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 23 (Tuesday, June 7, 2011)

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 22 (Monday June 6, 2011)

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 21 (Sunday June 5, 2011)

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 20 (Saturday, June 4, 2011)

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 19 (Friday, June 3, 2011)

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grey Chapter 18 (Thursday, June 2, 2011)

Grey Chapter 17 (Wednesday, June 1, 2011)

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Hi, everyone.  I am quite hormonal at the moment.  I have particularly savage period pains and so far today, I have cried twice over an unrequited love.  So, this could be a fun (and almost certainly rage-filled) recap…

If you haven’t attempted to bleach your own brain in an effort to forget, you may recall that at the end of the previous chapter, child-molester Elena Lincoln had told stalker and general shitbag Christian Grey to travel to Savannah to see Ana, despite the fact that Ana had specifically travelled three thousand miles to get away from him, in order to think more clearly.  Grey had already contemplated this thought himself, but was now putting arrangements for the trip into place.  And of course, this was totes cute and funny and not at all gross and invasive.  Yay.

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The first words of this chapter are “It’s been an interesting morning.”  EL James then gives us some super boring information about about what time Christian’s plane left, who is piloting (and who is co-piloting) the plane and what time they’re due to land.  Because EL James’ idea of what “interesting” means differs wildly to mine, apparently.

Grey then tries to convince us – and himself – that he really does have business reasons to be heading to Savannah:

Bill has managed to arrange a meeting with the Savannah Brownfield Redevelopment Authority tomorrow, and I might be meeting them for a drink this evening. So if Anastasia is otherwise occupied, or doesn’t want to see me, the journey won’t be a complete waste of time.

Yeah, yeah. Tell yourself that, Grey.

I’m just waiting for a justification of how Grey knows what bar Ana and her mother will be drinking in later, because I love when tracking someone’s phone or gaining their relatives’ addresses without their knowledge is portrayed as a normal, or even romantic thing to do.  That’s my most super favourite thing ever.

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On board the flight, Grey ponders how he’s going to arrange to meet Ana.:

The only part of the equation I’ve yet to solve is arranging to see Ana. I’ll see how that goes once I arrive in Savannah; I’m hoping some inspiration will come to me on the flight.

“I know!  I’ll stalk her like I always do, turn up randomly and menacingly ask how much alcohol she plans on drinking!”

Solved the problem for you, dude.

And because Ana hasn’t had subtle responsibility for fixing Grey dumped on her shoulders recently, we get this:

The drone of the engines is soothing, and I’m tired. So tired.

That would be the nightmares, Grey.

I don’t know why they are worse at the moment.

CAN ANYONE GUESS?!  COULD IT POSSIBLY BE BECAUSE ANA ISN’T THERE?!  OH MY GOD, YOU GUYS, WE CRACKED THE CODE!!

Wow, period pains and hormones make me sarcastic.

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Of course, the very next thing that happens is Grey closes his eyes and has a nightmare.  I say nightmare, but it’s more of a flashback to being Elena’s submissive.  It doesn’t particularly have any similarities to his usual nightmares.  Instead, we’re just presented with Elena flogging him and promising to let him come in her mouth if he does as she tells him.  It feels kind of pointless as an addition here, because he recalls himself welcoming the endorphin rush that came with the pain of being flogged and none of it is presented in an especially negative way.  Of course it was a negative situation, because he was underage when his “relationship” with Elena began (I use scare quotes, because underage people cannot give full, legal consent), but the tone of the flashback isn’t particularly sad or regretful.  It literally just reads like a brief sex scene shoved in for no reason, which is why I can’t be arsed to include any of it, here.

When he wakes up, startled by Taylor who offers him a glass of water, he doesn’t even describe it as a nightmare, either:

“Please.” I take a deep breath to bring my heart rate down, and Taylor passes me a glass of cold Evian. I take a welcome sip, glad that it’s just Taylor on board. It’s not often I dream about my heady days with Mrs. Lincoln.

Grey looks at the sky outside and starts thinking about taking Ana soaring whilst he’s in Georgia, thinking to himself that that will encompass the “more” she asked for from him:

The light up here is brilliant. Golden. Tranquil. The sinking sun reflecting off the cumulus clouds. For a moment I wish I were in my sailplane. I bet the thermals are fantastic up here.

Yes!

That’s what I should do: take Ana soaring. That would be more, wouldn’t it?

Treating her with respect, not trying to control everything she does against her will, not trying to coerce or manipulate her, asking her what she actually wants…  All of that would constitute “more” than you’re currently giving her, but sure.  Take her soaring, instead.

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He immediately briefs Taylor to organise a soaring trip, without doing that pesky business of, you know, actually asking Ana…

“I’d like to take Anastasia soaring in Georgia—at dawn tomorrow, if we can find somewhere to do that. But later would be fine, too.” If it’s later I’ll have to move my meeting.

“I’ll get on it.”

“Never mind the cost.”

“Okay, sir.”

“Thanks.”

Now I just have to tell Ana.

ASK her.  You have to ASK her.  She’s visiting her mother.  She may have plans.

I mean, sure, we all know Ana agrees and they have the most magical experience any couple have ever had and it’s more and oh, my heart can’t cope with such thrilling romance, but jeez dude, stop expecting her to just do what you want all the freaking time.

They land and Grey immediately bitches about the hire car Taylor has organised, because it’s just not super-duper posh enough for this particular twat-waffle.  Grey heads to his hotel and immediately calls Ros.  We get an exceptionally dull conversation, during which Grey tells us (yet again) how much he hates Detroit and Ros casually brings up the idea of Grey buying the company Ana works for.  I love that EL James is forcing other characters to bear responsibility for ideas we know Grey would have come up with first and acted on anyway:

“Okay. Any further thoughts on the publishing acquisition?”

“I’m still undecided.”

“I think SIP has some potential.”

“Yeah. Maybe. Let me think about it for a while longer.”

“Let me consider it for a while, whilst I’m stalking my girlfriend and then we’ll definitely do it, because how dare she have any aspect of her life that doesn’t revolve entirely around me?!”

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Once his ridiculously dull conversation is over (someone needs to tell EL James that frequent business calls don’t make Grey seem important, they just bore readers to tears), Grey starts thinking about the fact that he now has to contact Ana to tell her he’s here.  But he’s putting it off, because poor ickle Chwistian is nervous:

I’m avoiding the inevitable. I know this. But I decide it would be better to tackle Miss Steele—via e-mail or phone, I’ve yet to decide which—on a full stomach, so I order dinner.

Poor love.  It’s not easy to do the whole “hey, remember you asked for some space?  Well, I’ve stalked you, so get used to not having any!” thing.  My heart bleeds for him.

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Taylor lets Grey know that a glider has been arranged for the following morning.  And Grey starts planning his soaring adventure with Ana, despite the fact that a) she still doesn’t know he’s followed her three thousand miles away, b) he’s still not confessed to the reader how he knows exactly where her mother lives and c) Ana was angry at him, the day before.

While I eat I contemplate my strategy with Ana. I could pay a visit to her mom’s tomorrow at breakfast. Bring bagels. Then take her soaring. That’s probably the best plan. She hasn’t been in touch all day, so I guess she’s mad.

He then thinks THIS (prepare yourselves for some EPIC double standards):

What the hell has she got against Elena? She knows nothing about our relationship. What we had happened a long time ago and now we’re just friends. What right does Ana have to be mad?

I don’t know, maybe she’s worried that you can’t see that your relationship was effectively child abuse?  Perhaps she’s annoyed that your ex still has such a prominent place in your life, whilst she isn’t even allowed to talk to a man, without you having to metaphorically pee all over her to mark your territory?!  Take your pick, dick-weed.

Naturally, Grey is too wrapped up in himself to think any of those things:

And if it wasn’t for Elena, God knows what would have happened to me.

You might have been slightly less fucked up, because you wouldn’t have been sexually groomed whilst underage?

I hate this series so much.

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There’s more boring conversation between Taylor and Grey and then…  Then…

Oh, you guys.  I can’t.  I can’t even.

EL James has decided to make out that Grey really just happens to be staying in the hotel where Ana is drinking with her mother.  It’s all just a coincidence.  Because, despite the fact that he literally mentioned mere paragraphs ago that he might just go over to Ana’s mother’s place, even though Ana never gave him the address (therefore meaning he’d blatantly have to have gained it via invasive, creepy means), he didn’t stalk her at all, you guys.  This just happened.  Totally innocently.  He had no idea.

I scan the bar, avoiding eye contact with the two women sitting next to me…and a movement captures my attention: a frustrated flip of glossy mahogany hair that catches and refracts the light.

It’s Ana. Fuck.

She’s facing away from me, seated opposite a woman who could only be her mother. The resemblance is striking.

What are the fucking odds?

In all the gin joints…Jesus.

Nope.  No way.  Not one little bit do I believe this utter horse shit.

I know this is a work of fiction and we’re supposed to suspend our disbelief, but give me a fucking break, will you?!  We’re talking about a guy who found out Ana’s bank details, work and home address when he barely knew her.  A guy who openly admits to tracking her phone.  A guy who gets shady people to find out what flights she’s taking so he can book the seats beside her and isolate her.  And you expect, even for a split second, that we’ll believe this is an innocent coincidence?!  EL James, you are absolutely barking.  This is ridiculous.  Your books are ridiculous.  You are ridiculous.

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Rather than be a remotely normal human (as if), Grey decides this is the perfect time to reply to Ana’s angry email and then stand back and secretly watch her reaction as she reads it.  No, really:

This is priceless.

Seize the day, Grey.

I fish my phone out of my jeans pocket. It’s time to e-mail Ana. This should be interesting. I’ll test her mood…and I get to watch.

* * *

From: Christian Grey

Subject: Dinner Companions

Date: June 1 2011 21:40 EST

To: Anastasia Steele

Yes, I had dinner with Mrs. Robinson. She is just an old friend, Anastasia.

Looking forward to seeing you again. I miss you.

Christian Grey

Ugh, the creepiness of writing “looking forward to seeing you again” when he’s literally lurking and watching her is just off the scale.

Grey then stares at Ana’s mother and seems to think that just because Ana doesn’t open up easily with him, she can’t possibly open up to her own mother, either:

Her mother looks earnest; maybe she’s concerned for her daughter, or maybe she’s trying to extract information from her.

Good luck, Mrs. Adams.

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Just…  She left specifically because she can’t think clearly around you, you total and utter wazzock.  She wanted to visit her mother and get her head straight.  She’s given very little indication that she can’t open up to her mother.  You are the problem.

He wonders whether they might be discussing him, then he watches Ana’s mother disappear to the toilet, giving Ana a chance to both read and reply to his email.  He can, despite being several feet away and not able to see Ana’s face, tell instantly that she’s not happy:

Here we go…

She begins to read, her shoulders hunched over, her fingers flexing and drumming on the table. She starts tapping furiously at the keys. I can’t see her face, which is frustrating, but I don’t think she’s impressed with what she’s just read. A moment later she abandons the phone on the table in what appears to be disgust.

That’s not good.

I wish I was as good at reading the back of people’s heads as Christian Grey apparently is.

He then decides to start inwardly judging the women’s alcohol intake:

Her mother returns and signals one of the waiters for another round of drinks. I wonder how many they’ve had.

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He checks the email Ana has sent in response:

She’s not just an old friend.

Has she found another adolescent boy to sink her teeth into?

Did you get too old for her?

Is that the reason your relationship finished?

And he becomes furiously angry.  Which is totally super healthy.  He decides to let her know he’s watching her.

What the hell? My temper simmers as I read.

Isaac is in his late twenties.

Like me.

How dare she?

Is it the drink talking?

Time to declare yourself, Grey.

* * *

From: Christian Grey

Subject: Careful…

Date: June 1 2011 21:45 EST

To: Anastasia Steele

This is not something I wish to discuss via e-mail.

How many Cosmopolitans are you going to drink?

Ana’s reaction to this, combined with his reaction to her realisation that he’s there, made me do a little dry heave:

She studies her phone, sits up suddenly, and looks around the room.

Showtime, Grey.

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Okay, I’m going to be breaking this down a lot, because HOLY BALLS there is so much wrong, here.

Firstly, he describes himself as “sauntering” over, which makes him sound like he has a swagger in his step, which in turn makes him sound like my abuser, so I immediately want to punch him in the face.

With an axe.

Next, he actually thinks to himself that he might struggle to control his anger:

Our eyes meet. She blanches—shocked, I think—and I don’t know how she’ll greet me, or how I’ll contain my temper if she says anything else about Elena.

Fuck you, dude.  She has every right.  Stop making this relationship one in which you can forbid her from talking to anyone with a penis, but where you’re allowed to socialise with someone you were sexually involved with.  And that’s getting red-inked, because it’s threatening as heck.

Now, check out Ana’s body language.  In the story from her perspective, although she was shocked to see him turn up out of the blue, we also had her sappy internal monologue justifying his sudden appearance.  When we read this only from Grey’s perspective, it sounds creepy AF:

She tucks her hair behind her ears with restless fingers. A sure sign that she’s nervous. “Hi,” she says, her voice strained and high-pitched.

“Hi.” I lean down and kiss her cheek. She smells amazing, even if she does tense as my lips brush her skin.

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Nope.  She’s nervous and tense and he’s still coming on strong?  Piss off.  Someone nail this bastard’s balls to any available wall, please.

He notices that Ana isn’t wearing a bra and thinks this:

Her breasts are straining against the silky material of her top, but hidden by her long hair.

For my eyes only, I hope.

She didn’t know you were going to be there, you crusty jizz stain on the bedsheets of society.  She chose not to wear a bra; that was her choice and it had literally nothing to do with you.  Go cry in the corner, you overgrown brat.

And of course, because EL James doesn’t know how to write a genuinely appealing male character, the only way she can desperately try to convince her readers that Grey is really desirable is to have any woman with a pulse find him attractive.  So, Ana’s mum fancies him.  Because of course she does:

“Christian, this is my mother, Carla.” Ana gestures to her mom.

“Mrs. Adams, I am delighted to meet you.”

Her mom’s eyes are all over me.

Shit! She’s checking me out. Best ignore it, Grey.

Yeah, best do that, pillock.

Ana questions why he’s there right at that moment and not only do we get the bullshit “it happened by chance” thing again, but his own internal monologue tells us once again that Ana is annoyed, nervous and unsettled by his presence:

“What are you doing here?” Ana asks, her tone accusatory.

“I came to see you, of course. I’m staying in this hotel.”

“You’re staying here?” she squeaks.

Yes. I can’t quite believe it, either. “Well, yesterday you said you wished I was here.” I’m trying to gauge her reaction. So far there’s been: nervous fidgeting, tensing, an accusatory tone, and a strained voice. This is not going well. “We aim to please, Miss Steele,” I add, deadpan, hoping to put her in a good mood.

Yeah, when someone has stalked me three thousand miles away when I asked for some space from them, a cheesy line straight out of a porn movie always lifts my spirits right back up.

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Ana’s mother asks Christian to join them.  He orders a gin and tonic and makes his order sound as pretentious as possible.  Ana then orders herself and her mother another cocktail each:

“And two more Cosmos, please,” Ana adds, with an anxious look at me.

She’s right to be anxious. I think she’s had enough to drink already.

You don’t control her.  She shouldn’t be anxious about ordering a drink in front of you, even if she’s sliding under the table and giggling to herself whilst she does it (she isn’t, by the way, but that would be more interesting to read).

Ana questions the truth of Grey’s insistence that he just happens to be staying at their hotel (and I don’t blame her, because I question it, too):

“So you just happen to be staying in the hotel where we’re drinking?” Ana’s tone is tense.

“Or you just happen to be drinking in the hotel where I’m staying. I just finished dinner, came in here, and saw you. I was distracted, thinking about your most recent e-mail”—I give her a pointed look—“and I glance up and there you are. Quite a coincidence, eh?”

Ana looks flustered. “My mother and I were shopping this morning and on the beach this afternoon. We decided on a few cocktails this evening,” she says hurriedly, as if she has to justify drinking in a bar with her mother.

Oooookaaaaaay.  Firstly, it’s a shitty and manipulative thing to be all “I was distracted, thinking about your email.”  He’s trying to subtly guilt Ana for the annoyance she has every right to feel.  He’s also very likely trying to remind her of what his moods are like, in order to scare her into not saying any more about Elena.  After all, we’re in his head in this version of the story and we know how pissed off he is with Ana for voicing her irritation.

Secondly, if Ana is having to justify the fact that she’s gone out drinking with her mother – and he can recognise that fact and doesn’t immediately alter his accusatory, judgemental tone – this is NOT A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP.  Ana isn’t totally hammered, like she was that night in the bar when José tried to force a kiss on her.  She’s also with her mother, so she’s not in any obvious, immediate danger.  Grey has no right to be annoyed that she’s out having a few cocktails and Ana’s anxiety at knowing he will be angry if she has another drink is a huge, HUGE red flag.

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Grey asks whether she bought the top she’s wearing whilst shopping, earlier that day.  He compliments her on it and privately congratulates himself on the colour choices he’s made for the clothes he’s ordered for her.  Then, sensing that his compliments are thawing her bad mood, he starts to use touch as a way to break down Ana’s defences, too:

Her cheeks color and her lips lift at my compliment. “Well, I was going to pay you a visit tomorrow. But here you are.” I take her hand, because I want to touch her, and I give it a gentle squeeze. Slowly I caress her knuckles with my thumb, and her breathing alters.

Yes, Ana. Feel it.

Don’t be mad at me.

“Don’t be justifiably angry that I have such double standards when it comes to socialising with the opposite sex and don’t be weirded out by the fact that I’ve shown up here when you asked for space.  Just let me touch you, because I want to.”

I want to stick so many pins into this guy that he literally fucking deflates, like Ana’s poxy helicopter balloon.

He tells her he thought he’d surprise her, but that she has surprised him by turning up at his hotel (still not ever going to believe this version) and he says he doesn’t want to disturb the time she has with her mother.  Which, you know, explains why he travelled all that way, in order to disturb the time she has with her mother.  Good to know.

Ana’s mother tells Christian that Ana has been gushing over him, which of course delights him:

“Christian, it’s lovely to meet you finally. Ana has spoken very fondly of you,” Mrs. Adams says, with a charming smile.

“Really?” I glance at Ana, who’s blushing.

Fondly, eh?

This is good news.

Shame.

Ana’s mother invites Christian to have dinner with them the following night and then excuses herself to go to the toilet again.  How tiny is this woman’s bladder?!

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Grey does actually think “hasn’t she just been to the restroom?”  And of course, now I hate myself for having a single thought in common with this utter monster and I will immediately remove my own brain with a rusty fork.

Once Carla is out of the way, Grey starts talking to Ana about why she’s annoyed with him.  And notice, he’s being touchy-feely again, as a way of trying to creep round her and keep her onside.

I stand as she leaves, then sit down again to face the wrath of Miss Steele. I take her hand once more. “So, you’re mad at me for having dinner with an old friend.” I kiss each knuckle.

He wonders whether Ana is just jealous and tells her that he has no sexual relationship with Elena anymore and that she is the only woman he wants.  Ana, for once in her life, grows a spine and calls Elena exactly what she is:

“I think of her as a child molester, Christian.”

My scalp tingles in shock. “That’s very judgmental. It wasn’t like that.” I release her hand in frustration.

It’s not “judgemental.”  It’s ACCURATE.  And notice how he’s now ceased physical contact, because he realises Ana isn’t in total agreement with him.  This guy uses not only sex as a weapon (as Ana rightfully tells him, later in the story), but all forms of physical affection.  And it’s gross.

He even inwardly wonders if Ana’s anger is just the drink talking.  Because he can’t possibly see a situation from any viewpoint beside his own.

She continues, “She took advantage of a vulnerable fifteen-year-old boy. If you had been a fifteen-year-old girl and Mrs. Robinson was a Mr. Robinson, tempting you into a BDSM lifestyle, that would have been okay? If it was Mia, say?”

Oh, now she’s being ridiculous. “Ana, it wasn’t like that.”

This is dismissive and although he doesn’t say it out loud, it’s frankly very close to gaslighting.  He’s trying to diminish Ana’s very real – and perfectly acceptable – summary of the situation and make her worry that she might be overreacting.  She isn’t.  What she’s saying about Elena is completely true.  And we all know that if Mia was led into a BDSM relationship with a much older man when she was underage, Grey would have that man killed.

Her eyes flash. She’s really angry. Why? This has nothing to do with her. But I don’t want a full-blown argument here in the bar. I moderate my voice. “Okay, it didn’t feel like that to me. She was a force for good. What I needed.” Good God, I’d probably be dead by now if it wasn’t for Elena. I’m struggling to control my temper.

This has everything to do with her.  You’re supposedly in a relationship; she has a right to express her concern over something that happened to you that you are in complete and utter denial about.  You’re also in a totally uneven relationship, in which, if Ana told you she was having dinner with José for example, you would almost certainly turn up at the restaurant and make an excuse as to why she has to leave, immediately.  And not take “no” for an answer.  In a healthy relationship, you would listen to her concerns, understand that you’re not applying the same rules to yourself as you do to her and you wouldn’t be “struggling to control” your temper.  Which makes it sound like you might snap and hurt her, which is exactly what Ana has been afraid of all along.

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Ana clearly doesn’t see things from his perspective and instead of actually being a grown up and having an open conversation about it, he just decides to stop her questioning:

Her brow furrows. “I don’t understand.”

Shut her down, Grey.

FUCK YOU, GREY.

And naturally, he “shuts her down” by telling her he has a plane on standby and he can always just leave if she doesn’t want him there.  Because he’s a manipulative shit who knows she’s crazy about him and won’t want him to go and that the threat alone will be sufficient to make her change the subject.  Sure enough:

Her expression changes to panic. “No—don’t go. Please. I’m thrilled you’re here,” she adds quickly.

He even sulks that she didn’t seem pleased enough to see him:

Thrilled? You could have fooled me.

Ana, however, rediscovers her feisty side just enough to once again put forward her (perfectly reasonable) case:

“I’m just trying to make you understand,” she says. “I’m angry that as soon as I left, you had dinner with her. Think about how you are when I get anywhere near José. José is a good friend. I have never had a sexual relationship with him. Whereas you and her—”

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Grey realises that Ana is jealous and possessive and he decides he likes it (probably because he’s egotistical enough to like anything that reminds him of himself).  Ana also tells Grey that beyond just jealousy, she’s “angry about what (Elena) did to you.”  This causes Grey to once again point out that he believes Elena helped him.  He then accidentally drops himself in it, by highlighting something he hasn’t told Ana, before:

“Anastasia, she helped me. That’s all I’ll say about that. And as for your jealousy, put yourself in my shoes. I haven’t had to justify my actions to anyone in the last seven years. Not one person. I do as I wish, Anastasia. I like my autonomy. I didn’t go and see Mrs. Robinson to upset you. I went because every now and then we have dinner. She’s a friend and a business partner.”

Her eyes widen.

Oh. Didn’t I mention that?

Why would I mention that? It’s nothing to do with her.

First things first, arsehole, Ana hasn’t had to justify her actions to anyone in 21 years.  Because she’s never been in a relationship at all.  Her very first one shouldn’t coincide with the first time she also has to constantly apologise for seeing friends, or having a life outside of her partner.

Secondly, if you know Ana to be jealous of Elena and horrified at the thought of her seducing you when you were underage, then your working relationship with Elena is something you should have mentioned.  Keeping it from Ana, knowing how she feels about the whole thing, just creates pointless drama.

But then, that’s literally all you do.

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Ana asks how their relationship ended and Grey admits that it ended because Elena’s husband found out.  He also tells her that he doesn’t want to talk about it anymore and he’d rather if they did talk about it, it was somewhere more private.  Which would normally seem like a reasonable request, but this is the guy who shoves his hands into his girlfriend’s pants in crowded elevators, so…  Him asking for privacy is a teensy bit hard to take seriously.

Ana once again calls Elena what she is and Grey is having absolutely none of it:

“I don’t think you’ll ever convince me that she’s not some kind of pedophile.”

Fucking hell, Ana! Enough is enough!

“I don’t think of her that way. I never have. Now that’s enough!” I growl.

This section was brought to you by the word “enough.”

Look, I know that when you’re abused, you don’t always see it for what it is when it’s happening.  It’s also perfectly possible for someone to be groomed when they’re underage and to still not realise – even as an adult – that what happened to them was wrong.  Abusers (and that’s exactly what Elena is) charm and manipulate you into thinking there’s nothing wrong with what they’re doing.  Elena certainly seems to have manipulated Christian into believing that what she did to him had a hugely beneficial effect.  Perhaps Christian is suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.  But that still doesn’t excuse the fact that he’s being aggressive towards his girlfriend, despite the fact that she’s obviously very upset about this.

Ana asks him whether he was in love with Elena and this is the moment that Ana’s mother makes a reappearance, allowing Grey to dodge the question.

Did I love Elena?

I take a sip of my drink. I fucking worshipped her…but did I love her? What a ridiculous question. I know nothing about romantic love. That’s the hearts-and-flowers shit she wants. The nineteenth-century novels she’s read have filled her head with nonsense.

I’ve had enough.

Yes, it’s nonsense to want to be loved.  You know, being loved isn’t a basic human need or anything.  I want to set this guy on fire and watch him burn really slowly.  I’d probably toast marshmallows on the flames…

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Grey decides that in order to avoid any further awkward conversation, he’s going to just leave.  He puts the drinks on his room tab and says goodnight, using Ana’s full name, much to the delight of her mother:

“I’ll call you in the morning, Anastasia. Until tomorrow, Carla.”

“Oh, it’s so nice to hear someone use your full name.”

“Beautiful name for a beautiful girl.” I shake Carla’s hand, sincere about the compliment but not the smile on my face.

I totally understand being annoyed or upset because someone has brought up something painful.  But in Grey’s eyes, Ana hasn’t.  She’s got an opinion on his past relationship (which she’s right about) and he is refusing to allow her to talk about it, because he disagrees.  Sure, this is a big subject and it might bring up a lot of emotion for him, too, but this is so indicative of their unhealthy relationship – she wants to talk about something, he doesn’t so he “shuts her down” – that I’m not letting it slide.

And just to prove he’s an ass-wipe, Grey can tell that Ana wants him to stay and he pays no attention:

Ana is quiet, imploring me with a look that I ignore. 

He’s just so DREAMY.

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Seeing as we haven’t had any misogyny for, ooh, probably at least three pages, Grey decides to blame Ana’s moodiness on PMS.

That girl provokes me like no one has before.

And she’s pissed at me; maybe she has PMS. She said her period was due this week.

Yep.  That must be it.  Not your ludicrous double standards, or your showing up when she was trying to get some space or your refusal to have a conversation about something she feels very strongly about.

Damn periods.  So much worse than abusive fuckwits, am I right, ladies?!

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Grey storms off to his room, where he stares out of the window and sulks over things having not gone his way:

Night has fallen, and the river is inky black, like the sky…like my mood. I didn’t even get to discuss gliding tomorrow.

Baby Christian is CROSS.  And he will stamp his foot and SCREAM, because it’s not FAIR, you guys!

He ponders his relationship with Elena, still totally missing any problems in it:

Why am I defending a relationship that began when Ana was still in fourth grade? It’s none of her business. Yes, it was unconventional. But that’s all.

I run both hands through my hair. This trip isn’t working out how I expected, at all. Perhaps it was a mistake to come down here. And to think it was Elena who encouraged me to make the trip.

You were going to go anyway, you jackass.

Grey’s phone rings and it’s Ros wanting to talk more boring business.  Thankfully, we’re spared reading too much of it, because there’s a knock at the door:

There’s a knock on the door. “Hang on, Ros.” I open it, expecting Taylor or someone from housekeeping to do turndown—but it’s Ana, standing in the corridor, looking bashful and beautiful.

She’s here.

Much stating of the obvious, Grey.  Such romance.  Wow.

Also, having “she’s here” as a separate line like just makes me think of this:

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Mmmm, sexy.

Grey can tell Ana is here because she wants to have sexy-times and he assures us that he wants that too, because they argued:

Ana walks into the room, watching me warily, her lips parted and moist, her eyes darkening. What’s this? A change of heart? I know that look. It’s desire. She wants me. And I want her, too, especially after our spat in the bar.

He even asks himself:

Why else would she be here?

Because she wanted to talk?  Because she’s still upset?  Because she needed to see if the poison she slipped into your drink has worked, yet?!

But obviously, this is EL James’s shitty excuse for porn, starring her even more shitty excuse for a hero, so of course Grey assumes it can only mean the sex train is a-coming.

Oh GREAT, I get to read another sex scene?!  PLEASE LORD END ME.

But first, I get to read yet more boring business crap, whilst Grey stays on the phone to Ros.  Mmm.  It’s like the worst foreplay ever.

Also, if we’re going to get more pointless sodding drama before this pair have two-minute long and yet somehow mindblowing shenanigans, I just…  Ugh.

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Grey opens the minibar and motions for Ana to help herself to a drink.  You know, that same Ana he was only very recently pissed off with because she was ordering more drinks.

Whilst still talking on the phone, Grey begins running a bath.  Ana gets herself an orange juice from the minibar, which naturally pleases Grey.

During all of this, we’re forced to read snippets of exceptionally dull business chatter about moving a site from Detroit to Savannah and design solutions for a new tablet and just… YAWN.

Finally, right before I actually die of boredom, Grey gets off the phone and Ana can finally explain why she’s come up to his room:

“You didn’t answer my question,” she murmurs.

“No. I didn’t.”

“No, you didn’t answer my question, or no, you didn’t love her?”

She’s not going to let this go. I lean against the wall and fold my arms so I don’t pull her into them. “What are you doing here, Anastasia?”

“I’ve just told you.”

Put her out of her misery, Grey.

“No. I didn’t love her.”

Ana is relieved to hear it and immediately her mood changes.  Because of course it does.  He tells her she’s a “green-eyed Goddess” and she asks is he’s making fun of her and it’s all very “ooh, we are flirting in a very puerile manner, hahahaha, cutesy, let’s go throw up.”

We discover that Grey really does think that sex is the answer to all relationship problems:

I need to know that we’re okay, the only way I know how. I want to fuck her, hard.

Don’t talk, just fuck.  I’m sure that was a single in the nineties.  But seriously, if that’s the only way you know your relationship is okay, you have problems of, like, EPIC proportions.  Healthy communication is kind of a big deal, guys.

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Grey implies that he knows Ana came up to his room for sex.  She insists that she really did want to know whether he had ever loved Elena, but it’s blatant that these two just want to rip each other’s clothes off and yet the level of actual, exciting sexual tension in this scene is somehow in the minus numbers.  Grey considers how mad Ana was earlier and thinks it’s unusual for him to give a shit about someone else’s feelings, which just sums up what a great guy he is:

It’s still novel, dealing with her anger, taking her feelings into account.

Fuck you, asshole.

He thinks about how much he likes it when she gets angry with him and frankly, after he had the sex-dream about Elena (I’m not even calling it a nightmare, anymore) earlier, it makes me creeped out that he’s maybe enjoying Ana calling the shots because it reminds him of Elena and… Just gross.

Ana still wants to talk, but Mr No-Talking-My-Penis-Is-More-Important isn’t having any of that:

“We should talk,” she whispers.

“Later.”

“There’s so much I want to say.”

“Me, too.”

If you’ve got stuff you want to say, maybe say it first?  Because she’s saying she wants to talk and carrying on with your deeply unsexy attempts at foreplay seems kind of disrespectful to her wishes.  But then, you never respect her at all, ever, so what’s the point in me saying any of this?!

He asks her if she still has her period, gets annoyed when she seems embarrassed about saying yes and tells her they’re going to have a bath.

As they head into the bathroom, Grey asks for a hair tie and his inner thoughts make it very obvious that what he said earlier about liking it when she argues with him is at best only half true, because he really is just distracting her with sex, right now:

“Put your hair up,” I tell her, and watch as she follows my command with quick, efficient grace.

Good girl. No more arguing.

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Grey strips Ana, then turns her around so she’s facing away from him.  He holds his hands in hers and guides them around her body, so she touches her own breasts, then brings her hands down between her legs so he can help her to touch herself there, too.  He takes his hands away and tells her to carry on touching herself.  But of course, this oh-so liberating book that is supposed to have empowered women everywhere has Ana barely continue (which much less enthusiasm) before she asks Christian to do it, instead.  Because, ladies, we can’t pleasure ourselves.  We need a man to do that.

She falters for a moment, then rubs herself with one hand, but not nearly as enthusiastically.

Oh, this will never do.

Quickly I strip off my sticky shirt, jeans, and underwear, freeing my erection.

“You’d rather I do this?” I ask, her eyes blazing at mine in the mirror.

“Oh yes, please,” she says, a desperate, needy edge to her voice.

Screw this.  This scene would have been so much sexier had Ana actually discovered that she can pleasure herself.  Instead, we have her basically give up and plead with him to do it, because heaven forbid this supposed erotic novel actually shows a woman exploring her own body.

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PICTURED: EL JAMES.  Although that’s an insult to Maggie Smith.  I TAKE IT BACK.

He asks her when her period started, because he wants to fuck her without a condom, which just goes to show how little this idiot (and presumedly EL James) knows about how conception actually works, because although the chances of getting pregnant during your period are low, it can happen.

That infamous tampon removal moment happens:

My hand glides down her ass to the blue string, and I tug out the tampon, which I toss in the toilet. She gasps, shocked, I think, but I grab my cock and slide into her quickly.

YOU AREN’T SUPPOSED TO FLUSH THEM DOWN THE TOILET, YOU IDIOT.  I hope you clog it and have to explain yourself to the housekeeping staff.

And during the oh-so-amazing sex, Christian thinks of almost nothing but owning Ana.  She’s not a person to him, she’s an object he’s claimed.  Oh, and once again, he proves that his “I love it when you argue with me” schtick was utter bollocks.  This whole passage, which is meant to be hot, is grotesque:

…Claiming her. Possessing her.

Don’t be jealous, Ana. I want only you.

You.

You.

My fingers find her clitoris and I tease her, caress her, and stimulate her so that her legs begin to tremble once more. “That’s right, baby,” I murmur, my voice hoarse as I pound into her with a punishing I-own-you rhythm.

Don’t argue with me. Don’t fight with me.

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They lie on the bathroom floor and Grey thinks all manner of nauseating thoughts, like “was it ever like this?” before Ana mentions that she’s bleeding and he tells her it doesn’t bother him.

I’ve known only one woman who was squeamish about period sex, but I wouldn’t take any of that crap from her.

IT. IS. HER. FUCKING. BODY. YOU. DISGUSTING. PIECE. OF. SHIT.

I’m sorry, but “I wouldn’t take that crap from her” makes it sound distinctly like if this ex of his said no to period sex, he would insist on it anyway.  And we all know what that makes Christian fucking Grey.

Side note, I need cheering up and the words “period sex” only mean one thing to me:

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Thank you, Rachel Bloom, for your existence in a world that does NOT deserve you.

Anyway, Ana tells Grey that sex during her period doesn’t embarrass her, so at least she avoids finding out what he’d do if she’d given him “any of that crap.”

As Grey suggests that they get into the bath (which I’d normally assume would have gone cold by now, but Grey can only last for about 90 seconds during sex, so it’s probably still piping hot), Ana notices the scars on his body and realises they’re not chicken pox scars like she’d once thought.  Grey reacts with all the decency we’ve come to expect from him:

What is it?” I ask, alarmed by her expression.

“Your scars. They’re not from chicken pox.”

“No, they’re not.” My tone is arctic.

I do not want to talk about this.

Standing, I hold my hand out to her and pull her to her feet. Her eyes are wide with horror.

It’ll be pity next.

“Don’t look at me like that,” I warn, and release her hand.

I don’t want your fucking pity, Ana. Don’t go there.

She studies her hand, suitably chastened, I hope.

This reminds me – once again, thanks EL James – of my own abuser.  So I’d like to offer a big, personal fuck you to this entire franchise.

Why should she feel chastised?  Why does he have to chastise her?  She cares about him, she’s worried about his past and she’s noticing marks on his body.  Sure, he has a right to not want to talk about it with her, but he doesn’t have to be such an aggressive asshole about it.  A simple “no, they’re not, but can we not talk about that right now, please?” would have sufficed.

Ana wonders whether Elena inflicted the scars on Christian’s body.  And he takes her question… not well:

“Did she do that?” Her voice is almost inaudible.

I scowl at her, saying nothing, as I try to contain my sudden rage. My silence compels her to look at me.

“She?” I snarl. “Mrs. Robinson?”

Ana pales at my tone.

“She’s not an animal, Anastasia. Of course she didn’t. I don’t understand why you feel you have to demonize her.”

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In the hands of a good writer, Christian’s blatant Stockholm Syndrome might be a really interesting plot.  But EL James is not a good writer.  And this is just getting repetitive and insulting.  Because Ana asks whether he’d have ever gotten into the BDSM lifestyle had it not been for Elena and there’s definite undertones of “BDSM is evil and you like it because you were abused,” which really sucks.

Grey inwardly stamps his feet and sulks, then openly admits yet again that he believes Elena saved him from himself:

Fuck.

She doesn’t take her eyes off mine.

Stand down, Ana!

Nope. It’s not going to happen.

I shake my head. Impossible woman.

“I would probably have gone the way of my birth mother, had it not been for Mrs. Robinson.”

He actually gives Ana some form of explanation, which is more than he’s done so far:

What can I say about Elena? I think about our relationship: Elena and me. Those heady years. The secrecy. The furtive couplings. The pain. The pleasure. The release…The order and calm she brought to my world. “She loved me in a way I found…acceptable,” I muse, almost to myself…

“She distracted me from the destructive path I found myself following.” My voice is low. “It’s very hard to grow up in a perfect family when you’re not perfect.”

He tells her that he’s only ever spoken about all this with Dr Flynn, which just proves that Dr Flynn should have his license revoked, because if he was worth a damn, he’d have helped Christian to see that Elena took advantage and abused him, rather than being his flaming saviour.  He tells her that the only reason he’s telling her anything at all is because he wants her to trust him.

 

“I do trust you,” she says, “but I do want to know you better, and whenever I try to talk to you, you distract me. There’s so much I want to know.”

He specifically distracts her with sex whenever she wants to talk about things.  Let’s be really honest about what’s happening, here.  Of course, this accusation just makes Grey angry and Ana has to placate him:

“Oh, for pity’s sake, Anastasia. What do you want to know? What do I have to do?”

She stares at her hands under the surface of the water. “I’m just trying to understand; you’re such an enigma. Unlike anyone I’ve met before. I’m glad you’re telling me what I want to know.”

Abruptly filled with resolve, she moves through the water to sit beside me, leaning against me so my skin sticks to hers.

“Please don’t be angry with me,” she says.

I… I really don’t understand the people who think this is romantic or sexy.  I don’t want to be judgemental, but…

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Grey lies that he’s not angry with Ana, then says he’s just not used to being so open and talking about personal things, because the only people he really opens up with are Dr Flynn and, you guessed it, Elena.

Ana naturally takes this pretty badly, especially when Grey admits that he talks to Elena about her.

“Why do you talk about me?” she asks, and now she sounds sullen.

“I’ve never met anyone like you, Anastasia.”

“What does that mean? Anyone who didn’t just automatically sign your paperwork, no questions asked?”

I shake my head. No. “I need advice.”

“And you take advice from Mrs. Pedo?” she snaps.

“Anastasia—enough,” I almost shout. “Or I’ll put you across my knee…”

Red, because as we’ve said many, many times, threatening to hit someone in anger is NOT BDSM.

Grey gives a few more (very tiny) details about his business relationship with Elena and when Ana asks if his parents ever found out about their sexual relationship, he growls the word no at her:

She regards me warily, and I think she knows she’s pushed me to my limit.

“Are you done?” I ask.

“For now.”

This is all so healthy and romantic.  They are so in love and I wish I could find a Christian Grey of my own.

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Grey changes the subject to their “arrangement,” because he’s aware that Ana went away to get space to think about things and he’s here, ruining that space, so why not demand an answer?!

“I don’t think I can do it for an extended period of time. A whole weekend being someone I’m not.” She looks down, away from me.

That’s not a “no.” What’s more, I think she’s right.

They talk about what a bad submissive Ana is, as though this is a cutesy joke, but real talk?  If Grey was a responsible Dom, hearing her describe the idea of being his sub as “being someone I’m not” would be a massive cue to say “hey, this isn’t for you, so it’s cool if we stop.”  He could either decide whether he wants to have a “vanilla” relationship, or go looking for someone who is into the lifestyle, instead.  But this is Grey, so instead, all they do is giggle over her having a “bad teacher” and he says he’ll have to be stricter with her.

He asks if it was really that bad when he spanked her the first time and Ana says it wasn’t, it was more the strangeness of feeling some form of pleasure when she wasn’t supposed to.  Grey says he felt the same when he was a submissive at first, then he says something that reads as though EL James copied and pasted it from a BDSM Wiki page:

We are finally having the discussion. “You can always use the safe word, Anastasia. Don’t forget that. And, as long as you follow the rules, which fulfill a deep need in me for control and to keep you safe, then perhaps we can find a way forward.”

It’s that “which fulfill a deep need in me for control and to keep you safe” part – it doesn’t sound like natural conversation at all.

Ana wants to talk this all through further, but of course as soon as she tries, Grey distracts her with sex.  Again:

“Why do you need to control me?”

“Because it satisfies a need in me that wasn’t met in my formative years.”

“So it’s a form of therapy?”

“I’ve not thought of it like that, but yes, I suppose it is.”

She nods. “But, here’s the thing—one moment you say ‘don’t defy me,’ the next you say you like to be challenged. That’s a very fine line to tread successfully.”

“I can see that. But you seem to be doing fine so far.”

“But at what personal cost? I’m tied up in knots here.”

“I like you tied up in knots.”

“That’s not what I meant!” She dashes her hand through the water, soaking me.

“Did you just splash me?”

“Yes,” she says.

“Oh, Miss Steele.” I wrap my arm around her waist and tug her onto my lap, slopping water onto the floor once again. “I think we’ve done enough talking for now.”

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This pisses me off so much, because Ana is making a really good point about the way Grey keeps her off-balance, veering between being cross that she’s defied him and saying he likes the fact that she doesn’t do as she’s told.  It’s a really valid concern in any relationship, but especially in a BDSM one, where she doesn’t know what she might actually be punished for.  But rather than have a discussion about it, he just distracts her with sex.

So they do it again and it’s amazing and she explodes and yada, yada, yada.  She doesn’t touch him, even though she’s on top and her arms are free and when he thanks her for not doing so, she reminds him that he told her it was a hard limit and she understands what that means.  So, you know, good to know that one of them respects limits.

Laughably, Grey thinks to himself that it was good to talk, even though he admits that they didn’t actually resolve anything.  He asks her to stay with him in his hotel room, which she agrees to.  She uses his toothbrush again, because why do a gross thing just once in this book, when you can re-use it in almost every chapter and try to make it somehow cute?

I brush my teeth, knowing that the toothbrush has just been in her mouth.

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Grey is all excited, because Ana staying over with him means he can definitely take her soaring early the next morning.  I am a poet and I totally know it.

Once they’re in bed, Ana says she wants to talk more, because she wants to learn more about him.  She asks him his favourite film and during the resulting conversation, he refers to her as one of his accomplishments, which… Is not romantic:

“What’s your favorite film?”

I like her quick-fire questions. “Today, it’s The Piano.”

She beams back at me. “Of course. Silly me. Such a sad, exciting score, which no doubt you can play. So many accomplishments, Mr. Grey.”

“And the greatest one is you, Miss Steele.”

She refers to herself as the seventeenth woman he’s had sex with, which causes him to admit that “The Fifteen” as he calls them were the only subs he’s had in his playroom and not all the women – besides she and Elena – that he’s had sex with.  He admits that he’s paid for sex from “submissives in training” in various clubs.

Ana is shocked, then says she’s upset that she can’t shock him.  Grey then starts listing all the ways in which she has shocked him – too dull to repeat here and almost all of them sex-related – all the while, grinning like a Cheshire Cat, because he’s loving just lying next to her and chatting.

I’m sorry, but no, EL James.  You don’t get to ruin Alice In Wonderland.

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Ana tells him that she’ll let him use a riding crop on her again whilst they’re in Georgia, so yay, we can all look forward to that.

He tells her that he has a surprise planned for the morning and then Ana falls asleep.  Grossly, the last thought on Grey’s mind before he sleeps is to thank Elena for suggesting he stalk Ana to Savannah:

Well, talking isn’t so bad.

Today worked out after all.

Thank you, Elena…

And with a sated smile, I close my eyes.

One day, EL James will learn to end a chapter without characters going to sleep.

 

 

 

Grey Chapter 17 (Wednesday, June 1, 2011)