU’VE DECIDED YOU’LL HAVE AN ACTUAL RELATIONSHIP??!!  YOU STILL WANT TO HIT HER.  YOU STILL FEEL YOU HAVE SOME KIND OF RIGHT TO POSSESS HER AND CONTROL HER FUCKING LIFE.  WHAT HAS ACTUALLY CHANGED??!!  NOTHING.

Fans criticise our campaign all the time, using the notorious “but Christian changes” argument.  And HE. DOES. NOT.  This is evidence of that fact.  He’s saying he’s changed (admittedly not out loud at this point), but there is literally nothing that backs up that claim.  His behaviour is as creepy, invasive and gross as always.  Are we supposed to believe he’s become a better person, just because he’s contemplating giving up BDSM?!  And if that’s the case, why is this franchise being touted as some kind of freaking sexual revolution?!

This is bullshit.  I’ve not even finished one chapter and I’m done with the whole damn thing.

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Thankfully, I have chocolate brioche bread & butter pudding, downstairs.  Apparently food is going to get me through this book.

Anyway, they’ve arrived at the exhibition, so Grey chooses not to continue the conversation.  Understandably, this makes Ana mad:

We pull up at the gallery and I have no time to explain before the show.

“Let’s talk on the way back. We’re here.” Before she can say she’s not interested, I exit the car, walk around to her side, and open the door. She looks mad as she climbs out. “

Why do you do that?” she exclaims, exasperated.

“Do what?” Shit—what’s this?

“Say something like that and then just stop.”

That’s it—that’s why you’re mad? “Anastasia, we’re here. Where you want to be. Let’s do this and then talk. I don’t particularly want a scene in the street.”

The inclusion of the “that’s it – that’s why you’re mad?” part really piles on the whole idea that it’s Ana who’s overreacting, here.  But she isn’t.  She was clearly nervous at seeing him, they’ve had some mild flirtation, but she’s been the one who has reminded him that they’re not together, anymore.  By randomly dropping “I want you back” on her, then suddenly changing the subject, he’s messing with her head and Ana has every right to call him out for it.  But of course, he turns it all back on her, suggesting she’s making a scene in the street.

I’ve just remembered all the many ways I’ve imagined murdering this guy…

They head into the exhibition and – of course – the first woman who speaks to them is clearly eyeing up Christian.  He’s just that gorgeous.  But she turns out to know Ana (HAHA) and starts chatting to her, as Grey heads to the bar to get Ana a drink.  Whilst he’s gone, José greets Ana and Grey takes this every bit as well as you’d imagine:

Turning, I see that that boy has his arms wrapped around my girl. Hell.

I can’t hear what they’re saying, but Ana closes her eyes, and for one horrible moment I think she’s going to burst into tears. But she remains composed as he holds her at arm’s length, appraising her. Yeah, she’s that thin because of me.

I fight back my guilt—though it seems she’s trying to reassure him. For his part, he looks really fucking interested in her. Too interested. Anger flares in my chest. She says he’s just a friend, but it’s obvious he doesn’t feel that way. He wants more. Back off, buddy, she’s mine.

Obvious red ink for all the possessive bullshit, particularly as they are NOT back together right now and she is therefore NOT his.  Also, the whole “yeah, she’s that thin because of me” almost sounds like he’s proud of it, despite the guilt he claims to be fighting back.  So, that gets red-inked, too, because ew.  Don’t be glad that you’re such a life-ruiner.

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Grey is rude to the bartender, because apparently it’s somehow his fault that Ana is talking to a male friend.  Then he stares at Ana, thinking how hot she looks and simultaneously being annoyed that she’s talking to José.  Ana turns and stares at him and he can tell she doesn’t want to look away when José continues talking to her, which pleases him.  But Ana does turn back to José and gives him a warm, genuine smile, so Grey lurches immediately back to wild fury, which he again takes out on the bartender.

I’m so hot for this guy.

Grey declares the wine at the exhibition to be disgusting, because he’s a massive snob as well as an abusive dick.  He again refers to José as “the boy,” when agreeing with Ana that he’s a talented photographer, which is just… Creeping me out.  But of course, whilst it’s fine for Grey to compliment José, it’s not okay when Ana does it:

Her pride in his work is obvious. It irks me. She admires him and takes an interest in his success because she cares about him. She cares about him too much. An ugly emotion with a bitter sting rises in my chest. It’s jealousy, a new feeling, one that I’ve only ever felt around her—and I don’t like it.

DID HE JUST CALL JEALOUSY A “NEW FEELING”?!

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As IF he’s unused to jealousy.  It flows through his freaking veins in place of blood, for crying out loud!

A press photographer (who Grey describes in deeply unflattering terms, naturally) asks for a photo of him, which causes Grey to grab Ana and pull her close, so he can show the world she belongs to him:

“Sure.” I reach out and pull Ana to my side. I want everyone to know she’s mine; if she’ll have me.

UGH.  Ana gives her name to the press guy, so I guess she’s officially stamped with Property Of Christian Grey, now.

Ana then mentions that she’s never seen a press photo of him with a date at an event, having searched for his images online before interviewing him.  It’s apparently why Kate threw in the “are you gay?” question.  Grey reminds her that he doesn’t do dates with anyone but her.  Aaaaw, that totally makes up for all the shit he pulls.  Bless.  This is TRUE LOVE, right here.

Grey goes on to say he sometimes took his previous submissives out shopping, or possibly to an event as a reward for good behaviour.  But he insists the only person he ever wanted more with, is Ana.

Oh, good.  I’m glad we’re back to saying “more” so often, it loses its meaning.  I missed that.

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Grey holds out his hand and Ana takes it.  They walk around the gallery, admiring “the boy’s” photography, before turning a corner and coming face to face with the creepy Ana exhibit.  Now, I hate Grey and I loathe him referring to José as “the boy,” but José isn’t exactly covering himself in glory in these books, either.  First, he tried it on with Ana and got too forceful, ignoring her when she said no, and now he’s showcasing seven portraits of her, which she had no idea would be happening.  That’s not the way to get someone to want to go out with you.  It’s a way of ensuring they take out a restraining order.

Anyway, Grey reacts really well:

There she is. Seven full-blown portraits of Anastasia Steele. She looks jawdroppingly beautiful, natural, and relaxed—laughing, scowling, pouting, pensive, amused, and in one of them, wistful and sad. As I scrutinize the detail in each photograph, I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that he wants to be much more than her friend. “Seems I’m not the only one,” I mutter.

The photographs are his homage to her—his love letters—and they’re all over the gallery walls for any random asshole to ogle.

Ana is staring at them in stunned silence, as surprised as I am to see them. Well, there’s no way anyone else is having these. I want the pictures. I hope they’re for sale.

Excuse me.” I abandon Ana for a moment and head to the reception desk.

“May I help you?” the woman who greeted us when we arrived asks.

Ignoring her fluttering eyelashes and provocative, overly red smile, I inquire, “The seven portraits you have hanging at the back, are they for sale?” A look of disappointment flits across her face but resolves into a broad smile.

“The Anastasia collection? Stunning work.”

Stunning model.

“Of course they’re for sale. Let me check the prices,” she gushes.

“I want them all.” And I reach for my wallet.

“All of them?” She sounds surprised.

“Yes.” Irritating woman.

“The collection is fourteen thousand dollars.”

“I’d like them delivered as soon as possible.”

“But they’re due to hang for the duration of the exhibition,” she says. Unacceptable. I give her my full-kilowatt smile, and she adds, flustered, “But I’m sure we can arrange something.” She fumbles with my credit card as she swipes it.

Because of course, Grey is so dreamy, anyone will do anything for him.

Also, I’ve been thinking about this a lot: why does he buy them?  He’s giving “the boy” money in doing so.  Surely, if he’s pissed off that he’s exhibiting photos of Ana without her consent, he has the legal clout to threaten action, unless he takes them down?!  But of course, then he wouldn’t have the photographs to ogle.  I could write a thesis on why Christian Grey is worse than José and Jack Hyde put together, but don’t worry, I won’t.

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You’d think EL James might have wrung all the “possessive asshole” it’s possible to get out of this appalling excuse for an opening chapter, but nope.  Once Grey has bought all the photos of Ana, she has a male character chat to Ana purely so Grey can become possessive again.

WHO HURT YOU, EL?  WHO TOLD YOU THAT THIS IS LOVE?!

When I return to Ana, I find a blond dude chatting with her, trying his luck. “These photographs are terrific,” he says. I place a territorial hand on her elbow and give him my best fuck-off-now glare. “You’re a lucky guy,” he adds, taking a step back.

“That I am,” I answer, dismissing him as I usher Ana over to the wall.

Oh, for fuck’s sake.  If Ana didn’t have the personality of a dishcloth, this would be where she could snap: “ARE you lucky, Christian?  Because I’m your ex, not your girlfriend” and she could wrench her arm away and suggest going to the bar with the blond dude.  At least, that’s what would happen in my version.  But in my version, Christian Grey also gets eaten alive by wolves.  And then Ana adopts the wolves and they all live together in Christian’s mansion.

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Once “blond dude” is out of the way, Grey admits to Ana that he’s bought all of the photos.  He also admits that he’s going to ogle them:

“I bought them all, Anastasia.” And I know I sound condescending, but the thought of someone else owning and enjoying these photographs is out of the question. Her lips part in astonishment, and I try not to let it distract me. “I don’t want some stranger ogling you in the privacy of their home.”

“You’d rather it was you?” she counters. Her response, though unexpected, is entertaining; she’s admonishing me.

“Frankly, yes,” I respond in kind.

“Pervert,” she mouths, and bites her lip, I suspect to suppress a laugh.

Lord, she’s challenging and funny and right. “Can’t argue with that assessment, Anastasia.”

HAHAHAHAHA, you’re so invasive and creepy and cute.  I love that people think this is romantic.  It doesn’t at all make me want to gouge my own eyes out or anything…

Ana jokes that she’d discuss his perversion further, but she can’t, because she’s signed an NDA.  This makes Grey decide he wants her “under me or on her knees.”  He tells her there’s plenty he’d like to do to her smart mouth and she goes even pinker than usual.

Then, hilariously, this happens:

I glance back at the pictures. “You look very relaxed in these photographs, Anastasia. I don’t see you like that very often.”

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I cannot think why a man who purposefully intimidates her, manipulates, threatens and controls her against her will has never seen her relaxed.  It just doesn’t make sense.  I’m so stumped.

People, prepare yourselves for a shock: Ana is about to grow a backbone (probably briefly, don’t get those hopes too high…)…

“I want you that relaxed with me.” I sound hopeful. Damn it. Too hopeful.

“You have to stop intimidating me if you want that,” she retorts, surprising me with her depth of feeling.

“You have to learn to communicate and tell me how you feel!” I snap back.

Erm…  I’m pretty sure Ana is the one who did communicate.  She’s the one who openly said she wanted more.  She’s the one who said she didn’t think she was into being hit as a form of punishment.  She’s the one who tried to make him open up about his issues around being touched…  This feels a bit like the pot calling the kettle black.

Of course, Grey is now pissy that Ana is responding to the conversation topic he started, because he wants to discuss this in private.  But given the way he’s treated her, I don’t blame Ana at all for wanting to have it out in a place where there are witnesses.

I want to do this in private. She clears her throat and draws herself up to full height.

“Christian, you wanted me as a submissive,” she says, keeping her voice down. “That’s where the problem lies. It’s in the definition of a submissive—you e-mailed it to me once.” She pauses, glaring at me. “I think the synonyms were, and I quote, ‘compliant, pliant, amenable, passive, tractable, resigned, patient, docile, tame, subdued.’ I wasn’t supposed to look at you. Not talk to you, unless you gave me permission to do so. What do you expect?”

We need to discuss this in private! Why is she doing this here? “It’s very confusing being with you,” she continues, in full flow. “You don’t want me to defy you, but then you like my ‘smart mouth.’ You want obedience except when you don’t so that you can punish me. I just don’t know which way is up when I’m with you.”

Okay, I can see that could be confusing—however, I do not want to discuss it here. We need to leave.

Can I just say something I literally never thought I would say?  GO ANA!

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Seriously, everything she has said here is bang on.  And Grey might not want to air his dirty laundry in public, but he’s the one who randomly told her “I want you back” just before they went into the exhibition and he’s the one who’s been acting like a jealous, possessive prick if she so much as sets eyes on anyone else with a penis.  His anger that she’s saying all this when they’re in a public setting isn’t really fair.

But Ana isn’t backing down:

“Good point well made, as usual, Miss Steele.” My tone is arctic. “Come, let’s go eat.”

“We’ve only been here for half an hour.”

“You’ve seen the photos. You’ve spoken to the boy.”

“His name is José,” she asserts, louder this time.

“You’ve spoken to José—the man who, if I am not mistaken, was trying to push his tongue into your mouth the last time I met him, while you were drunk and ill.” I grit my teeth.

“He’s never hit me,” she retaliates with fury in her eyes.

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Grey is massively pissed off at this, despite it being, well, true.

I can’t believe it. She fucking asked me how bad it could get! Anger erupts like Mount St. Helens deep in my chest. “That’s a low blow, Anastasia.” I’m seething. Her face reddens, and I don’t know if it’s from embarrassment or anger. I run my hands through my hair to prevent myself from grabbing her and dragging her outside so we can continue this discussion in private. I take a deep breath.

Red ink, because for all his “there’s been a seismic shift in me” bollocks, he’s still having to stop himself from physically manhandling/assaulting her.  He hasn’t changed one bit.  He never will.

And when he’s not having to override his natural urge to drag her about, he’s controlling her:

“I’m taking you for something to eat. You’re fading away in front of me. Find the boy, say good-bye.” My tone is clipped as I struggle to control my temper, but she doesn’t move.

“Please, can we stay longer?”

“No. Go. Now. Say good-bye.” I manage not to shout. I recognize that stubborn, mulish set to her mouth. She’s mad as hell, and in spite of all I’ve been through over the last few days, I don’t give a shit. We are leaving if I have to pick her up and carry her. She gives me a withering look and turns with a sharp spin, her hair flying so that it hits my shoulder. She stalks off to find him. As she moves away I struggle to recover my equilibrium. What is it about her that presses all my buttons? I want to scold her, spank her, and fuck her. Here. Now. And in that order.

Nope.  Biiiiig bag of nope.

Okay, yes, Ana asked him to show her how bad it could be.  So, technically, she consented to the beating he gave her at the end of the last book.  But equally, she’d made it plain to him that she wasn’t really into that before he did it.  She was also crying, plus throughout the beating, his only thought was that as long as she didn’t say the safe word, he didn’t have to stop.  A HUGE amount – if not all – of this is ON HIM.  His rage at her for mentioning it, given that he supposedly wanted them to talk things through (was he imagining she’d forgotten, or something and it just wouldn’t come up?!) is just… Ugh.

Oh, by the way, who here is missing Possessive Shit Bag Grey?!  Nobody?!  Well, that’s a shame, because he’s BACK!

I scan the room. The boy—no, Rodriguez—is standing with a flock of female admirers. He notices Ana, and, forgetting his fans, he greets her like she’s the center of his whole goddamn universe.

Maybe you should try that, sometime…

He listens intently to everything she has to say, then sweeps her into his arms, spinning her around.

Get your fat paws off my girl.

STILL NOT CURRENTLY YOUR GIRL, DICKHEAD.

She glances at me, then weaves her hands into his hair and presses her cheek to his and whispers something in his ear. They continue talking. Close. His arms around her. And he’s basking in her fucking light. Before I’m even aware that I’m doing it, I’m striding over, ready to rip him limb from limb. Fortunately for him, he releases her as I approach.

Well, that’s just…  That’s just the “hero” of this franchise, prepared to commit assault on a guy he barely knows, purely because said guy is making consensual, friendly physical contact with a woman the “hero” wants to OWN.  Where is this sexy?  Am I missing something?!  Do women actually want their partners to be so damned possessive that no other man is allowed within five feet of them??!!

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I know this is going to get much, much worse, too.  So, self-care, everyone.  If seeing someone drag their ex not-actually-girlfriend around and forcing kisses on her to prove she’s their property is liable to upset you (and I fully understand why it would), just know that that’s what’s coming up.

Grey storms over to José and starts saying goodbye, using the word “we” to emphasise that Ana is leaving with him.

Then…  Oh, God.  Here it comes:

“Bye, José. Congratulations again.” She leans away from me, gives Rodriguez a tender kiss on his reddening cheek, and I’m going to have a coronary. It takes all my self-control not to haul her over my shoulder. Instead I drag her by the hand to the front door and out onto the street. She’s stumbling behind me, trying to keep up, but I don’t care. Right now. I just want to—

There’s an alley. I hurry us into it, and before I know what I’m doing I’ve pressed her against the wall. I grab her face between my hands, pinning her body with mine as rage and desire mix in a heady, explosive cocktail. I capture her lips with mine and our teeth clash, but then my tongue is in her mouth. She tastes of cheap wine and delicious, sweet, sweet Ana. Oh, this mouth.

I literally could not give less of a shit that in the next paragraph, EL James tells us that Ana starts to “ignite” with desire (that plum dress must be made of combustible material).  Up to this point, she has been angry with Grey.  She has been “stumbling” behind him as he drags her along.  He doesn’t therefore know she’s going to react with desire.  He just decides he’s angry and horny (his constant state, to be fair) and he’s going to have her, regardless.  This isn’t some sexy reunion.  Dragging her into an alleyway, pressing her against the wall and forcing his tongue into her mouth?  Is sexual assault.

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Grey even admits that the kiss was meant as a punishment and a sign of ownership.  I’m not making that up, he actually fucking THINKS that.  And we’re supposed to swoon, because Ana being hot for him makes him decide the kiss means more.  Aaaah.

I’m so aroused—I want her now, here, in this alley. And what I’d intended as a punishing I-own-you kiss becomes something else.

She wants this, too. She’s missed this, too. And it’s more than arousing.

He’s literally admitting he didn’t know she wanted it.  He’s fucking admitting to assault.

WHO ARE YOU, PEOPLE WHO DEFEND THIS PIECE OF SHIT?!  WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU??!  WHAT IS THERE INSIDE YOUR HEAD WHERE YOUR BRAIN SHOULD BE??!!

I’m sorry.  I didn’t want to get this pissed off in the very first recap.  I didn’t want to end up bitching at the fans.  But this?  IS SO OBVIOUS.  Real-life abuse goes unseen, even by those it happens to sometimes, because it is insidious.  You’re being manipulated.  You’re experiencing all kinds of emotional pressures and you try to make sense of behaviour that is unforgivable.  You blame yourself.  There is none of that, here.  We are reading about an abusive man, in black and white.  There are abuse survivors and abuse charities going “hang on, this is abuse.”  There are members of the BDSM community saying “this is a dangerous misrepresentation.”  And yet the fans of this utter car crash – and the author, of course – are just going: “NOPE, this is HOT!”  I can’t excuse that, anymore.

Grey wants to fuck her right there in the alleyway, but he hears a police car in the distance and it brings him back to reality:

She moans as my fingers find the hem of her dress and start tugging it higher. My goal is to pull it up, fuck her here. Make her mine, again.

The feel of her. It’s intoxicating, and I want her like I’ve never wanted her before. In the distance and through the fog of my lust, I hear a police siren wail.

No! No! Grey! Not like this. Get a grip.

No, no, Grey!  Assault her somewhere else, instead!

And of course, as soon as the “hot” kissing and fumbling comes to a stop, Grey is just angry.  Again.

I pull back, gazing down at her, and I’m panting and mad as hell.

“You. Are. Mine!” I growl, and push myself away from her, as my reason returns. “For the love of God, Ana.” I bend over, hands on my knees, trying to catch my breath and calm my raging body.

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“For the love of God, Ana” is just…  Why is this on her?  Because she made him mad by reminding him that he hit her?  Because she spoke to José and let him hug her?!  SHE didn’t drag anyone into an alleyway, without giving a shit whether they consented.  Screw you, Grey.

ONE CHAPTER IN, YOU GUYS.

My blood pressure is in trouble, I can tell.

Once again, Grey makes out as though he’s never been jealous before in his life:

This is jealousy. This is what it feels like: my insides gutted and raw, my self-control absent. I don’t like it. I don’t like it one bit.

Then stop it.  Control your own emotions.  If you had a decent therapist, they’d help you to do that, before you fucking kill someone.

And of course, Ana then apologises:

“I’m sorry,” she says, hoarse.

“You should be. I know what you’re doing. Do you want the photographer, Anastasia? He obviously has feelings for you.”

“No.” Her voice is soft and breathless. “He’s just a friend.” At least she sounds contrite, and it goes some way toward pacifying me.

SHE HAS DONE FUCK ALL WRONG.  HE IS GASLIGHTING AND MANIPULATING HER.  I HATE HIM.  I WANT HIM TO DIE.  PLEASE GOD, LET HIM BE GRUESOMELY MURDERED.

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We then get a short monologue that is just entirely Grey blaming Ana for his behaviour:

“I have spent all my adult life trying to avoid any extreme emotion. Yet you… you bring out feelings in me that are completely alien. It’s very…” Words fail me. I cannot find the vocabulary to describe how I feel. I’m out of control and at a loss. “Unsettling” is the best I can manage. “I like control, Ana, and around you, that just”—I stand and look down at her—“evaporates.” Her eyes are wide with carnal promise, and her hair is mussed and sexy, falling to her breasts. I rub the back of my neck, thankful that I’ve recovered some semblance of self-control. See how I am around you, Ana. See? I run my hand through my hair, taking deep, thought-clearing breaths. I grab her hand. “Come, we need to talk.” Before I fuck you. “And you need to eat.”

WE are in control of our OWN behaviour.  Sure, our feelings are far harder to stay on top of, sometimes, but that does not mean that we get to behave any way we like and blame someone else for inspiring feelings within us.  When you act out in gross ways and blame other people for making you feel things, then you are, quite simply, a wanker.

Grey leads Ana to the nearest restaurant.  He immediately gets snobby about it, then thinks to himself that the walls are the same colour as his playroom.  On being seated at a table by a waiter, Grey takes it upon himself to order for both of them, having only had the slightest glance at the menu on the wall and, more importantly, without Ana having the chance to look at it and choose for herself:

“So we’ll each have sirloin steak cooked medium, béarnaise sauce if you have it, fries, and green vegetables, whatever the chef has—and bring me the wine list.”

“Certainly, sir,” he says, and rushes off.

Ana purses her lips, annoyed. What now? “And if I don’t like steak?”

“Don’t start, Anastasia.”

“I am not a child, Christian.”

Okay, firstly, if someone ordered for me so abruptly, I’d be furious.  Secondly, nobody tells me how I should have my steak.  RARE, you bastard.  I want it RARE.

And notice that when Ana quite rightly has a go at him for ordering for her, he tells her not to “start.”  You’ll be thrilled to know that that argument continues, with Grey once again apportioning blame to Ana where it does not belong:

“Well, stop acting like one.”

“I’m a child because I don’t like steak?” She doesn’t hide her petulance.

No! “For deliberately making me jealous. It’s a childish thing to do. Have you no regard for your friend’s feelings, leading him on like that?” Her cheeks pink and she examines her hands. Yes. You should be embarrassed. You’re confusing him. Even I can see that. Is that what she’s doing to me? Leading me on? In the time we’ve been apart, maybe she’s finally recognized that she has power. Power over me.

I’m guessing that we’re supposed to take Ana’s blush and her sudden need to look down at her hands as some kind of signal that she’s guilty.  That she knows she has been leading José on and she has been deliberately trying to make Grey jealous.  Well, frankly, even if she was trying to make him jealous (which is monumentally stupid, given his violence), telling her she’s childish when she’s angry about something he did is just a convenient way of avoiding having to deal with any conversation about his own behaviour.  Well played, you piece of shit.

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And far be it for Grey to be even slightly contrite.  Instead, he continues to play mind games with Ana, as they sit and wait for their meal:

I glance at Anastasia, who looks like she’s sulking. I know that look. Perhaps she wanted to select her own meal. And I can’t resist toying with her, aware that she has little knowledge of wine. “Would you like to choose the wine?” I ask and I know I sound sarcastic.

“You choose.” She presses her lips together.

Yeah. Don’t play games with me, baby.

Fuck.  This.  Guy.

Grey orders wine and is an asshole to the waiter.  Ana lets him know she thinks he’s behaving badly and shockingly, he actually admits to it and apologises (zero points from me, because this is literally the least he could do):

“Two glasses of the Barossa Valley Shiraz, please,” I say to the waiter, who’s hovering.

“Er, we only sell that wine by the bottle, sir.”

“A bottle, then.” You stupid prick.

“Sir.” He retreats.

“You’re very grumpy,” she says, no doubt feeling sorry for the waiter.

“I wonder why that is?” I keep my expression neutral, but even to my own ears I’m now sounding childish.

“Well, it’s good to set the right tone for an intimate and honest discussion about the future, wouldn’t you say?” She gives me a saccharine smile. Oh, tit for tat, Miss Steele. She’s called me out again and I have to admire her nerve.

I realize our bickering will get us nowhere. And I’m being an ass. Don’t blow this deal, Grey. “I’m sorry,” I say, because she’s right.

I absolutely love it when he refers to Ana as a business deal.  It’s so romantic.

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Grey finally begins to discuss the idea of them getting back together:

“Ana, the last time we spoke, you left me. I’m a little nervous. I’ve told you I want you back, and you’ve said…nothing.”

She bites her lip as the color drains from her face. Oh no. “I’ve missed you…really missed you, Christian,” she says, quietly. “The past few days have been…difficult.” Difficult is an understatement. She swallows and takes a steadying breath. This doesn’t sound good. Perhaps my behavior over the last hour has finally driven her away. I tense. Where’s she going with this?

Red ink for the admission that he’s behaved like a piece of shit.

Ana tells him that nothing has changed; she still can’t be what he wants her to be.  Grey counters that she is everything he wants.  Then, they begin discussing what happened the night she left him, which is an excuse for him to blame her, entirely.

“You’re upset because of what happened last time. I behaved stupidly, and you—so did you. Why didn’t you safe-word, Anastasia?” She looks surprised, as if this isn’t something she’s considered. “Answer me,” I urge. This has haunted me. Why didn’t you safe-word, Ana?

She wilts in her seat. Sad. Defeated. “I don’t know,” she whispers.

What? WHAT? I’m rendered speechless. I’ve been in hell because she didn’t safe-word.

But before I recover, words tumble from her mouth. Soft, quiet, as if she’s in a confessional, as if she’s ashamed. “I was overwhelmed. I was trying to be what you wanted me to be, trying to deal with the pain, and it went out of my mind.” Her look is raw, her shrug small and apologetic. “You know…I forgot.”

What the hell? “You forgot!” I’m dismayed. We’ve been through all this shit because she forgot?

That’s something that a responsible Dom might have been prepared for.  He saw that she was crying – he must have – as he was hitting her.  He thought throughout the scene, that as long as she didn’t use her safe word, he didn’t have to stop.  But it was the most intense thing they had ever done and if he saw her crying, he ought to have asked her if she was alright.  He didn’t and I genuinely believe it’s because he didn’t want to hear that she might not be.  She had never done anything like it before and whilst yes, she should have used her safe word, it’s not out of the realms of probability that someone would forget what they were supposed to say, especially if they were in pain and emotionally distressed.  For him to decide to fully blame Ana like this is gross and it proves that he’s not a respectful Dominant.

He briefly wonders whether he should have reminded her of her safe words, but then immediately discounts this:

Did I remind her of her safe words? Christ. I can’t remember. The e-mail that she sent me the first time I spanked her comes to mind. She didn’t stop me then. I’m an idiot. I should have reminded her.

Wait. She knows she has safe words. I remember telling her more than once.

Yep.  So, he thinks about his own role in the situation for about three seconds and then goes back to blaming her.

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EL then regurgitates a passage from the last book, in which Grey makes Ana repeat what her safe words are.  You know, so we can see what a fantastic Dom he really is.

He moans about not being able to trust her (because he’s given her nothing but reasons to trust him…) and then decides it’s all going to be fine, because now he’s decided he wants a vanilla relationship (yeah, right):

“How can I trust you? Ever?” If she can’t be honest with me, what hope do we have? She can’t tell me what she thinks I want to hear. What kind of relationship is that? My spirits sink. This is the problem in dealing with someone who isn’t in the lifestyle. She doesn’t get it. I should never have chased her.

The waiter arrives with the wine as we stare with incredulity at each other. Maybe I should have done a better job of explaining it to her. Damn it, Grey. Eliminate the negative. Yes. It’s irrelevant now. I’m going to try a relationship her way, if she’ll let me.

Yet again, Ana apologises:

“I’m sorry,” she whispers.

“Sorry for what?” Hell. Is she done with me? Is there no hope?

“Not using the safe word,” she says. Oh, thank God. I thought it was over.

“We might have avoided all this suffering,” I mutter in response, and also in an attempt to hide my relief.

If he wasn’t a nuclear grade prick, that would have been a good time for him to say “hey, I’m sorry too.  I took things too far.”  But… Meh.

We get a repeat of the angsty line from Fifty Shades Darker, where he tells her he’s in “perpetual night” without her.  He also finally tells her what she said in her sleep a few weeks ago: that she’d never leave him.  He tells her that hearing that made him relax and feel comforted.  All of which serves to make Ana feel sorry for him, which he uses to his advantage:

She inhales sharply. Her open and honest compassion is written all over her lovely face as she reaches for her wine. This is my chance. Ask her, Grey. Ask her the one question I haven’t allowed myself to think about because I know I’ll dread her answer, whatever it is. But I’m curious. I need to know. “You said you loved me,” I whisper, almost choking on the words. She can’t feel that way about me still. Can she? “Is that now in the past tense?”

“No, Christian, it’s not,” she says, as if in the confessional again. I’m unprepared for the relief that rushes through me. But it’s relief mixed with fear. It’s a confounding combination because I know she shouldn’t love a monster.

“Good,” I mumble, confused. I want to stop thinking about that right now, and with impeccable timing, the waiter returns with our meal.

So, he doesn’t want her to love him.  But he’s glad she does.  Cool.

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And then, we get the infamous threat of assault in a public place:

“Eat,” I demand. The woman needs feeding.

She examines the contents of her plate with distaste. “So help me God, Anastasia, if you don’t eat, I will take you across my knee here in this restaurant. And it will have nothing to do with my sexual gratification. Eat!”

It will have NOTHING TO DO WITH HIS SEXUAL GRATIFICATION.  He’s not suggesting some consensual spanky fun times.  He’s threatening to non-consensually beat her in anger, because she doesn’t have much of an appetite for food she wasn’t allowed to choose for herself.

If you want to defend this to me, might I please suggest that you instead fuck very far off.  Because that is indefensible.

And for further evidence that he’s not trying to be cutesy or even sexy:

“Okay. I’ll eat. Stow your twitching palm, please.” She’s trying for humor— but I’m not laughing.

Neither am I.  You’re not even slightly funny.  This isn’t remotely funny.

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Grey watches Ana eat and gets turned on, because…  When doesn’t he?  As they eat in silence, he thinks:

She hasn’t told me to fuck off. This is good. And as I study her I realize how much I’m enjoying just being in her company. Okay, so I’m tied up in all kinds of conflicting emotions…but she’s here. She’s with me and she’s eating. I’m hopeful we can make my proposition work. Her reaction to the kiss in the alley was…visceral. She still wants me. I know I could have fucked her there and she wouldn’t have stopped me.

I’m red-inking that, because not stopping him is like, the very least level of consent someone should be looking for.

Ana comments on the music being played in the restaurant and it makes Grey think about the iPad he’s got her.  He’s filled it with music, photos and apps for her and has had a message engraved on the back.  He’s hoping she’ll accept it, given her habit of turning down expensive gifts from him.

Ana tells Grey she’s full, having eaten half of her dinner and after some internal annoyance, he accepts that she won’t eat everything on her plate.  He then tells her that it’s almost time for Taylor to pick them up:

“We have to go shortly. Taylor’s here, and you have to be up for work in the morning.” I hadn’t considered that before. She’s working now—she needs sleep. I may have to revise my plans and my body’s expectations. The thought of deferring my desire displeases me.

I’m just…  Sorry, did EL James purposefully try to make him more rapey in this book??!!

Once again, Grey refers to Ana as a business deal and once again, he blames her for his behaviour:

I shift uncomfortably in my chair. Stage three of the campaign has not gone as smoothly as I anticipated. She’s made me jealous. I’ve lost control. Yes. As usual, she’s derailed me. But I can turn this around and close the deal in the car.

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Grey worries that Ana might not want to talk about their personal relationship in the car, with Taylor driving.  So, he tells Taylor to wear earphones and listen to his iPod on the entire way home.  This isn’t apparently illegal, but there is a whole heap of information online about how dangerous it is.  So…  Great plan, Grey.

Once Taylor starts driving and Grey has proved to Ana that Taylor can’t hear anything they say, they begin discussing their potential new relationship:

“Let me ask you something first. Do you want a regular vanilla relationship, with no kinky fuckery at all?”

“Kinky fuckery?” she squeaks in disbelief.

“Kinky fuckery.”

“I can’t believe you said that.” She looks anxiously at Taylor again.

“Well, I did. Answer me.”

“I like your kinky fuckery,” she whispers. Oh, baby, so do I. I’m relieved. Step one…okay. Keep cool, Grey.

“That’s what I thought. So what don’t you like?”

She’s silent for a moment, and I know she’s scrutinizing me in the light and shadows of the intermittent street lamps. “The threat of cruel and unusual punishment,” she says.

Let me just say that the day I never have to hear or read the words “kinky fuckery” ever again can not come too soon.

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They continue:

“What does that mean?”

“Well, you have all those—” She stops, glancing at Taylor once more, and her voice lowers. “Things in your playroom, the canes, and whips, and they frighten the living daylights out of me. I don’t want you to use them on me.”

This, I have worked out for myself. “Okay, so no whips or canes. Or belts, for that matter,” I add, unable to keep the irony out of my voice.

He shouldn’t be finding any kind of humour in this discussion, ironic or not.

Ana is open and honest with Grey and he proves with his inner reaction that the two of them are in NO way compatible:

“Fundamentally, Christian, it’s your joy in inflicting pain that’s difficult for me to handle. And the idea that you’ll do it because I have crossed some arbitrary line.”

Hell. She knows me. She has seen the monster. I’m not going there, or I will blow this deal. I ignore her first comment and concentrate on her second point. “But it’s not arbitrary—the rules are written down.”

“I don’t want a set of rules.”

“None at all?” Fuck—she might touch me. How can I protect myself from that? And suppose she does something stupid that puts herself at risk?

“No rules,” she states, shaking her head for emphasis.

Firstly, if she puts herself at risk, that’s on her.  You don’t need to freaking beat her for it.  Secondly, this is infuriating, because she’s saying she doesn’t want to have to adhere to his rules, yet we know he will continue to control her and get her to do whatever he wants by stealth, if necessary.  Because he is a monster.

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Grey then lays his “proposal” on the line, after checking that she actually enjoys being spanked:

Okay, million-dollar question. “But you don’t mind if I spank you?”

“Spank me with what?”

“This.” I hold up my hand. She shifts in her seat, and a silent, sweet joy unfurls deep in my gut. Oh, baby, I love it when you squirm.

“No, not really. Especially with those silver balls…”

My cock stirs at the thought. Damn. I cross my legs. “Yes, that was fun.”

“More than fun,” she adds.

“So you can deal with some pain.” I can’t keep the hope out of my voice.

“Yes, I suppose.” She shrugs. Okay. So we may be able to structure a relationship around this. Deep breath, Grey, give her the terms.

“Anastasia, I want to start again. Do the vanilla thing and then maybe, once you trust me more—and I trust you to be honest and to communicate with me— we could move on and do some of the things that I like to do.”

Ana has a long pause, where she tries to work out what to say in response.  Eventually, she asks for more clarification and Grey goes down the “oh, how could I hurt such a wonderful angel” route again:

“But what about punishments?” she says finally.

I close my eyes. It’s not a no. “No punishments. None.”

“And the rules?”

“No rules.”

“None at all? But you have needs…” Her voice trails off. “

I need you more, Anastasia. These last few days have been hell. All my instincts tell me to let you go, tell me I don’t deserve you. “Those photos the boy took—I can see how he sees you. You look untroubled and beautiful, not that you’re not beautiful now, but here you sit. I see your pain. It’s so hard knowing that I’m the one who has made you feel this way.”

He goes on to use his horrendously emo line from the first book about “the thought of anyone else having (Ana) is like a knife, twisting in (his) dark soul.”  And I laugh, because it’s so awful and I’m so tired and this recap has so far taken over eight hours and I’m currently on the verge of praying for death.

Ana takes this as her cue to say some stuff about Grey that is…  Well, none of it is true:

“Christian, why do you think you have a dark soul?” she cries out, totally surprising me. “I would never say that. Sad maybe, but you’re a good man. I can see that—you’re generous, you’re kind, and you’ve never lied to me.

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She then goes on to blame herself for not trying hard enough to be what he needed, which makes me want to smash things.

She then gives him some home truths:

“I never know what you’re thinking.”

She doesn’t? Baby, you read me like one of your books; except I’m not the hero. I’ll never be the hero.

“Sometimes you’re so closed off, like an island state,” she continues. “You intimidate me. That’s why I keep quiet. I don’t know which way your mood is going to go. It swings from north to south and back again in a nanosecond. It’s confusing and you won’t let me touch you, and I want so much to show you how much I love you.”

Now, a decent guy would hear someone saying this and think about his behaviour and how much it has obviously confused the woman he apparently wants a relationship with.  But not Grey.  Nope, he just freaks out because OH NO, SHE SAYS SHE LOVES HIM AND SHE CAN’T, BECAUSE HE IS AN UNLOVEABLE MONSTER AND WHAT IF SHE TOUCHES HIM?  AAAAARGH! Thankfully, we’re spared too much of his emo-shit, because Ana decides to take matters literally into her own hands with a declaration of her unworthiness, which makes me feel physically sick.

But before I can respond, before the darkness takes hold, she unfastens her seatbelt and crawls across the seat and into my lap, ambushing me. She places her hands on either side of my head, staring into my eyes, and I stop breathing. “I love you, Christian Grey,” she says. “And you’re prepared to do all this for me. I’m the one who is undeserving. And I’m just sorry that I can’t do all those things for you. Maybe with time—I don’t know—but yes, I accept your proposition. Where do I sign?” She curls her arms around my neck and hugs me, her warm cheek against mine.

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There’s a load of flowery bollocks from Grey about how happy he is and how he doesn’t deserve her, but he has her and it’s so wonderful blah, blah, blah.  He has to go through some kind of freaking mantra to remind himself he’s capable of a vanilla relationship, so…  Yay?

She loves me. I test the phrase in my head and what’s left of my heart, and swallow the knot of fear that forms in my throat as those words ring through me. I can do this. I can live with this. I must. I need to protect her and her vulnerable heart. I take a deep breath. I can do this.

Good for you, where shall I send your “Big, Brave Boy” medal?!

He tells her that touching is still a hard limit for him and Ana says she wishes she understood why.  Personally, I wish this chapter would END, but we can’t have everything.  Grey decides to hint as to why, rather than just, you know, tell her.  So he merely says: “One of the crack whore’s pimps…”

We then get a flashback of the pimp hitting him and stubbing a cigarette out on him.  I won’t repeat it here, because it’s not pleasant, but also, because this recap is already SO DAMN LONG.

Ana asks if Ella was abusive:

“Was she abusive? Your mother?” Ana’s voice is hoarse.

“Not that I remember. She was neglectful. She didn’t protect me from her pimp.” She was a sad excuse and he was a sick fuck.

She may not have protected you, but she was also being abused herself, was addicted to drugs and wasn’t really in position to be able to protect you.  She doesn’t deserve the hate you give her.

“I think it was me who looked after her. When she finally killed herself, it took four days for someone to raise the alarm and find us. I remember that.” I close my eyes and see vague, muted images of my mother slumped on the floor, me covering her with my blanket and curling up beside her.

Anastasia gasps. “That’s pretty fucked up.”

“Fifty shades.” She kisses my neck, a soft, tender press of her lips onto my skin. And I know it’s not pity she’s offering. It’s comfort; maybe even understanding. My sweet, compassionate Ana. I tighten my hold on her and kiss her hair as she nestles in my arms. Baby, it was a long time ago.

If it was a long time ago and you’re placating Ana, as though your tragic childhood ain’t no big thang, why do you constantly use it to excuse your shitty behaviour?!

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I can’t help my self-satisfied grin. I’ve done it. I’ve won her back. Now all I have to do is keep her, which will be challenging enough. My first vanilla relationship—who would have thought? Closing my eyes, I imagine the look on Elena’s face when I tell her.

Oh goodie, I can’t wait for that abusive relationship to be normalised further, too.  Grey goes off into a daydream/flashback about his time with Elena.  He recalls telling her he’d gotten into Harvard and Elena telling him that means that he’ll leave her, whilst he insists he never will.  At the end of the flashback, Elena turns into Ana, telling him she loves him.

Aaaaaaw.  How cute?

Grey tells Taylor to drive them to Ana’s place, rather than his.  He’s shocked to realise they’re only five minutes away; he and Ana have both been fast asleep in the back of the car.  When Ana realises he’s taking her home and not back to his place, she’s frustrated that it means they’re not going to have any sexy fun times (I, meanwhile, am thrilled).  Grey decides they need to be more open about what they want in the bedroom:

And as I watch her, I realize that I’ve got to get her to open up about sex. If we’re going to be honest with each other, she has to tell me how she feels. Tell me what she needs. I want her to be confident enough to express her desires. All of them. “Anastasia, I am not going to touch you again, not until you beg me to.”

“What!” She sounds a little upset.

“So that you’ll start communicating with me. Next time we make love, you’re going to have to tell me exactly what you want in fine detail.” That will give you something to think about, Miss Steele.

Ah, a plea for open communication.  Coming from him.  And is it just me, or could this also be taken as a way of him remaining firmly in control, using sex as a weapon, the way he always has?!

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Grey tells her he has a gift for her, but she’s not to open it until she’s back inside the apartment.  He hands her the wrapped iPad.  Then, he suggests seeing her the next day and immediately gets possessive again:

“So when will I see you?”

“Tomorrow?”

“My boss wants me to go for a drink with him tomorrow.” What the hell does that fucker want? I must chase Welch for his report on Hyde. There’s something off about him that isn’t reflected in his employee records. I don’t trust him one bit.

“Does he, now?” I try to sound nonchalant.

“To celebrate my first week,” she says, quickly.

“Where?”

“I don’t know.”

“I could pick you up from there.”

“Okay. I’ll e-mail or text you.”

“Good.”

This level of dialogue is ENTHRALLING, let me tell you.

And let’s be real: the ONLY reason he’s offering to pick her up is so he can make damn sure Hyde sees that she’s spoken for.  He’s literally one step away from making her a Property Of Christian Grey t-shirt.  And depressingly, if he doesn’t want to make it himself, you can buy that shit all over the internet.

They have a lingering, supposedly sensual moment in the doorway, as both of them struggle to contain their desire for one another.  Grey insists she goes in alone and applauds himself for not shagging her:

“In you go,” I order, and it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done: letting her leave knowing that she’s mine for the taking.

No red ink here, because the text indicates she was desperate for him to go in and have sex with her.

Shortly after dropping her off and heading home (whilst arranging to have the Audi sent back to Ana the next day), Grey gets an email from her:

You’ve made me cry again. I love the iPad. I love the songs. I love the British Library app. I love you. Thank you. Good night.

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I grin at the screen. Happy tears, great! She loves it. She loves me.

And here endeth the first chapter of Darker.

I’m off to cry over there being eight more chapters of this shit to go.

 

 

 

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Grey Chapter 23 (Tuesday, June 7, 2011)

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Two posts in a day?!  I KNOW, GUYS.  But tonight is the night this ends.  I am finishing recapping Grey this evening, if it’s the last thing I do (and I hope it isn’t, because… Well, I have plans and stuff).

So, as far as I can guess, the chapter I about to start recapping in this lousy excuse for literature must be the last one, but even if it isn’t, I’m just going to go straight into the one after, without starting a new blog post, because this, right here, is the LAST ONE I AM WRITING IN THIS SERIES OF RECAPS.  I AM DONE.

Get yourself cosy, pour yourself a drink and buckle up, because we’re finishing this particular adventure together right now (before we start on the next one, in a couple of weeks, when I’ve scraped my brain up off the floor).

The first words of this chapter made me laugh so hard, I almost spat out the crisps I’m binge-eating as compensation for having to read this crap:

We’re fucking. Fucking hard.

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You know that episode of Friends, where Monica gets stung by a jellyfish and Chandler has to pee on her?  When she recounts the story to the others, she tells it like she’s reliving a war experience and her first words are:  “I got stung.  Stung bad.”   That was literally all I could think about when I read the opening words of this chapter and consequently, it is hilarious.

Grey is dreaming that he’s banging Ana against the bathroom door.  It’s basically exactly the same as any sex scene in this book.  He thinks something that once again, makes it sound like all he wants Ana for is sex, rather than anything beyond that:

Oh yes. I’m home, she’s home. This is the place I want to be…inside her…

In my head, he’s going to shave “home sweet home” into her pubic hair, like some kind of welcome mat.

Even in his sex dreams, he has to be a possessive weirdo, so he thinks:

She. Is. Mine.

Then, after the sexy times, the dream changes slightly:

She stands and gazes at me, that playful smile on her lips, then pushes me away and walks backward, saying nothing. I grab her and we’re in the playroom. I’m holding her down over the bench. I raise my arm to punish her, belt in hand…and she disappears. She’s by the door. Her face white, shocked and sad, and she’s silently drifting away…The door has disappeared, and she won’t stop. She holds out her hands in entreaty. Join me, she whispers, but she’s moving backward, getting fainter…disappearing before my eyes…vanishing…she’s gone. No! I shout. No! But I have no voice. I have nothing. I’m mute. Mute…again.

Nice….Reminder.

Literally every chapter in this book has some deeply unsubtle reference to Christian’s tragic past, as though we’re supposed to go “aaaw, well we’ll let him off being a manipulative stalker with control issues, then.”  And NOPE.

Of course, Grey’s dream has had an effect on him:

Hell! I’m a sticky mess. Briefly I feel that long-forgotten but familiar sense of fear and exhilaration—but Elena doesn’t own me now.

I’m guessing from this that Elena did the same “I own all your orgasms” bollocks with him that he did to Ana.  Still not an excuse, by the way.

Jesus H. Christ, I’ve come for Team USA. This hasn’t happened to me since I was, what? Fifteen, sixteen?

As an adult, Christian ejaculates only sadness and rage.

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Disgusted with himself, Grey cleans up and then goes to sleep, whereupon he immediately has yet another dream, but this time it’s another childhood flashback (so TW):

He is gone. Mommy is sitting on the couch. She is quiet. She looks at the wall and blinks sometimes. I stand in front of her, but she doesn’t see me. I wave and she sees me, but she waves me away. No, Maggot, not now. He hurts Mommy. He hurts me. I hate him. He makes me so mad. It’s best when it’s just Mommy and me. She is mine then. My Mommy. My tummy hurts. It is hungry again. I am in the kitchen, looking for cookies. I pull the chair to the cupboard and climb up. I find a box of crackers. It is the only thing in the cupboard. I sit down on the chair and open the box. There are two left. I eat them. They taste good. I hear him. He’s back. I jump down and I run to my bedroom and climb into bed. I pretend to be asleep. He pokes me with his finger. Stay here, you little shit. I’m going to fuck your bitch of a mother. I don’t want to see your fuck-ugly face for the rest of the evening. Understand? He slaps my face when I don’t reply. Or you get the burn, you little prick. No. No. I don’t like that. I don’t like the burn. It hurts. Got it, retard? I know he wants me to cry. But it’s hard. I can’t make the noise. He hits me with his fist—

But hey, at least Grey doesn’t immediately place responsibility for stopping these traumatic flashbacks on Ana, or anything.

ONLY JOKING!

Startled awake again, I lie panting in the pale dawn light, waiting for my heart rate to slow, trying to lose the acrid taste of fear in my mouth.

She saved you from this shit, Grey.

ONLY Ana can save him from these dreams.  Not therapy, not sleeping pills, not hypnosis, meditation or any other number of things he might want to try.  ONLY Ana.  And by leaving him, she has abandoned him, causing him to suffer.

EL James is hitting the reader over and over with the idea that Ana has to go back to Grey because only she can ever really cure him.  It’s toxic bullshit.  Grey’s an adult and he’s not Ana’s responsibility.  As a survivor of abuse, who suffered horrendous levels of guilt after walking away from the abuser I thought I’d “abandoned,” seeing this repeated over and over in a multi-million-selling novel is honestly more disgusting than I can say.  Too often, people stay with abusers, hoping they can fix them.  They don’t want to walk away, because they’re manipulated into thinking if they do, they will be the one in the wrong.  And EL James has written a franchise that just goes: “Yep.  The abuser is the one we should sympathise with.  Fuck what you feel.”

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He also adds:

You didn’t relive the pain of these memories when she was with you. Why did you let her leave?

How about: BECAUSE YOU HAD NO RIGHT TO MAKE HER STAY, BELL-END?!  Or we could try: BECAUSE YOU KNEW YOU’D BROKEN YOUR PROMISE TO HER AND HAD HIT HER HARDER THAN NECESSARY AND CAUSED HER MORE PAIN THAN SHE COULD TAKE AND YET YOU STILL DIDN’T STOP?!  Ana left of her own free will, knowing that the two of you are utterly incompatible.  Her being good for stopping your nightmares (not that she did – they just seemed to happen less) does not mean you get to force her to stay.  Hence the red ink.

Grey decides to get up and go for a stalk:

HER BUILDING LOOKS GLOOMY; it’s still in shadow, untouched by the early-morning sun. Fitting. It reflects my mood. Her apartment is dark inside, yet the curtains to the room I watched before are drawn. It must be her room.

I hope to God that she’s sleeping alone up there. I envisage her curled up on her white iron bed, a small ball of Ana. Is she dreaming of me? Do I give her nightmares? Has she forgotten me?

You give me nightmares.  You are a nightmare.

He then plays the self-pity card, before openly admitting that he is a stalker:

I’ve never felt this miserable, not even as a teenager. Maybe before I was a Grey…my memory spirals back. No, no—not awake as well. This is too much. Pulling my hood up and leaning against the granite wall, I’m hidden in the doorway of the building opposite. The awful thought crosses my mind that I might be standing here in a week, a month…a year? Watching, waiting, just to catch a glimpse of the girl who used to be mine. It’s painful. I’ve become what she’s always accused me of being—her stalker.

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Grey decides that he has to see Ana, in order to have a different last memory of her.

I can’t go on like this. I have to see her. See that she’s okay. I need to erase the last image I have of her: hurt, humiliated, defeated…and leaving me.

I have to think of a way.

Ugh, knowing he succeeds in not only seeing her, but actually getting her back is making my feel physically sick, right now.  And knowing that anyone feels sorry for this pillock, when he brought ALL OF THIS on himself and has mistreated the woman he claims to care about for the ENTIRE DURATION of their relationship, makes me feel worse.

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Back at home, Gail has made an omelette for Grey.  He didn’t ask for one and inwardly refers to her as an “interfering woman,” but clearly Gail can tell something is wrong and has decided to feed him, whether he likes it or not.

But remember, as he insisted last chapter, nobody cares about him.

At work, Grey begins wondering whether he could just call Ana up.  And – I wish I was making this up – he even thinks about calling her and hanging up when she says hello, just to hear her voice.  Because that’s not at all creepy…

COULD I JUST CALL Ana and say hi? Would she take my call? My eyes wander to the glider on my desk. She asked for a clean break. I should honor that and leave her alone. But I want to hear her voice. For a moment I contemplate calling her and hanging up, just to hear her speak.

This is so damn gross.  The guy knows Ana wanted a clean break.  She didn’t want to hear from him, or see him, because she told him it would hurt her.  He’s making out that he cares about her, but he’s showing zero sign of anything beyond sheer obsession.  He’s already been past her apartment multiple times, trying to look at her.  He’s sent her flowers.  They dated for what, two weeks?!  And this is his reaction to a break up he basically caused with his shitty behaviour?!  STOP ROMANTICISING THIS BULLSHIT.

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Grey is so lost in his own thoughts that Ros has to get his attention by asking if he’s okay, during their meeting.  Which is, you know, super professional and I totally believe this guy is capable of building a hugely successful business empire, with this level of dedication.  Ros tells him that SIP are in financial trouble, but seeing as his keenness to take over the company has nothing to do with business and everything to do with stalking Ana, Grey snaps that he still wants the deal to go ahead.

 

We cut to Grey in a therapy session with Flynn.

“The nightmares are back. Like never before.”

Flynn lifts a brow. “The same ones?”

“Yes.”

“What’s changed?” He cocks his head to one side, waiting for my response. When I remain mute, he adds, “Christian, you look as miserable as sin. Something’s happened.”

I feel like I did with Elena; part of me doesn’t want to tell him, because then it’s real.

“I met a girl.”

“And?”

“She left me.”

He looks surprised. “Women have left you before. Why is this different?”

I stare at him blankly.

Why is it different? Because Ana was different.

My thoughts blur together in a colorful tangled tapestry: she wasn’t a submissive. We had no contract. She was sexually inexperienced. She was the first woman I wanted more from than just sex. Christ—all the firsts I experienced with her: the first girl I’d slept beside, the first virgin, the first to meet my family, the first to fly in Charlie Tango, the first I took soaring.

Yeah…Different.

Flynn interrupts my thoughts. “It’s a simple question, Christian.”

“I miss her.”

I’m just interrupting this beautiful moment of Grey not actually saying anything important out loud to his therapist, to say: the first women he wanted more from than just sex?  COULD’VE FOOLED ME, DUDE.  Sure, he did some activities he enjoyed outside of the bedroom with her, but show me where he willingly had a long conversation with her, without trying to distract her with sex?  Show me him going to do something he wasn’t already keen on, just because he knew she had an interest in it?  Show me a chapter since they split up, where he hasn’t either dreamt about shagging Ana or looked at a piece of furniture and felt sad that he can’t fuck her on it?  YOU CAN’T, BECAUSE THEY DON’T EXIST.

As for him having never missed a woman until now…  If you needed any further evidence that this guy is a shitty human, who views women as solely interchangeable sex objects, congratulations, you just got it.

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Grey tells Dr Flynn that he broke his own rules to chase Ana, only for her to tell him that his lifestyle wasn’t for her.  He apparently tells Dr Flynn the whole story, right from the moment Ana fell into his office, up until her leaving him, just days ago.  Flynn decides to fixate on how Grey felt when Ana told him she loved him (so, either Grey didn’t admit to tracking her phone, taking her back to his hotel when she was barely conscious or any of the other vile, abusive things he’s done, or Dr Flynn is – as suspected – a lousy therapist who casually ignores all of that).

“There are many issues here, Christian. But right now the one I want to focus on is how you felt when she said she loved you.”

I inhale sharply, my gut tightening with fear.

“Horrified,” I whisper.

“Of course you did.” He shakes his head. “You’re not the monster you think you are. You’re more than worthy of affection, Christian. You know that. I’ve told you often enough. It’s only in your mind that you’re not.”

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He’s not the monster he thinks he is, that’s true.

He’s much, much worse.

Dr Flynn asks whether Grey would consider having a relationship with Ana on her terms and the idea shocks Grey, because he’s an asshole, so of course he’s never considered such a thing.  Dr Flynn asks Grey whether he wants to beat Ana again and, despite even his own internal monologue reiterating countless times that he beat her because he wanted to rush to the place in their relationship where he could beat her, Grey replies that no, he doesn’t, because he couldn’t stand to see her leave, again.

Do that to her again? And watch her walk out—again?

“No.”

“And why’s that?”

“Because it’s not her scene. I hurt her. Really hurt her…and she can’t…she won’t…” I pause. “She doesn’t enjoy it. She was angry. Really fucking angry.” Her expression, her wounded eyes, will haunt me for a long time…and I never want to be the cause of that look again.

“Are you surprised?”

I shake my head. “She was mad,” I whisper. “I’d never seen her so angry.”

“How did that make you feel?”

“Helpless.”

Aw.  Diddums.

Buckle in, everyone, because Dr Flynn is now going to equate Ana leaving to Grey’s mother dying.

“And that’s a familiar feeling,” he prompts.

“Familiar, how?” What does he mean?

“Don’t you recognize yourself at all? Your past?” His question knocks me off balance.

Fuck, we’ve been over and over this.

“No, I don’t. It’s different. The relationship I had with Mrs. Lincoln was completely different.”

“I wasn’t referring to Mrs. Lincoln.”

“What were you referring to?” My voice is pin-drop quiet, because suddenly I see where he’s going with this.

“You know.”

I gulp for air, swamped by the impotence and rage of a defenseless child. Yes. The rage. The deep infuriating rage…and fear. The darkness swirls angrily inside me.

“It’s not the same,” I hiss through gritted teeth, as I strain to hold my temper.

“No, it’s not,” Flynn concedes.

IT’S NOT THE SAME, BUT I FIGURED I’D BRING IT UP, ANYWAY, BECAUSE THE READERS OF THIS BOOK NEED TO REMEMBER THAT YOU WERE ONCE A POOR, ABUSED KID AND THAT THAT EXCUSES ALL YOUR GENUINELY DESPICABLE BEHAVIOUR AS AN ADULT.

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Grey goes into full on victim-blaming mode:

“I know what you’re trying to do here, Doctor, but it’s an unfair comparison. She asked me to show her. She’s a consenting adult, for fuck’s sake. She could have safe-worded. She could have told me to stop. She didn’t.”

Remember, in the last chapter he admitted to himself that he could TELL he was hitting her too hard.  He KNEW he was breaking his promise not to hurt her too much.  And he STILL DID NOT STOP.  Even to his own damn therapist, Grey refuses to be honest and just keeps piling the blame onto someone who isn’t here to defend herself.

Dr Flynn then says:

“I know. I know.” He holds his hand up. “I’m just callously illustrating a point, Christian. You’re an angry man, and you have every reason to be…”

Okay, firstly, “callously” feels like the wrong word for a therapist to be using in this way.  Why would your therapist deliberately cruelly illustrate a point?  I honestly think EL meant to write “casually” – which makes a bit more sense, perhaps – and this is either more proof that these books weren’t edited at all, or at that EL refused to make any changes.

Secondly, Dr Flynn should be saying “you’re an angry man and we’re working on reducing that anger for your own sake,” or words to that effect.  Telling him he has every reason to be angry and then not building on that with something more helpful, only legitimises the way he behaves, using his past as an excuse.  He does have a right to be angry about his early childhood, but the way he takes his anger out on others is extremely unhealthy (I don’t mean consensual BDSM, here, I mean his temper).

Dr Flynn continues:

“She’s obviously had a profound effect on you. Her leaving has triggered your abandonment issues and your PTSD. She clearly means much more to you than you’re willing to admit to yourself.”

Again, nice bit of blaming Ana and subtly suggesting she’s also responsible for curing Grey.

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I take a sharp breath. Is that why this is so painful? Because she means more, so much more?

“You need to focus on where you want to be,” Flynn continues. “And it sounds to me like you want to be with this girl. You miss her. Do you want to be with her?”

Be with Ana?

“Yes,” I whisper.

“Then you have to focus on that goal. This goes back to what I’ve been banging on about for our last few sessions—the SFBT. If she’s in love with you, as she told you she is, she must be suffering, too. So I repeat my question: have you considered a more conventional relationship with this girl?”

“No, I haven’t.”

“Why not?”

“Because it’s never occurred to me that I could.”

“Well if she’s not prepared to be your submissive, you can’t play the role of dominant.”

I glare at him. It’s not a role—it’s who I am.

I’m not being funny, but Grey has admitted to beating Ana with a belt to the point that she cried and left him and his therapist is just… Not interested in discussing that?!  Instead of “hey, you miss her, you should try to win her back,” this guy should be addressing why the HELL Grey went so far on someone so inexperienced and what that means for his future relationships, regardless of who he has them with.

Grey goes on to recall an email he sent to Ana, reminding her that it’s the sub who really holds all the power.  He starts to wonder whether he could really have a vanilla relationship with her.

Flynn carries on blowing smoke up Grey’s ass and making out like he and Ana have some kind of tremendous love story and not a relationship she’ll be recounting to a decent therapist in years to come:

“Christian, you have demonstrated that you are an extraordinarily capable person, in spite of your problems. You’re a rare individual. Once you focus on a goal, you drive ahead and achieve it—usually surpassing all your own expectations. Listening to you today, it’s clear you were focused on getting Anastasia to where you wanted her to be, but you didn’t take into account her inexperience or her feelings. It seems to me that you’ve been so focused on reaching your goal that you missed the journey that you were taking together.”

AKA: You were so busy abusing her, you didn’t realise how much in lurve you both are.

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Thanks to Flynn, Grey goes on yet another voyage on board the good ship self-pity, before deciding he’s still going to pursue Ana:

My thoughts take a darker turn.

She doesn’t know the depths of my depravity, the darkness in my soul, the monster beneath—maybe I should leave her alone.

I’m not worthy of her. She can’t love me.

But even as I think the words, I know that I don’t have the strength to stay away from her…if she’ll have me.

Oh, fuck off.

Back at home, Grey carries on zig-zagging between “I’m not good enough for her” and “I MUST get her back” so much it makes me feel dizzy.  He’s distracted by thinking he’s seen someone behind him, but when he turns, there’s NOBODY THERE.

And…

And then…

This chapter ends and another one fucking starts.

FINE, EL JAMES, HAVE IT YOUR WAY.  I’M JUST GONNA FUCKING POWER THROUGH.

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Chapter 24 (Wednesday, June 8, 2011)

I told you I was ending this tonight and I meant it…

GUESS HOW THIS CHAPTER BEGINS?!  WITH A TRAUMATIC DREAM!!

Mommy! Mommy! Mommy is asleep on the floor. She has been asleep for a long time. I shake her. She doesn’t wake up. I call her. She doesn’t wake up. He isn’t here and still Mommy doesn’t wake up.

I am thirsty. In the kitchen I pull a chair to the sink and I have a drink. The water splashes over my sweater. My sweater is dirty. Mommy is still asleep. Mommy, wake up! She lies still. She is cold. I fetch my blankie and I cover Mommy and I lie down on the sticky green rug beside her.

My tummy hurts. It is hungry, but Mommy is still asleep. I have two toy cars. One red. One yellow. My green car is gone. They race by the floor where Mommy is sleeping. I think Mommy is sick. I search for something to eat. In the icebox I find peas. They are cold. I eat them slowly. They make my tummy hurt. I sleep beside Mommy. The peas are gone. In the icebox is something. It smells funny. I lick it and my tongue sticks. I eat it slowly. It tastes nasty. I drink some water. I play with my cars and I sleep beside Mommy. Mommy is so cold and she won’t wake up. The door crashes open. I cover Mommy with my blankie. Fuck. What the fuck happened here? Oh, the crazy fucked-up bitch. Shit. Fuck. Get out of my way, you little shit. He kicks me and I hit my head on the floor. My head hurts. He calls somebody and he goes. He locks the door. I lay down beside Mommy. My head hurts. The lady policeman is here. No. No. No. Don’t touch me. Don’t touch me. Don’t touch me. I stay by Mommy. No. Stay away from me. The lady policeman has my blankie and she grabs me. I scream. Mommy. Mommy. The words are gone. I can’t say the words. Mommy can’t hear me. I have no words.

Again, very sad.  Again, not an excuse to abuse people as an adult.

And as per usual, Grey places responsibility for stopping these nightmare flashbacks on Ana’s shoulders:

I used to have my nightmares under control. Maybe one every couple of weeks, but nothing like this—night after night.

Since she left.

Grey resolves:

I need her in my life, in my bed. She was the day to my night. I’m going to get her back.

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Grey is trying to decide how to win her back and replaying their “romantic” moments:

She wants hearts and flowers. Can I give her that? I frown, trying to recall the romantic moments in my life…And there’s nothing…except with Ana. The “more.” The gliding, and IHOP, and taking her up in Charlie Tango.

The gliding was something he wanted to do and it was done calculatedly as “more” to placate her.  In IHOP, he threatened her when she asked if she could pay for their meal.  In Charlie Tango, he made a big deal of restraining her in her seat and mentally sexualising the situation.  These aren’t big, romantic moments and it’s very, very telling that these are the best he/EL James can come up with.

Maybe I can do this. I drift back to sleep, the mantra in my head: She’s mine. She’s mine…

Except she’s not, she’s not…

He wakes up, convinced that something external is responsible for scaring him, rather than his own thoughts.  We all know there’s going to be some big, dramatic Leila moment either at the end of this book, or early in the next, so these frequent “ooh, I thought I saw someone” and “something makes me feel uneasy” moments just feel really heavy-handed.

What’s a guy to do when he wakes up early?  Stalk his ex, of course:

I’m going to check on Ana.

HER STREET IS QUIET except for the rumble of a delivery truck and the out-of-tune whistling of a solitary dog walker. Her apartment is in darkness, the curtains to her room closed. I keep a silent vigil from my stalker’s hide, staring up at the windows and thinking. I need a plan—a plan to win her back.

What you need is a bloody restraining order.

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On his way to work, Grey begins plotting ways to get “up close and personal” with Ana, in order to get her back.  He calls Andrea, instructing her to clear his schedule, so he has time for his “romantic” plans.  Andrea tells him she’s cancelled everything aside from an event in Portland the following night.  Grey realises it’s José’s photography exhibition and is overjoyed at having an “in.”

Later, he informs the reader that his staff are acting nervous around him, because his temper has been so explosive, recently:

MY MORNING HAS BEEN back-to-back meetings, and my staff have been watching me nervously, waiting for me to explode. Okay, that’s been my modus operandi for the last few days—but today I feel clearer, calmer, and present; able to deal with everything.

Oh, well that’s okay, then.  It’s totally fine that your employees were having to watch out for you taking your mood out on them, until now.  Again, totally professional behaviour from a guy we’re supposed to believe is a hugely successful businessman.  Not buying it.  People would quit working for him in droves.

We get another dose of heavy-handed foreshadowing:

The only fly in the ointment is that there’s no more news about Leila. All we know is that she’s split up with her husband and she could be anywhere. If she surfaces, Welch will find her.

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Speaking of how shitty Grey is at running a business?  He fires Olivia, because she gets his sandwich wrong.  Good to see he’s keeping a lid on that temper of his…

I’m famished. Olivia sets a plate down on my desk.

“Your sandwich, Mr. Grey.”

“Chicken and mayonnaise?”

“Um…”

I stare at her. She just doesn’t get it.

Olivia offers an inept apology.

“I said chicken with mayonnaise, Olivia. It’s not that hard.”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Grey.”

“It’s fine. Just go.” She looks relieved but scrambles to leave the room.

I buzz Andrea.

“Sir?”

“Come in here.”

Andrea appears at the doorway, looking calm and efficient.

“Get rid of that girl.”

Andrea pulls herself up straight.

“Sir, Olivia is Senator Blandino’s daughter.”

“I don’t care if she’s the Queen of fucking England. Get her out of my office.”

“Yes, sir.” Andrea flushes.

“Get someone else to help you,” I offer in a gentler tone. I don’t want to alienate Andrea.

Tough shit.  Acting like this makes you a massive prick.  We’ve seen no actual evidence that Olivia is bad at her job, beyond Grey’s insistence that she moons over him (which we only have his warped word for).

Grey later even admits that his sandwich is only slightly wrong – it’s chicken, but there’s no mayo.  That’s not a sackable offence and if I was Olivia, I’d take his ass to court.

Never mind: “have you considered a relationship on Ana’s terms?”  Dr Flynn should be asking: “have you ever considered not being a dick?”

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Grey refers constantly to his decision to try to win Ana back as his “campaign plan,” or his “plot,” which once again dehumanises Ana and makes her little more than an acquisition.  I don’t believe he has real, loving feelings for her.  I believe – I know, having read this shit from cover to cover – he just wants to own her.

He tells the reader he knows the email format at SIP and has decided to send Ana an email.  He ponders various messages, before sending:

Dear Anastasia

Forgive this intrusion at work. I hope that it’s going well. Did you get my flowers?

I note that tomorrow is the gallery opening for your friend’s show, and I’m sure you’ve not had time to purchase a car, and it’s a long drive. I would be more than happy to take you—should you wish.

Let me know.

Christian Grey

So, he’s subtly trying to guilt her for not thanking him for the bouquet he chose to send (after she asked for a clean break) and he’s making insinuations about her lack of travel arrangements, which was again caused by him.  I know Ana reacts differently, but this would just make me send him back a gif of someone giving the finger.

This is how Grey reacts when fifteen minutes go by without Ana sending a reply:

 

Come on, Anastasia, answer me. She’s always been so prompt. I check my watch…14:09.

Four minutes!

Still nothing.

Getting up, I pace around my office once more, peering at my watch every three seconds, or so it feels.

By 2:20 I’m in despair. She’s not going to reply. She really does hate me…who could blame her?

Unlike him, Ana has a job where she actually, you know, works.  This obsessive overreaction to not getting a reply really shows Christian up, not as a poor man in love, but as a totally needy, possessive weirdo.  I wouldn’t be shocked if the next paragraph showed him barging into the office at SIP, with “SAVE ME, ANA” carved into his forehead.

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But of course, five minutes later, this happens:

Hi Christian

Thank you for the flowers; they are lovely.

Yes, I would appreciate a lift.

Thank you.

Anastasia Steele

Grey is elated and confesses to searching for clues beyond her words, which might indicate that she wants to get back together.  They back and forth a little, arranging a time for him to pick her up.  When things are finalised, Grey once again mentions his “campaign”:

My campaign to win her back is under way. I feel elated; the small blossom of hope is now a Japanese flowering cherry.

YOU DON’T GET TO RUIN ONE OF MY FAVOURITE FLOWERS, YOU VILE BASTARD.

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Grey continues to spend his working day doing creepy, stalker shit and treating his staff like crap:

Anastasia is working for a guy named Jack Hyde. I want to know more about him. I call Ros.

“Christian.” She sounds pissed. Tough.

“Do we have access to the employee files from SIP?”

“Not yet. But I can get them.”

“Please. Today if you can. I want everything they have on Jack Hyde, and anyone who’s worked for him.”

“Can I ask why?”

“No.”

She’s silent for a moment.

“Christian, I don’t know what’s got into you recently.”

“Ros, just do it, okay?”

For the record, Ros is pissed off because Grey has been skipping meetings and not seeing people he was supposed to see, whilst he’s been pining over Ana.  She’s in the right.

Then, something happens that I’d like to rant about:

“Call Stephan—I’ll be flying Charlie Tango to Portland tomorrow evening, and I’ll need him to fly her back to Boeing Field,” I tell Andrea.

If he’s flying Charlie Tango to Portland and not driving there, and if he’s having someone fly the helicopter back, so he doesn’t have transportation home, is he just assuming he’ll stay overnight somewhere with Ana?  Because that’s one HELL of an assumption, coming from someone was very recently – and rightfully – dumped by her.  Arguably, he’s asking a pilot to be on standby to fly him home after he’s had a drink, but I worry that the first option is more likely.

We find out that Olivia has been moved to the finance department, rather than sacked outright, but that’s mainly because her father is important and so Christian had to keep him happy, apparently.

Grey then cancels the rest of his meetings for the day (again, how has this guy built up a business when he does NOTHING?!) and goes out to buy Ana an iPad.  Because, once again, there is no love or romance in this, just sex and throwing money at people.

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I close my eyes and contemplate which apps and songs I’m going to download and install for her. I could choose “Toxic.” I smirk at the thought. No, I don’t think that would be popular with her. She’d be mad as hell—and for the first time in a while the thought of her mad makes me smile. Mad like she was in Georgia, not like last Saturday.

He likes it when she’s mad.  But only the type of mad he can make her forget with sex.  I love that he’s now just not referencing the reason she was so angry and upset at all.  By which I mean, I hate it so much I want to stick pins into EL James’ eyeballs.

Elliot once again texts him, asking if he wants to meet for a beer (because none of his family really love him or care about him).  Again, Grey lies and says he’s busy.  Elliot snarks that Grey’s always busy and then tells his brother that he’s off to Barbados, tomorrow.

Grey spends his evening putting songs onto the iPad for Ana.  He thinks about the night they first slept together and gets all het up over whether he should call it “fucking” or “making love.”  He reiterates in his mind that being touched is a hard limit for him.  Then, just like he did when he was first obsessively chasing her, he starts referring to her as a business deal again:

I recall her impassioned plea the night I introduced her to my parents. “I want you to make love to me.” How shocked I was by her simple statement—and yet all she wanted was to touch me. I shudder at the thought. I have to make her understand that this is a hard limit for me—I cannot tolerate being touched.

I shake my head. You’re getting way ahead of yourself, Grey—you have to close this deal first.

Then he badgers on about “daring to hope” for a while and…  ANOTHER CHAPTER ENDS.  FINE.  WE’RE DOING THIS:

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Grey Chapter 25 (Thursday, June 9, 2011)

We start on yet another dream:

The doctor holds up her hands. I’m not going to hurt you. I need to check your tummy. Here. She gives me a cold, round sucky thing and she lets me play with it. You put it on your tummy, and I won’t touch you and I can hear your tummy. The doctor is good…the doctor is Mommy.

My new mommy is pretty. She’s like an angel. A doctor angel. She strokes my hair. I like it when she strokes my hair. She lets me eat ice cream and cake. She doesn’t shout when she finds the bread and apples hidden in my shoes. Or under my bed. Or under my pillow. Darling, the food is in the kitchen. Just find me or Daddy when you’re hungry. Point with your finger. Can you do that? There is another boy. Lelliot. He is mean. So I punch him. But my new mommy doesn’t like the fighting. There is a piano. I like the noise. I stand at the piano and press the white and the black. The noise from the black is strange. Miss Kathie sits at the piano with me. She teaches the black and the white notes. She has long brown hair and she looks like someone I know. She smells of flowers and apple pie baking. She smells of good. She makes the piano sound pretty. She is kind to me. She smiles and I play. She smiles and I am happy. She smiles and she’s Ana. Beautiful Ana, sitting with me as I play a fugue, a prelude, an adagio, a sonata. She sighs, resting her head on my shoulder, and she smiles. I love listening to you play, Christian. I love you, Christian.

And this is how the fucking book ends (WHY WAS THERE A NEW CHAPTER JUST FOR THIS SHIT?!):

Ana. Stay with me. You’re mine. I love you, too.

I wake, with a start.

Today, I win her back.

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Firstly: She’s not yours.  She’s not property, she’s a person.  Start treating her like it.

Secondly: You don’t love her.  You’re obsessed with owning her and fucking her.  That’s it.  Oh, and you want to force responsibility for “fixing” you onto her shoulders.  None of that is the same as love.

Thirdly: I wish to GOD you were unsuccessful.

Ugh.  I have a lot of feelings.  I hated this book more than I hated all three of the original Fifty Shades books put together.  Why?  Because the overriding message was “he can’t help his behaviour and you should feel sorry for him.”  And, as I have said many, many times, that is UTTER BULLSHIT.  I feel like throughout this book, EL James was personally trying to gaslight her critics into thinking “oh, maybe we were wrong to judge this guy,” when actually, all she did was show Christian Grey up as the abusive, manipulative, controlling, possessive, threatening stalker he is.  There’s nowhere to hide in this book.  All the thoughts are coming from his own head.  There’s no rose-tinted view of the situation.  Everything, when told from his perspective, is as ugly as we expected it to be.  Somehow, in trying to excuse the abuse, EL James has actually managed to highlight it (so, I guess…thanks?!).

I want to say a massive thank you from the bottom of my heart to every single one of you who’ve read these recaps, who’ve sent supportive messages and who’ve joined in with the discussion on social media.  You’ve been what’s kept me going when I’ve wanted to throw my laptop against the wall.  Thank you so much.

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I said I would recap Darker once I was done with Grey and I’m a woman of my word.  I’ll be back, with more creative swearing and general blind rage before you know it.  But first, I really do need a couple of weeks away from this utterly horrific franchise.  I try to make these recaps as funny and entertaining as I possibly can (not always easy, given the source material!), but they can be really, seriously draining, especially given how frequently they drag up memories of my own abuse experience.  So, I’m going to give myself a fortnight or so during which I will be FREE from this crap, before I jump back on board the Hell train.

Thank you again.  I’M OFF TO SCRUB THIS BOOK OFF MY BODY.

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Grey Chapter 22 (Monday June 6, 2011)

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As I sit, on a particularly rainy and miserable day, here in the UK, I have just one request in life: PLEASE LET THIS BE THE LAST CHAPTER OF GREY.  PLEASE.  PLEEEAAAASE.

If you’ve been following these recaps, you’ve probably noticed my decline into madness, over the last few weeks.  Hence my decision to rush through the last few chapters this week, so I can have a proper break before I start recapping Darker.  Self-care, yo.  It’s a real thing and I need to exercise it.

If this isn’t the last chapter, then God help me, there’ll be another recap, later tonight after I finish work, because I am ENDING THIS TODAY.  If it technically is the last chapter, but then there’s an epilogue (which is my FEAR), then the epilogue is getting tagged onto the end of this post, because DAMN IT I HAVE HAD ENOUGH, NOW.

In yesterday’s recap, we covered a completely pointless, ludicrously (mercifully?!) short chapter, in which almost nothing happened.  If you haven’t got around to reading it, let me catch you up: Grey felt sorry for himself, he had a bad dream, felt sorry for himself, stalked Ana’s apartment, felt sorry for himself, found out Leila’s husband had dumped her, felt sorry for himself and noticed that his staff also felt sorry for him, which made him feel sorry for himself.  There you go, you’re up to speed.

This chapter begins with Grey at his piano.  And having spent a solid day feeling sorry for himself, he’s now moving on to blaming Ana for not trying hard enough:

I dread going to bed. It’s after midnight, and I’m tired, but I sit at my piano, playing the Bach Marcello piece over and over again. Remembering her head resting on my shoulder, I can almost smell her sweet fragrance.

For fuck’s sake, she said she’d try!

I stop playing and clutch my head in both hands, my elbows hammering out two discordant chords as I lean on the keys. She said she’d try, but she fell at the first hurdle.

Then she ran.

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We’re conveniently leaving out the fact that she said she’d “try” because she was manipulated into it, with his constant “I need this, Anastasia” and his incessant hounding of her over the contract and his desire to control her.  But sure, she let you down.

I want to fire this cretin into space, but heaven forbid aliens should encounter Christian Grey and genuinely believe he represents humanity as a whole.

Grey then does at least analyse his part in why she ran away from him, but notice he doesn’t truly blame himself:

Why did I hit her so hard?

Deep inside I know the answer—because she asked me to, and I was too impetuous and selfish to resist the temptation. Seduced by her challenge, I seized the opportunity to move us on to where I wanted us to be. And she didn’t safe-word, and I hurt her more than she could take—when I promised her I’d never do that.

He’s STILL blaming her for asking him to show her how bad it could be.  He admits he hit her too hard and he knows he hurt her more than she could take – breaking the promise he made to her in the process – but rather than simply go “okay, I was wrong, here,” there is still blame being apportioned to Ana.  She didn’t use her safe word.  She asked for it in the first place.  Whilst those things are both true, let’s remember that Grey is the experienced one in this situation and he was very aware of how naive she was about the whole BDSM scene.  He’s now confessing that he knew he was beating her too hard with the belt and he didn’t stop himself.

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Then he goes into his regular self-pity party and starts moping:

Why the hell would she want to be with me, anyway?

Because she’s EL James’ messed-up self-insert and for some deeply unhealthy reason, EL thinks you being an abusive fuckwit is hot.  Ugh.

He contemplates getting drunk, but decides against it, before going to bed and hoping he dreams of Ana, if he’s going to dream at all.  But this book hates me, so he has a mommy-dream, instead (TW):

Mommy is pretty today. She sits down and lets me brush her hair. She looks at me in the mirror and she smiles her special smile. Her special smile for me. There is a loud noise. A crash. He’s back. No! Where the fuck are you, bitch? Got a friend in need here. A friend with dough. Mommy stands and takes my hand and pushes me into her closet. I sit on her shoes and try to be quiet and cover my ears and close my eyes tight. The clothes smell of Mommy. I like the smell. I like being here. Away from him. He is shouting. Where is the little fucking runt? He has my hair and he pulls me out of the closet. Don’t want you spoiling the party, you little shit. He slaps Mommy hard on her face. Make it good for my friend and you get your fix, bitch. Mommy looks at me and she has tears. Don’t cry, Mommy. Another man comes into the room. A big man with dirty hair. The big man smiles at Mommy. I am pulled into the other room. He pushes me onto the floor and I hurt my knees. Now, what am I going to do with you, you piece of shit? He smells nasty. He smells of beer and he is smoking a cigarette.

The ONLY reason for including these graphic scenes of child abuse is to make the reader feel sorry for Christian and to use this awful period of his childhood as an excuse for the way he behaves as an adult.  This is utterly wrong on every level.  I say this so often I’m sure you’re all bored to tears with it, but I’m saying it again:

YOU CAN FEEL SORRY FOR THE LITTLE BOY WHO WAS ABUSED WITHOUT THEN USING IT TO EXCUSE THE FACT THAT THE ADULT HE GREW INTO CHOOSES TO BEHAVE ABUSIVELY TOWARDS OTHERS.  DOING THE WHOLE “LOOK HOW BAD HIS CHILDHOOD WAS – HOW CAN YOU CRITICISE THE WAY HE BEHAVES NOW?!” THING IS INSULTING TO ABUSE SURVIVORS AND SHOWS A COMPLETE AND UTTER DISREGARD FOR THE FACT THAT CHRISTIAN IS NOW AN ADULT, WHO KNOWS RIGHT FROM WRONG, WHO IS SURROUNDED BY HEALTHY, LOVING RELATIONSHIPS, AND YET CHOOSES TO BEHAVE HARMFULLY TOWARDS OTHERS, DESPITE KNOWING HOW TRAUMATIC ABUSE IS, ON A PERSONAL LEVEL.  JUST BECAUSE THE ABUSE HE DISHES OUT TAKES A DIFFERENT FORM TO THE ABUSE HE SUFFERED PERSONALLY, DOES NOT MAKE IT SOMEHOW FUCKING BETTER.

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Sorry, but my abuser blamed his tragic childhood for the way he treated me.  The original Fifty Shades book freaking traumatised me when I read it, because it was basically saying “hey, if a person is abused as a kid, they have carte blanche to abuse you as an adult and you’re a heartless bitch if you don’t try to understand and CURE them with your love.”  In Grey, we see that message magnified a thousand times and I actually want EL James to know what a shitty author and lousy person she is for perpetuating this dangerous, harmful crap.

Grey wakes from his nightmare and – laughably – thinks about needing to see his (useless quack of a) therapist.  Then he subtly blames Ana for the nightmares, because she’s not there to stop them:

I need to see Flynn. The nightmares are worse than ever. I didn’t have nightmares when I slept with Ana beside me.

Screw you.

Grey tells the reader he never felt inclined to sleep next to a sub, until he met Ana.  And then he says something rapey as hell:

I’d watched my subs sleep before, but it was always as a prelude to waking them for some sexual relief.

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Red, because we all know Grey believes that sex whenever he wants it, with “no” not being an option, to be a perfectly reasonable thing to demand.  Also, watching a person sleep purely to then wake them and demand they pleasure you sexually is creepy as fuck.

We get a boring description of how lovely it was to sleep next to Ana and how beautiful she looked when she was sleeping with him.  Grey then gets up and goes to his office, where he gazes sadly at the model glider she bought him.  The self-pity continues:

It was her last gift to me. Her first gift being…what?

Of course. Herself.

She sacrificed herself to my need. My greed. My lust. My ego…my fucking damaged ego.

Damn, will this pain ever just stop?

I hope not.  I hope it kills you.  I hope it really hurts and then you die.

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The following morning, Gail offers Grey breakfast and he refuses, asking for coffee and nothing else.  Gail notes that he didn’t eat any dinner the night before, but Grey insists on not having any food now, either.  Note the hypocrisy of this, because we all know that he will threaten to non-consensually beat Ana over not wanting food, yet when he wants to starve himself, nobody is allowed to question it.

He calls Ros from the car on his way to work and the stalker behaviour begins again.  First he tells her he wants the takeover of SIP handled “quickly.”  Then, he’s disappointed when Detroit is shown to be the better site for the new plant (or whatever, I don’t care enough) to be built, rather than Savannah.  Remember, he wanted to build it in Savannah, so he could spy on Ana whenever she visited her mother.  Because this is what love really is, you guys…

He continues to brood on his way to work, wondering how Ana is and in turn, doing the whole “nobody loves me” routine like a freaking pro:

She can’t love me.

And certainly not now—not after all I’ve done to her. No one’s ever said they loved me, except Mom and Dad, of course, but even then it was out of their sense of duty. Flynn’s nagging words about unconditional parental love—even for kids who are adopted—ring in my head. But I’ve never been convinced; I’ve been nothing but a disappointment to them.

“THEY SAY THEY LOVE ME, BUT THEY DON’T!  THEY SHOWER ME WITH LAVISH GIFTS AND OFFER ME ALL THE OPPORTUNITIES IN THE FREAKING WORLD, BUT THEY DON’T ACTUALLY CARE!  MY FAMILY CALL ME AND WANT TO TALK TO ME ABOUT MY LIFE OR HANG OUT WITH ME BUT THEY DON’T LOVE ME!  WAAAAAAAA!”

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As Grey goes into the building to start his work day, he immediately decides poor Olivia is eyeing him up again and plans to have her moved to another department so he can brood without her around:

ANDREA AND OLIVIA BOTH look up as I come out of the elevator. Olivia flutters her eyelashes and tucks a strand of hair behind her ear. Christ—I’m done with this silly girl. I need HR to move her to another department.

I really want Olivia to be gay.

Grey orders her to fetch him coffee and a croissant and then he demands that Andrea gets various people to call him, adding that he’s not to be disturbed unless Ana calls.  WHICH IS IT, GREY?!  DO YOU WANT THESE PEOPLE TO CALL, OR DO YOU WANT TO BE UNDISTURBED UNLESS ANA CALLS?!  I AM SO CONFUSED.

As he sits down behind his desk, he starts thinking of Ana (HAHAHA, I mean, he CONTINUES thinking about her; he never does anything ELSE).  He begins to worry that she’ll meet another man and forget about him, so he starts pondering what he can do to ensure he stays in her mind.

She’ll be starting her new job this morning, meeting new people…new men. The thought is depressing. She’ll forget me.

No, she won’t forget me. Women always remember the first man they fucked, don’t they? I’ll always hold a place in her memory, for that alone. But I don’t want to be a memory: I want to stay in her mind. I need to stay in her mind. What can I do?

Why do I get the feeling something gross, creepy and invasive is going to happen, soon?!

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Grey has the glider with him at work, which apparently people are noticing.  I’m not sure I’d give a shit if my abusive, gross boss had a new model plane on his desk, but okay.  He’s the centre of the sodding universe, so of course people notice it.

Grey orders flowers for Ana, but not because he’s actually sorry or he cares or anything.  It’s just so she won’t forget him, when she’s working with other men:

BETWEEN MEETINGS I CALL the florist and order two dozen white roses for Ana, to be delivered to her home this evening. That way she won’t be embarrassed or inconvenienced at work.

And she won’t be able to forget me.

Red, because he’s trying to manipulate her, even though she’s walked away from him.

The florist asks if Grey would like to add a message to the bouquet he’s sending and he genuinely thinks something abuse-tastic:

What to say?

Come back. I’m sorry. I won’t hit you again.

I…  I just…  This has no place in a “LOVE story.”  EL James can use the “shouty capitals” in her Twitter bio as much as she freaking likes.  She’s written an abuser and sold him as a hero and nothing will ever change that.

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Grey eventually settles on something that makes him sound less like the psychopath he is:

“Um…something like, ‘Congratulations on your first day at work. I hope it went well.’  ” I spy the glider on my desk. “ ‘And thank you for the glider. That was very thoughtful. It has pride of place on my desk. Christian.’  ”

The florist reads it back to me.

Damn, it doesn’t express what I want to say to her at all.

That’s because what you want to say is abusive and creepy.

We cut to Claude Bastille – Christian Grey’s personal trainer, in case brain-bleaching at the end of these recaps made you forget – sparring with Grey.  Grey is taking his anger out on him and knocking Claude to the ground, which is totally healthy, seeing as not being able to control how hard he hits someone is literally what got him into this mess in the first place…

At first, Claude tells him to focus on his sparring and not whatever’s on his mind, but literally a couple of paragraphs later, he changes his mind and tells Grey that having woman troubles is helping his fighting technique.  I sincerely believe this is shoe-horned in here as just another way to have another character tell Grey how good Ana is for him.  Because, remember, the onus on making Grey a better person and improving his life is on Ana, never on Grey, himself:

“Concentrate, Grey. None of your boardroom bullshit in here. Or is it a girl? Some fine piece of ass finally cramping your cool.” He sneers, goading me. It works: I middle-kick to his side and drop-punch once, then twice, and he staggers back, dreadlocks flying.

“Mind your own fucking business, Bastille.”

“Whoa, we have found the source of the pain,” Claude crows in triumph. He swings suddenly, but I anticipate his action and block him, thrusting up with a punch and a swift kick. He jumps back this time, impressed.

“Whatever shit’s happening in your privileged little world, Grey, it’s working. Bring it on.”

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On the way home from work, Grey decides to involve Taylor in his stalking of Ana:

“Taylor, can we make a detour?”

“Where to, sir?”

“Can you drive past Miss Steele’s apartment?”

“Yes, sir.”

I’ve got used to this ache. It seems to be ever-present, like tinnitus. In meetings it’s muted and less obtrusive; it’s only when I’m alone with my thoughts that it flares up and rages inside me. How long does this last?

As we approach her apartment, my heartbeat spikes.

Perhaps I’ll see her.

The possibility is thrilling and unsettling. And I realize that I have thought of nothing but her since she left. Her absence is my constant companion.

“Drive slow,” I instruct Taylor as we near her building.

‘DRIVE SLOW, SO I CAN REALLY CREEP HER OUT IF SHE’S IN AND SHE SEES ME, BECAUSE I NEED HER TO REMEMBER SHE IS MY PROPERTY AT ALL TIMES AND IF NOTHING ELSE, HOPEFULLY THIS WILL MESS WITH HER HEAD.  BY THE WAY, I AM A ROMANTIC HERO AND THIS IS SEXY AND PASSIONATE AND NOT AT ALL INVASIVE AND UTTERLY DISGUSTING.”

Grey notices that the lights are on and ups his creep-factor a few notches:

She’s home!

I hope she’s alone, and missing me.

Because she must never move on with her life, ever.  He loves her so much, he wants her miserable.  SWOON.

Has she received my flowers?

I want to check my phone to see if she’s sent me a message, but I can’t drag my gaze away from her apartment; I don’t want to miss seeing her. Is she well? Is she thinking about me? I wonder how her first day at work went.

“Again, sir?” Taylor asks, as we slowly cruise past, and the apartment disappears from view.

“No.” I exhale; I hadn’t realized I’d stopped breathing.

I wish you’d never restarted.

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When Grey gets home, he checks his phone and finds a message from Elena, asking if he’s okay.  He ignores it.  Because nobody cares how he is, remember?!

Then, Grey gets a glass of cognac and heads into his library, wondering why he never showed it to Ana.  He imagines fucking her over the billiard table (because he LOVES her and it’s not at ALL just lust and obsession), thinks about how he can’t bear being without her and…

…And then he leaves the room and this chapter ends but the fucking book doesn’t and I actually want to cry.

I’ll recap the next (LAST?!  PLEASE??!!) chapter tonight.  I just need this book out of my life by the end of the day.

UGH.

 

Grey Chapter 21 (Sunday June 5, 2011)

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Hello again!

You’re probably wondering why the heck I’m doing another recap so soon, so I’ll be honest with you: last night wasn’t fun.  These recaps aren’t fun.  And before I start Darker, I want a bit of a break.  I’d planned to miss a week (because I’m away this weekend), then recap what I PRAY is the last chapter of Grey next weekend, then launch straight into Darker a week or so later.  But after last night, I decided: NOPE.  I’m going to get this book DONE, then have a fortnight or so off, before I start tackling the next one.  And because I really do seriously want this book over with, I don’t want to have a week off and then come back to it when I get back.  I want it finished now.  I don’t want recapping the final chapter(s?!) hanging over my head like some portent of DOOM.

So, damnit, we’re doing it now.

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We last saw Grey just after Ana had left him, following his beating of her with a belt (which, technically, she consented to, but… DON’T GET ME STARTED, OKAY?!).  He spent literally paragraph after paragraph, moping like a teenager, feeling extraordinarily sorry for himself.

This chapter starts with…

…Him moping like a teenager, feeling extraordinarily sorry for himself.

Oh, good.

I gaze up at the bedroom ceiling. Sleep eludes me. I’m tormented by Ana’s fragrance, which still clings to my bedsheets. I pull her pillow over my face to breathe in her scent. It’s torture, it’s heaven, and for a moment I contemplate death by suffocation.

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Sadly, Grey tells himself to get a grip.  He then informs the reader that he never usually reruns events in his mind, wondering where he went wrong (side note: you should definitely start, dude), but that it’s all he’s doing over this situation.  He reaches the conclusion that this ending was always going to be the outcome and it’s better than it ended sooner rather than later, before he inflicted any further pain on Ana.

Eventually, he falls asleep and – naturally – has a traumatic dream:

Mommy can’t see me. I stand in front of her. She can’t see me. She’s asleep with her eyes open. Or sick.

I hear a rattle. His keys. He’s back.

I run and hide and make myself small under the table in the kitchen. My cars are here with me.

Bang. The door slams shut, making me jump.

Through my fingers I see Mommy. She turns her head to see him. Then she’s asleep on the couch. He’s wearing his big boots with the shiny buckles and standing over Mommy shouting. He hits Mommy with a belt. Get Up! Get Up! You are one fucked-up bitch. You are one fucked-up bitch. Mommy makes a noise. A wailing noise.

So, here we have some not-remotely-subtle manipulation, aimed at making the reader feel bad for Grey because Ana called him “one fucked-up son of a bitch” and it has brought back memories of his mother’s abuser using a very similar expression against her.

Two things:

  1. You can have sympathy for Christian as a child, without also having to extend that sympathy to the adult man who chooses his actions and therefore makes a choice to behave abusively.
  2. Christian Grey – the adult – IS fucked-up.  And not in a ‘cute’ “ooh, I want to fix him,” way.  In a “oh, I see, he’s tracking the cell phone of a woman he barely knows because he wants to obsessively control her,” sort of way.  What I’m saying is, adding the “son of a bitch” part was unnecessary, but aside from that, what Ana said was CORRECT.

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In Grey’s flashback-dream, he sees the pimp beating his mother and little-Christian runs to protect her, hitting the pimp, himself.  The guy laughs and smacks Christian across the face, causing his mother to scream out “no!”

Side note:  Look what a bitch Ella was, screaming to try to protect her child…

The pimp comes to find where Christian is hiding, slapping the belt across his legs and grinning when he discovers Christian under the table.

The connection between the abuser beating Grey’s mother with a belt and Grey choosing to beat Ana with a belt (and enjoying hitting women who look like his mother) is not lost on me.

If only Dr Flynn wasn’t a quack, because seriously.  This dude is just ALL ISSUES.

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Grey wakes up from his dream and – despite having just recalled his mother screaming “no” at her abuser when said abuser attacked Christian – he STILL refers to his mother as “the crack whore” in his next thoughts:

You are one fucked-up son of a bitch.

Ana’s words ring in my head.

Like his.

Fuck.

I couldn’t help the crack whore.

I tried. Good God, I tried.

There you are, you little shit.

But I could help Ana.

I let her go.

 

And then you’ll manipulate her into taking you back, so…  What are you trying to prove here?  Because if it’s what a good person you are, HAHAHAHAHAHAHA, no.

After getting aroused by the thought of Ana, then getting depressed by the thought of no more Ana, Grey eventually decides to go for one of his early morning runs.  And, because he’s a massive creep, he decides to go jogging by her new apartment, in the hope of catching a glimpse of her:

I find myself running down Vine Street, and I know it’s insane, but I hope to see her. As I near her street my heart races still harder and my anxiety escalates. I’m not desperate to see her—I just want to check that she’s okay. No, that’s not true. I want to see her. Finally on her street, I pace past her apartment building.

All is quiet—an Oldsmobile trundles up the road, two dog walkers are out—but there’s no sign of life from inside her apartment. Crossing the street, I pause on the sidewalk opposite, then duck into the doorway of an apartment building to catch my breath.

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Grey tries to work out which room is Ana’s (he went to her old apartment, but has never visited the new one, so isn’t sure – coolio, not at all creepy) and notes that the curtains of one room are closed, but the curtains in the other rooms in the apartment are open.  Naturally, this makes Grey wonder whether Ana went out, got drunk and picked up some guy, hence the closed curtains.  It couldn’t at all be because it’s barely even 6:30am at this point.  He then gets massively overdramatic and possessive over the mere idea of Ana being with someone else:

Bile rises in my throat. The thought of her body in someone else’s hands, some asshole basking in the warmth of her smile, making her giggle, making her laugh—making her come. It takes all my self-control not to go barging through the front door of her apartment to check that she’s there and on her own.

You know what, shit-stain?  She is perfectly entitled to have her legs wrapped around some other dude, right now.  I mean, we know she hasn’t (unfortunately), but she could if she wanted to.  Because she is NOT your property and you brought this all on yourself (which he does at least admit to – bringing this on himself, anyway).

After he turns to jog home, we jump cut to dusk, when he’s finishing his working day.  And he’s already onto his second stalker act of the day – taking over Ana’s new workplace so he can spy on her, there:

Ros has worked hard, too. She’s prepared and sent me a first draft business plan and letter of intent for SIP.

At least I’ll be able to keep an eye on Ana.

The thought is painful and appealing in equal measure.

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This was totally out of line when he was dating Ana and was planning on trying to control her career, despite her explicitly asking him not to.  Now that they’re separated?!  It’s a billion times more gross.

This behaviour warrants a fucking restraining order, not a number one position on a bestseller list, labelled “romance.”

Grey gets a text from Elliot asking him to go for a beer with him.  Grey lies that he’s busy and Elliot – in a moment which earns him a zillion Emma points – texts back: “fuck you, then.”

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Grey goes past the kitchen and Gail asks if chicken chasseur is okay for dinner.  He agrees, then Gail asks whether she’s cooking for two people and Grey responds “one.”  He then notes that Gail begins to say something else and stops herself.  He decides to go for another shower and…

…WHAT IS THIS FUCKING BULLSHIT??!!  THE CHAPTER ENDS AND THERE’S ANOTHER ONE??!!  WHY WON’T THIS BOOK END?!  DOES IT EVEN HAVE AN END?!  DOES IT GAIN PAGES OVERNIGHT SO THAT EVERY TIME I THINK IT’S ALMOST OVER, IT CAN SNEAK UP ON ME, LIKE “HAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAAA” OR SOMETHING???!!  WHY DOES EL JAMES WRITE CHAPTERS THAT ARE NINETY THOUSAND PAGES LONG AND THEN THROW IN THIS UTTERLY UNNECESSARY, SHORT CRAP NEAR THE END??!!  I FEEL PERSONALLY ATTACKED BY THIS GODDAMN BOOK.

FUCK THIS.

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Grey thinks:

Christ, even my staff have noticed that something’s rotten in the state of fucking Denmark.

And then, apparently, that’s the end of another chapter that is not the last one in this bloody book.

I’ll recap the next one either by the end of tonight, or tomorrow, fingers crossed.  I WANT OUT.

 

 

Grey Chapter 20 (Saturday, June 4, 2011)

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Today, I have mostly been eating cake.  It has become a tradition to do something awesome on the day I write these recaps, to counter the horror of, you know, reading the damn book.  So, today, I went to eat classic French patisserie and discovered a place that is both a quirky tea room (complete with novelty tea-pots and a milk jug in the shape of a cow) and a tattoo studio.  Now, I’m ready to tackle the shit-fest that is EL James’ appalling romanticism of abuse.  Or, at least, as ready as I’ll ever be…

This chapter begins with Grey dreaming (because OF COURSE IT DAMN WELL DOES):

The summer breeze teases my hair, its caress the nimble fingers of a lover.

My lover.

Ana.

In case you had forgotten who Grey’s lover was, it’s Ana.  Good of EL to clear that up.

Grey wakes up, convinced someone has just actually run their fingers through his hair, but Ana is fast asleep beside him.  He scans the room, but concludes that he and Ana are alone.

Strange. I could swear someone was here. Someone touched me.

It was just a dream.

Holy foreshadowing, Batman.  As an aside, in my dreams, Leila appears at this moment and butchers Grey into a slimy paste, before retreating back into the TV set she climbed out of.

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You can blame EL James’ horrific portrayal of Leila and her mental illness for the fact that I picture her this way.

Grey starts feeling mocked by his own smoke alarm again (no, really) and there’s a weird segue from his pondering about he and Ana’s lack of a contract, to the sudden thought of Leila:

I stare at the ceiling, the flashing light of the smoke alarm taunting me once more. We have no contract. Yet Ana’s here. Beside me. What does this mean? How am I supposed to deal with her? Will she abide by my rules? I need to know that she’s safe. I rub my face. This is uncharted territory for me; it’s out of my control, and it’s unsettling.

Leila pops into my mind.

Shit.

I like to read these internal thoughts in the most boring voice possible, so that the “shit” seems really sarcastic.  It’s one of my little coping techniques for these books, which you are welcome to borrow.

Grey is now too wide awake and too stressed about Leila and Ana to sleep.  So, he heads to moodily play the piano.

Chopin is my solace; the somber notes match my mood and I play them over and over. A small movement at the edge of my vision catches my attention, and looking up, I see it’s Ana coming toward me, her footsteps hesitant. “You should be asleep,” I mutter, but continue playing.

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I googled “moody piano playing gif” and…  How could I not use that?!

Ana wakes up and comes to sit beside Grey.  She lies her head on his shoulder as he plays piano and he almost loses his place in the prelude he’s playing, but manages to continue, because he’s such a freaking hero.  He tells us he feels more at peace because she’s with him, which is just super, because we all love it when we get beaten over the head with this “ANA CAN NEVER LEAVE HIM BECAUSE SHE’S CURING HIM, SOMEHOW” bullshit.

Ana asks him to play the piece she heard him play on the night she first stayed over and apparently even playing songs by request is something new and strange for Grey, because usually everything is about his solitary, control-freak-self:

I can’t remember when I last played for someone upon request. For me the piano is a solitary instrument, for my ears only. My family hasn’t heard me play for years. But since she’s asked, I’ll play for my sweet Ana.

“For My Sweet Ana” was not the piece she asked you to play.

I’m not even sorry for that bad joke.

Ana asks a few questions about how Grey started learning the piano to please his new mother and inwardly, Grey immediately groans about not wanting to talk about his personal history, because that’s all he ever does.  Ana explains that she’s up early because she needs to take her pill and he gently (for a change) chastises her for starting it in a different time zone.  He suggests she takes it half an hour later each day until she can start regularly taking it at a sensible time and she asks what he’d like to do for half an hour.  Naturally, Grey wants to have sex and Ana wants to talk, because they’re perfectly matched at all times.

“Good plan,” she says. “So what shall we do for half an hour?”

Well, I could fuck you over this piano.

“I can think of a few things.” My voice is seductive.

“On the other hand, we could talk.” She smiles, provocative.

I’m not in the mood for talking. “I prefer what I have in mind.” I snake my arm around her waist, pull her into my lap, and nuzzle her hair.

“You’d always rather have sex than talk.” She laughs.

HAHAHA IT’S SO CUTE THAT HE DISTRACTS YOU WITH SEX EVERY TIME YOU WANT A SERIOUS CONVERSATION!  HAHAHAHAAAA, IT’S NOT AT ALL MANIPULATIVE AND SHIT, HAHAHAHAAAA!

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Ana wants to discuss their lack of a signed contract and says as much.  Grey, as always, thinks the important parts of his side of the conversation, rather than saying them out loud, because he’s an asshole:

“I want to get something straight.” She speaks quietly in my ear.

“Always so eager for information, Miss Steele. What needs straightening out?” Her skin is soft and warm against my lips as I nudge her bathrobe off her shoulder with my nose.

“Us,” she says, and the simple word sounds like a prayer.

“Hmm. What about us?” I pause. Where is she going with this?

“The contract.”

I stop and stare down into her shrewd gaze. Why is she doing this now? My fingers glide down her cheek.

“Well, I think the contract is moot, don’t you?”

“Moot?” she says, and her lips soften with the hint of a smile.

“Moot.” I mirror her expression.

“But you were so keen.” Uncertainty clouds Ana’s eyes.

“Well, that was before. Anyway, the rules aren’t moot, they still stand.” I need to know you’re safe.

“Before? Before what?”

“Before—” Before all this. Before you turned my world upside down, before you sleeping with me. Before you laid your head on my shoulder at the piano. It’s all . . . “More,” I murmur, driving away the now-familiar unease in my gut.

They then have a conversation about consent that really, really shows up how little research into BDSM EL James actually did.  Because Ana asks about rules, seeing as they’re no longer actually following the contract to the letter and Grey says he’ll still punish her for breaking them.  Ana says “even if I say no?” and Grey basically tells her that if she says no, he’ll find a way of manipulating her into changing her mind:

The v between her brows is back. “So, let me be clear. You just want me to follow the rules element of the contract all the time, but not the rest of the contract?”

“Except in the playroom. I want you to follow the spirit of the contract in the playroom, and yes, I want you to follow the rules—all the time. Then I’ll know you’re safe. And I’ll be able to have you anytime I wish,” I add flippantly.

“And if I break one of the rules?” she asks.

“Then I’ll punish you.”

“But won’t you need my permission?”

“Yes, I will.”

“And if I say no?” she persists.

Why is she being so willful?

“If you say no, you’ll say no. I’ll have to find a way to persuade you.” She should know this. She didn’t let me spank her in the boathouse, and I wanted to. But I got to do it later that evening…with her approval.

And “she should know this,” apparently.  She should know that if she refuses consent for something, he will find a way of manipulating her into agreeing to it either immediately or at a later date.

THAT IS NOT HOW CONSENT WORKS, YOU FUCKING FUCKSOCK.  And note that he actually thinks of Ana asking about the importance of her giving consent as her being “willful.”

FUCK THIS TOXIC BULLSHIT.

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Let me just state very clearly that it is not a part of a healthy BDSM relationship to just go “oh, you don’t consent?  Then I shall manipulate you until you do.”  If a sub says “no” to something, a Dom(me) listens.  They do NOT decide “well fuck that, I’ll find another way to make this person do what I want.”  For the freaking ZILLIONTH time, Grey is an abuser.  This is not BDSM.  I hate EL James.  I hate this franchise.  Please give me the sweet relief of death.  Or at least the sweet relief of not reading this shit, anymore.

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Ana decides that she needs to reread the rules of the contract, to see if she’s happy to try to stick to them.  Grey wonders why she feels the need to do this at 5am, but I strongly suspect he’d wonder why she felt the need to do it at any time.

Grey “fires up” his computer in order to print out the rules for her, and this turn of phrase makes me think of Grey as a fifty five year old dude who thinks he’s trendy.

Upon reading the rules, Ana notes that “the obedience thing still stands?”  When Grey confirms that yes, he expects her total obedience, Ana smirks and rolls her eyes.  Naturally, this gets Grey all excited, because he likes to threaten to spank her when she rolls her eyes.  Ana asks if that’s what he intends to do to her and he says yes, thinking only inwardly “if she’ll let me,” rather than openly speaking about the importance of her consent.  Ana suggests that he’ll have to catch her first and she plots to run away from him.

For Christian, this is all a very exciting, sexy game, but reading it, it’s fairly clear that he’s interpreting it as such, whilst there’s some genuine unwillingness to be caught, on Ana’s part:

Her eyes are on mine, brimming with excitement. Her teeth tease her lower lip.

“And you’re biting your lip.” Is she doing it on purpose? I move slowly to my left.

“You wouldn’t,” she taunts. “After all, you roll your eyes.” With her eyes fixed on me, she, too, moves to her left.

“Yes, but you’ve just raised the bar on the excitement stakes with this game.”

“I’m quite fast, you know,” she teases.

“So am I.”

How does she make everything so thrilling?

“Are you going to come quietly?”

“Do I ever?” She grins, taking the bait.

“Miss Steele, what do you mean?” I stalk her around the kitchen island. “It’ll be worse for you if I have to come and get you.”

“That’s only if you catch me, Christian. And right now, I have no intention of letting you catch me.”

Is she serious?

“Anastasia, you may fall and hurt yourself. Which will put you in direct contravention of rule number seven, now six.”

“I have been in danger since I met you, Mr. Grey, rules or no rules.”

“Yes, you have.”

Grey finally cottons on to the fact that maybe Ana is trying to make a point, but he still carries on chasing her:

Perhaps this is not a game. Is she trying to tell me something? She hesitates, and I make a sudden lunge to grab her. She squeals and dashes around the island, to the relative safety of the opposite side of the dining table.

At last, Ana confesses to him that she doesn’t want to be caught and punished:

She’s not backing down. I stop and fold my arms, reassessing my strategy. “We can do this all day, baby, but I will get you, and it will just be worse for you when I do.”

“No, you won’t,” she says, with absolute certainty.

I frown. “Anyone would think you didn’t want me to catch you.”

“I don’t. That’s the point. I feel about punishment the way you feel about me touching you.”

And from nowhere the darkness crawls over me, shrouding my skin, leaving an icy trail of despair in its wake.

No. No. I can’t bear to be touched. Ever.

“That’s how you feel?” It’s like she’s touched me, her nails leaving white tracks over my chest.

She blinks several times, assessing my reaction, and when she speaks her voice is gentle. “No. It doesn’t affect me quite as much as that, but it gives you an idea.” Her expression is anxious.

Well, hell! This shines a whole different light on our relationship. “Oh,” I mutter, because I can’t think of anything else to say.

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This is pretty vital.  Because not only would a responsible Dom(me) think “wow, we’re not at all compatible” and either consider an entirely vanilla relationship or no relationship at all, a decent person (Dominant or otherwise) would focus on how the other person feels as well as how they feel, themselves.  Christian doesn’t.  He just makes this all about his own reaction to her confession.  It’s as harmful to him as being touched is, supposedly.  So, he’s essentially making Ana saying “I don’t like being hit” into “she has traumatised me.”  Nice.  Slow clap for Grey.

“You hate it that much?” I whisper.

This is it. We are really incompatible.

HUZZAH!  HE REALISES!

No. I don’t want to believe that.

OF COURSE.  BRB, hitting my head against a wall…

“Well…no,” she says, and relief washes through me. “No,” she continues. “I feel ambivalent about it. I don’t like it, but I don’t hate it.”

Note he’s still thinking of himself and his needs.  He doesn’t want to believe they’re incompatible and at this stage, I don’t feel like it’s because he loves her, it’s because he wants her and those are two very different things.

Ana goes on to confess that she allows him to spank her because he’s told her he needs to:

“I do it for you, Christian, because you need it. I don’t. You didn’t hurt me last night. That was in a different context, and I can rationalize that internally, and I trust you. But when you want to punish me, I worry that you’ll hurt me.”

Fuck. Tell her.

It’s truth-or-dare time, Grey.

“I want to hurt you. But not beyond anything that you couldn’t take.” I’d never go too far.

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“Why?”

“I just need it,” I whisper. “I can’t tell you.”

“Can’t or won’t?”

“Won’t.”

“So you know why?”

“Yes.”

“But you won’t tell me.”

“If I do, you will run screaming from this room, and you’ll never want to return. I can’t risk that, Anastasia.”

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I.

AM.

SO.

FUCKING.

DONE.

WITH.

THIS.

SHIT.

This is the crucial point in their relationship to date.  Ana is literally saying to him “look, I don’t do this because I enjoy it, I do it because you say you need it.”  That should prompt an open, honest discussion about what they both want out of their relationship and how they want things to be, going forward (if they actually go forward, considering how incompatible they are).  What Ana really needs at this point is for him to be as honest with her as she just has been with him.  Instead, she gets him admitting that he wants to hurt her, but refusing to tell her why.  This is not healthy.  This is as far removed from healthy as possible.  And his admission that if he told her the truth, she’d run screaming, only serves to make him sound creepy as fuck, and any rational adult would know that saying something like that rather than being honest is far worse than whatever the truth actually is.

But Ana only fixates on the fact that he’s said he couldn’t bear to lose her.  Because of course she fucking does.

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“You want me to stay.”

“More than you know. I couldn’t bear to lose you.”

It’s bad enough that Grey is refusing to be honest with Ana, but is still manipulating her by saying he doesn’t want to lose her (when she has every right to nope the heck out of this situation if she chooses to), but he then makes it worse, by finally admitting to what she said in her sleep and using that to further guilt her into staying:

“Don’t leave me,” I whisper against her lips. “You said you wouldn’t leave me, and you begged me not to leave you, in your sleep.”

FUCKING STOP MANIPULATING HER, YOU VILE, VILE MAN.

He’s literally just refused to be honest with her, telling her that if he told her the truth, she’d run screaming from the room.  And instead of giving her the chance to make an informed decision, he’s now doing the poor, tortured boy routine, which he knows will make her want to stay.  I am SO done with this shit, you have no idea.

“I don’t want to go,” she says, but her eyes are searching mine, looking for answers. And I’m exposed—my ugly, torn soul on display.

I could not give less of a shit about his torn soul, at this point.  And I hate EL James for using David Tennant’s last lines as the Doctor in this steaming pile of crap.

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This is the point at which Ana tells Grey she wants him to show her how bad it can get.  I’ve been sort of dreading getting to this point, because we know the first book ends with him beating Ana with a belt until she cries and whilst I know she doesn’t use her safe word (and a lot of fans defend him because of this), I still maintain that if he was a responsible Dom, he might have stopped to check on her and see how she was reacting, rather than getting carried away with hitting her as hard as he can.

So, seeing it from his viewpoint could make for…interesting reading.

Ana makes her request:

“Show me,” she says.

And I don’t know what she means.

“Show you?”

“Show me how much it can hurt.”

“What?” I lean back and stare at her in disbelief.

“Punish me. I want to know how bad it can get.”

Oh no. I release her and step out of her reach.

She gazes at me: open, honest, serious. She’s offering herself to me once more; mine for the taking, to do with as I wish. I’m stunned. She’d fulfill this need for me? I can’t believe it.

Again, notice it’s all about him.  He hasn’t once thought about how this might affect her, beyond a brief “oh no,” which is ambiguous and may not even relate to her feelings.   He’s thinking of her as his to do with as he pleases.  It should be pretty obvious that someone saying “show me how bad it can be,” having previously admitted that they’re only doing this for the other person’s sake, is not going into this with enthusiastic consent, but hey.  This is Christian Grey.  He doesn’t care about that.

Ana makes it clear that she feels they need to do this in order to work out whether they have a future, together.  She also suggests that she’s hoping that this will be some sort of trade – if he beats her as hard as he wants to, maybe she can touch him, the way she’s been longing to.  Grey is very quick to back away from that idea, but he decides he definitely wants to beat her very hard:

“Ana, you’re so confusing.”

“I’m confused, too. I’m trying to work this out. And you and I will know, once and for all, if I can do this. If I can handle this, then maybe you—”

She stops, and I take a further step back. She wants to touch me.

No.

But if we do this, then I’ll know. She’ll know.

We’re here much sooner than I thought we’d be.

Can I do this?

And in that moment I know there’s nothing I want more…There’s nothing that will satisfy the monster within me more.

Is it too late to nope my way out of finishing this book?!

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ALL the trigger warnings apply from here on:

Before I can change my mind I grasp her arm and lead her upstairs to the playroom.

Note that he thinks “before I can change MY mind,” when quite frankly, I firmly believe this is more a case of “before SHE can change HER mind.”

At the door I stop. “I’ll show you how bad it can be, and you can make your own mind up. Are you ready for this?”

She nods, her face set with the stubborn determination that I’ve come to know so well.

So be it.

Again, stubborn determination is not the same as enthusiastic consent.  I don’t actually care that she’s saying “do this.”  She’s also explained the reasons behind why she’s saying it and I feel like it’s Grey’s responsibility to have been honest with her about why he wants to hurt her, before he actually, you know, does it.

Damn, I’m glad I ate cake, earlier.  I wish I had more cake, now.

Let’s all think of cake, for a while:

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Grey then actually admits that I was right about the whole “before SHE changes HER mind” thing:

I open the door, quickly grab a belt from the rack before she changes her mind, and lead her to the bench in the corner of the room.

Safe, sane and consensual my ass.

“Bend over the bench,” I order quietly.

She does as she’s told, saying nothing.

“We’re here because you said yes, Anastasia. And you ran from me. I am going to hit you six times, and you will count with me.”

Still she says nothing.

Subtle bit of blame-placing, there.  Yes, they technically are there because she said yes, but the way he says it has a distinct “you wanted this, remember?” vibe that I feel VERY uncomfortable with.  Coupled with Ana’s silence, it just creeps me out.

He rolls up the bathrobe she’s wearing and stares at her “beautiful behind” for a while, thinking:

This is it. What I want. What I’ve been working toward.

What HE wants.  What HE’S been working toward.  Not what SHE wants.  None of this has EVER been about what SHE wants.  I feel like I need to stare at pictures of my unrequited love just to remind myself that good people exist, at this point.  Or puppies.  Damnit, I need a puppy gif.

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Seriously, exercise self-care, you guys.  If you need to stop reading, please do.  I GET IT.

Grey tells Ana why he’s going to punish her:

“I am doing this so that you remember not to run from me, and as exciting as it is, I never want you to run from me. And you rolled your eyes at me. You know how I feel about that.” I take a deep breath, savoring this moment, trying to steady my thundering heartbeat.

I need this. This is what I do. And we’re finally here.

Again, sorry if I sound like a broken record, but he is ONLY thinking of HIS needs.  She has told him she’s only doing this for him, to see how bad it gets.  That is NOT the same as someone saying “YAY! Let’s do this!”  And THAT is what you should be looking for.

She can do it.

She’s never let me down yet.

So, now he’s thinking of her not wanting to be hit as letting him down, somehow.  Where is the concern for her pleasure?!

He prepares to hit her and thinks:

She won’t run. She’s asked me.

Little tip: if you’re about to do an intense BDSM scene with a very inexperienced submissive, I’m fairly sure “she won’t run” shouldn’t be a thought in your head.  Why?  Because you should have talked everything through and established that said submissive actually wants to do this.  In fact, this goes for any kind of sexual or intense interaction.  Your thought should be “this person is really up for this, I know because they’ve told me and their body language shows it,” not “they won’t run away because they asked for this.”

And Ana is currently silent and very, very still.  Her body language is not that of someone super duper excited for what’s to come.

And once again – this has happened before and it grossed me out then, too – Grey is less concerned about Ana’s reactions than he is about whether or not she uses her safe word.  Because if she does, he’ll have to stop.

Then I wield it, striking her across both cheeks, hard.

She cries out, in shock.

But she’s not called out the number…or the safe word.

“Count, Anastasia!” I demand.

“One!” she shouts.

Okay…no safe word.

Sure, this could be interpreted as him being responsible, listening out for a safe word which will mean she needs him to stop.  But it’s very hard to take it that way from a character who has been shown throughout this book as putting his own needs ahead of those of his partner.

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Grey carries on hitting her:

“Two!” she screams.

That’s right, let it out, baby.

I hit her once more.

“Three!” She winces.

There are three stripes across her backside.

I make it four.

“Let it out, baby” sounds like something you’d say to someone enjoying themselves.  Ana is described as wincing.  No, she hasn’t said her safe word (we know she doesn’t say it at any point), but given that she’s never experienced anything like this and has already said she’s only doing this for him and to see if she can handle it, I find the juxtaposition between her wincing in pain and him being all “let it out, baby” really grim.

She shouts the number, loud and clear.

There’s no one to hear you, baby. Shout all you need.

I belt her again.

Again, “there’s no one to hear you, baby” sounds massively creepy in this context.  I know he’s not saying it out loud, but… Actually, I’m not sure that would make matters any better.

With the next belting, Ana starts to audibly cry and Grey STILL doesn’t pause to check on her, purely because she doesn’t use her safe word.  And I KNOW fans – and even some critics – will stick up for him here, because she could use it and make everything stop, yet chooses not to.  But I will remind those people that Ana is stubborn, wants to prove to herself that she can do this for him and – most importantly – is audibly sobbing.  Safe word or not, with someone this inexperienced, it’s my view that he should have asked her if she was okay with him carrying on.  At the very least, he should have reminded her of her safe word and it being okay for her to use it at any time.  He doesn’t do that at all.

“Five,” she sobs, and I pause, waiting for her to safe-word.

She doesn’t.

And one for luck.

“Six,” Ana whispers, her voice forced and hoarse.

Afterwards, Grey is absolutely ecstatic, because he’s got what he wants.  He immediately thinks about how he’s finally reached the place he wants to be, in their relationship:

I drop the belt, savoring my sweet, euphoric release. I’m punch-drunk, breathless, and finally replete. Oh, this beautiful girl, my beautiful girl. I want to kiss every inch of her body. We’re here. Where I want to be. I reach for her, pulling her into my arms.

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But Ana does not want him touching her.  And Grey – thick as shit, as he is – is absolutely shocked that Ana might feel angry at him for physically hurting her, despite the fact that she’d compared being physically punished to his phobia of being touched, and despite the fact that she was literally sobbing as he carried on beating her:

“Let go. No—” She struggles out of my grasp, scrambling away from me, pushing and shoving and finally turning on me like a seething wildcat. “Don’t touch me!” she hisses. Her face is blotchy and smeared with tears, her nose is running, and her hair is a dark, tangled mess, but she has never looked so magnificent…and at the same time so angry.

Her anger crashes over me like a tidal wave.

She’s mad. Really mad.

Okay, I hadn’t figured on anger.

Give her a moment. Wait for the endorphins to kick in.

But rather than consider Ana’s feelings, even now, Grey is only preoccupied with his own.  And he decides that Ana’s rage is awakening feelings from his oh-so-tortured past:

My euphoria vanishes. I’m stunned, completely helpless and paralyzed by her anger. The crying I know and understand, but this rage…somewhere deep inside it resonates with me and I don’t want to think about that.

Don’t go there, Grey.

No, please DON’T go there.  Because this isn’t about YOU.

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Again, if you need to stop reading, I really, seriously urge you to exercise self-care.  This blog will still be here tomorrow, if you want to come back to it.  Put YOURSELF first.

Grey then does some victim-blaming, internally having a go at Ana for not using a safe word, before – revoltingly – getting smug about the fact that he was finally able to physically punish her for defying him:

Why didn’t she ask me to stop? She didn’t safe-word. She deserved to be punished. She ran from me. She rolled her eyes. This is what happens when you defy me, baby.

I’m red-inking that, because ew.

Grey finally starts to realise that he might have gone too far:

She scowls. Blue eyes wide and bright, filled with hurt and rage and sudden, chilling insight.

Shit. What have I done?

It’s sobering.

We get the infamous “you are one fucked up son of a bitch” line from the first book and Grey reacts as melodramatically as you’d expect:

 

All the breath leaves my body, and it’s like she’s whipped me with a belt…Fuck!

She’s recognized me for what I am.

She’s seen the monster.

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He whispers her name and thinks – too late – about how he wants to hold her and let her sob in his arms, or kiss the pain away for her.  She snarls at him, telling him not to say her name and she storms out of the playroom.  Grey thinks about how he’s not used to anyone walking out on him.  Then, despite all the tears and the fear Ana has just displayed, he genuinely starts thinking about how much he enjoyed hitting her and how glad he is they’ve reached the place where he can beat her that hard:

That was, without doubt, one of the most satisfying moments of my life. A moment ago I felt lighter, the weight of uncertainty between us gone.

It’s done. We’re there.

Now that she knows what’s involved, we can move on.

I…  I just…  HOW is he so stupid that he thinks “sure, she’s totally going to let me do this again as many times as I like”?!  I get that maybe EL is trying to emphasise that Grey is used to doing this stuff with women who actively want it and this is his first time being rejected and he can’t get his head around that, but…  Is he THICK??!!

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He has a brief moment of clarity in which he appears to recognise that Ana is not someone who wants to be hurt and that he has just hurt someone who was very much not into it:

I told her. People like me like inflicting pain.

But only on women who like it.

My sense of unease grows.

But then this insight is totally ruined by a statement that makes me feel creeped out:

I am used to making women cry—it’s what I do.

But Ana?

“I couldn’t give a shit about beating other girls until they sob, but this one is special.”  I have too many issues with this to even start trying to explain the mangled knot my brain is currently in.

Grey decides Ana just needs to cry it all out and then she’ll be fine:

Just let her cry. She’ll feel better for crying. Women do, in my experience. Give her a moment, then go and offer her aftercare. She didn’t safe-word. She asked me. She wanted to know, curious as ever. It’s just been a rude awakening, that’s all.

We’re STILL focusing on “she didn’t safe word,” rather than “maybe I should have reminded her that she COULD use the safe word at any time.”  We’re STILL doing “she wanted this,” rather than “well, she was sobbing in pain and maybe I should have checked on her.”

I hate this character so much I want to attach a Catherine Wheel to his penis.

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Finding a Catherine Wheel gif is surprisingly hard.

Grey carries on thinking that now Ana has seen him for he is, they can just carry on right ahead:

You are one fucked-up son of a bitch.

Closing my eyes, I smile without humor. Yes, Ana, yes I am, and now you know. Now we can move forward with our relationship…arrangement. Whatever this is.

Eventually, he realises it was probably “too soon” to have done something so drastic with her, but despite this realisation, he still manages to justify it because she ran away from him.

What a fool I am.

This was too soon.

Way, way too soon.

Fuck.

I’ll reassure her.

Yes—let her cry, then reassure her.

I was angry with her for running from me. Why did she do that?

BECAUSE SHE DIDN’T WANT YOU TO FUCKING HIT HER, DICK-WIPE.  That was literally why she ran.  And yes, she asked you to show her how bad it could get, but don’t you damn well DARE start with “ooh, why did she run away” when you know full well why.  She told you she didn’t want to be caught because she didn’t want to be spanked.

Grey rushes up to his bedroom, hoping Ana is there.  When she isn’t, he starts to panic that she might have left him:

Full-blown anxiety erupts in the pit of my belly. No, she can’t have gone! Upstairs—she must be in her room. I take the stairs three at a time and pause, breathless, outside her bedroom door. She’s in there, crying.

Oh, thank God.

I know he’s relieved that she’s there, but this really reads as though he’s glad she’s crying.  It probably wouldn’t, with any other character.  But because it’s him and he’s despicable, that’s how I read it.

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He thinks about how much he doesn’t want her to leave, then he heads off to get her a glass of water, along with an Advil and some Arnica cream.  When he returns, Ana is curled up on the bed, still sobbing.  Grey’s internal monologue lets us know what a shitty Dom he was to all his exes:

The sound of her grief rips through me, leaving me winded. My subs never affected me like this—even when they were bawling.

Fans will of course interpret this is a sign of TRUE LOVE and not a sign that he just couldn’t give a shit about anyone, before.

He climbs into bed beside her and tries to touch her, but Ana freezes.

“Hush,” I whisper, in a vain attempt to halt her tears and calm her. She doesn’t respond. She remains frozen, unyielding.

“Don’t fight me, Ana, please.” She relaxes a fraction, allowing me to pull her into my arms, and I bury my nose in her wonderfully fragrant hair. She smells as sweet as ever, her scent a soothing balm to my nerves. And I plant a tender kiss on her neck.

SHE is soothing HIS nerves.  EVERYTHING is ALWAYS about HIM.

I’m sorry for the capitals and for repeating myself but DEAR GOD this guy.

“Don’t hate me,” I murmur, as I press my lips to her throat, tasting her. She says nothing, but slowly her crying dissipates into soft sniffling sobs. At last she’s quiet.

Well, thank goodness.  All that sobbing must have been such a fucking buzzkill.

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Ana falls asleep and Grey watches the dawn break, thinking about taking Ana sailing, later that day.  Because this guy has no idea how people work.

Eventually, Ana stirs and, after Grey reiterates that he’s brought her a headache tablet and water etc, she turns to face him, lovingly stroking his face.  Grey thinks about how he doesn’t mind her touching his cheeks, which is mighty good of him, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Then Ana apologises to him.

ANA apologises to HIM.

“I’m sorry,” she says.

Her soft-spoken words are a surprise. She’s apologizing to me?

“What for?”

“What I said.”

Grey thinks:

Relief courses unchecked through my body. She’s forgiven me. Besides, what she said in anger was right—I am a fucked-up son of a bitch.

He tells her she didn’t say anything he didn’t already know.

And for the first time in so many years I find myself apologizing. “I’m sorry I hurt you.”

A guy who almost never apologises?  SWOON.

“I asked for it,” she says.

You sure did, baby.

MMMM, SWOON SOME MORE.  THIS ISN’T GROSS AT ALL.

He thinks to himself how they’re going to be super okay now, because she’s clearly forgiven him.  Then Ana tells him she can’t be what he wants her to be.

The world stops.

Fuck.

We’re not safe at all.

Grey, make this right.

“You are everything I want you to be.”

No, she isn’t.  Because you want her to let you beat her as hard as you did, last night.  And she clearly doesn’t want that.  She tells him as much:

“I don’t understand,” she says. “I’m not obedient, and you can be as sure as hell I’m not going to let you do that to me again. And that’s what you need—you said so.”

Grey starts moping over all the dreams he had falling apart.  And for a book that claims to have brought kink into the mainstream, we get a lot of “she’s too pure for this” and “how can I corrupt her?” which just smacks of “BDSM IS WRONG.”

He actually does the right thing – albeit melodramatically – and concedes that he should let her leave:

It’s true, she would be better off without me. Now that she’s seen the monster, she knows she can’t contend with him. I have to free her—let her go her own way. This won’t work between us.

Focus, Grey.

“You’re right. I should let you go. I’m no good for you.”

Ana tells him she doesn’t want to go (STOP USING THOSE WORDS, EL!) and Grey says he doesn’t want her to go, either.

The tears trickle down her cheeks once more. Gently I wipe away a falling tear with my thumb, and before I know it the words tumble out. “I’ve come alive since I met you.” I trace my thumb along her bottom lip. I want to kiss her, hard. Make her forget. Dazzle her. Arouse her—I know I can. But something holds me back—her wary, injured look. Why would she want to be kissed by a monster? She might push me away, and I don’t know if I could deal with any more rejection. Her words haunt me, pulling at some dark and repressed memory.

I love (by which I mean HATE) the fact that he seriously thinks of just fucking her right now, because he knows he can arouse her.  This is hardly the time and yet the only thing stopping him is the thought that she might reject him?!  Screw you, asshole.

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Ana admits that she’s fallen in love with him and Grey responds as you would expect, with ridiculously overdramatic metaphors about falling into the abyss, plunging down and choking on her words…  I literally can’t be arsed making you read it, because it was bad enough reading it, myself.

Her words finally make him decide they shouldn’t be together:

No.” My voice is raw with pained disbelief. “You can’t love me, Ana. No. That’s wrong.”

I need to set her right on this. She cannot love a monster. She cannot love a fucked-up son of a bitch. She needs to go. She needs out—and in an instant, everything becomes crystal clear. This is my eureka moment; I can’t make her happy. I can’t be what she needs. I can’t let this go on. This has to finish. It should never have started.

He tells her he can’t make her happy and we get a massively self-pitying “no one can love me” moment in his internal monologue that makes me wish you could murder fictional characters.  Ana insists that he can and he reminds her of what he wants to do to her (ie beating her) and Ana realises they can’t get past that issue.

And despite thinking she should go, the second Ana says she is leaving, Grey goes all “WAAAAA” again:

Well, I’d better go, then.” She winces as she sits up.

Now? She can’t go now.

“No, don’t go.” I’m free-falling, deeper and deeper. Her leaving feels like a monumental mistake. My mistake. But she can’t stay if she feels this way about me, she just can’t.

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I just want this to be over.  I have never wanted something to end as much as I want this to.

Grey carries on his self-pity-party whilst Ana leaves to shower and get dressed.  He considers playing mopey piano, but changes his mind.  Welch calls and says Leila’s husband has finally admitted that he washed his hands of her and she’d left.  Apparently the ex husband now wants two thousand dollars to tell them where Leila might be.

Ana walks into the room just as Grey demands that Welch finds Leila, before hanging up.  Ana tries to hand back all the gifts that Grey gave her, but he argues with her, asking if she’s trying to hurt him.  Ana insists that she doesn’t want anything that might remind her of him and that all she wants is the money Taylor got when he sold her car.

“Are you really trying to wound me?”

“No, I’m not. I’m trying to protect myself.”

Of course—she’s trying to protect herself from the monster.

“Please Ana, take that stuff.”

Her lips are so pale.

“Christian, I don’t want to fight—I just need that money.”

Money. It always comes down to the fucking money.

“Will you take a check?” I snarl.

“Yes. I think you’re good for it.”

She wants money, I’ll give her money. I storm into my study, barely holding on to my temper.

Dude, you have NO right to be angry.  You sold her property.  That’s her money and you do owe her it.  She’s made it very clear all along she wasn’t interested in having flash, expensive presents from you.  She doesn’t want your money.  She wants hers.

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Grey goes to see Taylor and asks how much he got for Ana’s car:

“Twelve thousand dollars, sir.”

“That much?” In spite of my bleak mood, I’m surprised.

“It’s a classic,” he says by way of explanation.

“Thanks. Can you take Miss Steele home now?”

“Of course. I’ll be right down.”

I hang up and take out my checkbook from my desk drawer. As I do, I remember my conversation with Welch about Leila’s fucking asshole of a husband.

It’s always about fucking money!

In my anger I double the amount that Taylor got for the death trap and stuff the check into an envelope.

“I’m so angry, I’m going to give you MORE money, to make a point.”  WTAF??!!

Grey tells Ana that Taylor will drive her home and Ana says she’d rather get home by herself.  This leads to a small argument about her defying him, yet again (an argument Grey wins, as per usual).  As Ana prepares to leave, Grey tells her he doesn’t want her to go and Ana points out that she can’t stay, because neither of them can give the other what they want or need.  Grey tries to hug her one last time and Ana backs away from him, holding up her hands to say no.

We get the angsty elevator scene, in which Ana and Grey say goodbye to one another and once Ana is gone, Grey goes full-on “poor me.”

I sink slowly to the floor and put my head in my hands. The void is now cavernous and aching, overwhelming me.

Grey, what the hell have you done?

WHEN I LOOK UP again, the paintings in my foyer, my Madonnas, bring a mirthless smile to my lips. The idealization of motherhood. All of them gazing at their infants, or staring inauspiciously down at me.

They’re right to look at me that way. She’s gone. She’s really gone. The best thing that ever happened to me. After she said she’d never leave. She promised me she’d never leave. I close my eyes, shutting out those lifeless, pitying stares, and tip my head back against the wall. Okay, she said it in her sleep—and like the fool I am, I believed her. I’ve always known deep down I was no good for her, and she was too good for me. This is how it should be.

Then why do I feel like shit? Why is this so painful?

We’re still holding Ana to words she said when she was unconscious, I see.

He apparently sits there for ages, because the elevator doors open and he’s convinced Ana has come back, only to realise it’s actually Taylor, returning from taking her home.  Taylor says Ana was upset, to which Grey makes no real response.

He looks at the table in the foyer and gets sad and horny:

I touch the wooden table that dominates the foyer, my fingers absentmindedly tracing its delicate marquetry. I’d have liked to fuck Miss Steele over this. I close my eyes, imagining her sprawled across this table, her head held back, chin up, mouth open in ecstasy, and her luscious hair pooling over the edge. Shit, it makes me hard just thinking about it.

Fuck.

The pain in my gut twists and tightens.

She’s gone, Grey. Get used to it.

“OH, HOW I MISS MY TRUE LOVE!  HER INTELLIGENCE?  NO.  HER PERSONALITY?  NO.  I MISS FUCKING HER, THAT’S LITERALLY IT.  OOOOOH, IT HUUUURTS MY TORTURED SOOOUUUUL.”

See?  I can write bollocks like this, too.  I’ll take my millions now, thanks.

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Grey has a shower and tries to have a whole “I’m gonna wash that sub right out of my hair” moment, before he realises how much he’s going to miss Ana.  He goes on a massive self-pitying internal rant, culminating in him refusing to shave, for some reason:

Switching off the water, I step out of the shower cubicle. As I wrap a towel around my waist, it sinks in: each day will be darker and emptier, because she’s no longer in it.

No more facetious, witty e-mails.

No more of her smart mouth.

No more curiosity.

Her bright blue eyes will no longer regard me in thinly veiled amusement…or shock…or lust. I stare at the brooding morose jerk staring back at me in the bathroom mirror.

“What the hell have you done, asshole?” I sneer at him. He mouths the words back at me with vitriolic contempt. And the bastard blinks at me, big gray eyes raw with misery.

“She’s better off without you. You can’t be what she wants. You can’t give her what she needs. She wants hearts and flowers. She deserves better than you, you fucked-up prick.” Repulsed by the image glowering back at me, I turn away from the mirror.

To hell with shaving for today.

So… Is Grey conversing with his own reflection, now?  Because it sounds like it.  I know he talks to his dick a lot, but I didn’t realise the dick in question is actually the mirror image of himself.

Grey goes back to his bedroom and finds a box on his pillow, containing a gift from Ana:

It’s a glider. A model-making kit for a Blaník L23. A scribbled note falls from the top of the box and wafts onto the bed.

This reminded me of a happy time.

Thank you.

Ana

It’s the perfect present from the perfect girl.

Pain lances through me.

I’m sure I’m meant to sympathise with him at some point, but…

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Grey has a short phone conversation with Leila’s ex husband, off-screen.  We discover through his internal monologue that they got married in Vegas one drunken night and that their marriage barely lasted eighteen months.  He reiterates to himself that his own relationship with Leila ended when she wanted more and he didn’t and that it ended by mutual agreement.  He once again describes Leila as having been “mischievous” when she was with him, nothing like the “broken creature” she was when she attempted suicide in front of poor Gail Jones.

Grey thinks about how kinky Leila was, but how she never captured his attention like bloody Ana (literally, why won’t this fucking book END???!!!!):

I recall how much she enjoyed our sessions in the playroom. Leila loved the kink. A memory surfaces—I’m tying her big toes together, turning her feet in so she can’t clench her backside and avoid the pain. Yeah, she loved all that shit, and so did I. She was a great submissive. But she never captured my attention like Anastasia Steele.

She never drove me to distraction like Ana.

Because EL James hates me on a seemingly personal level, we get YET ANOTHER internal pity-party from Grey, in which he laments that he can’t give Ana what she wants and she can’t give him what he wants.  Because this is a fact that needs to be reiterated ninety billion times, in ever less interesting ways.

He decides to start making the model glider Ana gave him, hoping it will distract him.  But when he opens his desk drawer, he finds the Cartier earrings he bought her and gets all sad that he can’t give them to her.  He decides to cancel his ticket to the gala that evening, unable to face it without Ana.

We get a pointless conversation with Taylor, who brings Grey some glue to help build the model and who also suggests he eats something (because now GREY is the one who doesn’t eat, get it??!!).  Elena calls and Grey tells her that Ana has left him, causing her to remind him that their lifestyle isn’t for everyone.

Eventually, Grey realises he should eat something and the chapter that refused to fucking end finally ends with night falling, because EL James only knows one way to end a sodding chapter.

In the cupboard I find a bag of pretzels. I open them and eat one after the other as I walk to the window. Outside, night has fallen; lights twinkle and wink through the pouring rain. The world moves on.

Move on, Grey.

Move on.

Yes.  Please.  For the love of all I hold dear.

Alas, this is not the last chapter of this damn book.  There’s more.  But I’m away next weekend, so I doubt the next (please GOD, LAST) chapter will be up next weekend.  It’s probably for the best.  We all need a break from this.

I’m off to bleach my own brain.

 

Grey: Chapter 19 (Friday, June 3, 2011)

Guys, I have had the loveliest day.  Like… THE loveliest day.  There was crazy golf, ice cream and henna tattoos involved.  It was so sunny, we had to go out and buy hats.  I cannot stress what a GOOD DAY I have had.

Allow me to cling to it for just a few seconds longer, before I have to plunge myself into the pit of HELL that is Grey

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Ugh.  Fine.  Here goes…

Because EL James has no other ideas for the starts or ends of chapters, this one begins with Grey lying in bed.  But SHOCK!  It’s not morning.  It’s night.

Grey can’t sleep because he’s in a “waking nightmare.”  The situation with Leila’s attempted suicide is playing on his mind.  And because Grey is a massive, selfish bell-end, he’s making it all about himself.  He even accuses a smoke alarm of being against him.  I wish I was joking:

The smoke detector on my ceiling is winking at me, its flashing green light mocking me.

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I honestly get the feeling I’ve used that GIF too early in this recap.  It might have to feature again.  Several times.

Grey wonders why Leila might have done what she did.  And he makes those thoughts about himself, too:

Why was Leila suicidal? What possessed her? Her desperate unhappiness resonates with a younger, miserable me. I’m trying to quash my memories, but the anger and desolation of my solitary teen years resurfaces and it won’t go away. It reminds me of my pain and of how I lashed out at everyone during my youth. Suicide crossed my mind often, but I always held back. I resisted for Grace. I knew she’d be devastated. I knew she would blame herself if I took my life, and she’d done so much for me—how could I hurt her like that? And after I met Elena…everything changed.

It takes a special kind of prick to make suicidal thoughts and whether or not you act on them, some kind of competition.

Then, EL James’ lousy writing makes it sound as though Grey has named his piano “Ana.”  Witness:

Rising from the bed, I push these disquieting thoughts to the back of my mind. I need the piano.

I need Ana.

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Is…  Is this her?!

Grey then blames everything on the fact that Ana hasn’t signed the contract, yet.  And he talks about how he could just fuck her if she had, and then everything would be okay.   Because her vagina cures all ills.

If she’d signed the contract and everything had gone according to plan, she would be with me, upstairs, asleep. I could wake her, and lose myself in her…or, under our new arrangement, she would be beside me, and I could fuck her and then watch her sleep.

Part of me wants to red-ink the crap out of that, seeing as it a) reduces her to nothing but a sex object and b) nowhere does it reference consent and we know he’d expect sex from her, whether she was keen or not, but I just have a nasty feeling this chapter may get worse and I should save the red ink for later…

Grey starts thinking how good it is that Ana will never meet Leila (holy foreshadowing, Batman!) and wonders why on Earth Leila became so depressed, considering she was “happy, mischievous, and bright” when she was his submissive.  He thinks about the fact that she was meant to be happily married nowadays and wonders what went wrong in her life.

YOU, DUDE.  YOU.

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Because this is Christian Grey, as he begins playing the piano, he immediately has a sexy flashback to Leila performing oral sex on him and, like a good submissive, making zero eye contact with him, whatsoever.  But then – SHOCK, HORROR – she turns into Ana and Ana looks up at him and…  Melodrama happens:

And suddenly she’s Ana.

Ana on her knees before me. Naked. Beautiful.

My cock in her mouth.

But Ana’s eyes are on mine.

Her blazing blue eyes see everything.

See me. My soul.

She sees the darkness and the monster beneath.

Her eyes widen in horror and suddenly she disappears.

Oh, how I wish she’d be wide-eyed in horror at the monster he is in the ACTUAL STORY and not just in his nightmares…

He then thinks this:

I rarely have erotic dreams. Why now?

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Dude, you only have two types of dream: dreams about sex and dreams about what a poor, tortured soul you are.  Have you met you?!

Grey goes for a moody run (he never seems to go for any other kind), wonders where Leila is, then gets to work and immediately begins being a bastard to his PA:

OLIVIA IS EXCEPTIONALLY IRRITATING today. She’s spilled my coffee, dropped an important call, and keeps mooning at me with her big brown eyes.

“Get Ros back on the line,” I bark at her. “Better still, get her up here.” I shut my office door and go back to my desk; I must try not to take my temper out on my staff.

I particularly love that he tells himself not to take his temper out on his staff, right after he takes his temper out on his staff.  Asshole.

Welch, who you may remember has been bugging Leila’s parents’ phones, lets Grey know that there’s no news, beyond them still thinking she’s in Portland with her husband.  Then Grey gets an email from Ana.

Dear Mr. Grey,

I am once again ensconced in first class, for which I thank you. I am counting the minutes until I see you this evening and perhaps torturing the truth out of you about my nocturnal admissions.

Your Ana x

Grey thinks:

Torturing me? Oh, Miss Steele, I think it will be the other way around.

And I feel a bit nauseous, because “torturing” is a very strong word to use about someone who doesn’t like physical punishment.  Also, Ana used it in a jokey sense and I get the feeling Grey isn’t kidding when he thinks about torturing her.

Anyway, he sends her a one-line reply, merely telling her he’s looking forward to seeing her.  Ana reads between the lines and can tell that there’s something on his mind, because he’s fobbed her off with a short message, so she replies saying she’s worried and asks how “the situation” is (meaning Leila, obviously).  Grey, being a massive twat, emails back threatening to punish her for emailing from a plane:

The situation could be better. Have you taken off yet? If so, you should not be e-mailing. You are putting yourself at risk, in direct contravention of the rule regarding your personal safety. I meant what I said about punishments.

Red-inking that, because he knows Ana isn’t fond of physical punishment and he’s threatening it, anyway.  Which makes it a threat of potentially non-consensual physical punishment.  Or, you know, assault.

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Ana replies telling him that they haven’t taken off yet and she’s perfectly safe.  She suggests he stows his “twitchy-palm.”  Grey gets worried by the lack of a kiss at the end of her email (which is hypocritical AF, because he never puts kisses at the end of his emails) and tells her he just wants her home safe.  Ana replies saying they’re closing the doors and readying to take off, so he won’t hear another peep from her.  She adds a kiss, which he then gets excited about, again:

My kiss is back. Well, that’s a relief.

If kisses at the end of emails excite you so much, maybe, just maybe, you should send her one?!  But no, then you wouldn’t be the one with all the freaking power, would you?!

Have I mentioned how much I hate this guy?!

Once the email chat is over, Grey goes back to brooding over the Leila situation.  And he thinks a thing that makes his insistence that Leila was always happy and mischievous etc in the past sound… Not true:

I’m worried about her. Hell, she came to see me. She decided to use my home as her stage. How could I not take this personally? Why didn’t she e-mail me or phone? If she was in trouble, I could have helped. I would have helped—I’ve done it before.

If he’s helped her before, surely that implies she’s had problems, before?  If he’s talking about giving her some kind of financial help, this is just clumsily written, because it genuinely reads as though Leila has had specifically these kinds of problems in the past and he’s had to help her.  And if that’s the case, then he knows she has a history of mental instability or illness, which he certainly didn’t let on about, earlier this chapter.  I can’t decide if this is a case of a character being wilfully ignorant, or a writer forgetting what she’s already said, just a few pages ago.

Probably a little of both.  Congratulations, EL.

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Grey marches out of his office, needing to clear his head and he remembers that he has a chamber of commerce gala the following evening.  This gives him an idea and he heads off to a little shop he knows.  We don’t go with him, so oooooh, there’s a surprise ahead.

Ten whole English pounds says it’s a sex shop and he’s buying something to stick up Ana’s hoo-hah whilst they attend this damn gala.

When he gets home, he tells Gail there’ll be two people for supper that evening and asks her to put the satin sheets on the playroom bed.  Not for the first time, I feel really sorry for poor Gail Jones.  The stuff she has to clean must give her nightmares…  *shudder*

Gail tells him that Ana’s new clothes have arrived and have been hung in her closet for her.  She also tells him that something else arrived.  She hands him a bag and inside is a pair of Cartier earrings that Grey bought for Ana to wear at the gala.

Damn, maybe I owe all of you a tenner?

Grey wonders what Ana’s reaction to the earrings will be and he says something I find uncomfortable:

I hope she accepts my gift. As my submissive, she’d have no choice, but under our alternative arrangement, I don’t know what her reaction will be.

Sure, we’re talking about a pricey pair of earrings, not a beating with a spiked belt or anything, but the idea that he genuinely believes a sub has no choice about what they accept is worrying as hell, considering it could relate to physical punishment.  So, red ink.  A sub can say “no” or use a safe word at any time.  For someone who harps on about consent and safe words, it’s amazing how easily Grey chooses to forget them when he wants to go down the whole “a sub has to do absolutely everything I tell her, at all times” road.

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Remember how earlier on, Grey was really worried about Leila and wished he could have helped her?  Well, Welch calls to say that Leila told her husband she was going to see her parents and Grey’s reaction is… Typical.

“I spoke with Russell Reed, Mrs. Reed’s husband.”

“And?” Immediately I’m agitated. I storm out of my study and across the living room to the windows.

“He says his wife is away visiting her parents,” Welch reports.

“What?”

“Precisely.” Welch sounds as pissed as I am.

Seeing Seattle at my feet, knowing Mrs. Reed aka Leila Williams is out there somewhere, increases my irritation.

HOW DARE SHE BE OUT THERE, ALIVE SOMEWHERE?!  UGH, I AM SO PISSED OFF.  I REALLY WISH SHE HAD LET ME HELP HER, THOUGH, BECAUSE I TOTALLY WOULD HAVE.

Pick a mood, Grey.

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Me, reading this freaking book.

Then, Welch suggests doing more massively illegal stuff in order to find Leila and Grey is totally fine with it all, until he gets distracted by someone watching him…

“Maybe that’s what she told him.”

“Maybe,” he says. “But we’ve found nothing so far.”

“No trace?” I can’t believe she could just disappear.

“Nothing. But if she so much as uses an ATM, cashes a check, or logs in to her social media, we’ll find her.”

“Okay.”

“We’d like to scour the CCTV footage from around the hospital. It’s going to cost money and take a little longer. Is that acceptable?”

“Yes.” A tingle prickles my scalp—not from the call. For some unknown reason I sense I’m being watched. 

OH MY GOD, YOU GUYS!  COULD THIS BE LEILA?!  ARE WE ABOUT TO SEE SOME ACTUAL PLOT IN THIS BOOK???!!

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Don’t be stupid.  It’s Ana.  Because EL hasn’t written one of her sexy, sexy sex scenes so far, this chapter.

Turning, I see Ana standing on the threshold of the room, scrutinizing me, her brow furrowed and her lips pensive, and she’s wearing a short, short skirt. She’s all eyes and legs…especially legs. I imagine them wrapped around my waist.

So, that short, short skirt?  Is something he’s going to focus on.  He tells her he wants them to shower together.  Well, he orders her:

Shower with me.  Now.”

But the more he looks at her in her “short, short skirt,” the more possessive and gross he gets:

I’ve never seen her in such a short skirt, with so much of her flesh on display, and I’m not sure I approve. She’s for my eyes only.

“I like your skirt. It’s very short.” Too short.

Nope.  She’s not for your eyes only, douchebag.  She’s a person in her own right and she can dress however she wants.  Also, notice how he’s thinking that he doesn’t like her wearing such a revealing skirt, but he doesn’t tell her that?  Super duper way to keep her off-balance, so he can no doubt eventually “punish” her for it, despite her not knowing what she’s done wrong.

Grey turns the shower on, but decides he can’t wait to get in there, he needs her now.  They have sex and it’s all totally for his benefit (he goes down on her, but when he realises that she might be about to orgasm, he thinks “enough, I want to come inside her” and immediately stops) and he lasts about thirty seconds, as per usual.

Also, they don’t get naked for the sex, so we’re presented with one of the least sexy mental images ever:

…my shirt and pants are sticking to my body, but I don’t care.

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As Grey is undressing Ana, ready to get her in the shower, she confesses that she has a job.  Grey is proud of her and unsurprised that she’s been successful in finding work.  Then, he tells her an outright lie, even admitting to himself that he’s going to do the exact thing he promises Ana he won’t:

“Congratulations, Miss Steele. Now will you tell me where?” I ask with a smile.

“You don’t know?”

“Why would I know?”

“With your stalking capabilities, I thought you might have—” She stops to study my face.

“Anastasia, I wouldn’t dream of interfering in your career. Unless you ask me to, of course.”

“So you have no idea which company?”

“No. I know there are four publishing companies in Seattle—so I am assuming it’s one of them.”

“SIP,” she announces.

“Oh, the small one, good. Well done.” It’s the company that Ros identified as ripe for takeover. This will be easy.

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  1. In a healthy relationship, nobody should be stalking anyone.  So, Ana shouldn’t be thinking that Grey may already know where she’ll be working because he might  have gone behind her back or tracked her phone in order to find out.
  2. He has JUST promised not to interfere in her career, unless she explicitly asks him to, but he’s internally thinking about how EASY it will be to control her damn career.  This guy is a total piece of shit and I am done with anyone who wants to defend him to me.  Go tell someone else.  He’s a prick.  End of story.

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As they get into the shower, Ana also tells Grey that José’s photography exhibition opens the following Thursday and she invites him to go with her.  Grey notes that she seems tense and wonders why, and… Well, seeing as she thought he might already know about her new job because he stalks her constantly and seeing as she knows he’s a possessive dick who hates the fact that she’s stayed friends with José, I’m not surprised she’s tense, telling him about either of these things.

Grey agrees to go with her, thinking it surely counts as “more.”  Side-note: I’d forgotten how much I hate “more” being used in this sense.  Ugh.

Grey thinks that Ana was scared about asking her to go with him and it actually irritates him:

She seems relieved and I’m not sure whether to be amused or annoyed. Am I really that unapproachable?

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The guy who told Ana when she barely knew him that she should be intimidated by him, is now annoyed that she’s intimidated by him.  Cool.  That’s not at all the behaviour of a manipulative dick.

He asks Ana outright whether she was nervous about asking him and she admits that she was:

“Well, you just seem to be, um…on the jealous side.”

Yes. I’m jealous. The thought of Ana with anyone else is…unsettling. Very unsettling. “Yes, I am. And you’d do well to remember that. But thank you for asking. We’ll take Charlie Tango.”

Red, because that sounds suspiciously like a threat.  It’s also a big red flag for a person to be this jealous of their partner having a life that doesn’t constantly revolve around them.

And just to up the “creepy, possessive weirdo” vibe, Grey then thinks this:

She flashes me a quick grin as my hands slide down her body, the body she’s given to me and no one else.

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Having let Grey wash her in the shower, Ana asks if she can wash him and of course, he gets all melodramatic about it, before deciding that fucking her again is the only appropriate way to get out of the situation.  Because God forbid they have an adult conversation about his phobia of being touched.

“Will you ever let me touch you?” Her voice is a gentle entreaty, but it doesn’t stop the darkness that’s swirling suddenly from nowhere and tightening around my throat.

No.

I will it away, cupping and concentrating on Ana’s ass, her fucking glorious behind. My body responds on a primal level—at war with the darkness. I need her. I need her to chase my fear away.

really hope Ana’s going to print some business cards that just say: “Ana Steele: Let’s Fuck The Fear Away.”

As Grey gets down to his normal thirty seconds of shagging, he inwardly thanks Dr Greene for putting Ana on the pill and therefore ensuring that Grey doesn’t have to use condoms, anymore.

I hate this guy so much I may vomit.  And I’m emetophobic.

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You are so right, only-Dr-Green-I-care-about.  Sorry to associate you with this mess.

Post-shower, we get a beautiful bit of hypocrisy from Grey:

“Dry your hair,” I order, handing her a hair dryer I never use. 

Notice he’s always ordering her to do things.  If she went out with wet hair, you just know he’d bitch at her for it.  But he doesn’t use a hair dryer himself, because REASONS.  I know you could argue his hair is shorter than Ana’s, but I don’t care.  This is him being a hypocrite and nobody will convince me otherwise.

Grey strolls into the kitchen to enquire as to what’s for dinner and when it’ll be ready.  Gail gives him “a look” when she sees Grey in his towel, apparently:

She gives me a look as I head into my study. I ignore it. She’s seen me in less than my bathrobe before—what the hell is her problem?

She probably hates you.  Anyone who has met you almost certainly does.

Ana comes into the kitchen dressed in just a bathrobe and despite being obviously uncomfortable with Gail’s presence because Ana is only in a bathrobe, Grey’s internal monologue decides to be a snob about it:

Ana enters the kitchen at the same time that I do, lured no doubt by the tantalizing smell of our dinner. When she sees Mrs. Jones she clutches the neck of her bathrobe.

“Just in time,” Gail says, serving our meal in two large bowls at the place settings on the counter.

“Sit.” I point to one of the barstools. Ana’s anxious eyes pass from me to Mrs. Jones.

She’s self-conscious.

Baby, I have staff. Get over it.

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Like, dude.  She’s not wearing a lot.  She’s embarrassed about being seen in very little by your staff, not by the fact you have staff.  Quit making everything about how super special and amazing you think you are.  And if he meant that she should get over being self-conscious in front of the staff when she’s not wearing much, why should she?!  Just because you make your damn housekeeper wash your butt plugs, doesn’t mean Ana necessarily wants to be half-naked around her.

Ana asks Grey if he’s going to tell her what she said in her sleep (remember, he’s been teasing her about it for what feels like an eternity, holding this information against her).  He tells her no and says he’d rather she just ate her dinner, because he likes watching her eat.  Ana mumbles that he’s “pervy” and this gives Grey the idea to try something new in the playroom with her, whilst she’s there.

They have a conversation during which all the important stuff is said in Grey’s head, as always.  It ends with him insisting she gets ready to be in the playroom in 15 minutes.  I mean, she’s still eating a bowl of pasta and clams.  I need longer than 15 minutes after eating pasta before I do anything much more energetic than laze on the sofa and think about how tight my jeans suddenly feel…

“Up for more?”

“More?”

“More wine?” More sex? In the playroom?

“A small glass, please.”

I pour her a little more Sancerre. I don’t want either of us to drink too much if we’re going to play.

“How’s the, um…situation that brought you to Seattle?”

Leila. Shit. This I do not want to discuss. “Out of hand. But nothing for you to worry about, Anastasia. I have plans for you this evening.”

I want to see if we can play this so-called arrangement of ours both ways.

“Oh?”

“Yes. I want you ready and waiting in my playroom in fifteen minutes.” I stand up, watching her closely to gauge her reaction. She takes a quick sip of her wine, her pupils widening. “You can get ready in your room. Incidentally, the walk-in closet is now full of clothes for you. I don’t want any arguments about them.”

The “more wine” spoken out loud, followed by “more sex? In the playroom?” only being in Grey’s head REALLY annoys me.  Because he bangs on and on about consent, yet he’s not asking her.  He doesn’t ask whether she wants to go to the playroom immediately after dinner, despite the fact that he easily could have and she probably would have said yes, because she’s constantly trying to please him, even if it means doing things she doesn’t actually want to do.  He just thinks it, then makes the decision for her.  He’s not her Dom.  He doesn’t get to make demands like that.  Even if he was her Dom, she should be able to say “no.”  I hate the fact that he doesn’t give her the chance.

I ESPECIALLY hate that he then says this:

Her mouth sets in a surprised o. And I give her a stern look, daring her to argue with me.

MUCH CONSENT.  SO RESPECTFUL.  WOW.

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Oh, and guess what he goes to do, whilst Ana’s supposed to be getting ready for the playroom?  HE GOES TO INTERFERE WITH ANA’S CAREER, DESPITE SWEARING THAT HE WOULDN’T.

I head off to my study to send a quick e-mail to Ros telling her I want to start the process to acquire SIP as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, Ana – someone who actually fucking means what she says – has gone to the playroom and adopted a submissive position, waiting for Grey.  Naturally, he’s thrilled and after “demanding” that she reminds him of her safe words and threatening her when it looks like she might talk back to him, he starts a sensory deprivation scene with her, telling her she’ll be able to feel him, but not see or hear him.

He shackles her to the bed, puts earbuds in her ears (playing Tudor choral music – whatever happened to sexy scenes featuring Barry White?!) and blindfolds her.  During the scene, he flogs her all over, then kisses her all over and then has sex with her, almost orgasming instantly, because, remember, this guy has NO STAYING POWER, WHATSOEVER.

Afterwards, he thinks:

The music definitely contributed to what was almost a religious experience. 

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And lo, on the eighth day, God did tell Adam to flog the crap out of Eve.

I’m going to Hell, aren’t I?!

After Grey rubs Ana’s shoulders, post-scene, Ana again asks him what she said in her sleep:

Not this again. Put her out of her misery, Grey.

“You said lots of things, Anastasia. You talked about cages and strawberries. That you wanted more, and that you missed me.”

“Is that all?” She sounds relieved.

Why would she be relieved?

I stretch out beside her so I can see her face.

“What did you think you’d said?”

She opens her eyes for a brief moment, and shuts them again quickly.

“That I thought you were ugly, conceited, and that you were hopeless in bed.” One blue eye peeks open and watches me warily.

Oh…she’s lying.

“Well, naturally I am all those things, and now you’ve got me really intrigued. What are you hiding from me, Miss Steele?”

“I’m not hiding anything.”

“Anastasia, you’re a hopeless liar.”

Beauty comes from within, Grey is the most arrogant tosser I’ve ever had the misfortune to read about in a supposed love story and he’s got zero sexual stamina.  Ana isn’t lying at all.

There are a few lines of woefully un-cute dialogue, in which the word “giggles” and derivatives thereof are criminally overused, but I’ll spare you them.  The conversation about what Ana really worried she might have said is never actually resolved, because… Well, EL James wrote this book.

Post-shag, both Ana and Grey are tired, so Grey takes her to bed with him.  And doing so gives him one last chance to be melodramatic, before the chapter ends (on them going to sleep, because, once again, EL James wrote this book):

“Sleep now,” I whisper, and wrap her in my arms. I close my eyes, fighting the disquieting sensation that surges and fills my chest once more. It’s like homesickness and a homecoming rolled into one…and it’s terrifying.

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AAAAAND SCENE.

I’m off to cling to my happy memories of today, in an effort to get this shit off me.

See you next week for another recap!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grey Chapter 18 (Thursday, June 2, 2011)

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Well hello, everyone!  I know Grey recaps usually go up on a Sunday, but I’m writing this today instead, for two very simple reasons: 1) I’m out all day tomorrow and I have other writing I have to get done, once I get back and 2) I figured if I get this one out a day early, you guys might all forgive me for the fact that I’ll be skipping a recap next week, as I’ve got family stuff planned for Easter weekend.  I promise to have one up the week after (almost certainly on a Sunday, as that’s usually the plan…).

I should also point out the fact that I was out last night, drinking espresso martinis until late and was therefore much too wired to sleep until something like 3am.  And then I woke up at 5am.  So…  I’m kind of exhausted and I think I’m developing a late-onset hangover.  YAY!  This is going to be a FUN recap to write…

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This chapter doesn’t quite start with Grey having a nightmare.  No, it starts with Ana dreaming about him, talking in her sleep and begging him not to leave her:

“No. Don’t leave me.” The whispered words penetrate my slumber, and I stir and wake.

What was that?

I look around the room. Where the hell am I?

Oh yes, Savannah.

“No. Please. Don’t leave me.”

What? It’s Ana. “I’m not going anywhere,” I mutter, bemused. Turning, I prop myself up on my elbow. She’s huddled beside me and she looks like she’s asleep.

“I won’t leave you,” she mumbles.

My scalp prickles. “I’m very glad to hear that.”

She sighs.

“Ana?” I whisper. But she doesn’t react. Her eyes are closed. She’s fast asleep. She must be dreaming…what is she dreaming about?

“Christian,” she says.

“Yes,” I respond automatically.

But she says nothing; she’s definitely asleep, but I’ve never heard her talk in her sleep before.

This is so badly written, my eyes physically hurt after reading it.

So, this is the moment we read about in the first book.  This is the precursor to Grey telling Ana that she promised never to leave him, whilst she was talking in her sleep.  Because we all know that anything we say in our sleep can and should totally be used against us for manipulative purposes.  That’s just how relationships work, right guys?!

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Grey watches her sleep, thinking how beautiful she is (not gonna judge, if I had my crush sleeping beside me, I suspect I’d think the same) and then gets, like, way too overexcited about what she’s been saying in her sleep:

And she doesn’t want me to go, and she won’t leave me. The candor of her subconscious admission sweeps through me like a summer breeze, leaving warmth and hope in its wake.

She’s not going to leave me.

Well, you have your answer, Grey.

Do you, though?  I mean, I muttered utter nonsense back in my sleep-talking days (when I was a kid) and I’ve heard of so many strange outbursts made by people whilst they’re not fully conscious…  I really don’t think it’s fair to base the answer to all your melodramatic questions on something someone mumbled in their sleep.

But what do I know?!

Grey starts getting all daydreamy about the fact that he’s taking Ana out soaring that morning:

It’s time to get up anyway, and I’m elated. I’m going soaring. With Ana. I love soaring.

That’s an actual sentence, in a published book.  It reads like something a five year old would say (well, once you get past “elated,” anyway).  “I’m going soaring.  With Ana.  I love soaring.”  Slow clap for Christian and his internal monologue of truly excellent literature.

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Whilst Ana remains asleep, Grey gets out of bed and picks up her clothes from the floor for her, lying them out for when she wakes.  He thinks about that time Ana wore no knickers to his parents’ house as “how my devious plan to confiscate her underwear backfired.”  I’ve got a headache and that almost made me want to vomit.  Watch it, EL James.  You won’t like me when I’m hungover.

He also thinks about how much he likes it when she wears his clothes, so he leaves her a pair of his boxers out, too.

Then, he proves that his listening in to her sleep-talk is entirely selective:

She mumbles again, and I think she said “cage,” but I’m not sure.

What the hell is that about?

Cages are a hard limit for her; she told you after you threatened to put her in one.  But good of you to choose not to connect those exceptionally simple dots.  You truly are a super clever, Godlike being.

There’s a section in which Grey wakes Ana and I have so many issues with it, I need to show it in full:

It’s time to wake Miss Steele.

“Strawberry,” she mutters, as I sit down beside her on the bed.

What’s with the fruit?

“Anastasia,” I summon her gently.

“I want more.”

I know you do, and so do I. “Come on, baby.” I continue to coax her awake.

She gripes. “No. I want to touch you.”

Shit. “Wake up.” I lean down and gently tug her earlobe with my teeth.

“No.” She screws her eyes tight.

“Wake up, baby.”

“Oh no,” she protests.

“Time to get up, baby. I’m going to switch on the side light.” I reach across and switch it on, bathing her in a pool of dim light. She squints.

“No,” she whines. Her reluctance to wake is amusing and different. In my previous relationships a sleepy submissive could expect to be disciplined.

Firstly, she says “I want more” and he thinks “I know you do and so do I,” yet he chooses to remain silent.  This is something Ana feels really strongly about and has requested several times.  If Grey is so insistent that what Ana says in her sleep is of deep importance and to be taken literally – even going so far as to hold her to a promise she may not remember making – then he should take her statement of wanting more seriously enough to warrant an out-loud response from him.  There’s no point in him thinking about wanting to have more of a relationship if he’s not going to actually make the effort to tell her.

Secondly, he increases his efforts to wake her when she says she wants to touch him.  Okay, he’s not comfortable with being touched, but he also doesn’t have to be; she’s asleep.  He is awake and can move out of her grasp, should she reach out.  He doesn’t need to make a big issue of this and if he does make one, it should involve him thinking about at least trying to break down his own barriers, considering he does almost nothing but try to force down hers.

Finally… A sleepy submissive could expect to be punished?!  For being tired – a natural human reaction?!  Screw you, Grey.  Because to me, this reads as him being pissed off with a submissive who doesn’t want to be woken up and immediately have sex.

 

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Grey jokes that Ana clearly isn’t a morning person (and I finally have something in common with her – yay?) and when she finally comes around properly, she’s just relieved that he doesn’t want sex.  He tells her he always wants sex with her and sarcastically adds that it’s good to know she feels the same.  Ana then has to placate this ridiculous man-child by telling him she does feel the same, she’s just not up for it when it’s “this late.”  Grey corrects her by saying it’s early and then asks her what she was dreaming about.  Ana admits that she dreamt of him feeding her strawberries, which Grey responds to by saying: “Dr Flynn could have a field day with that.”  I mean… Sure, if he was any good at his job, rather than enabling your shitty behaviour, maybe?!

Grey insists Ana gets up immediately and doesn’t shower, because he won’t be able to stop himself having sex with her:

“What time is it?” she asks, her voice sleepy.

“Five thirty in the morning.”

“Feels like three a.m.”

“We don’t have much time. I let you sleep as long as possible. Come.” I want to drag her out of bed and dress her myself. I can’t wait to get her airborne.

“Can’t I have a shower?”

“If you have a shower, I’ll want one with you, and you and I know what will happen then—the day will just go. Come.”

Also, you want to drag her out of bed?  Oooh, such romance.  Many respect.  Wow.

Because we can’t go a single chapter without some crap about whether Ana will or won’t eat, we get this section:

“Eat,” I order, motioning for her to take a seat. She stares at me, transfixed, her eyes glazed. “Anastasia,” I say, interrupting her daydream. Her eyelashes flutter as she comes back from wherever she’s been.

“I’ll have some tea. Can I take a croissant for later?” she asks hopefully.

She’s not going to eat.

“Don’t rain on my parade, Anastasia.”

“I’ll eat later, when my stomach’s woken up. About seven thirty, okay?”

“Okay.” I can’t force her.

You should not have to “ask, hopefully” to not be forced into eating when you’ve literally just been woken up against your will.  And how is her not having an immediate breakfast raining on his parade?!  He has to have the entire pre-soaring experience go totally his way, or the whole day will be ruined?!  Is this guy three?  I guess at least he realises he can’t force her, but it speaks volumes about how genuinely awful this franchise is, that I’m literally giving him a modicum of praise for basic levels of human decency.

That’s how low we have to set the bar for this guy.

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Ana then tells Grey she wants to roll her eyes at him, which he’s delighted by, because remember, if she rolls her eyes at him, he gets to spank her.  And she doesn’t get a choice in the matter, because consent is for losers:

She looks up at the fire sprinkler on the ceiling. “Well, a spanking would wake me up, I suppose,” she says, as if she’s weighing the option.

She’s considering it? It doesn’t work that way, Anastasia!

You don’t get spanked because you want to be, Ana!  You get spanked because Grey gets legitimately angry and wants to beat you, but he also wants to suggest that it’s somehow a consensual BDSM thing, silly!

Grey is in a rush to get going and he tosses Ana a sweatshirt to wear in the glider so she doesn’t get cold.  Then, they head to the elevator and something very minor happens, but I want to point it out:

There’s a hotel employee standing there—Brian, according to his name tag—also waiting for the elevator.

“Good morning,” he says, giving us both a cheerful salute as the doors open. I glance at Ana and smirk as we enter.

No shenanigans in elevators this morning.

Notice he looks at the guy’s name badge and therefore addresses him as Brian, in his internal monologue.  He describes the man’s friendly behaviour in positive terms.  He’s respectful enough of this guy to realise that his presence means he can’t start touching Ana up in front of him.

Now, think back to literally every time Grey meets a random woman in this series.  We get names like “Little Miss Pigtails” or “Simpering Blonde.”  Any friendly behaviour a woman displays is immediately translated as “ugh, she wants me.”  And Grey has no qualms about how he behaves around them.

Christian Grey is a misogynist fuckwit and it’s brought sharply into focus by this short detail that most fans probably skipped over in their haste for the next badly written sex scene.

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Man, I want to watch Crazy Ex Girlfriend instead of reading this shit.  I swear, one day, all the gifs in a recap will be from that show.

Anyway, Brian wishes them a good day as they leave the elevator (because male side-characters are allowed to be written positively, remember), then Grey displays what an arrogant, materialistic piece of shit he is:

Outside, the valet is waiting with the Mustang. Ana arches a brow, impressed by the GT500. Yeah, it’s a fun drive, even if it’s only a Mustang. “You know, sometimes it’s great being me,” I tease her, and with a polite bow I open her door.

HAHAHAHAHAHA, HE IS SO ADORABLE BECAUSE HE’S NOT POOR, YOU GUYS.

They start their drive, listening to La Traviata, which Ana says is depressing.  This prompts Grey to offer her the chance to skip through his iPod to find something else.  Not because he wants her happy, though.  Just because he doesn’t want her feelings interrupting his good mood:

“Too depressing?” We can’t have that, Miss Steele, especially when I’m in such a good mood. “Do you want to choose some music? This is on my iPod.”

I just…

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Ana, as we know from the first book in the original series, selects ‘Toxic’ by Britney Spears.  And – believe me, I wish I was making this shit up – Grey winds himself up so much thinking about the fact that maybe Ana thinks he is toxic, that he decides to purposefully mess with her head:

“ ‘Toxic,’ eh?” I observe, with wry humor.

Is she trying to tell me something?

Is she referring to me?

“I don’t know what you mean,” she says innocently.

Does she think I should wear a warning?

Miss Steele wants to play games.

So be it.

She just wanted a fucking upbeat song, you self-obsessed rectal polyp.  Why does everything have to have some deep and important double meaning that puts you at the centre of everyone else’s thinking?!  Can’t you cope without being centre of attention for thirty seconds?!  GROW UP.

We get a flashback of Leila putting the song on Grey’s iPod and it’s just…  It’s written so badly and Leila just sounds like a cross between Gollum and a freaking Geisha:

“Sir, this submissive respectfully requests Master’s iPod.”

I glance away from the spreadsheet I’m reading and study her as she kneels beside me, her eyes cast down.

She’s been exceptional this weekend. How can I refuse?

“Sure, Leila, take it. I think it’s in the dock.”

“Thank you, Master,” she says, and stands with her usual grace, without looking at me.

Good girl.

And wearing only red high heels, she teeters over to the iPod dock and collects her reward.

Grey tells Ana that it wasn’t him who put that song on his iPod, knowing it’ll get her jealous mind whirring.  That’s his way of punishing her for choosing a song that made him question himself.  Grey enjoys letting Ana squirm as she wonders who put the song on the iPod, before he finally decides to stop toying with her like a half-dead fly in a spider’s web and actually tell her the truth:

Put her out of her misery, Grey.

And I don’t know if it’s my good mood, our talk last night, or the fact that I’m about to go soaring—but I want to tell her who put the song on the iPod. “It was Leila.”

Do I want to be open and communicate honestly with my partner because I’m feeling perky, because we had a very basic chat that didn’t resolve any of our real issues, or because I’m about to do something I want to do?  It’s definitely one of those reasons and not because I want a healthy relationship, after all.

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Grey explains that Leila is an ex submissive – one of “the fifteen.”  Ana asked what happened and Grey finally admits that he wants more from their relationship:

“We finished.”

“Why?”

“She wanted more.”

“And you didn’t?”

I glance at her and shake my head. “I’ve never wanted more, until I met you.” She rewards me with her bashful smile.

Yes, Ana. It’s not just you who wants more.

Good Lord, my mind is already aching with questions as to what pointless, crappy drama EL James is going to bore me with now that that little nugget has been brought out in the open.

Ana asks what happened to his other previous relationships.  Grey says he had long-term relationships with four other women, before her.  Which… For a guy who makes his subs sign an agreement stating that their “arrangement” only lasts three months, if I remember rightly, doesn’t sound likely, seeing as he says all but one of those relationships ended when the women wanted “more” and he didn’t.

Grey mocks Ana’s curiosity and she rightly calls him out on his own need for personal information:

“So inquisitive, so eager for information, Miss Steele,” I tease.

“Oh, Mr. When Is Your Period Due?”

“Anastasia, a man needs to know these things.”

“Does he?”

“I do.”

“Why?”

“Because I don’t want you to get pregnant.”

Then wear a condom and stop complaining, asshole.

Ana responds by saying she doesn’t want kids for a while yet and Grey takes an opportunity to be creepily possessive again:

“Neither do I. Well, not for a few years yet,” she says a little wistfully.

Of course, that would be with someone else…the thought is disquieting…She’s mine.

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She’s in a relationship with you, now.  If you decide to tell her that you don’t want anything like marriage or kids and she does want those things, she’s allowed to piss off and find someone else who’ll give them to her.  You don’t get to pull this crap every single second of every single day.

I’m getting irate.  My measly hour and a half’s worth of sleep is starting to physically hurt…

Ana starts asking where they’re going and what they’ll be doing.  Grey tells her he’s taking her to an airfield and Ana “panics” that he might be taking her back to Seattle.  This causes him to chuckle, which kind of says a lot about their relationship, because if he’s willing to stalk her three thousand miles when she’s asked for space, she has every right to worry that he’s then going to take her back home again, without giving her the chance to pack her stuff or say goodbye to her mother.  And of course that’s the sort of thing he’d find funny.  Usually, an overreaction or a misinterpretation of events between a couple can be cute and funny and I wouldn’t mind someone chuckling at their partner fretting over something obviously wrong, but in this case, seeing as it genuinely could be something Grey might do, it’s just not funny at all.

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They arrive at the airfield and Grey finally tells Ana what it is that he has planned.  She’s super excited and he’s thrilled.  They meet another male side-character who is given an actual name (Benson) and is treated with respect, because he has a penis.  Now I’ve noticed how often this happens, it’s just exceptionally depressing.

He then gets annoyed because Ana is being friendly towards Taylor:

I…watch Ana as she shares a private joke with Taylor. “Anastasia. Come.”

“See you later,” she says to Taylor.

Ignoring her familiarity with my staff, I introduce her to Benson.

Bitch, don’t be nice to the people who are paid to be nice to you.  We are above them and only I get to be nice to them, in order to try to make myself seem like less of a shit-stain of a human being.

Grey, dude.  It doesn’t work.

There’s some really boring plane talk, because EL James likes to prove that she researched all the least important aspects of these crappy books.  It goes on and on and just… Ugh.  Grey then stops Benson from putting Ana’s parachute on her, despite the fact that Benson is more qualified than he is, because Grey can’t possibly have another man touch his property:

Benson reaches into the cockpit and pulls out a parachute for Ana.

“I’ll do that,” I offer, taking the bundle from Benson before he has a chance to put it or his hands on Ana.

THIS GUY WOULD RATHER NOT HAVE AN RAF PILOT OF MANY YEARS’ FLYING EXPERIENCE CORRECTLY ATTACH THE DEVICE THAT COULD SAVE ANA’S LIFE IN THE CASE OF AN EMERGENCY, BECAUSE HE IS SO INSANELY POSSESSIVE.

Ask me again why I fucking detest these books.

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Ana, naturally, feels compelled to make a “joke” (remind me to laugh, one of these times) about how much Grey enjoys strapping her into things.  She touches him as he helps her get the parachute into place and Grey waits to freak out, but doesn’t:

 Leaning over, she puts her hand on my shoulder. I stiffen instinctively, expecting the darkness to wake and choke me, but it doesn’t. It’s weird. I don’t know how I’m going to react where her touch is concerned.

If you could pick a consistent reaction, that would be really helpful, dude.  I’m meant to either pity you for your trauma, or be thrilled that Ana has “cured” you of it.  Pick a side.

Once she’s all ready, it’s Grey’s turn to make the same boring harness joke, this time with an added internal moan over the fact that Ana has suspension as a hard limit, which is so unfair, you guys, because he totally wants to do it.

Once Ana is seated in the glider, Benson comes over to check that she’s safe and secure and yet again, Grey is less concerned for Ana’s wellbeing than he is over isolating her from any other man ever:

“Thanks, Mr. Benson,” Ana says.

“Call me Mark,” he replies, fucking twinkling at her. I narrow my eyes at him. “Okay?” he asks me.

“Yep. Let’s go,” I say, impatient to be airborne and to get him away from my girl.

THIS IS BRAZEN RED FLAG BEHAVIOUR, FOR FUCK’S SAKE.  If someone cares less about your safety than they do about you speaking to or – heaven forbid – being touched by someone other than them, RUN THE FUCK AWAY.  FAST.  You are a person, not property.

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There’s a load more unnecessary description of how to make a glider fly and what pilots say to one another over the radio, before Grey starts flying the glider solo and rolls it so Ana is upside down:

“I’m glad I didn’t have breakfast!” she shouts.

“Yes, in hindsight it’s good you didn’t, because I’m going to do that again.”

What a shame you didn’t think of that earlier, when you were busy having a go at her for not eating breakfast.  Asshole.

Grey lets Ana take control for a while and she manages to fly them in a straight line.  Rather than simply be proud that she did well, Grey has to describe his pride in her achievement as “bizarre,” because how else would we know that he usually doesn’t give a shit about anyone but himself?!

My Ana. Never backs down from a challenge. And for some bizarre reason I feel immensely proud of her.

When they land, Grey asks Ana if the soaring was “more,” to which she gleefully replies that it was “much more.”

I am starting to hate the word “more.”

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When they get out of the glider, Grey starts wanting to have sex in the field, but actually manages to stop himself, knowing that Taylor and Benson are nearby.  I don’t know if we’re supposed to give him some kind of praise for that?  Can you buy stickers that say “I Kept My Dick In My Pants In Public”?  Should we start a chart?!  Does he get a prize if he makes it a whole week?!  I have so many questions.

They drive to IHOP for breakfast and Grey immediately wants to fuck Ana in the toilets, SO NO STICKER FOR YOU!  However, when Ana agrees that she also wants to head to the toilets and do the nasty, Grey immediately starts saying it’s not good enough for her or him to be doing it there and she should stop trying to tempt him.  This fucking guy.

Oh, and remember how Benson and Brian were both introduced as brief, male side-characters?  Well, if you’ve forgotten how female side-characters are treated, here’s a reminder:

“Hi, my name’s Leandra. What can I get for you…er…folks…er…today, this mornin’?”

Oh, God. I ignore the redheaded server.

“Anastasia?” I prompt her.

“I told you, I want what you want.”

Hell. She might as well be addressing my groin.

“Shall I give you folks another minute to decide?” the waitress asks.

“No. We know what we want.” I cannot tear my gaze from Ana’s. “We’ll have two portions of the original buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup and bacon on the side, two glasses of orange juice, one black coffee with skim milk, and one English Breakfast tea, if you have it.”

Ana smiles.

“Thank you, sir. Will that be all?” the waitress exclaims, all breathy and embarrassed. Tearing my attention away from Ana, I dismiss the waitress with a look and she scurries away.

Grey ignores her.  He doesn’t look at her whilst speaking to her.  He’s short with her, giving her no “please” or “thank you” whilst he orders the food.  She’s described only by the colour of her hair.

Do not EVER tell me that this guy isn’t a misogynist.  And frankly, don’t ever, EVER tell me EL James isn’t, either.  That a woman wrote this shit is depressing as hell.

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When the waitress goes, Ana tells Grey that it’s not fair that he disarms women so easily and I laugh for around seven minutes straight, because quite frankly, he makes me wish I was armed.  With a freaking tank.

Ever the conceited wanker, Grey replies “it’s just looks, Anastasia.”  Because he’s gorgeous, in case you’d forgotten.  You know, more gorgeous than anyone who has ever lived ever.

He tells her that the reverse is true and that she disarms him (because I never get bored of them having melodramatic conversations in which Ana says he does something and he gets all “no, you do that to me,” as though he’s incapable of having an adult conversation without resorting to “I know you are, you said you are, so what am I?”).

Oh, and remember how he’s told her twice that he wants “more” from their relationship?  Well, suddenly…

Her brow furrows. “Is that why you’ve changed your mind?”

“Changed my mind?”

“Yes—about…er…us?”

Have I changed my mind? I think I’ve just relaxed my boundaries a little, that’s all. “I don’t think I’ve changed my mind per se. We just need to redefine our parameters, redraw our battle lines, if you will. We can make this work, I’m sure. I want you submissive in my playroom. I will punish you if you digress from the rules. Other than that…well, I think it’s all up for discussion. Those are my requirements, Miss Steele. What say you to that?”

“I want more, but only on my terms.”

Ana asks if she can sleep in his bed and Grey agrees, telling her how much better he sleeps when she’s there.  Ana also admits that she was afraid he’d leave her if she couldn’t do everything he asked for in the contract, leading Grey to insist that he’s going nowhere.  Hard luck, Ana.

Right, are we ready for some more patriarchal bollocks?  Good!  Because Ana wants to pay for breakfast:

“Can I treat you?” she adds.

“Treat me how?”

“Pay for this meal.”

I snort. “I don’t think so.”

“Please. I want to.”

“Are you trying to completely emasculate me?” I raise an eyebrow in warning.

“This is probably the only place that I’ll be able to afford to pay.”

“Anastasia, I appreciate the thought. I do. But no.”

She purses her lips with irritation when I ask the redhead for the check. “Don’t scowl,” I warn…

He “warns” her twice.  He tells her that she’s at risk of emasculating him.  Because she wants to pay for some sodding pancakes and damnit, that is a MAN’S JOB.

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Grey contemplates cancelling his upcoming meeting about siting a plant in Savannah so he can spend more time with Ana, but decides business should be his priority.  First time for everything.  As they’re leaving the restaurant, Grey once again treats Ana like property:

With her hand in mine, we head to the car looking like any other couple. She’s swamped in my sweatshirt, looking casual, relaxed, beautiful—and yes, she’s with me. Three guys strolling into IHOP check her out; she’s oblivious even when I put my arm around her to stake my claim.

Stake.

His.

Claim.

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They get into the car and Grey tells us:

I program her mother’s address into the GPS and we set off north on I-95

But Ana never told him her mother’s address, so YAY FOR STALKING.

Once Grey is back at his hotel, having dropped Ana off, he receives an email from her with the subject title “Soaring as Opposed to Sore-ing,” which delights him, and yet makes me think for the nine billionth time that Ana is SO NOT INTO BDSM.

They get into one of their long and fucking insanely boring email conversations, during which Grey jokes that she snores, only for Ana to insist she doesn’t and for him to respond telling her that she doesn’t snore, but she does talk in her sleep.  He actually thinks to himself that wondering what she said will “drive her crazy.”  Every time he purposefully winds her up, I’m reminded of how he behaves, if she winds him up by accident.  And then I want to chop his tiny dick off with a rusty spoon.

Ana, of course, immediately replies asking what she said and Grey teases her by not telling her, then suggests he might let her know later.  Ooh, the suspense is killing me.

Oh, no, wait.  It’s having to read this crap that’s killing me.  As you were.

He heads off to his meeting and as it’s finishing, Taylor bursts in with news.  Grey immediately thinks something must be wrong with Ana, which I think we’re supposed to take as some kind of true love or something:

There’s a knock at the door and Taylor enters the small conference room. His face looks grim, but what’s more worrying is that he never, ever interrupts my meetings. My scalp prickles.

Ana? Is she okay?

“Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen,” he says to all of us.

“Yes, Taylor,” I ask, and he approaches and speaks discreetly in my ear.

“We have a situation at home concerning Miss Leila Williams.”

Leila? What the hell? And part of me is relieved that it’s not Ana.

Taylor takes Grey into the corridor to explain what has happened: Leila broke into Grey’s apartment and cut her wrist in front of Gail (Mrs Jones).  Grey seems more concerned about the location of the suicide attempt than the attempt itself:

Fuck. “Suicide?” Leila? In my apartment?

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Grey can’t understand why Leila would do such a thing, when she seemed so happy 6-7 months ago, when he last heard from her.  He wonders where her husband is.

I’m reeling.

Leila. What the hell?

She’s been out of my life for a couple of years. We’ve shared the occasional e-mail. She got married. She seemed happy. What’s happened?

Grey makes plans to leave and return to Seattle immediately.  He calls Ana and she doesn’t answer, causing him to “brood.”  Then she calls him right back, so I don’t know what the sodding point of that whole thing was, besides padding this damn book out…

Grey tells Ana that he has a problem he has to go home to deal with and so has to cancel dinner with her and her mother, that evening.  After Ana says she hopes he can sort his problem out quickly and that she wishes he could stay, he tells us via his internal monologue that he has to wrap up the call quickly, in case he changes his mind and stays with Ana instead of attending the actual issue he needs to go and attend.

Oh and having spent ages being Mr Anti Detroit, Grey also calls Roz to say he’s coming home early to deal with a personal problem, and to suggest he might open a plant in Detroit, because it’s cooler than Savannah.

Isn’t it funny how he’s less interested in doing business in Savannah, now he’s not stalking his girlfriend there?!

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As he lands back in Seattle, Grey is feeling really compassionate and thoughtful towards the woman who has clearly suffered some kind of enormous emotional breakdown and attempted to take her own life:

Taylor drives through the pouring rain straight to Seattle Free Hope. I have to see Leila and find out what the hell is going on. As we near the hospital my anger surfaces.

Why would she do this to me?

The rain is lashing down as I climb out of the car; the day is as bleak as my mood. I take a deep breath to control my fury and head through the front doors. At the reception desk I ask for Leila Reed.

Look, suicide attempts bring up all kinds of emotions in people.  I know this to be true.  But this is still kind of shitty.  Still, if being angry with this arsehole for getting furious over someone else’s breakdown isn’t enough for you, let’s see how Grey treats a female member of staff at the hospital.  I’m sure he’ll be positive and not insult her appearance or anything…

“Are you family?” The nurse on duty glowers at me, her mouth pinched and sour.

“No.” I sigh. This is going to be difficult.

“Well, I’m sorry, I can’t help you.”

“She tried to open a vein in my apartment. I think I’m entitled to know where the hell she is,” I hiss through my teeth.

“Don’t take that tone with me!” she snaps. I glare at her. I’m not going to get anywhere with this woman.

Oh, good.

And then he meets a younger nurse, who blatantly fancies him and so he lies to her that he’s Leila’s brother:

I accost a young nurse and give her my brightest smile. “Hello, I’m looking for Leila Reed—she was admitted earlier today. Can you tell me where she might be?”

“And you are?” she asks, a flush creeping over her face.

“I’m her brother,” I lie smoothly, ignoring her reaction.

Thank goodness Christian Grey is so unspeakably beautiful and wonderful.

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Still lying that he’s Leila’s brother, Grey heads to her hospital room to find security guards clearly searching for someone.  He manages to get Leila’s psychiatrist to admit to what’s going on and I swear there’s a little racism here, in his doubt that this guy could be a doctor:

 A young man with short dreads and dark, intelligent eyes enters. Is he her doctor?

“Mr. Reed?” he asks.

“Where’s Leila?”

He assesses me for a moment, then sighs and steels himself. “I’m afraid I don’t know,” he says. “She’s managed to give us the slip.”

“What?”

“She’s gone. How she got out I don’t know.”

“Got out?” I exclaim in disbelief, and sink onto one of the chairs. He sits down opposite me.

“Yes. She’s disappeared. We’re doing a search for her now.”

“She’s still here?”

“We don’t know.”

“And who are you?” I ask.

“I’m Dr. Azikiwe, the on-call psychiatrist.”

He looks too young to be a psychiatrist.

The doctor confirms that Leila had admitted to slashing her wrist “at an ex boyfriend’s house.”  He says she’d told him that it was just a cry for help, that she was embarrassed, didn’t really want to die and just wanted to go home.

The doctor asks Grey what he knows of Leila’s ex boyfriend and Grey quickly suggests they look for Leila’s husband instead.  The doctor says that Leila hadn’t spoken of a husband.  Grey then dashes away from the doctor, which I’m sure doesn’t look at all suspicious and he exits the hospital, whilst having a flashback to being there as a child (because remember, he is the most important person at all times).

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Grey calls Welch and asks him to trace Leila.  Later, at home, he speaks with Gail about the events of the day:

How are you bearing up?”

“I’m good, Mr. Grey. It was a total shock. I just want to keep busy.”

“I hear you. Thanks for making dinner. If you remember anything, let me know.”

“Of course. But like I said, she only wanted to speak to you.”

Why? What is she expecting me to do?

“Thanks for not involving the police.”

“The police are not what that girl needs. She needs help.”

And we all know that police officers are in no way trained to handle situations like this and would absolutely not help by taking her to a hospital where she could be looked after.  Thank goodness that nobody ever thinks to involve the police in anything in this series.

Real talk?  I have a very much ex friend who last year took an overdose, went to hospital and then ran away from said hospital.  First thing I did?  Called the freaking police and gave them her description, so they could be on the lookout for her, in case she harmed herself further.  So, no tolerance for this shit from me, thanks very much.

After picking at his dinner, Grey is frustrated to learn that Welch can’t find any trace of Leila.  We discover what happened when she broke into the apartment:

Apparently, Leila marched into the kitchen demanding to know where I was. And when Gail said I wasn’t there, she cried out “He’s gone,” then slashed her wrist with a box cutter.

“HE’S GONE!” is, coincidentally, what I’ll yell in orgasmic delight when I finish recapping this series.

Grey gets a totally pointless text from Elliot and then starts looking in Leila’s grossly invasive file, for clues as to where she might be:

I toss my phone onto the desk and pore over Leila’s file, looking for anything that might give me a clue as to where she is. I find her parents’ address and phone number, but nothing for her husband. Where is he? Why isn’t she with him?

I don’t want to call her parents and alarm them. I call Welch and give him their number; he can find out if she’s been in touch with them.

  1. Why have you still got a file on someone you’ve not even spoken to in 6-7 months?  That’s creepy and gross.  And seeing as all your previous relationships were basically some big secret, why do you have her parents’ contact details?  This is messed up.
  2. If you ever did meet her parents, don’t you think a call from you would be a lot less alarming than a call from some random dude they’ve never heard of?!  And if you didn’t ever meet them, AGAIN, WHY DO YOU NEED THEIR SODDING DETAILS ON FILE YOU FUCKING CREEP???!!!
  3. Is Welch actually going to call them, or can he somehow trace what numbers have called them, previously?!  Because I never know with this dude and his law-breaking stalking.

I’m going to take a minute to think of my crush for a second, because I’m tired, headache-y and just generally ARGH.

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Aaaaaand relax.

Grey gets an email from Ana and gets all delighted because she’s put a kiss at the end (and yes, I’m being a hypocrite, because when my crush puts kisses at the end of messages, I do a little inward squee, but then again, I’m not a hateful bastard who treats her appallingly, so it’s allowed):

Dear Sir,

Please let me know that you have arrived safely. I am starting to worry. Thinking of you.

Your Ana x

Before I know it, my finger is on the little kiss she’s sent me.

Ana.

Sappy, Grey. Sappy. Get a grip.

Naturally, he sends her an email back without a kiss, because I’m pretty sure this is just some power play to him.  Especially since, despite not sending her a kiss or even anything particularly affectionate in his reply, he’s thinking this:

I press send and wish that she was here with me. She brightens up my home, my life…me. 

Those are the things Ana wants to hear.  THAT is the “more” she really wants.  And I strongly suspect he knows as much and is purposefully keeping it from her, to keep her off balance.

What a nice bloke.

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Having been told by Grey that it’s “heartwarming” to know she cares for him, Ana sends an immediate response saying of course she cares for him very deeply, “how could you doubt that?”  She also asks to know what it was she said in her sleep.  We all know he won’t, because POWER PLAY.

But before we get to his reply, we have to see him confess that he really just wants Ana because she reminds him of his dead mother:

She cares for me deeply? That’s nice. All at once that foreign feeling, absent all day, stirs and expands in my chest. Beneath it is a well of pain I don’t want to acknowledge or deal with. It tugs at a lost memory of a young woman brushing out her long, dark hair…

Fuck.

Don’t go there, Grey.

Or maybe do go there, but with a decent therapist, because LORD.

And just as suspected, he decides to continue teasing her by refusing to tell her what she said in her sleep.  This guy is such a jackass, he could teach it as a professional sport.

Ana, for what it’s worth, actually responds with something sensible:

I hope it was amusing. But you should know I cannot accept any responsibility for what comes out of my mouth when I am unconscious.

SO MUCH THIS.

Eventually, Ana emails him and tells him she’s pissed off with him.  This causes Grey to think:

Whoa. Would I tolerate this from anyone else?

Well, let’s have a think: are you the reason she’s annoyed?  Didn’t you literally just decide to carry on teasing her, rather than answering her question?  Yes to both.  So she’s justified in being annoyed and so would anyone else be.  Please attach a firework to your own ass and shoot yourself into space to explode into a thousand tiny pieces.  Thanks.

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Grey sends back a BDSM joke to try to take her mind off things, but when she doesn’t immediately respond, he decides she must actually be mad:

She doesn’t respond. Five minutes go by and nothing. Six…Seven.

Damn. She means it. How can I tell her that while she slept she said she wouldn’t leave me? She’ll think I’m crazy.

Obsessing over it this much is kinda crazy, dude.

He emails her back and tells her that he’d rather hear her say what she said in her sleep out loud and that’s why he doesn’t want to tell her.  Which isn’t true, because twice he’s told the reader in his internal monologue that he’s not telling her because he enjoys teasing her.

He then tells her to go to sleep, which is always something I love.  “Hey, I’m annoyed that you aren’t replying to my messages right away.  NOW GO TO SLEEP.”

This chapter then ends on a line EL James obviously meant to be dramatic, but which is hilarious in its melodrama:

She doesn’t respond; I hope for once she’s doing what she’s told and she’s asleep. Briefly I think of what we could do tomorrow, but it’s too arousing, so I push the thought aside and concentrate on my e-mails.

But I have to confess I feel a little lighter after some e-mail banter with Miss Steele. She’s good for my dark, dark soul.

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Dark, dark soul.  I ask you.  How old is EL James, really?  Thirteen?!

Anyway, on that ludicrous note, I get to go to bed and pray for a good night’s sleep.  Thanks to everyone who has been so supportive so far on this nightmare recapping journey and thanks to Crazy Ex Girlfriend for being the source of most of the gifs in this one and therefore keeping me sane…

See you all with the next recap in a fortnight!