Darker, Chapter 10 (June 18, 2011)

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In the words of Rafiki in The Lion King: IT IS TIME.

After hundreds of pages of manipulation, threats, coercion and unrelenting “woe-is-me” internal monologues by the bastard these books centre around, we are finally at the very last chapter of Darker.

Let’s have a moment of jubilant celebration:

 

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Honestly, I will be so glad not to spend anything up to 8 or 9 hours a week, reading this horse shit and trying to hold onto my sanity, particularly as reading them forces me to remind myself that millions of people think these books are good.

No.  They are awful.  They romanticise and excuse abusive behaviour and portray a toxic relationship as an ideal worth aspiring to.  They dangerously misrepresent BDSM and throw the lifestyle completely under the bus.  There are shades (pun intended) of homophobia, misogyny and racism, along with all the other atrocities within the franchise.  They are also written so appallingly badly that I can only assume the only other thing anyone who thinks these books are well written has ever read in their lives is their own weekly shopping list.

So, let’s get into the last chapter, shall we?!

Anyone who thought Ana’s cutesy keychain, which serves as her acceptance of Grey’s marriage proposal, might come right at the end of this chapter, will be surprised to learn that it’s literally the first thing that happens.  I was only surprised, because I was so grossed out by Fifty Shades Darker when I read it, that I couldn’t actually remember what happens at the end of that book, when I started recapping this one.

Anyway, Ana’s birthday gift to Grey is a keychain with the word “YES” flashing on it.  At the end of the last chapter, Ana was about to let Grey open his birthday present.  This chapter opens seconds later, just as Grey is about to do just that:

Her smile is broad and she bites her lip, and if I’m not mistaken she’s a little nervous.

Why?

I give her a reassuring smile, unwrap the box, and open it. Nestled inside is a keychain that shows a pixelated picture of Seattle that flashes on and off. I take it out of the box, wondering what the significance might be, but I’m lost. I have no idea. I look to Ana for a clue.

“Turn it over,” she says.

I do. And the word “YES” flashes on and off.

Yes.

Yes.

YES.

One simple word. One profound meaning. A life-changer. Right here. Now. My heartbeat spikes and I gawk at her, hoping this means what I think it means.

“Happy birthday,” she whispers.

“You’ll marry me?” I don’t believe it. She nods.

I still don’t believe it. “Say it.” I need to hear it from her lips.

“Yes, I’ll marry you.”

Joy bursts in my heart—in my head, in my body, in my soul. It’s exhilarating. It’s overwhelming. Brimming with elation, I lunge forward and gather her in my arms and swing her around, laughing as I do. She clutches my biceps, her eyes shining, as she laughs, too. I stop, set her on her feet, and grab her face and kiss her. My lips tease hers and she opens for me, like a flower: my sweet Anastasia.

 

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Sure, marry the guy you’ve only been back together with a week.  Marry the dude who made stalking you a “cute joke.”  Marry the arsehole who listened to you saying you wanted to make your own way in your career without his interference and then bought the company you work for to ensure he can control you, there.  Why not?!  Doesn’t sound like Stockholm Syndrome at all

Ugh.

There’s a pointless bit of helicopter info, blatantly thrown in so EL James could claim she did research something:

“Baby, it will take more than a malfunctioning 135 to keep me away from you.”

“135?”

“Charlie Tango. She’s a Eurocopter EC135, the safest in its class.”

But not today.

Also, that first line is meant to sound romantic, but coming from a known stalker, it just seems creepy and threatening, to me.

Grey then realises that Ana actually gave him his birthday gift before they went to visit Flynn, together, meaning that she was always planning on saying yes to his proposal.  Given that he’s been hounding her for an answer ever since he asked the question, this new information annoys him:

What?

Anastasia Steele!

“I wanted you to know that whatever Flynn said, it wouldn’t make a difference to me.”

“So all yesterday evening, when I was begging you for an answer, I had it already?” I’m feeling breathless—giddy, even—and a little pissed off. What the hell?

And naturally, this annoyance leads him to turn sex into a weapon.  Again:

I don’t know whether to be angry or celebratory.

She confounds me, even now. Well, Grey, what are you going to do about it?

“All that worry,” I murmur darkly.

She gives me an impish grin and shrugs once more. “Oh, don’t try and get cute with me, Miss Steele. Right now, I want—”

I had the answer all the time.

I want her.

Here.

Now.

No. Wait. 

“I can’t believe you left me hanging.” She watches my expression as I construct a plan. Something worthy of such audacity. “I believe some retribution is in order, Miss Steele.” My voice is low. Ominous.

Ana takes a cautious step back. Is she going to run? “Is that the game? Because I will catch you.” Her smile is playful and infectious. “And you’re biting your lip,” I add.

She takes another step back and turns to run, but I pounce and grab her. She squeals and I hoist her over my shoulder, and head for my—no, our— bathroom.

“Christian!” She swats my behind.

I swat hers back. Hard.

I’m really struggling to find this anything but gross.  I’ve red-inked the parts that creep me out.  Sure, Ana is described as having a playful smile, but his descriptions of purposefully making his voice sound “ominous” and his decision that she needs to be punished for not immediately telling him she’d marry him…  Just EW.

I’m having to remind myself this is the last chapter.  Only 73 more pages and then I’m free, until the last instalment comes out.

 

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As he carries her to the bathroom, he describes her as struggling and “feigning outrage,” but convinces himself that she’s really enjoying herself.  Because we’re reading it from his perspective and not Ana’s, we can only take his word for it that he’s right.

He turns the shower on and starts washing Ana’s hair, before washing her breasts and allowing Ana to wash his chest, because she’s  the only one to cure the darkness within or some such shit.  Then, as Ana’s giving him a hand job, he remembers her birth control shot will have taken effect and they can have sex without protection:

I close my eyes as she tightens her fingers around me. I flex my hips and groan. This is exactly how to spend the early hours of a Saturday morning after a near-death experience.

Wait. I open my eyes and pin her with my gaze. “It’s Saturday.” I grasp her waist and pull her against my body and kiss her.

No more condoms.

I love that he doesn’t say it out loud, he just thinks that Saturday means no more condoms.  Ana’s going to think he’s just really turned on by weekends.

As they start to have sex in the shower, Grey confirms that as far as he’s concerned, marriage = ownership:

“You are mine, Anastasia.”

“Always.”

Her answer makes me feel ten feet tall.

“And now we can let everyone know, because you said yes.”

 

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Oh, Ana.  Ana, Ana, Ana.  You will never be a person in your own right ever again, from this moment forwards.  You’re his property, now.

I’m so sick and tired of “love” stories, implying that being in a relationship means you are somehow owned by your partner.  Sure, you can want to belong to someone.  But this obsessive “you are mine” shit is suffocating and gross.  And yes, saying “now the world will know you’re mine” could be romantic, if it was literally anyone else saying it.  But Grey has treated his pursuit of Ana like a business deal, throughout these books.  He’s been obsessive in his control of her, frequently ignoring her wants and needs, in order to favour his own.  This isn’t romance.  This is about making someone feel that they are not their own person, anymore.  And it’s vile.

After their twenty seconds of sex, Ana cries and reminds Grey that she almost lost him and she couldn’t bear the thought.  They have a melodramatic conversation about Grey’s near death experience and how it’s cemented their TWU WUV:

I swallow as my throat constricts, and an image comes to mind of the ground speeding toward me and Ros in the cockpit of Charlie Tango. I shudder. “I was scared,” I whisper.

“Earlier?”

I nod.

“So you made light of it to reassure your family?”

“Yes. I was too low to land well. But somehow I did.”

She stares at me, fear on her face. “How close a call was it?”

“Close. For a few awful seconds, I thought I’d never see you again.” This feels like a dark, dark confession.

She moves and puts her arms around me. “I can’t imagine my life without you, Christian. I love you so much it frightens me.”

Whoa.

But I feel the same. “Me, too. My life would be empty without you. I love you so much.” I tighten my arms around her and kiss her hair. “I won’t ever let you go.”

“I don’t want to go, ever.”

 

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I feel like this recap is going to involve a lot of GIFs like the one above.

Also, I don’t care that Ana says she doesn’t want to go; Grey’s “I won’t ever let you go” still makes me dry heave.  Because this is the guy who decided he wanted her and tracked her mobile phone, turned up at her workplace to purposefully intimidate her and took her back to his hotel room when she was essentially comatose.  Again, it comes down to the fact that that these declarations could be romantic, if they weren’t uttered by a total psychopath.  It’s hard to just go “aaaaaw” in the face of the overwhelming amount of evidence of Grey’s arseholery that this book provides.

As Grey suggests they head to bed, there’s a weird moment thrown in, seemingly for no reason other than as a “nudge-wink, Grey likes BDSM” reminder:

“Come—let’s get you dry and into bed. I’m tired and you look beat.”

She lifts an eyebrow.

“You have something to say, Miss Steele?”

She shakes her head and stands, waiting for me.

I assume the word “beat” is meant to make us all titter into our lace handkerchiefs, or something.

They clean their teeth and make frothy faces at each other, which Grey says makes him feel “fourteen again.  In a good way.”

 

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They get into bed and the “might be better if anyone else on the planet said it” dialogue continues:

“I would have told you earlier, but since it was going to be your birthday…” Ana lifts her shoulder. “What do you give the man who has everything? I thought I’d give you…me.”

Moments later, Ana decides to call Grey out on the fact that he didn’t call to let everyone know he was safe, after the helicopter crash.  What’s more, she tells him she knows it was because of his jealousy of her friendship with José:

“Can I ask you something?” she adds.

“Of course.” “You didn’t call on your trip back from Portland. Was that really because of José? You were worried about me being here alone with him?”

Maybe…

I feel like an idiot. I thought she was at the bar having a good time. I had no idea—

Because you are a petty twat.

Ana continues to reproach him, telling him he put her and the rest of his family through unnecessary stress and it’s about time he realised how loved he actually is.  Of course, whether he ever will realise this is anyone’s guess.  After all, if he realises it, he’ll have to find something else to play his tiny violin over, because he won’t be able to pull the “nobody loves me” routine, anymore.

Ana tells him she’s got him another present for his birthday, but he’ll have it later, after they’ve slept.  I’m so excited, you guys.  I can hardly wait to find out what it is.

They fall asleep and Grey has a nightmare that turns into a beautiful, lovely dream:

Ana, burnished hair and broad smiles, is with me in Charlie Tango.

Let’s chase the dawn.

She laughs. Carefree. Young. My girl.

The light around us is golden.

She’s golden.

I’m golden.

I cough. There’s smoke. Smoke everywhere.

I can’t see Ana. She’s gone in the smoke.

And we’re diving down.

Down.

Hurtling fast. In Charlie Tango. The ground is coming up to meet me.

I close my eyes, waiting for the impact. It never comes.

We’re in the orchard.

The trees are laden with apples.

Ana smiles, her hair free and wafting in the breeze.

She holds out two apples. A red apple. A green apple.

You choose.

Choose.

Red.

Green.

I smile. And take the red apple. The sweeter apple.

Ana takes my hand and we walk. Hand in hand.

Past the alcoholics and addicts outside the liquor store in Detroit. They wave and hold up their brown paper bags in salute.

Past Esclava. Elena smiles and waves.

Past Leila. Leila smiles and waves.

Ana takes my apple. She bites into it. Mmm…tasty. She licks her lips.

Delicious. I love it.

I made it. With Grandpa.

Wow. You’re so capable.

She smiles and whirls around, her hair flying.

I love you, she cries. I love you, Christian Grey.

“Wow.  You’re so capable.”  Excuse me, whilst I cough up a lung, laughing.

 

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Grey wakes, feeling startled, but also content.  Which…  Is not a thing.

Ana is not in bed beside him and so Grey decides to plan a better proposal for her.  He leaves a voicemail message with a florist and realises he needs to go and buy a ring.  But first, he creeps out of the bedroom, heads towards the living room and eavesdrops on Ana’s conversation with José, during which he adds his own grim little internal comments:

“You really like him, don’t you?” José says.

“I love him, José.” That’s my girl.

“What’s not to love?” José says and I think he’s referring to my apartment.

“Gee, thanks!” Ana exclaims, sounding hurt. What an asshole.

“Hey, Ana, just kidding.” José tries to placate her. “Seriously, I’m kidding. You’ve never been that kind of girl.”

No. She’s not. You dick.

Grey then “strides” into the room, which sounds exactly like the sort of bullshit macho walking method this moron would use.

Also, as a side note, Grey strides into the kitchen, whereupon he surprises Ana and José, but before, when he was eavesdropping, his internal monologue told us he headed towards the living room, where he heard voices.

 

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Grey immediately sets about metaphorically pissing all over Ana and inwardly bitching at José.  Ana has just agreed to marry this fuckwit and he’s still behaving like a petulant two year old:

“José.” I greet him with a nod.

“Christian.” José returns my nod.

Yeah. I heard you, you fucker, disrespecting my girl. She’s giving me an odd look. She knows what I’m doing.

And yet she’s still marrying you…

“I was going to bring you breakfast in bed,” she says.

I saunter over to her, in front of the photographer, tilt up her chin, and kiss her, long, hard, and noisily. “Good morning, Anastasia,” I whisper.

“Good morning, Christian. Happy birthday.” She gives me a shy smile.

“I’m looking forward to my other present,” I state, and she blushes and looks nervously in Rodriguez’s direction.

Oh. What does she have planned?

Rodriguez looks like he’s swallowed a lemon.

Good.

 

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Grey asks José what he’s got planned for the day and is annoyed when it turns out that José is off fishing with not only his dad, but Ana’s stepfather, Ray.  Because obviously, no man is allowed to associate with anyone connected to Ana, besides Grey.

Grey then gets into a fantastically dull conversation about fishing with José, who he eventually decides might not be such a dick, after all.  Because he…  knows a lot about fishing?!  I don’t even know, anymore.

Indeed, as the conversation drifts towards sports, Grey realises he might even like José:

I realize that José and I have much in common.

Including loving the same woman.

The woman who has agreed to be my wife.

I’m dying to tell him, but I behave.

Ah.  So, he doesn’t like him enough to not want to be smug bastard, towards him.  Noted.

José heads out for his fishing trip and Grey and Ana follow him to the door:

“Thanks for letting me crash here.” He shakes my hand.

“Anytime,” I respond. And I’m surprised that I actually mean it. He seems harmless enough, like a puppy.

He hugs Ana, and to my surprise, I don’t want to rip his arms off.

Is…  Is this the change we’re meant to see in Christian Grey?  Because if this is it – not wanting to brutally attack someone for hugging his fiancée – I think we should be aiming roughly a billion miles higher.

After José leaves, Grey tells Ana it’s still obvious that José wants her, but then backs up and says he doesn’t want to fight about it.  Why mention it, then?!  Haven’t you done this subject to death, multiple times before?!

Grey comments that Ana didn’t tell José that she’s now engaged:

“No. I figured I ought to tell Mom and Ray first.”

“Yes, you’re right. And I…um, I should ask your father.”

She laughs. “Oh, Christian—this isn’t the eighteenth century.”

“It’s traditional.” And I never thought I’d have to ask any father for his daughter’s hand in marriage. Give me this moment. Please.

Because it’s all about you.  And because women are property.

 

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Ana tells Grey she wants to give him the rest of his birthday presents.  She takes him back to the bedroom and hands him two, gift-wrapped boxes.  The first, she tells him, contains something she bought before the crash yesterday and now feels a bit unsure about.  It’s the parts to make a little wooden helicopter.  The rotor is solar-powered and Grey can’t believe how thoughtful Ana is.  It then causes him to have a childhood flashback to his first Christmas with the Grey family:

My helicopter can fly.

My helicopter is blue.

It flies around the Christmas tree.

It flies over the piano and lands in the middle of the white.

It flies over Mommy and flies over Daddy.

And flies over Lelliot as he plays with his Legos.

POINTLESS PADDING ALERT.  Have I mentioned that this chapter is over 80 A4 pages long?!

We then get smacked in the face with what a caring, decent guy Grey is, because he’s all about renewable energy:

I beam at Ana and go over to the balcony window, where I watch the rotors start to spin under the warm rays of the sun. “Look at that. What we can already do with this technology.”

I hold the helicopter at eye level, watching how easily solar energy is converted to mechanical energy. The rotors spin and spin, faster and faster.

Wow. All this in a child’s toy.

There is so much more that we could do with this simple technology. The challenge is how to store this energy. Graphene is the way to go…but can we build efficient enough batteries? Batteries that charge quickly and hold their charge—

 

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Look, I’m as passionate about the future of the planet as anyone with their head screwed on, but did we need this bit right here?!  All it does is detract from the so-called “plot” of this book.  We’ve had various scenes thrown in at random points throughout the novel, during which Grey discusses renewable energy sources and those scenes are almost always totally incongruent and don’t do anything to further the story.  If you’re going to make this a character trait, do it consistently and make it a proper plot point.  Grey’s job has very little – if anything – to do with the actual story, besides the fact that it’s made him a gazillionaire, so random snippets of exceptionally dull meetings about solar-powered tablets or nutrients in soil do nothing but slow the already boring plot down even more.

Grey takes the helicopter out of the sunlight and the rotors stop spinning.  This, for some reason, makes him exceptionally emo:

I move my hand out of the light and the rotors slow and come to a complete stop.

We move in the light.

We slow in the shadows.

We stop in the dark.

Hmm. Philosophical, Grey.

This is what Ana has done for me. She’s dragged me into the light and I quite like it.

 

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She hasn’t though, has she?  You’re still a self-obsessed, self-pitying, controlling, manipulative shit.   All of which are pretty dark qualities.  Just so you know.

The other box has a card inside, on which Ana has written:

On your birthday

Do rude things to me.

Please.

Your Ana x

“Do rude things to me” sounds really childish, which I guess you could argue fits in with Ana’s naive persona, but she’s been around the sexual block at least once, now.  She’s done quite a bit with him.  Couldn’t she bring herself to write what she actually wants?!  Because, it turns out, what she really wants is a trip back into the playroom.

Oh, good.  I haven’t read enough awful sex scenes in this book…

The box also contains something of a BDSM package, that Ana has put together, using stuff she’s found in the apartment:

I rip open the tissue that conceals the box’s contents and retrieve an eye mask. Okay, she wants to be blindfolded. Next are some nipple clamps. Oh, not these. They’re vicious. Not beginner level. Beneath the clamps is a butt plug, but this one is way too big. She’s enclosed my iPod, too, which pleases me. She must like my music choices. And here’s my silver gray Brioni tie, so she wants to be tied up.

Last, as I suspected, there’s the key to my playroom.

Grey asks if she’s sure and Ana responds that she doesn’t want the “whips and stuff.”

Grey thinks back to the times Ana has hinted about wanting this and it just comes across as EL James yelling “SHE CONSENTS!” at her critics, as though the BDSM aspect is the only thing anyone could possibly take issue with:

If this is what she wants—and her words come back to me in a swirl. She’s asked me and asked me and asked me.

Outside the playroom door, Ana says something that sounds like a very creepy concern, given what we know about the way Grey bribes ex subs into staying silent, and Grey responds in a way that is equally creepy for the same reason:

“Anything you don’t want to do?”

She’s thoughtful for a moment. “I don’t want you to take photos of me.”

Why the hell would she say that? Why would I want to take pictures of her? Grey. Of course you would, if she’d let you.

“Okay,” I agree, concerned about what has motivated this question.

Does she know? That’s impossible.

 

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Grey gets Ana to confirm that she does indeed want this as much as he does:

“Are we in here because you think I want to be in here?”

“No. I want to be in here, too.”

She is a siren.

My siren.

PICTURED, ANA:

 

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Grey instructs Ana to get naked, which she does.  He puts his tie around her neck and tells her she looks “mighty fine.”  File that under things 28 year old dudes definitely say.

He braids her hair and tells her that all she has to do is tell him to stop at any time and he will.  He goes on to explain that for “an anal virgin,” the butt plug she put in his birthday box is too large and that he’ll be using his little finger, instead.  This apparently shocks Ana, for some reason.  He then informs her that he wants to use a gentler pair of nipple clamps than the ones she selected, too.  Ana asks how she should behave.  Grey’s response makes it sound distinctly like you can’t do BDSM with people you’re in love with:

It’s a strange question. “However you want to.” And I wonder out loud if she was expecting my alter ego.

“Well, yes. I like him,” she says.

“Do you, now?” I run my thumb across her lower lip, tempted to kiss it again. “I’m your lover, Anastasia, not your Dom. I love to hear your laugh and your girlish giggle. I like you relaxed and happy, like you are in José’s photos. That’s the girl that fell into my office. That’s the girl I fell in love with.

“But, having said all that, I also like to do rude things to you, Miss Steele, and my alter ego knows a trick or two. So do as you’re told and turn around.”

She obeys, her face glowing with excitement.

I love you, Ana. Simple.

Just because EL James did no BDSM research and therefore hasn’t made this as plain as it should be: you CAN be someone’s lover AND their Dom.  The two are not mutually exclusive.  BDSM can be part of a loving relationship and to so much as hint that it can’t be, really grinds my gears, given that EL James has made a huge fucking WAD of cash, out of a lifestyle she has singularly failed to understand or accurately portray.

 

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Let me just take a moment to bask in Rachel Bloom’s gloriousness until I’m less enraged…

Aaaand I’m ready to carry on.

Grey cuffs Ana’s hands behind her back and when she tries to kiss him, he threatens her with something that some of us remember is one of Ana’s limits:

“Arms behind your back. I’m going to cuff you.” I show her the leather elbow cuffs and lean around her to put them on. She turns and runs her parted lips along my jaw, her tongue teasing my stubble.

I close my eyes and for a moment revel in the contact, suppressing a groan. Pulling back, I admonish her, “Stop. Or this will be over far quicker than either of us wants.”

“You’re irresistible.”

“Am I, now?” She nods, looking impertinent.

“Well, don’t distract me, or I’ll gag you.”

Red-inking that shit, because Ana has told Grey more than once that she doesn’t like the idea of being gagged, because she worries she won’t be able to breathe.  Threatening someone with something they’ve openly referred to as a limit?  Not cool.

Grey puts a mask on Ana so that she can’t see.  He then refers to his penis as being sentient, for the ninety thousandth time:

Back at the drawers, I gather the items I need and slip off my T-shirt. I keep my jeans on, even though they are a little uncomfortable, because I don’t want her distracted by my impatient dick.

I’m assuming this is meant to be sexy, but it conjures up an image so hilarious, I’m going to bank it for the next time I’m depressed.  I’m picturing a human-sized penis with an angry face, queue-jumping and generally behaving like… well, an impatient dick.  Feel free to store that comedy gold for your own personal use.

Grey removes the tie he put on Ana earlier and uses massage oil on her, frustrating her by not touching her breasts, but eventually rubbing it on her clitoris.  He gets her to suck a bullet vibrator, telling her he’s going to put it inside her. He attaches nipple clamps, fingers her, whilst applying oil to her ass, then inserts the vibrator.  He then puts lube on his little finger and puts it in her ass.

Look, I’m summarising.  I’m sure you can imagine this is all extremely arousing to read in full.

 

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Ana, the “anal virgin” is immediately tipped over the orgasmic edge by this:

She gasps, then groans and kneels up a little higher, and I know she’s close. Her lips start to move, but whatever she’s saying, it’s soundless. Suddenly she screams as her orgasm strikes.

With my free hand I release first one, then the other nipple clamp, and she cries out. I hold her close as her body pulses through her climax, still easing my finger in and out of her. “No,” she shouts, and I know she’s had enough.

I’m amazed this guy understands what the word “no” means, but hey.  First time for everything.

Grey undoes Ana’s braid and gently rubs her shoulders and arms.  There’s some God-awful dialogue about how Ana thinks he’s trying to kill her through pleasure and he tells her that death by orgasm would be a great way to go.

Then, because BDSM is not compatible with a loving relationship in this fucked up universe, Grey tells her all he really wants to do is make love to her.

Taking her hand, I kiss her knuckles. I’m so proud of her. She never lets me down in here.

She cups my face between her hands and kisses me. I stop, pulling back. “This is what I want to do,” I whisper. From beneath the pillow, I pull out the remote and change the song. I press the button, knowing it will play on repeat, and ease Ana onto her back. “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”—Roberta Flack’s classic fills the room. “I want to make love to you,” I murmur. My lips seek and find hers, and her fingers entwine in my hair.

Oh, good.  More sex.  I’m not at all sick of this.

 

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The sex is exceptionally brief, even by Grey’s standards.  Afterwards, Ana sobs because she just loves him so damn much.  No, really:

 “Hey.” I clasp her head in my hands. Did I hurt her? “Why are you crying?”

“Because I love you so much,” she says, and I close my eyes, letting her words wash over me.

“And I you, Ana. You make me…whole.” 

But no less of a bastard.  And that’s an important point to keep ramming home, because the fans of this franchise like to insist that Ana makes Grey a better person.  Well, here we are in the final chapter of the second book.  Ana has agreed to marry this dick.  And he’s still vile.

Ana asks where Grey gets his music choices from and he says that when he’s by himself and he can’t sleep, he plays piano or trawls iTunes.  Then he guilt-trips Ana for leaving him at the end of the first book.  Again.

“I don’t like to think about you unable to sleep and on your own. It sounds lonely,” Ana says, her compassion showing.

“To be honest, I never felt lonely until you left. I didn’t realize how miserable I was.” 

She cups my face. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t apologize, Ana. What I did was wrong.”

She puts her finger over my lips. “Hush,” she says. “I love you just the way you are.”

“That’s a song.”

DO NOT BRING BILLY JOEL INTO THIS, YOU PAIR OF BASTARDS.

 

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Ana tells Grey that they’ve “come a long way.”  I mean, sure.  As far as you can go in what, three weeks?!  Less than that?!  I don’t even know or care, anymore.

She reminisces about the photo shoot that José did, to go along with Grey’s interview, shortly after they first met.  Ana does an impression of Kate, bossing everyone around.  For someone who’s meant to be Kate’s best friend, Ana sure is a shit.  Grey laughs and thanks “the common cold” for the fact that it was Ana who came to interview him and not Kate.  Because Kate would have stood for precisely none of his bullshit, I have no doubt.  Ana corrects him, saying Kate had the flu, but it’s too little, too late, seeing as she’s just been mocking her friend.

Ana notices that all the canes are gone from the playroom and Grey says he realised she’d probably never get past that particular hard limit.  Ana agrees.  Grey offers to get rid of all the floggers and crops too, but Ana picks two that she’d like him to keep.  Grey tells her she’s full of surprises and Ana responds that so is he and that that’s one of the things she loves about him.

Grey decides he needs to know what else she loves about him.

Strap yourselves in, guys, this could be about to get both laughable and vomit-inducing.  Let’s break it down, shall we?!

“This,” she says, and traces her finger across my lips, tickling them. “I love this, and what comes out of it, and what you do to me with it.

So she likes being kissed.  Someone non-abusive could do that.

And what’s in here.” She strokes the side of my head. “You’re so smart and witty and knowledgeable, competent in so many things.

I have never seen any evidence of Grey being “witty.”  None of his “witty” dialogue in this book has been remotely funny or clever.  And whilst he does seem knowledgeable in many areas, he is also supremely arrogant, which is a massive turn off.

But most of all, I love what’s in here.” She presses her palm against my chest. “You are the most compassionate man I’ve ever met.

HAVE YOU LITERALLY NEVER MET ANY OTHER MAN?!  This twat, who threatens you – even now – with “punishments” you don’t like, if you don’t do exactly as he says, this bastard who treats his staff like dirt on his shoes, this wanker who talks shit about your friends, even when you ask him to stop, this dick who puts his own needs consistently ahead of yours…  Where is he compassionate?  EVER?!

This is yet another example of EL James’s piss poor writing.  She’s trying to tell us Grey is this amazing, sweet, compassionate guy, despite never having shown us anything to back it up with.  As a result, it’s ludicrous.  Ana may as well be talking about one of her university lecturers.  She certainly isn’t giving an honest description of Christian Grey.

She concludes:

What you do. How you work. It’s awe-inspiring.”

 

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Perhaps his supposed dedication to renewable energy sources is awe-inspiring.  The way he works – barking orders at people, being certain all his female employees fancy him and making a point of not learning certain people’s names – is enough to make his company one that nobody with a brain cell wants to work at.

This book.  This fucking book.

I want to shake EL James by the shoulders until the stupid falls out of her brain.  You can’t write a character listing all these positive attributes about another character, who has shown precisely none of them.  That’s not how it works!  You don’t get to point to scenes like this and say “see?  Look at all the ways Christian Grey is a wonderful guy!” when you’ve also shown him stalking, manipulating, threatening, controlling and behaving possessively in every chapter.

UGH, I can’t wait for this to be over, now.

 

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Ana then “launches herself” at him, but thankfully we’re spared another sex scene, by a jump cut to straight after, in which Ana offers to go and cook Grey something.  Before she does, however, they agree to go and shower and when Ana is dressed, Grey decides to become possessive of her again (see what I mean, EL?!):

Once Ana is dressed she takes all the wet clothes from last night out of her sink and heads out the door. Wearing a tiny blue dress, she’s all legs.

Too much leg.

Well at least it’s just us.

And Taylor.

I stop shaving for a moment. “Leave them for Mrs. Jones,” I call after her. She glances over her shoulder and smiles.

Firstly, it’s her body and she can wear whatever the fuck she likes, asshole.

Secondly, let her bloody tidy her own clothes up!  There is no way you pay Gail Jones enough for all the shit she has to deal with, as it is.

Whilst Ana is cooking, Grey goes through all the messages he had, yesterday, when people were worried he might have been dead.  He realises how worried everyone was and thinks he ought to have called them.  Ya THINK?!  He saves all the messages, aside from one from Elena, then sorts out a ring for Ana and returns a call to Sam, his company’s PR dude.

All of this is fascinating.  FASCINATING.

 

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Because Sam is keen to capitalise on the media interest surrounding the helicopter crash, by recommending Grey does some TV or print interviews to promote the company, Grey genuinely starts thinking about getting rid of him.  He’s so compassionate.  I love how he works…

Taylor tells Grey that the wreckage of Charlie Tango is being recovered and that they’ll hopefully get some answers from it.  Grey sends him off to the jewellers for him.  Because actually going out to personally choose and purchase his fiancée’s engagement ring is far too much to expect Christian Grey to do, apparently.

Ana emails Grey to say lunch is almost ready and she uses the term “kinky-fuckery” twice, which is enough to make anyone else lose their appetite, to be honest.

Grey replies asking what aspect of the kinky-fuckery was most mind-blowing and decides to wander into the kitchen and kiss Ana as she’s replying.  Rather than actually having a conversation, however, he then saunters back into his office to read her response.  I just…  UGH.

Grey rings his mother and tells her that he and Ana are engaged.  She has the good sense to think it’s very sudden, although she also seems to think Ana is the first girl Grey has ever been with, and when she finds out that’s not the case, she’s suddenly completely on board.  Grey tells her that he’s having flowers delivered to his parents’ boathouse, because his first proposal was “a bit crap.”  He also asks her to keep the engagement a secret, so he can make an announcement, later.

This last chapter is dragging, you guys.

 

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Ana comes into Grey’s study to let him know that lunch is ready.  He comments on the length of her dress.  Again.

“That dress is very short.”

“You like it?” Ana pirouettes in the doorway and her skirt flares up, providing a tantalizing glimpse of her lacy underwear.

“You look fantastic in it, Ana. I just don’t want anyone else to see you like that.

“Oh!” She looks upset. “We’re at home, Christian. No one but the staff.”

I don’t want to upset her. I nod as graciously as I can manage and she turns and heads back to the kitchen. Grey, get a grip.

Staff don’t count as people, apparently.  And Grey’s controlling line gets red-inked, because Ana has never agreed to let him dictate her wardrobe.

Grey calls Ray to ask for Ana’s hand in marriage and how does he get Ray’s number?

From Ana’s file, I get Ray’s mobile number.

FROM THE CREEPTASTIC FILE HE KEEPS ON ANA, OF COURSE!  She’s never given him Ray’s number, as far as I know.  Nor did she willingly give Grey her bank details (and she was pissed to know he had them), but the next thing Grey does, after being forced to leave a message with Ray, who has no signal, is this:

While I have Ana’s file on my desk, I decide to deposit some money into her bank account. She’ll have to get used to having money.

It’s been a while you guys, but for the last time in this set of recaps…

 

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He transfers fifty thousand dollars into Ana’s account.  And sure, some people reading this crap might think “oh wow, I wish I had a guy who’d just give me all that cash!”  But I think “oh wow, I’m so glad nobody wants to BUY me, using bank details I NEVER GAVE THEM in order to do so.”

Horses for courses.

Ray calls Grey back and Grey asks for permission to marry Ana.  Ray tells him to hand the phone to “Annie.”  Ana is pissed off that Grey’s actually told her dad, which I don’t blame her for, seeing as she did tell him earlier it’s not the eighteenth century and he doesn’t need to ask for her hand.  She disappears to have a conversation with Ray and when she comes stomping back, still annoyed, she gives the phone back to Grey and Ray says it’s obvious Ana’s crazy about him, but that if Grey hurts her, Ray will kill him.

Grey tells Ana that Ray has given them his blessing and Ana admits that Ray was freaked out at the idea and that now she’s going to have to tell her mother.

They have lunch and Grey says:

“Damn, you’re a good cook, woman.”

 

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My abuser used to call me “woman,” because he was a misogynistic twat.  I can only assume Grey refers to Ana that way for the same reason.

Grey decides to ask Ana why she didn’t want him to take her photo, earlier and it’s for the exact reason he suspected:

“Ana? Why did you ask me not to take your photo?” Her consternation deepens, worrying me. “Ana, what is it?” My tone is sharper than I intended and she jumps.

A good sign, straight away, right guys?!

“I found your photos,” she says, as if she’s committed some terrible sin.

What photos? But as I say the words, I realize exactly what she’s talking about. And I feel like I’m back in my father’s study, waiting for a pompous dressing-down for some infraction I’ve committed. “You’ve been in the safe?” How the hell did she do that?

“Safe? No. I didn’t know you had a safe.”

“I don’t understand.”

“In your closet. The box. I was looking for your tie, and the box was under your jeans. The ones you normally wear in the playroom…Except today.”

Fuck. No one should see those photographs. Especially Ana. How did they get there?

Leila.

Oh, good.  Let’s blame the mentally unwell character for moving the creepy, invasive bribery photos that Grey shouldn’t have in the first fucking place.

 

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Grey is forced to explain what the photos are for:

You’ve already alluded to the depths of your depravity.

This is it, baby. Fifty shades.

How many times is he going to say this shit in his head?!

“This is going to sound cold, but—they’re an insurance policy.”

“Insurance policy?”

“Against exposure.”

I watch her face as she realizes what I mean. “Oh.” She closes her eyes as if she’s trying to erase what I’ve told her. “Yes. You’re right,” she says quietly. “That does sound cold.” She stands and starts to clear the dishes; it’s to avoid me.

“Ana.”

“Do they know? The girls. The subs?”

“Of course they know.”

Before she can escape to the sink, I fold her into my arms. “Those photos are supposed to be in the safe. They’re not for recreational use.”

They were once upon a time, Grey.

Even now, when he’s being all “this is it, baby, Fifty Shades,” he’s still not giving her quite the full story.  He never does.

He asks Ana if she wants him to get rid of the photos and Ana, clearly upset, tells him they’re his to do whatever he wants with.  He insists that he doesn’t want “that life,” once again insinuating that BDSM is dirty and bad and totally at odds with a loving relationship.  Gee, EL James has done so much good for kinksters.

I know she struggles with not being enough for me. Maybe she thinks I want to do those things to her and photograph her.

Grey, be honest, of course you would.

But I’d never do it without her permission. I had all my submissives’ consent to having their photographs taken.

But did they also know you’d be keeping those photos on file as an insurance policy?!  It’s one thing, consenting to sexy photographs in the moment.  Quite another to keep them in order to silence anyone who may be thinking of coming forward in the future.  I cannot tell you how much this grosses me out.  I don’t want to victim-blame, because I know what it’s like to be in love with an abusive man and to excuse all his vile behaviour, but this is a HUGE red flag that Ana is about to casually get over and ignore.

Grey manages to persuade Ana that their relationship is TWU WUV, not like that dirty, kinky life he had before.  He tells her he’ll shred the photos and then says he has to go into work for a while.  Ana, instantly placated, tells him she’s going to ring her mother and tell her about their engagement, then bake Grey a birthday cake.  Grey asks if it’ll be chocolate and Ana says she’ll see what she can do.

Why does Grey think of chocolate cake?

Because he has a vivid memory (not alluded to here, but which I remember) of his birth mother making him a chocolate cake for his birthday.  You remember his birth mother?  The bitch he hates, because she never did anything for him?!

 

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Before going to work, Grey goes to shred the photos and manages to be as creepy and gross about it as you’d expect:

There’s a certain irony in sitting at my desk and shredding these photographs: relics of my old life. The first photograph is of Susannah, bound and gagged, on her knees on the wooden floor. It’s not a bad photograph, and briefly I wonder what José would make of this subject matter. The thought amuses me, but I put the first few photographs through the shredder. I turn the rest of the pile over so I can’t see the images and within twelve minutes they’re all gone.

You still have the negatives.

Grey. Stop.

GET RID OF THE FUCKING NEGATIVES AS WELL, YOU UTTERLY GROSS BASTARD.

Also, it took twelve minutes to shred all these photos?  How many did he take?!  He had fifteen subs before Ana and the shredder we have at work can shred a photo in seconds.  It should have been a five or six minute job.  The fact that it wasn’t, means – as far as I’m concerned – that he had multiple pictures of each woman.  And there’s no need to keep more than one “insurance policy” for each ex sub (I dispute that there’s a need to keep even one, obviously, seeing as he made them all sign an NDA, however unenforceable).  This upped the creep factor massively, as far as I’m concerned.

 

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Grey checks his text messages.  He has several from people like his mother, Elliot, Mia etc and because EL James is all about padding this shit out, we have to read every single one.  He has three from Elena, the first asking if he’s okay, the second saying she’s relieved to have seen on the news that he is okay and asking him to call her, then the third asking if he’s ignoring her.

Grey scowls to himself, thinking Elena needs to leave him to the fuck alone.  But he doesn’t text her to actually say “I’d like you to get out of my life” or anything like that, because if he did that, yet another non-plot would be instantly resolved, and we couldn’t possibly have that.  Instead, he just thinks he’ll deal with her “at some point.”

Grey can smell the cake Ana is baking him and he recalls “the crack whore” making him a birthday cake.  He even describes it as a happy memory, so keep that in mind next time he claims to have no happy memories of his time with her.

Ana comes in to say she’s popping to the shops and this happens:

“I’m just heading to the store to pick up some ingredients,” she says.

“Okay.” Not dressed like that, surely?

“What?”

“You going to put some jeans on or something?”

“Christian, they’re just legs,” she says dismissively, and I grit my teeth.

“What if we were at the beach?” she says.

“We’re not at the beach.”

“Would you object if we were at the beach?”

We’d be on a private beach. “No,” I respond.

She gives me a wicked smile. “Well, just imagine we are. Laters.” She turns and bolts.

What? She’s running?

And before I know it, I’m out of my seat and going after her. I see a flash of turquoise exit through the main entrance at speed and I pursue her into the foyer, but she’s in the elevator and the doors are closing when I catch up with her. She gives me a wave from inside and then she’s gone. Her haste is such an overreaction, I want to laugh.

What did she think I’d do?

Beat her, like the many times you’ve threatened to?  Demand she changes, making threats to manipulate her into doing so?!

Also, for the eleven billionth time: SHE CAN WEAR WHATEVER SHE WANTS, YOU ASSHOLE.

 

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Taylor arrives with some guys from the jewellery store, who’ve come to the apartment with a selection of engagement rings for Grey to choose from.  So, I guess at least he is picking out Ana’s ring, himself.  I genuinely thought he was going to make Taylor do it.

After he’s chosen a ring and also had a phone conversation about a Eurocopter specialist, who’s flying in to take a look at the wreckage of Charlie Tango, Grey notices Ana is back.  And it’s guilt-trip and unnecessary anger time!

Ana is standing in the doorway, watching me, looking pensive and a little worried. “Hi,” she says, and she enters my study and walks around my desk until she’s standing in front of me. I want to ask her why she ran, but she preempts me.

“I’m back. Are you mad at me?”

I sigh and lift her into my lap. “Yes,” I whisper.

You ran from me, and the last time you did that, you left me.

“I’m sorry. I don’t know what came over me.” She curls into me, and rests her hand and her head against my chest. Her weight is a comfort.

“Me, neither. Wear what you like.” I place my hand on her knee just to reassure her, but as soon as I touch her, I want more. My desire is like an electric current through my body. It jolts me awake and makes me feel alive. I run my hand up her thigh. “Besides, this dress has its advantages.”

 

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They fuck in Grey’s chair, with basically no foreplay.  Because Ana is, remember, a sentient sex doll.

During the sex, Grey thinks this gross thought:

There’s a desperation in her movements, as if she wants to make amends.

For WHAT?!  Wearing a dress she was fully entitled to wear?!  Running away from you, because you’ve got a proven record for controlling and threatening her?!  SCREW YOU.

“He changes, he gets so much better.”  The next fan who says that to me is getting the full force of my high-pitched scream, right in their face.

Just to re-enforce my hatred of him, after the sex, he tells her:

“I LIKE YOUR VERSION of sorry,” I whisper. 

 

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Ana replies that she likes his, too.

We get some seriously clumsy foreshadowing of her pregnancy:

I hope she always sits in my lap like this. She fits perfectly.

BUT SHE WON’T WHEN THERE’S A BABY IN HER BELLY, RIGHT GUYS?  GUYS?!  AM I RIGHT?!

We get yet more “from darkness into light” bollocks:

There are shadows on the streets below. Down there it’s already dusk, but up here the light is still golden. Maybe that’s why I live here. To be in the light. I’ve been striving for it since I was a small boy. And it’s taken an extraordinary young woman to make me realize that.

Ana is my guiding light. 

I’m her lost boy, now found.

VOM.  It’s bad enough when he infantilises her, but now he’s doing it to himself.  FUN.

Twenty three pages left.  I can do this.  I WILL DO THIS.

 

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Ana finishes Grey’s birthday cake and brings it to him, with a candle flickering on top:

She sings “Happy Birthday” to me in her sweet musical voice, and I realize I’ve never heard her sing.

It’s magical.

I blow out the candle, closing my eyes to make my wish.

I wish that Ana will always love me. And never leave me.

“I’ve made my wish,” I inform her.

I’ve just had to eat a large bowl of ice cream to force myself to finish this damn recap, and I swear EL James is desperate for me to see it again in reverse.

He thinks “here goes” as Ana hands him a slice of cake, which is a bit rich, seeing as he’s always harping on about what a great cook she is.  Sure enough, it’s delicious and Grey tells her “this is why I want to marry you.”

In fairness, I’d marry pretty much anyone who made me cake, so I can’t comment.

On the way to his parents’ house, Ana finally brings up the subject of the money Grey transferred into her account, earlier:

 “There was an additional fifty thousand dollars in my bank account this afternoon.”

“And?”

“You don’t—”

“Ana, you’re going to be my wife. Please. Let’s not fight about this.”

She takes a deep breath and is silent for a while as we cruise just above the pink and dusky waters of Lake Washington. “Okay,” she says. “Thank you.”

“You’re most welcome.” I breathe a sigh of relief.

See, that wasn’t so hard, was it Ana? On Monday, I’ll take care of your student loans.

I…  I just…  Whatever.  I’m actually past giving a shit.  Fine, you wanna be rich, go for it.  I hope you both get paper cuts from hundred dollar bills and bleed to death.

They arrive at the Grey family home and Kate quickly accosts them.  There’s a long scene that I want to break into chunks:

“You two! I want to talk to you,” she gripes. Ana gives me a blank look and I shrug. I have no idea what Kavanagh’s beef is but we follow her into the empty dining room. She shuts the door and turns on Ana. “What the fuck is this?” she hisses and waves a piece of paper at her.

Ana takes it from her and reads it. Almost immediately she blanches and her startled eyes meet mine.

What the hell?

Ana steps between me and Katherine. “What is it?” I ask, feeling anxious.

SPOILER: It’s Ana’s email response to the BDSM contract Grey sent her.  Remember, he printed it out, so he could bring it with him to discuss it with her.

Ana ignores me and addresses Kavanagh. “Kate! This has nothing to do with you.” Katherine is surprised by her reaction.

What the fuck are they talking about?

“Ana, what is it?”

“Christian, would you just go, please?”

“No. Show me.”

I hold out my hand and reluctantly she passes the piece of paper to me. It’s her e-mail response to the contract. Shit.

“What’s he done to you?” Katherine asks, ignoring me.

“That’s none of your business, Kate.” Ana sounds exasperated. 

Technically, it sort of is Kate’s business, in as much as Ana is her best friend and she’s seen her sobbing over Grey, so finding something in which Ana is writing about some kind of sex contract that she’s not meant to tell anyone about is bound to concern Kate.

“Where did you get this?” I ask.

Kavanagh blushes. “That’s irrelevant.” But I stare at her and she continues. “It was in the pocket of a jacket, which I assume is yours, that I found on the back of Ana’s bedroom door.” She scowls at me, ready for battle.

“Have you told anyone?” I ask.

“No! Of course not,” she snaps, and has the gall to look offended.

She probably is offended, given that she’s clearly been waiting to discuss this with Ana, rather than go blabbing to anyone else.  Sure, she shouldn’t have been looking through Grey’s pockets, but frankly, if I thought someone was mistreating my best friend – as Kate almost certainly did, regarding Grey – I would be bloody determined to show them up for what they were.  I’m going to cut her a bit of slack, here.

Good. I walk over to the fireplace and taking a lighter from the small porcelain bowl on the mantelpiece I set fire to the corner of the printout and let it float, burning, into the grate. Both women are silent, watching me. Once it’s reduced to ashes, I turn my attention back to them.

“Not even Elliot?” Ana asks.

“No one,” Katherine says, and she sounds emphatic. She looks a little puzzled and maybe hurt.

I’m not surprised.  She’s probably wishing she could have had this conversation alone with Ana.  She’s clearly very concerned about her welfare and isn’t necessarily keen on the way this whole scenario is playing out.

“I just want to know you’re okay, Ana,” she says, concerned. Unseen by them both, I roll my eyes.

This is the guy who claims to care more about Ana’s wellbeing than anyone else.  And yet when someone else is concerned, it just annoys him.   Yes, Kate is concerned about his relationship with Ana, so he’s bound to be miffed, but is he so self-absorbed that he can’t see why someone might be worried about their very naive, previously totally inexperienced friend getting involved in a lifestyle she knows nothing about?  Surely if he really loved Ana, he’d understand her friend’s concerns and if anything, be glad of them, because they prove she cares for Ana?!

“I’m fine, Kate. More than fine. Please, Christian and I are good, really good—this is old news. Please ignore it,” Ana pleads with her.

“Ignore it?” she says. “How can I ignore that? What’s he done to you?”

“He hasn’t done anything to me, Kate. Honestly—I’m good.”

He’s tracked your phone.  He’s taken you back to his hotel when you could not consent.  He’s stalked you hundreds of miles away when you asked for space.  He’s beaten you with a belt and not stopped, despite seeing you in tears from the pain.  He’s threatened, manipulated and coerced you.  He’s bought your workplace so he can control your career.  WOULD YOU LIKE ME TO GO ON?!

“Really?” she asks. For fuck’s sake. I wrap my arm around Ana and stare at Katherine, trying and probably failing to keep the animosity out of my expression. “Ana has consented to be my wife, Katherine.”

This would have been a great time for a speech along the lines of “I really love your friend, Kate.  I know that email looked bad out of context, but it was between two consenting adults.  It’s not something we adhere to, anymore.  I love Ana very much and I would never hurt her.”

Instead, he chooses to glare at her and merely snaps that they’re getting married.

BUT HE’S CHANGED SO MUCH, YOU GUYS, HE REALLY HAS!!!11!!!!ONE!!!

 

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“Wife!” she exclaims, her eyes widening in disbelief.

“We’re getting married. We’re going to announce our engagement this evening,” I inform her.

“Oh!” Katherine stares at Ana, stunned. “I leave you alone for sixteen days, and this happens? It’s very sudden. So yesterday, when I said—” She stops. “Where does that e-mail fit into all this?”

“It doesn’t, Kate. Forget it—please. I love him and he loves me. Don’t do this. Don’t ruin his party and our night,” Ana begs.

“Don’t spoil our fun with your actual concern for me, you total bitch.”

Man, I’m glad Ana’s not my best friend.

Katherine’s eyes fill with tears.

Shit. She’s going to cry.

“No. Of course I won’t. You’re okay?”

“I’ve never been happier,” Ana whispers, and my heart quickens.

Katherine grabs her hand, even though I still have my arm wrapped around Ana. “You really are okay?” she asks, her voice full of hope.

“Yes.” Ana sounds happier and she shrugs out of my hold to hug her.

“Oh, Ana—I was so worried when I read this. I didn’t know what to think. Will you explain it to me?” she asks.

“One day, not now.”

“Good. I won’t tell anyone. I love you so much, Ana, like my own sister. I just thought—” She shakes her head. “I didn’t know what to think. I’m sorry. If you’re happy, then I’m happy.” Katherine looks at me. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to intrude.”

I give her a nod. Maybe she does care about Ana, but how Elliot puts up with her I’ll never know.

 

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I have 19 pages left.  And then I am free until the next bloody book comes out.  You guys have no idea how much I’m struggling with this shit, right now.  And to cap it all off, our shitty WiFi is playing up, so it’s taking me longer to do basically everything and I’m starting to wonder what time I’m going to get to bed tonight, because it’s already not far off 10pm and I started writing this at one o’clock this afternoon.

End.

Me.

Grey’s mother comes into the room to ask if everything’s okay and to remind Grey that there is a whole throng of people waiting to wish him happy birthday.  As everyone leaves the room, Kate makes one last apology and Grey takes one last opportunity to be as ungracious as possible:

“Christian, I really do apologize,” Katherine says. I acknowledge her with the briefest of nods and we walk into the hallway.

“The briefest of nods.”  Sure, he’s pissy that she read something that wasn’t for her eyes, but she was acting out of concern for her friend and he needs to get over it.  He mentioned himself in the last book that Kate would go mad if she knew what he wanted to do to Ana, after all!  She was only doing what he predicted she’d do!

They finally get to see all the guests who’ve assembled for Grey’s birthday party.  Everyone is there, from Dr Flynn to Elena Lincoln.  Elena makes a beeline for Grey and notice how Ana reacts – and how Grey reacts in turn:

Elena is first to reach us, and I take Ana’s free hand. “Christian, I was so worried.” Elena kisses me on both cheeks before I have a chance to react. Ana tries to free her hand but I tighten my hold on her.

Ana has told Grey that she doesn’t want to be anywhere near Elena.  She’s mentioned that she would prefer not to associate with her at all.  And so, when Elena comes scurrying over, Ana understandably tries to get away, but Grey won’t let her.

That, folks, is gross.  I don’t care what his reasons are.  He knows what Ana’s reasons are and he needs to respect her.  As per usual, he doesn’t.  I’m fairly sure his reason for refusing to let Ana go is so he can use her to prove a point to Elena.  “I have someone else, go away!”

Sure enough, when Elena asks why he didn’t reply to her messages, Grey hugs Ana even closer to him.  He then tells Elena that he and Ana have an announcement to make.

GEE, I WONDER WHAT IT’LL BE?!

Grey announces that he and Ana are engaged and hey, who’s missing the whole “marriage = ownership” vibes?!  Well, don’t worry, they’re back!

My announcement is met with a few gasps, a cheer, and another spontaneous round of applause. I turn to Ana, who looks flushed and beautiful, tip her chin up and give her a swift, chaste kiss. “You’ll soon be mine.”

“I am already.”

“Legally,” I mouth at her, with a wicked grin.

 

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Mia asks where Ana’s engagement ring is and Grey replies that they’re going to choose one together.  Which is… A lie.  But then, when is this dude ever fully honest?!

Dr Flynn makes reference to Grey announcing his engagement in front of Elena and suggests they talk about it later.  He also begins chatting about Leila’s progress and confirms that she moved the photos from Grey’s safe in order to “rattle Ana.”

Still not heaping blame on her for this when it’s much easier to blame Grey for having them in the first place, though.

Mia accosts Ana and drags her away for cocktails.  Grey starts chatting to Mac (the dude from his boat) and helping himself to dinner, but then he decides to rescue Ana from his sister.  However, as he heads off to look for her, he finds an altogether different scene.  I’m going to recap it in full, because I swear EL James was watching reruns of Dynasty or something, when she wrote this:

“Don’t you dare tell me what I’m getting myself into!”

Shit. What gives?

“When will you learn? It’s none of your goddamned business!” Ana rages. I try to open the door, but someone is in the way. The person moves and the door swings open. Ana is bristling with anger. Her complexion reddening. She’s shaking with fury. Elena stands before her, drenched in what must have been Ana’s drink.

I shut the door and stand between them. “What the fuck are you doing, Elena?” I snarl. I told you to leave her alone. She wipes her face with the back of her hand.

“She’s not right for you, Christian.”

“What?” I yell and I’m so loud that I’m sure I’ve startled Ana because Elena jumps, too.  But I don’t give a fuck. I’ve warned her. And warned her. “How the fuck do you know what’s right for me?”

“You have needs, Christian,” she says, her voice softer, and I know she’s trying to placate me.

“I’ve told you before, this is none of your fucking business.” I’m surprised by my own vehemence. “What is this?” I scowl at her. “Do you think it’s you? You? You think you’re right for me?”

Elena’s expression hardens, her eyes like flint. She stands taller and steps toward me. “I was the best thing that ever happened to you,” she hisses, with unrestrained arrogance. “Look at you now. One of the richest, most successful entrepreneurs in the United States. Controlled, driven, you need nothing. You are master of your universe.”

ORIGINAL FANFIC TITLE DROP.

She’s going there.

Fuck.

I step back.

Disgusted.

“You loved it, Christian, don’t try and kid yourself. You were on the road to self-destruction, and I saved you from that, saved you from a life behind bars. Believe me, baby, that’s where you would have ended up. I taught you everything you know, everything you need.”

I cannot remember a time when I’ve felt such rage. “You taught me how to fuck, Elena. But it’s empty, like you. No wonder Linc left.”

She gasps. Shocked.

“You never once held me. You never once said you loved me.”

Her ice-blue eyes narrow. “Love is for fools, Christian.”

TELL me you’re not imagining this all happening in an 80s TV drama, featuring a LOT of shoulder-pads and I will call you a liar.

 

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Of course, seeing as nobody is exactly being quiet about this whole situation, this is the moment Grey’s mother realises what Elena did to her son and she bursts in, telling Elena to get out of her house.

Grace slaps her hard across her face, astonishing us all. The sound resonates off the walls. “Take your filthy paws off my son, you whore, and get out of my house—now!” Grace seethes through gritted teeth.

I can almost hear the Dynasty theme tune, at this point.  But it might just be because I’m getting delirious.

Grace asks to be alone with her son, so Ana leaves the room.  She asks Grey how long his relationship with Elena went on and he admits it was “a few years.”  Then Grace asks how old he was and despite knowing how much hurt Elena has caused his family and his fiancée, Grey thinks:

I have to be careful here. I don’t want to cause trouble for Elena.

Now, for a moment, I honestly thought he was protecting her.  Because that’s how it’s written.  And then I thought about it and realised…  He’s protecting himself.  Why did he keep those photos of ex subs?  To ensure their silence.  Because being into BDSM is a hugely shameful thing, apparently, and he’s such a hugely famous businessman, he’d never live it down, if it got out.  So, after a few minutes’ consideration, I’ve realised this is less about not wanting to cause trouble for Elena and more about stopping her from retaliating by dropping him in it.

Still, eventually, Grace gets the truth out of him:

“Sixteen,” I whisper.

She narrows her eyes and cocks her head to one side. “Try again.” Her voice is chillingly quiet.

Hell. How does she know?

“Christian,” she warns, prompting me.

“Fifteen.”

She closes her eyes like I’ve stabbed her, her hand flying to her mouth as she stifles a sob. When she opens them, they’re filled with pain and unshed tears.

“Mom…” I try to think of something to say to take that pain away. I step toward her and she holds up her hand to stop me.

“Christian. I am so mad at you right now. I suggest you don’t come any closer.”

“How did you know? That I lied,” I ask.

“For heaven’s sake, Christian—I’m your mother,” she snaps and dashes a fallen tear from her cheek.

I feel myself blushing, feeling stupid and slightly piqued at the same time. Only my mom can make me feel this way. My mom. And Ana.

I thought I was a better liar.

Well, you’re certainly well practised, I’ll give you that.

 

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Despite the fact that we all know Grey would go insane if he thought someone had taken advantage of Mia when she was underage, Grey seems genuinely unable to understand why his mother is as upset as she is:

“I knew something happened when you were fifteen. She was the reason, wasn’t she? The reason you suddenly calmed down, seemed to focus? Oh, Christian. What did she do to you?”

Mom! Why is she overreacting? Do I tell her that Elena brought me under control? I don’t have to tell her how. “Yes,” I murmur.

I’m pretty sure she’s not overreacting.  Grace has every right to be mortified that a woman she thought was her close friend committed statutory rape against her son.  She sobs, wondering what Grey’s father is going to think, which leads to Grey inwardly bitching about how he doesn’t need a lecture on acceptable behaviour.

Honestly?  I think he really, really does.

Grace then remembers, with horror, that Elena’s tastes are “exotic.”  I’m assuming Elena has talked about her predilection for kinky sex, during one of the boozy nights that she and Grace have apparently shared.  Grey shuts down any discussion of the type of sex he and Elena had.

Grace tells Grey to cut Elena out of his life completely.  Grey, despite the fact that all he’s done in this book is inwardly – and sometimes outwardly – bitch and moan about Elena, is surprisingly reluctant:

“Mom, um…Elena and I run a very successful business together.”

“No, Christian. You cut your ties with her.”

I stare at her, speechless. How can she tell me what to do? I’m twenty-eight years old, for fuck’s sake.

 

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Man.  It sucks when someone tries to control you against your will, right?!  I mean, you would never do that to Ana, would you, you absolute cretin?!

Next, Grace threatens to call the police and report Elena.  Which she has every right to do.

“Mom—”

“No, Christian—I’m serious. If you don’t, I will go to the police.”

I pale. “You wouldn’t.”

“I will. I couldn’t stop it then, but I can now.”

“You’re just real mad, Mom, and I don’t blame you—but you’re overreacting.”

“Don’t tell me I’m overreacting,” she yells. “You are not going to have any kind of relationship with someone who can abuse a troubled, immature child! She should come with a health warning.”

 

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Grace repeats that Grey needs to cut all ties with Elena and he suggests he do so as a wedding present to Ana.  Grace is naturally horrified by this and sighs that he has no idea, which is at least true.  She then asks if he understands why she’s so upset, which leads to her saying some fluffy shit that I don’t buy into for a second:

“I don’t know, Mom. Because you didn’t know? Because she’s your friend?”

She reaches up and gently strokes my hair, like she used to when I was small. The only place she would touch me, because it was the only place I let her. “For all those reasons and because she abused you, darling. And you are so deserving of love. You’re so easy to love. You always have been.”

Oh, Grace.  And I liked you, until then.  Christian Grey is the hardest character to love I have ever read about.  Seriously, name me vile characters from books and I will give you lovable traits I found in them.  Your son?  Has no fucking redeeming qualities whatsoever.

Grace reminds Grey that she’ll have to tell his father, once the party is over, then she sends him off to find Ana.  En route, Grey asks Elliot if he’s seen Ana and when Elliot jokes that maybe she’s seen sense and run off, Grey replies:

“Fuck off, Lelliot.”

Because Grey is five years old.  AND SO EASY TO LOVE!

He eventually finds Ana, standing on the landing, outside his old bedroom.  Ana asks how Grace is and Grey tells her she’s furious, inwardly still thinking that it’s a complete overreaction.

Ana asks what will happen to Elena’s businesses, thinking Grey might liquidate them.  But Grey says he’ll gift them to her, because he “owe(s) her that much.”

He owes her nothing.  I still can’t help but feel he’s treating Elena better than he treats Ana, at this point.

Because we’ve not had the “have you eaten?” argument for a while, Grey asks Ana that very question and she says no, which gives him a chance to lecture her:

I hold up my hand. “No arguing, Anastasia. If you’re going to drink and toss alcohol on my exes, you need to eat. It’s rule number one. I believe we’ve already had that discussion after our first night together.”

An image of her lying comatose on my bed at The Heathman comes to mind. We stop in the hallway and I caress her face, my fingers skimming her jaw. “I lay awake for hours and watched you sleep,” I whisper. “I might have loved you even then.”

 

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They discussed her drinking on an empty stomach after HE took her back to his hotel when SHE was too pissed to consent.  He even fondly recollects her being comatose!  THIS ISN’T FUCKING ROMANTIC, IT’S CREEPY AND DISGUSTING AND I NEED THIS BOOK TO END PLEASE, BEFORE I HURL MYSELF OUT OF MY BEDROOM WINDOW.

After Ana has eaten, Grey tells her he has something to show her in the boathouse.  As they walk, Ana tells him she wants to go to church, the next day, because she prayed for his safe return after the helicopter crash and he came home unscathed.  She then asks where he plans on hanging the photos of her that José took and Grey suggests they hang them in the new house, telling her he bought it after they looked round it.  Ana pleads with him not to knock it down and Grey agrees to have an architect come over to discuss alterations they can make, instead.

Ana recalls the last time they went into the boathouse:

“I remember the last time you took me to the boathouse.”

Oh yes. I was in the moment. “Oh, that was fun. In fact—” I stop and scoop her up over my shoulder and she squeals.

“You were really angry, if I remember correctly,” Ana observes while she bounces on my shoulder.

“Anastasia, I’m always really angry.”

“No, you’re not.”

I swat her behind and slide her down my body when I get to the door of the boathouse. I take her head in my hands. “No, not anymore.”

Yes you are, prick.

Because this book wants to torture my soul to its very limit before it finally ends, Grey pauses outside the boathouse door and thinks:

Showtime, Grey.

When I recap Freed, we’re making the horrific overuse of that phrase a drinking game.  It’s the only way I’ll get through it.

 

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Grey opens the door and shows Ana that the boathouse has been filled with flowers.  Now, I am a huge fan of the TV show Friends, but I always think the scene in which both Chandler and Monica try to propose to one another is nauseatingly sugary and OTT.  But congratulations, EL James, this is worse!

“You wanted hearts and flowers.”

She stares at me in disbelief.

“You have my heart.” And I wave at the room.

“And here are the flowers,” she murmurs. “Christian, it’s lovely.” Her voice is hoarse and I know she’s close to tears.

Plucking up my courage, I lead her farther into the room. In the center of the arbor, I sink onto one knee. Ana catches her breath, and her hands fly to her mouth. From my inside jacket pocket, I pull out the ring and hold it up for her.  “Anastasia Steele. I love you. I want to love, cherish, and protect you for the rest of my life. Be mine. Always. Share my life with me. Marry me.”

Why does he have to pluck up courage?  He’s asked her already and she’s said yes.  I mean, sure, if she had any sense, she’d change her mind, but we all know she’s just an ever-ready vagina that talks.

And it gets worse:

This woman who has dragged me into the light. This woman who loves me in spite of my past, in spite of my wrongdoings. This woman who’s agreed to be mine for the rest of her life.

My girl.

My Ana.

My love.

 

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And that, you fabulous bunch of people who have supported me and kept me going every time I’ve wanted to ditch these recaps, is the end of this sodding book.

Personally, I can’t decide whether or not I think it was worse than Grey.  I probably need to sleep on it.  I think Grey was probably much creepier, in terms of it making it blatant that Christian was going to pursue this innocent young woman and not take no for an answer (although we got plenty of that at the start of this book), but this one has been one long exercise in “woe is me” on behalf of the “hero,” not to mention a continuation of his refusal to relinquish control over Ana’s life.  The constant referral to marriage as meaning she will officially be HIS made me feel sick, too.

I am hoping for a long gap, before Freed is released, because I’ll be honest with you, these recaps genuinely do take a lot out of me.  They’re not always fun to write and they take up an entire day, each time I sit down to write one.  To illustrate my point, it’s now well after 11pm and I started working on this shortly after I ate lunch.

I’m also hoping for a gap, because there are certain scenes that are inexcusable and I know EL James will try to find a way to make Grey somehow sympathetic, in them.  The scene where he bruises Ana’s body without consent, as punishment for her sunbathing topless, for example.  Or the scene where he reacts to her pregnancy and blames it entirely on her, as though he had nothing to do with it.  I found both of those scenes abhorrent to read from Ana’s perspective, so how gross they’re going to be when written from his, with the intention of justifying his behaviour, I can’t even begin to imagine.

But for now, we’re done.  We’re free of this crap for a little while.  Let’s go and enjoy our lives.

Emma out.

 

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Darker: Chapter 9 (Friday, June 17, 2011)

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This is the penultimate chapter of this horrendous collection of romanticised excuses for abusive behaviour.  The second to last chapter of boring, repetitive sex scenes.  The last but one outing for my EL James centred rage.

At least for this book.  We all know that Freed is coming.  And yes, I’ll recap that, as well.  Because I hate myself, apparently.

Before we head into the recap proper, I have a little admin to do…

If you don’t follow us on Twitter you may not know that I won’t be finishing the recaps of Darker next week.  I sing in a ladies barbershop chorus and we’ll be performing at an event next Sunday, which will leave me with very little time to get any writing done, as it’s a day event and I usually feel really buzzed after singing in public and I like to go out and celebrate (with cake, usually…).  The following Sunday is my mum’s birthday too, so the final instalment of these recaps will probably go up online one day in the week, instead.  If you do follow us on Twitter, I’ll be sure to give a heads up as to when it will be.

On that note, I guess we ought to pick up where we left off…

 

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The chapter begins with Grey waking up again, because a) EL James is an absolutely crap writer and b) her decision to have each chapter last a full day was monumentally stupid and caused her to write herself into endless, boring corners.

Ana is having a dream about being Icarus and flying too close to the sun.  Because that seems totally normal and not overly dramatic.

Ana’s cry drags me from my sleep. Opening my eyes, I wake. She’s beside me and I think she’s asleep. “Flying too close,” she whimpers. The early-morning light bleeds pink and bright between the blinds, illuminating her hair. “Icarus,” she says.

Leaning up on my elbow, I check to see if she’s asleep. I haven’t heard her talk in her sleep for a while. She turns over so that she’s facing me. “Benefit of the doubt,” she says. And her face relaxes.

Benefit of the doubt? Is this about me? She said it yesterday. She said she was going to give me the benefit of the doubt. It’s more than I deserve.

Much more than you deserve, Grey.

Yep, a billion times more than you deserve.  What you deserve is for her – or Leila, or any number of the women you’ve treated like total crap in the course of these books – to remove your tiny penis with a pencil sharpener.

As he gets in the shower, Grey decides he’s going to put an offer on the house he showed Ana, last chapter, because she loved it and it’s totally normal and healthy to buy a family home for someone you’ve only been back together with for a week.  Hilariously, he thinks:

Just give her time, Grey.

 

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This is the guy who stalked a woman he’d only just met, turning up at her workplace to purposefully intimidate her by buying BDSM supplies.

This is the guy who discovered the woman he was obsessively stalking was a virgin and viewed it as a problem to be immediately dealt with.

This is the guy who spent the entirety of the last book, manipulating an inexperienced young woman into agreeing to things she was clearly not sure about, because he didn’t want to give her any thinking time.

This is the guy who distracts his partner with sex, every time she wants to have a serious conversation about their relationship.

This is the guy who made a point of stalking Ana when she broke up with him, treating their eventual reunion as some kind of business plan, where the only option she had was agreeing.

This is the guy who dragged Ana into an alleyway and forcibly kissed and groped her when they weren’t yet officially back together, telling her she was his.

This is the guy who, when Ana said “no” to sex, failed to stop and merely told her not to overthink things.

This is the guy who proposed within a week of them getting back together and, when Ana rightfully told him they barely knew one another and she needed time to think things through, began hounding her for an answer and attempting to manipulate her into saying yes.

Forgive me if I find his internal thoughts completely out of character and utterly laughable.

 

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When Grey puts on his jacket, he feels the gift Ana gave him for his birthday, rattling in the pocket.  He puts it in the inside pocket, so it can rest close to his heart.  He refers to himself as getting sentimental in his “old age.”

The guy is turning 28.

 

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I will be 36 on my next birthday.  By EL James’ logic, I should be expecting death any day, now.

Screw you, EL James.  I’m barely middle aged.  You’re a damn sight older than me and you should know better.  Moron.

Ahem.

Grey kisses Ana goodbye before he leaves for work.  She tells him he smells good and he’s tempted to strip off and get back into bed, rather than head to the office.  None of this moves the story forward.  None of this is remotely important.  I am so bored.

Grey reaches the garage, where Taylor is waiting to drive him to work.  Taylor is looking stressed out and it turns out that his ex wife has rung to let him know their daughter might have appendicitis.  Grey tells him to go to the hospital.  Taylor says he’ll drop Grey off at work first, and for the hundredth time, I wish this story was about Taylor, instead.  Taylor warns his boss that he might not be back until the next day, as he’ll want to be with his daughter and Grey is gracious enough to be okay about it.  He thinks:

I watch him zoom off. He’s seldom preoccupied…but this is family. Yes. Family comes first. Always.

You mean like family comes first with you?  The way you make the effort to call your adoptive parents, or to actually hang out with your siblings?  Or the way you speak fondly of your dead mother?  The way you never inwardly bitch about your family, just because they’re asking questions of you, because you never actually talk to them and they’re left with no other option but to turn up randomly or “interrogate” you when they actually get the chance to speak to you?  You are shit at family.  You don’t show yours anywhere near enough love or gratitude for all they’ve done for you.  Don’t you dare make out like you and Taylor have the same “family first” ethic.

 

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Grey’s working day starts with a meeting with Kate’s father, whose business, you may recall, Grey wants to take over.

THE MEETING GOES WELL. Kavanagh looks refreshed, no doubt from his recent vacation in Barbados, where he met my brother for the first time. He says he likes him. Considering Elliot’s fucking his daughter, that’s a good thing.

EVERYTHING has to be about sex.  Yes, Elliot is having a relationship with Kate.  I bet it’s nine million times more healthy than any relationship you’ve ever had – or will ever have – in your whole life.

Grey grabs a croissant for breakfast and returns to his office.  Andrea tells him she’ll arrange a driver in Taylor’s absence and Ros promises to sort out the legal stuff for the house Grey’s buying.  She also tells him she’s really excited to fly in the helicopter, later that day.  She’s never been in one, before.

Look, the vast majority of us know what’s going to happen, just like the vast majority of us know what Ana’s damn birthday present for Grey is.  But I’m just going to state for the record that the thought of the upcoming “near-death experience” we’re going to be reading is only going to make me depressed.  Partly because it will be badly written, because EL James wrote this book.  And partly because of the “near” part.  I suppose I kind of like Ros, but damnit, I’m all for Grey having a death experience.

 

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Grey emails Ana a list of other surfaces he wants to christen in the apartment, adding that when they’ve fucked everywhere at home, they can do it in his office.  Totes professional.  Remember how angry he was at her for using her work email to write sexy stuff?

throwing it out there that he has MAJOR double standards.

Ana replies that she missed him at breakfast, but that Mrs Jones was “very accommodating.”  This makes Grey wonder what she’s talking about and there’s a really dull back and forth, where Ana tells him to “wait and see.”

In my head, Ana would be having a lesbian affair with Gail, were it not for the fact that I like Taylor too much to have him cheated on.

Naturally, Grey responds like the childish brat he is, emailing Ana to remind her that he hates it when she keeps things from him.  Ana replies saying that it’s a birthday surprise and tells him not to be so petulant.  Grey thinks that she’s spoiling him and now, I just really hope Ana’s bought him a box of Ferrero Rocher.

 

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As Grey travels with Ros to the airfield, he gets a text from Elliot:

Hey, asshole. Bar. This evening.

Kate’s getting in touch with Ana.

You’d better be there.

I want to like you, Elliot.  But you make it so difficult by constantly sounding like a bit of a douchebag.  Still, you’re ninety per cent better than your brother, who is an asshole, so…  Good job on that.

Grey replies asking where he is and Elliot sends back:

Layover Atlanta.

Missed me?

To which Grey responds:

No.

SWOON, how my heart yearns for this man.

Elliot isn’t fooled, however:

Yeah you have. Well I’m back and you’re getting your beer on tonight Bro.

Grey thinks:

It’s been a while since I went drinking with my brother and at least I won’t be alone with Ana and her photographer friend. 

He then replies saying he’ll go out, if Elliot “insists.”

I just want to point out that multiple A4 pages were used for this bullshit.  I don’t know if my PDF is a bit screwy or whether this is genuinely how they formatted this crap, but…  Unnecessary levels of scrolling were done, just so I could read this boring, not-especially-brotherly exchange.

Grey and Ros fly to Portland in Charlie Tango and we’re told Ros is “giddy” and childlike with excitement.  He compares her unfavourably to Ana, who he says was “quietly appreciative” when he took her up in the helicopter for the first time.  This just makes me hate him more, because he seems to purposefully pick women with very little personality, who won’t express themselves much.  Why?  So he can control and manipulate them more easily.

Ugh.  Anyway,  I’m just glad we skipped the part where Grey fastened Ros into her seatbelt in a creepy, sexual way.  Or does he only do that with Ana?!

Oh, I forgot…

 

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Grey gets a call from his realtor, telling him his offer on the house has been accepted and he tells Ros the good news.  Imagine me to be leaping around my bedroom in joy on his behalf, naturally.

I’m not at all actually having a conversation with my best friend in an effort to bleach this shit from my brain.

We cut to a really boring meeting about nutrients in soil (no, really), which culminates in Grey congratulating a female scientist for her work, leading her to blush and thank him, instead.  Because all women are really just big, melting puddles of mush, where Christian FUCKWIT Grey is concerned, and they can’t be intellectuals who have succeeded in something and rightfully accept praise for it.  Everything has to be about Grey and his magical penis of doom.

I’m so sick of this shit.

Grey concludes the meeting and is keen to get home to keep an eye on his girlfriend, who is not allowed male friends:

I’m anxious to get back to Seattle. The photographer will be delivering those photographs to Escala, and then seeing Ana. I’m fighting my jealous impulses and, so far, successfully keeping them under control. But I will be happier when we set back down at Boeing Field and I join them both at the bar.

“The photographer will be delivering those photographs” is such a clunky, shit sentence.  Imagine how much snappier it would be, if this borderline racist bellend actually used José’s name.

 

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Grey and Ros get back in Charlie Tango and Grey shakes his head at Ros’ excitement, despite admitting that he feels a huge rush during take-off, too.  Ros asks him how his “private merger” is going.  It took me a second to realise she meant his relationship with Ana and then I got all grossed out over the constant viewing of their relationship as a business deal.  Grey tells her it’s going well and Ros asks if that’s why he bought the house, to which Grey responds: “Something like that.”

I mean…  It’s exactly like that.  He bought the house because he wanted to live there with Ana.  Why can’t he ever just give a straight answer?!

Grey asks Ros whether she knew Andrea was getting married and is relieved when she didn’t, because naturally, the whole world revolves around him being in the loop at ALL times.  He claims not to have realised that he had a non-fraternisation policy at the company, supposedly restricting office romances (remember, Andrea married someone from work and that’s why she didn’t tell Grey), but surely, if he’s the boss, he should be aware of all policies?!  I mean, how is this guy so rich when he has literally no idea how to run a business?!  Anyway, he has Ros promise to look into whether there might be a shortcut to fast-track Andrea’s husband’s green card.

All of this is dull as heck.

Grey surprises Ros by changing the flight plan so they can fly over Mount St. Helens.  Ros explains that she and “Gwen” have always wanted to bring the kids to see it.  ERMAGERD, ROS IS GAY, YOU GUYS, SO EL JAMES CAN’T POSSIBLY BE HOMOPHOBIC, DESPITE ALL THE EVIDENCE TO THE CONTRARY IN THESE BOOKS!!!1!!ONE!!

Still, now I wish I was reading a story about Ros and Gwen, instead.

 

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Now, we’ve reached the DRAMATIC bit of this chapter.  Yes, the helicopter engine fire.  And Grey, after realising the problem, is genuinely only concerned about getting home, rather than landing and sorting it out properly.  I don’t see this as a desire to be with Ana, either.  After his earlier jealous thoughts, I read it as him wanting to get back to stop anything happening between Ana and José.

Out of the corner of my eye I see the master caution light flicker.

What the fuck?

The fire light in the engine T-handle flashes, and Charlie Tango dips.

Shit. We have a fire in engine one. I take a deep breath but smell nothing. Quickly, I execute an S-turn to see if I can see smoke. A trail of gray fog lingers in our flight path.

“What’s wrong? What is it?” Ros asks.

“I don’t want you to panic. We have a fire in one of the engines.”

“What!” She clutches her purse and her seat. I shut engine number one down and blow the first fire bottle while deciding whether to land or carry on with one engine. Charlie Tango is equipped to fly with a single engine… I want to get home.

Grey starts looking for a safe place to land, should the need to make an emergency landing arise.  But, before he gets a chance to radio a distress signal, he realises the second engine is also aflame:

 hell!

My anxiety balloons and I clench my fingers around the collective.

Fuck. Focus, Grey.

Smoke filters into the cabin and I open my windows and quickly check all the instrument stats. The dash is lighting up like fucking Christmas. And it may be that the electronics are failing. I have no choice. We’re going to have to land. And I have a split second to decide whether to kill the engine or keep it going to get us down. I hope to Christ I can do this.

Sweat beads on my brow and I dash it away with my hand. “Hang on, Ros. This is going to get rough.”

Ros makes a wailing sound, but I ignore her.

Sure you do.  I mean, yes, you’ve got rather a lot to contend with right now, but a simple “it’ll be okay,” or “we’re going to get out of this” or some other words of comfort might be more appropriate than ignoring her completely when she’s distressed.

 

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As they continue to plummet, Grey does at least think of Ana, but his most important thought – the one EL James put in italics (I’ll put it in bold to separate it from the rest of the italicised quote) is that she’s his:

We’re low. Too low.

But maybe we have time. That’s all I need. Some time. Before she blows.

I lower the collective and reduce the throttle to idle and we autorotate, diving down, and I’m trying to maintain speed to keep the rotors spinning. We hurtle toward the ground.

Ana. Ana? Will I see her again?

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

We’re close to the lake. There’s a clearing. My muscles burn as I fight to hold the collective in place. Fuck.

I see Ana in a kaleidoscope of images like the photographer’s portraits: laughing, pouting, pensive, stunning, beautiful. Mine. I can’t lose her.

Now! Do it, Grey.

They crash-land, tail first.  Grey unclips the harness keeping Ros in her seat and tells her to get out and keep low as she gets away from the crashed helicopter.  He climbs out and extinguishes the fires.  We get some “Grey is a hero” wank:

Ros, bedraggled and deeply shaken, stumbles over to me as I stand and stare with horror at Charlie Tango, my pride and joy. In an uncharacteristic show of emotion, Ros throws her arms around me and I freeze. It’s only then that I notice she’s sobbing.

“Hey. Hey. Hush. We’re down. We’re safe. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” I hold her for a moment to calm her down.

“You did it,” she chokes out. “You did it. Fuck. Christian. You got us down.”

“I know.” And I can’t quite believe we’re both in one piece. I step away from her and hand her a handkerchief from my pocket.

“I know.”  That line only works if you’re Han Solo.

 

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Grey is worried the helicopter could explode and he suggests they quickly move away.  Ros wants to get her things, but Grey warns her that they can’t risk it.

Grey ponders the fact that the helicopter is essentially intact means the crash can be properly investigated.  Ros, meanwhile, is more concerned that her phone (which she grabbed, along with her purse, before leaving the helicopter) has no signal.  Grey admits that he didn’t have time to send out a distress call and he realises he has no phone signal, either.

Ros is afraid of wild animals, as they’re in the middle of nowhere.  So, they walk for a couple of hours until they reach the road.  Grey feels it necessary to inform us that Ros starts the walk in her high heels and takes them off, somewhere en route.  He also feels it necessary to inform us that this slows them down.  Dude, quit ragging on Ros; she’s not having a great day, either.

Upon reaching the road, Grey tells Ros there’s a visitor centre not too far away, which they could walk to for help.  Ros worries that they’ll be closed, since it’s gone 5pm.  Still, she agrees to walk with him, as long as he snaps the heels off her shoes, so it’s easier for her to walk:

She hands me her shoes. “Can you?” She makes a snapping twig motion with her fists.

“You want me to break the heels off? They’re Manolos.”

Because everything is about money and labels, with this guy.

“Please, just do it.”

“Okay.” Feeling that my manhood is on trial, I use all my strength to snap off the first heel.

Dude, if your manhood was on trial, it would be found guilty and sentenced to death.

Grey promises to buy her a new pair of shoes when they get back home safely.  He then asks Ros how much money she has on her.  When she says she has a couple of hundred dollars, he tells her he has four hundred and that they could hitch a ride.

I’m just going to throw it out there that this guy has bragged incessantly about earning nine bajillion dollars per second or some such nonsense.  What does it matter how much Ros has on her?!  Why can’t he offer a driver some cash up front and send a cheque for the rest, if he wants to offer hundreds for a lift home?  He won’t let Ana pay for dinner, but he expects Ros to offer a stranger her cash in exchange for a ride, when he’s the richest dude in the world, ever?!

 

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A guy named Seb picks them up in a truck.  He offers them food and drink, but his CB radio conveniently doesn’t work and he doesn’t have a phone.  Also convenient.  Grey thinks that Ana might be worried, but his biggest concern is still José:

Fuck. Ana might be worried. But I’ll worry her more if I tell her what’s happened before she sees me.

Erm, no you won’t, you idiot.

And she’s probably at the bar. With José Rodriguez. I hope Elliot and Katherine will keep an eye on him.

Oh, so you DO know his name?!

Seb asks if they’re okay with him listening to music as he drives and both Grey and Ros have inward negative reactions, expecting Seb to be a stereotype of some kind.  In the end, the music he puts on is some gentle jazz.

I’m on the road with a kale-and-quinoa-eating trucker who listens to cool jazz. This is not how I expected my day to go. I give Ros a brief look. She’s sunk onto the couch and is fast asleep. I breathe a sigh of relief and close my eyes.

If I hadn’t been able to land.

Jesus. Ros’s family would have been devastated.

Grey begins thinking how strange it is for both Charlie Tango’s engines to catch fire, especially after all the pre-flight checks failed to find any problems.  He starts thinking it’s suspicious.

 

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Grey then falls asleep (did the chapter end?!  IS IT OVER?!).  He has a nightmare:

Charlie Tango is hurtling to the ground.

I’m pulling back on the collective.

No. No. No.

There’s a woman screaming.

Screaming.

Ana. Screaming.

No. There’s smoke.

Choking smoke.

And we’re hurtling down.

I can’t stop this.

Ana is screaming.

No. No. No.

And Charlie Tango hits the ground.

Nothing.

Black.

Silence.

Nothing.

 

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I much, much prefer this version.

Seb drops Grey and Ros in downtown Seattle.  Grey offers him $400, but Seb won’t take it.  Instead, Grey hands him his business card and tells Seb to call him to discuss the fleet of trucks Seb would love to own, one day.

They get a cab to Ros’s apartment and Ros says she’ll call Andrea to let her know they’re safe, explaining that Andrea can call Grey’s family ahead of his return home.  Grey takes a moment to be self-indulgent and melodramatic:

“She can call your family. I’m sure they’re worried. I’ll see you tomorrow at your birthday party.”

My family? They don’t worry about me.

Of course they don’t.  That’s why your mother is always calling you and saying she worries about you and wants to see you.  I wish you’d exploded in that crash, you whiney little bitch.

Naturally, when Grey gets to Escala, the press are outside.  Because Grey is now more famous than Richard Branson or some shit.  And he pretends it can’t possibly be all about him

THERE ARE PHOTOGRAPHERS OUTSIDE of my apartment building. Something must be going on. I pay the driver, get out of the cab, and keep my head down as I walk through the front door.

“There he is!”

“Christian Grey.”

“He’s here!”

The flashes dazzle me, but I manage to get inside relatively unscathed. Surely they’re not here for me? Maybe they are, or is it someone else who’s in the building tonight that’s worthy of this kind of attention?

 

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Grey heads up in the elevator, thinking about the fact that Ana is probably still at the bar.  He’s surprised to hear the TV on as he enters the apartment and he’s even more shocked to find all his family gathered in the living room.

His mother sees him him first and rushes to embrace him:

What the hell? “Mom?”

“I thought I’d never see you again,” Grace rasps.

“Mom, I’m here,” I reassure her, bemused. Can’t she see I’m fine?

“I died a thousand deaths today.” Her voice cracks on the last word and she begins to sob.

I guess now we know where he gets the habit of talking in melodramatic tones, from…

I hold her tighter in my arms. I’ve never seen her like this. My mom. Holding me. It feels good. “Oh, Christian,” she sobs, and she hugs me like she’ll never let me go as she weeps into my neck. Closing my eyes, I rock her gently.

“He’s alive! Shit, you’re here!” My dad comes out of Taylor’s office, followed by Taylor.

Carrick barrels toward Mom and me and embraces us both.

“Dad?”

Then Mia joins us. Hugging us all.

Jesus! A family huddle.

When did this ever happen?

Never!

Carrick pulls away first, and he’s wiping his eyes. He’s crying?

Mia and Grace step back. “Sorry,” Grace says.

“Hey, Mom, it’s okay,” I say, uncomfortable with all this unwarranted attention.

Like HELL you are.  But whatever.

He sees the only person he actually claims to give a shit about:

I look up, and there she is. Wide-eyed and beautiful. Tears streaming down her face. My Ana.

Grace carries on hugging her son and Grey thinks how nice it is to hold the woman who saved him.  Mia envelopes him again and then pushes him and tells him how worried they all were when Charlie Tango never returned to Seattle.  Despite supposedly being glad his family care, Grey is still an asshole towards Elliot, however:

Elliot, looking nauseatingly tanned and healthy from his holiday, hugs me. Christ. Et tu, brute? He slaps me hard on my back. “Great to see you,” he says, loud and gruff. His voice full of emotion.

How dare he look good, having been on holiday?  THIS IS ALL ABOUT ME!

Grey has a moment of supposed realisation:

A lump forms in my throat.

This is my family.

They care.

They fucking care.

They were all worried about me.

Family first.

 

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Is this literally the ONLY way he’d believe the family who “saved” him (HIS words) actually give a toss about him?!  I refuse to believe that.  He has loads of happy childhood memories of them doing nice things with him.  He has told us – over and over – in his internal monologue that his mother is always calling him and wanting to know how he is, or asking when he’s going to come home for a visit.  His brother frequently calls or texts, inviting him out.  He has bucket-loads of evidence that he’s cared about.  He has chosen to ignore it all.

Of course, we don’t linger on this, because Grey has to go and hug Ana.

She’s a little unsteady when she stands. I think she’s making sure that I’m real. She’s still crying, but suddenly she bolts toward me and into my arms. “Christian!” she sobs.

“Hush,” I whisper, and, holding her close, I’m relieved to feel her small, delicate frame pressed against me. I’m grateful for everything that she is to me.

Ana. My love.

Maybe you’ll treat her better in future, then?!

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA, who am I kidding?!

Their reunion is… Actually a bit gross, to me:

“Hi,” she says, hoarse and husky.

Miss me?”

“A bit.” She sniffles.

“I can tell.” I wipe her tears away with my fingers.

“I thought. I thought—” She sobs.

“I can see. Hush. I’m here. I’m here.” I hold her close and kiss her again. Her lips are always so tender when she’s been crying.

Ew.  Like… so much ew.  If he didn’t make her cry so damn often, he wouldn’t know how tender her lips are when she cries.  This feels like he’s making a positive out of the fact that Ana spends half her life in tears.  BECAUSE OF HIM.

 

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Grey then takes the opportunity to be possessive, when he spots José:

She tries to step back, but I’m not ready to release her. I hold her and extend a hand to the photographer, who’s hovering.

“Mr. Grey,” says José.

“Christian, please.”

“Christian, welcome back. Glad you’re okay, and, um—thanks for letting me stay.”

“No problem.” Just keep your hands off my girl.

I’ve put that in red, because do you really think, after Ana thought Christian was dead, that she’d go anywhere near José?!  And does Grey really think José is stupid enough to try something on Ana whilst he’s staying in their apartment?!  I know José hasn’t exactly covered himself in glory in this franchise either, but he’s not as bad as Grey, himself.

Gail has been crying too.  She asks if Grey wants anything and he asks for a beer and something to eat.  Ana offers to get it, but Grey won’t let her go.  Taylor isn’t crying, which Grey is relieved about, thinking he wouldn’t have coped if Taylor had cried, too.  He asks after Taylor’s daughter and Taylor says it was a false alarm.  More like a rubbish, non-plot to get Taylor out of the way and to give a chance for Grey to act like a nice guy by letting him go to the hospital, as far as I’m concerned.

Grey tells the whole story of his helicopter crash to his expectant family.  His father is deeply suspicious of the fact that both engines failed.  Ana is still crying, which Grey has decided she ought to stop doing, despite how tender it makes her lips:

I shrug and run my hand down Ana’s back. She’s sniffling again. “Hey,” I murmur, and tilt her chin up. “Stop with the crying.”

Ana tells him to “stop with the disappearing” and not for the first time, I find myself thinking he should have asked Seb to stop somewhere with a phone so he could let his family know he was safe.

Once the story is finished, Grey decides it’s bedtime and he reverts back to disliking his brother, apparently:

“Sure is late.”

“I think that’s a hint, ladies and gentlemen, that my dear bro needs his beauty sleep.” Elliot gives me a teasing wink.

Fuck off, bro.

 

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Grey says he’s hungry and heads to the kitchen, whilst José says goodnight to Ana.  He watches José hug her and is consumed with “emotion,” as he realises José still has feelings for her.  When José has headed to bed, Grey brings it up with Ana:

My throat burns. “He’s still got it bad, you know,” I murmur, to distract myself from my intense emotion.

And how would you know that, Mr. Grey?” 

“I recognize the symptoms, Miss Steele. I believe I have the same affliction.” I love you.

Grey asks her to shower with him and tells her how soft her lips are.  Seeing as she’s crying again at this point, I find this kind of creepy.  Again.  He says he thought of her in the final seconds before the crash and he holds his jacket tightly.  Ana tells him to drop it and he says he can’t, because of “this,” and pulls out the birthday present she gave him.

And there, in that weird moment, the penultimate chapter of this book ends.

I’ll let you all know when the final recap is up!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Darker Chapter 8 (Thursday, June 16, 2011)

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This is the week I did not want to be writing a recap.  I wanted to be pacing anxiously, taking my inhaler every five minutes and counting down the minutes until I watched England in a World Cup final for the first time in my life.

But sometimes, we don’t always get what we want.  Football’s not coming home.  And I have to read about Christian Grey, instead.  So, forgive me if this week, I have zero time for Grey’s bullshit.  I would much rather be swooning over Gareth Southgate and his genuine decency, than reading a badly written book in which the “hero” is an absolute bastard, who comes quicker than an Amazon Prime order.

This chapter starts with a dream that turns into a nightmare:

Grandpa is laughing.

Mia has fallen down on her butt. She’s a baby. Mia.

Mommy and Daddy sit on a blanket. We are in the orchard.

My favorite place.

Elliot is running between the trees.

I lift up Mia and she walks again. Shaky steps. But I am behind her. Watching her. Walking with her. I keep her safe.

We have a picnic. I like picnics.

Mommy makes apple pie.

Mia walks to the blanket. And everyone cheers.

Thank you, Christian. You take such good care of her, Mommy says.

Mia is a baby. She needs someone to watch over her, I tell Mommy.

Grandpa looks at me.

He’s talking now?

Yes.

Well, that’s just great. Grandpa looks at Mommy.

He has tears in his eyes. But he’s happy. Happy tears.

Elliot runs past us. He has a football. Let’s play. Mind the apples.

I look up and behind a tree Jack Hyde is watching us.

 

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DUN DUN DUUUUUUUUN.

Grey wakes, startled.  He tells us he’s not startled by fear, but by something in his dream.  The trouble is, he can’t remember what.  Convenient.

It’s almost 6:30am and Grey has woken up before his alarm has gone off, which, he tells us, is something that almost never happens anymore – not with his “dreamcatcher” lying next to him.  Is anyone else picturing Ana as just a face in the centre of a web, with feathers instead of arms and legs, now?  Because I sure as hell am.

Grey nuzzles Ana’s neck and immediately initiates sex.  Ana is compliant, because she isn’t a human, she is a sex doll.  And also a dreamcatcher.  I’m so confused.  I’m also horrified by the idea that someone would expect sex before six thirty in the morning.  Because if someone woke me up at that hour, I would be less horny than I would be grumpy as all HELL.  I have to get up at half six for work, some days, and on those days, I am not even remotely human until I’m showered, dressed and have eaten something.  Like I said, Ana is a sex doll.

There is also basically no foreplay, which is just further evidence of the inhuman nature of Ana’s constant horniness.  He literally just nuzzles her neck to wake her up, sticks his erection against her ass, touches between her legs  and then rolls on top of her and gets a condom on.  Wow, Ana.  You lucky, lucky girl.

Also, we get this grossness:

I ease her legs apart, then kneel up and rip open the foil packet. “I can’t wait until Saturday.”

She looks up at me eagerly. “Your party?”

“No. I can stop using these fuckers.” I roll the condom on.

 

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Today, in healthy relationships 101, I’d like to remind you all that birth control should be discussed by both partners.  If one person is railroading you into a method you didn’t get to choose for yourself, or at least discuss, that’s abusive!  Yay for this fucking book.

Of course, rather than assert her right to choose, Ana merely giggles, because “fuckers” is an apt name for condoms.  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAKILLMENOW.

There then follows a passage that manages to be grossly unsexy and hilariously badly written all at once.  YAY!

“Now is not the time for giggling.” I stare her down, daring her to giggle again.

Red, because there is no way of knowing what form of non-consensual “punishment” this jackass might mete out.

“I thought you liked it when I giggle.”

“Not now. There’s a time and a place for giggling. This is neither. I need to stop you, and I think I know how.”

Slowly, I ease into her. “Ah,” she says in my ear.

And we make sweet, unhurried love.

No more giggling.

Rarely have I gone so fast from:

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To:

 

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Whilst Ana has a shower, Grey goes into his playroom, where he sadly removes all of his canes, because they’re “not Ana’s thing.”  I don’t know if this scene is meant to be evidence of how much he changes, but…  It’s not enough evidence, given that he’s still a controlling, manipulative dick.

He heads to the kitchen, where Gail is busy working.  Ana comes in and Gail asks what she’d like for breakfast.  As Ana answers, Grey looks at her and thinks how hot she looks in a skirt.  But because her “cheeks pink” as she sits beside him, he also has to reduce everything about their relationship down to sex:

I wonder what she’s thinking about? This morning? Last night? The spreader bar? “You look lovely,” I offer.

So do you.” Her smile is demure. Ana hides her inner freak well.

She might have been thinking about breakfast.  Or the fact that it’s warm and her face is hot.  She could have been thinking about anything, but Grey is so full of himself – and so utterly one-track-minded – that he has to assume it’s to do with sex.

Get a hobby, dude.  You’re not fifteen.

Grey tells Ana she should wear more skirts, which makes me dry-heave, because I remember his “I like my women accessible” line from the first book.  Ana is worried about her job, given yesterday’s events (which could well explain her flushed cheeks), but Grey even manages to turn that conversation into sexual thoughts:

“I hope they take on a woman as my new boss.”

“Why?”

Well, you’re less likely to object to me going away with her,” she says.

Oh, baby, you’d appeal to women, too.

Mrs. Jones places my omelet in front of me, distracting me from my brief and extremely enjoyable fantasy of Ana with another woman.

Red, because a woman shouldn’t be hoping for a female boss, just so her possessive, controlling boyfriend is less likely to try to stop her from going away on business trips.

Also, Grey’s reaction?  Is exceptionally hypocritical.  It’s horrific and soul-crushing to imagine Ana with another dude, but it’s hot as hell to imagine her with another woman?  I know it’s a common male fantasy, but it still pisses me off.  And does Ana really think Grey would let her go on a business trip with a female boss?!  He doesn’t even like her seeing her mother, without him showing up.

Finally, speaking as one who finds women attractive as well as guys…  Nah.  Ana has the personality of a teaspoon.  You’re welcome to her.

 

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Ana asks if she can drive her Saab to work and Grey tries to insist that he and Taylor will drop her off as usual.  Ana reminds him that there is no longer any kind of threat and that the car shouldn’t just be sitting in the garage.  Grey internally moans about the way everything is “a battle” with Ana and tells her she can drive it if he goes with her.  Ana says she’ll be fine driving on her own, which makes Grey “change tack” and tell her he’d like to go with her.  Ana decides that’s fine.

Such change.  Much progress.  Very healthy relationship.  Wow.

Once in the car, Ana is hugely excited, saying it has a great new-car smell and that she can’t wait to drive it.  Grey thinks:

If I had known how thrilled she would be about driving this car, I might have relented and let her drive it sooner. 

Because he is a prick.  I mean, did he think she’d be anything but pleased about driving a car she chose?!  He goes on to think how much he loves seeing her happy, but seriously, if he loved it that much, he’d have let her drive the damn thing when she first got it.

He then tries to insist that she’s not allowed to listen to music, because she has to “concentrate,” but Ana tells him she can concentrate and puts the radio on, anyway.  Grey tells us that he’s “ignoring her attitude,” as though that makes him somehow not an asshole.

 

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Importantly, as they drive to work, Ana once again asks Grey not to interfere in her career.  I’m highlighting this, because if Grey had really changed, the way fans insist, he’d be listening to Ana and taking this on board:

“I’m just thinking about work.”

“Baby, you’ll be fine. Trust me.”

“Please don’t interfere—I want to do this on my own. Please. It’s important to me,” she says.

Me? Interfere? Only to protect you, Ana.

Bullshit.  It’s about control.  You’ve no need to protect her, anymore.  Hyde is gone.  Leila is gone.  Let the woman get on with her own bloody career, you massive, blistering bellend.

As they reach their destination, we get a lovely bit of misogyny in Grey’s internal thoughts:

ANA DRIVES INTO THE SIP parking lot and parks the Saab. Ordeal over. She’s not that bad a driver.

 

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As they walk to the building, Grey reminds Ana of their appointment with Flynn, that evening.  He then takes an opportunity to be manipulative again, melodramatic again and to pressure Ana to answer his proposal.  Again.

“I won’t forget. I’ll compile a list of questions for him.”

“Questions? About me? I can answer any questions you have about me.”

Her smile is indulgent. “Yes, but I want the unbiased, expensive charlatan’s opinion.”

I fold her into my arms, my hands cupping hers and holding them behind her back. “Is this a good idea?” I stare into her startled eyes. They soften and she offers to forgo seeing Flynn.

She shakes one of her hands loose from my grip and tenderly strokes my face. “What are you worried about?”

“That you’ll go.”

“Christian, how many times do I have to tell you—I’m not going anywhere. You’ve already told me the worst. I’m not leaving you.”

“Then why haven’t you answered me?”

“Answered you?”

“You know what I’m talking about, Ana.”

She sighs and her expression clouds. “I want to know that I’m enough for you. That’s all.”

I hate him so much, I’m getting a weird pulsing behind my eye.  Seriously, if my eyeball actually bursts, I’m taking EL James to court for damages.

How dare he try to manipulate her into not seeing his therapist, when he knows how important it is to her to get a (supposedly) unbiased account of their relationship?!  And how dare he continue to try to force an answer out of her, when she’s asked him several times to let her think about it?!  And as for the whole “you’ll leave me” bollocks, don’t even get me started.  He knows she won’t go, because she’s told him over and over.  The more he says it now, the more manipulative it becomes.  It’s just to get her to stay with him no matter what, so he can bring out the “but you said you’d never leave me” argument if she does have enough of his shit.

I hate him so much, I may die.

 

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Ana makes a valid point:

“Christian, this has all been so quick,” she says. “And by your own admission, you’re fifty shades of fucked up. I can’t give you what you need. It’s just not for me. But that makes me feel inadequate, especially seeing you with Leila. Who’s to say that one day you won’t meet someone who likes doing what you do? And who’s to say you won’t, you know, fall for her? Someone much better suited to your needs.”

Grey insists that he knows plenty of women who enjoy the things he likes, but that he never had any kind of emotional connection with them.  Ana says that’s because he never gave any of them a chance, because he’s always locked himself away in his personal fortress, which is another valid point.  They agree to discuss it all properly with Dr Flynn, later.

After dropping Ana off at work, Grey mulls over what she said:

Am I locked in a fortress? Maybe. I stare out of the window. Commuters hurry to work, wrapped up in minutiae of their daily lives. Here, in the back of my car, I’m removed from it all. I’ve always been that way. Removed: isolated as a child or isolating myself as I grew up, walled off in a fortress. I’ve been scared of feeling. Feeling anything except my anger.

My constant companion.

Is that what she means? If it is, it’s Ana who’s given me the key to escape. And all that’s holding her back is Flynn’s opinion.

It really shouldn’t be all that’s holding her back.  Your abusive behaviour, the fact that you barely know each other and the knowledge that she’ll never have the career she wants if she marries you, should all be holding her back, too.

 

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Grey is torn out of his thoughts by a call from Ana, telling him she’s been given Jack’s job.  She wants to know if he had anything to do with it, which Grey strongly denies, although he does wonder if Ana’s been given the position because he wouldn’t allow the company to recruit anyone from outside.  It’s a fairly natural thing for Ana to wonder, considering that he literally bought the company to keep tabs on her, but the fact that she’s asked if her promotion was down to him makes Grey angry, because everything does.

Grey ends the call, having placated Ana enough that she says goodbye and tells him she loves him.  Grey starts fantasising about their married life, together, despite the fact that Ana hasn’t agreed to his proposal, thinking that he should buy a house for them, in case Escala has too many memories of other women.  That said, he thinks he’ll still keep the apartment, because of its convenient location.

This book is riveting.

Grey gets to work and can’t remember the new girl’s name.  I don’t know why these minor pieces of misogynistic shit were important enough to be thrown in with such alarming regularity, but maybe EL James hates women as much as I hate her.  Who knows?!

Grey organises flowers to be sent to Ana, congratulating her on her promotion.

I’m so fucking bored.

 

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Grey decides he’s going to buy a house and knock it down, so he and Ana can build a new one.  This is all without actually asking Ana, remember.  But, this billionaire businessman is now yet again doing literally no work, but instead, browsing property sites:

A couple of the listings meet my criteria; one of the homes looks out across the Sound. The house is old, built in 1924, and has only come on the market in the last few days. The photographs are spectacular. Especially at twilight. For me, it will be all about the view. We can knock this house down and start again. I check what time the sun will set this evening: 9:09 p.m. Maybe I could get an appointment to see the house at dusk one night this week.

“My criteria.”

“For me, it will be all about the view.”

Answer me this: where is his concern for what Ana might want?

Nowhere.  It’s nowhere.

He has Andrea arrange a viewing, just the same.

He dictates a message for the card to go with Ana’s flowers, which sounds as sexy as genital warts:

“Congratulations, Miss Steele. And all on your own! No help from your overfriendly, neighborhood, megalomaniac CEO. Love, Christian.”

 

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Grey then immediately calls Dr Flynn and attempts to manipulate him, regarding the appointment Grey and Ana have, later:

“Christian, what is it?”

This evening. Ana.”

“Yes.”

“What will you say?”

“To Ana? I don’t know what she’s going to ask me. But whatever she asks, I’ll give her the truth.”

“That’s what I’m worried about.”

He sighs. “I have a different perception of you than you have of yourself, Christian.”

“I’m not sure whether to be reassured or not.”

“I’ll see you this evening,” he responds.

If Flynn’s perception of Christian is anything but “controlling, manipulator with stalker tendencies and unhealthy behaviour patterns in relationships,” then he is a lousy, lousy therapist and a piss-poor judge of character.  Just saying.

Later, Ana emails to thank Grey for the flowers he sent.  She tells him they arrived in a wicker basket that made her think of picnics and blankets.  She also refers to him as her favourite kind of “maniac,” because he signed the card from “your friendly neighbourhood megalomanic.”  Grey, however, has the memory of a sideboard and immediately replies, joking that they’d have to see what Dr Flynn made of the word “maniac.”  He also takes her reference to picnics and blankets as an excuse to make suggestive comments about having fun in “the great outdoors.”  Because he only ever thinks of himself and sex.

Hilariously, when Ana adds a PS to her next email, telling him not to worry about Dr Flynn, Grey thinks:

How does she know that I’m fretting about him?

Um…  You literally said you’d have to see what Dr Flynn said about calling you a maniac in your last email, you utterly ridiculous buffoon.

 

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We get a short and entirely pointless scene of Grey training with Bastille, during which Bastille says that he loves knowing Grey has a woman giving him a hard time (is she?!) and asks when he’ll get to meet her.  Grey replies that he’s not sure that’ll happen, which seems odd, considering he’s promised Ana to set up a training session for her.

Grey gets a text from Andrea saying that he has an appointment to view the house he looked at online, at 8:30pm.  That sounds to me like it’ll be a bit of a rush to squeeze that in as well as their session with Dr Flynn, but hey…  I don’t want to sound like I give a toss about the plot of this novel or the characters within it, so… Whatever.

Grey goes to pick Ana up from work and she’s super excited about her new position at SIP.  She also tells him that she had to cancel a lunch date with Mia, because she was so busy and that Ethan took her to lunch, instead.  Grey isn’t exactly thrilled and tells us he’s never thought about Mia dating anyone, before.  I refuse to believe that for a second, given how possessive and controlling this asshole is.

Ana gives Grey his birthday present, telling him he must not open it before Saturday.  Grey thinks she seems nervous about it, but shakes the box and decides it sounds like something “small and plastic.”  This causes him to wonder:

What the hell has she given me?

Cyanide tablets, if she has any sense.

 

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Grey and Ana head into their session with Dr Flynn.  This is going to be a massive clusterfuck, I can feel it in my bones.

Sure enough, the session begins with Ana kind of dropping Grey in it, by mentioning that Grey makes all his partners sign NDAs:

“Christian has requested that you accompany him to one of our sessions,” Flynn says. “Just so you know, we treat these sessions with absolute confidentiality—”

He stops when Ana interrupts. “Oh—um, I’ve signed an NDA,” she says quickly.

Shit. I release her hand.

“A nondisclosure agreement?” Flynn gives me a puzzled look. I shrug but say nothing. “You start all your relationships with women with an NDA?” he asks me.

“The contractual ones, I do.”

Flynn stifles a smile. “You’ve had other types of relationships with women?”

Shit.

“No,” I respond, amused by his reaction. He knows this.

“As I thought.”

A good therapist definitely finds your decision to make women sign a non-legal NDA totally amusing, for sure.  This rings true.  I can practically smell the many hours of research EL James did.

Flynn announces that this means they “don’t have to worry about confidentiality,” which, again, seems totally legit.  He suggests they have a discussion at home about the fact that they’re no longer entering a contractual relationship, leading Grey to remark:

“Different kind of contract, hopefully.”

Oh, nice.  How romantic.  He views marriage as just a different form of contract.  SWOON.

 

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Ana blushes at Grey’s comment, prompting Flynn to admit that he already knows a lot about her and her relationship with Grey, because “Christian has been very forthcoming.”

Flynn asks whether being asked to sign an NDA shocked Ana, but she replies that Grey’s more recent revelations have shocked her far more.  Flynn asks Grey what he’d like to discuss and Grey suggests it’s up to Ana, considering she wanted the session.  Which doesn’t at all make him sound petulant and as though he doesn’t want to do this, of course…

To Grey’s horror, this happens:

“Would you be more comfortable if Christian left us for a while?” Flynn asks her.

What?

Ana’s eyes dart to me. “Yes,” she says.

Fuck. But? Shit.

I stand up. “I’ll be in the waiting room.”

“Thank you, Christian,” Flynn says.

I give Ana a long look, trying to tell her I’m ready for this commitment that I want to make to her.

I’m almost annoyed we don’t get this scene from Ana’s perspective, because I remember Flynn breaking all kinds of rules and basically placing the responsibility for Grey changing his vile behaviour on Ana’s shoulders, where it does not belong, and I so wanted to tear it a new one.

 

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Instead, we see Grey stomp into reception, where Flynn’s female receptionist (I mention her gender only because Grey consistently treats women like shit) looks up as he enters and he tells us he ignores her.

Grey tries to go to his “happy place.”  This changes erratically from his grandfather’s apple orchard, to kayaking as kids with Mia and Elliot, to racing across Lake Washington on a Hobie Cat with Elliot as (presumedly) an adult, to having sex with Ana.

He then tries reading a magazine for a while, before getting up and going for a walk around the block.  He tells us he does this three times before deciding he’s going to return to Flynn’s office:

Flynn gives me a benevolent smile. “Welcome back, Christian,” he says.

“I think time is up, John.”

“Nearly, Christian. Join us.”

I sit down beside Ana and place my hand on her knee. She gives nothing away, and that’s frustrating, but she doesn’t pull her knee out of my reach.

“Did you have any other questions, Ana?” She shakes her head. “Christian?”

“Not today, John.”

“It may be beneficial if you both come again. I’m sure Ana will have more questions.”

If that’s what she wants. If that’s what it takes. I clasp her hand and her eyes meet mine.

Oh, EL.  Don’t try to make Grey’s inner thoughts sound okay with this, when he’s literally just barged back into the session he was asked to leave, because he can’t stand knowing Ana’s talking about him with his therapist.  For the love of God, understand that we are in Grey’s head.  We see all the shit you put there.  You can’t pretend he’s something he’s not.  We see him as you made him.  Vile.

 

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Grey asks after Leila and tells Flynn to keep him posted about her progress.  He then tells Ana it’s time they went and celebrated her promotion.

As soon as they’re out of the office, Grey gets aggressive, trying to prise information out of Ana:

“How was that?” I ask, aiming for nonchalance, as we walk out onto the street.

“It was good.”

And? I’m dying here, Ana. She looks at me and I have no idea what she’s thinking. It’s unnerving, and annoying. I scowl.

“Mr. Grey. Please don’t look at me that way. Under doctor’s orders I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt.”

“What does that mean?”

“You’ll see.”

Will she marry me or not? Her winsome smile doesn’t give me any clues. Hell. She’s not going to tell me. She’s leaving me hanging.

“Get in the car,” I snap, and I open her door.

He’s literally getting angry with her because she won’t immediately divulge the details of a private conversation she just had with his therapist.  I don’t care that she was talking about him, that doesn’t mean he automatically has the right to know everything that was said.  I wish to God Ana had been as honest as she should have been and Flynn had been a decent therapist and told her to get the fuck away from Grey.

Instead, we all know Ana’s birthday present for Grey is a big YES to his marriage proposal and we know Flynn has dumped responsibility for “fixing” him on Ana’s shoulders.  UGH.

 

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Ana receives a call from José, who’s dropping off the photos of Ana to Grey’s apartment, the following evening, then staying over.  Shockingly, Grey agrees that Ana can go out for a drink with him alone, although he adds: “See?  I can be reasonable.”  And that immediately reminds us of how unreasonable he is.

Speaking of which, Grey then tries to insist that he drives Ana’s car and Ana, amazingly, sticks up for herself and refuses:

She purses her lips—amused, I think. “Can I drive?”

“I’d rather you didn’t.”

“Why, exactly?”

“Because I don’t like to be driven.”

“You managed this morning, and you seem to tolerate Taylor driving you.”

“I trust Taylor’s driving implicitly.”

“And not mine?” she exclaims, and puts her hands on her hips. “Honestly, your control-freakishness knows no bounds. I’ve been driving since I was fifteen.”

I shrug. I want to drive.

“Is this my car?”

“Of course it’s your car.”

“Then give me the keys, please. I’ve driven it twice, and only to and from work. Now you’re having all the fun.” She folds her arms, standing firm, stubborn as ever.

Grey protests that Ana doesn’t know where she’s going and she responds that he can “enlighten” her, seeing as he’s been doing such a great job of that in their relationship, so far.  That mere hint that he’s good at sex is enough to break the tension between them and everything is magically rosy again.

I hate this book.

Then we get a scene straight from HELL, in which Ana is driving apparently badly, slamming her brakes on and speeding through built-up areas, causing Grey to keep telling her off (although from memory, in the story from Ana’s perspective, she’s driving erratically because he’s yelling at her).  Ana then stops in a no-stopping area and gets out of the car, telling Grey to drive, instead.  Grey reminds her of how adamant she was that she was going to drive and Ana replies that he needs to either shut up and let her get on with it, or just take over.  Then, for some reason, Ana finds this whole situation cute and starts giggling at Grey, all lovingly.  Grey laughs and says he’ll drive, thus getting exactly what he wanted, all along.

 

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True story: my abuser, who had passed his driving test, but never got a car and hadn’t therefore driven for years since having done so, used to criticise my driving quite frequently (the frequency increased as the relationship went on/got worse).  At no point did I ever think “oh, he’s so cute.  I love it when we argue like this.”

Something is seriously wrong with EL James.  I don’t know if her marriage is abusive and she’s got Stockholm Syndrome, or if she is abusive and thinks her behaviour is cute when it’s anything but, but for her to write this shit constantly (Grey yells at Ana, she gets justifiably upset, then randomly decides it’s hot or cute), there is a problem somewhere.  Because this isn’t cute or funny.

Grey continues to press Ana, asking what she talked with Flynn about.  Ana admits that he told her about a new therapy treatment he wanted to try with Grey, and that they discussed Grey’s fear of being touched, as well as his “self-abhorrence.”

It’s still not enough for Grey, who keeps pushing for more:

“You were talking forever, Anastasia. What else did he say?”

“He doesn’t think you’re a sadist.”

“Really?” Flynn and I have differing views on this. He cannot step into my shoes. He doesn’t really understand.

Ana continues. “He says that that term’s not recognized in psychiatry. Not since the nineties.”

“Flynn and I have differing opinions on this.”

“He said you always think the worst of yourself. I know that’s true. He also mentioned sexual sadism—but he said that was a lifestyle choice, not a psychiatric condition. Maybe that’s what you’re thinking about.”

Ana, you have no idea. You will never know the depths of my depravity.

Oh, fucking get over yourself.  You’ve got a few nipple clamps and you like whipping women who look like your dead mother.  It’s like you want to be the monster you claim to hate being.

 

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Grey keeps pressing for information:

“I want to know what you discussed,” I say in a tone that I hope sounds conciliatory. I leave I-5 and head west on Northwest Eighty-fifth Street.

“He called me your lover.”

“Did he, now? Well, he’s nothing if not fastidious about his terms. I think that’s an accurate description. Don’t you?”

“Did you think of your subs as lovers?”

Lovers? Leila? Susannah? Madison? Each of my submissives comes to mind. “No. They were sexual partners. You’re my only lover. And I want you to be more.”

“I know. I just need some time, Christian. To get my head around these last few days.”

I look over at her. Why didn’t she say that earlier?

SHE FUCKING DID.  SHE HAS TOLD YOU SHE NEEDS TIME.  SHE HAS SAID SO MORE THAN ONCE.  YOU ARE A FUCKING TWAT WAFFLE AND I HOPE YOU DIE.

Oh, good lord, these books are bad for my health.

They arrive at the house Grey wants to buy (and knock down).  Grey spots a basketball hoop hanging on the wall and reminisces about Elliot trying to get him to play basketball as a kid/teen, whilst he only wanted to read classic novels.  Yeah, that sounds consistent with the characterisation of Grey as a teen, wanting to fight and burn off energy all the time.  Sure.

Grey shows Ana the view from the house and tells her his plans for knocking it down and building them a sustainable family home there.  Ana wants to look around the existing house, which Grey genuinely can’t understand, because he can never understand a viewpoint that isn’t his.  This is evidenced by his continued bemusement that Ana might want to keep the house as it is:

I follow Ana and the realtor as she gives us the tour. Olga Kelly is in her element as she takes us through the numerous rooms, describing the features of each. Why Ana wants to see the whole house is a mystery to me. As we file up the sweeping staircase, she turns to me. “Couldn’t you make the existing house more ecological and self-sustaining?”

This house? “I’d have to ask Elliot. He’s the expert in all this.”

Ana likes this house.

Keeping the house wasn’t what I had in mind.

Because he only ever thinks of what he wants.

I’m skimming over huge chunks of text, because this is SO DULL.

 

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Grey realises that Ana wants to keep the existing house and accepts that he’ll have to change his plans (ERMAGERD, HE IS SO VERY CHANGED):

Back downstairs, we make our way through to the terrace once more and I rethink my plans. The house wasn’t what I imagined living in, but it looks well built and solid enough and with a comprehensive update, it could serve our needs.

I glance at Ana. Who am I kidding? Wherever Ana is, that’s my home. If this is what she wants…

Outside on the terrace, I hold her. “Lot to take in?” I ask.

She nods.

“I wanted to check that you liked it before I bought it.”

“The view?”

I nod.

“I love the view, and I like the house that’s here.”

“You do?”

“Christian, you had me at the meadow,” she says with a shy smile.

This means she’s not leaving. Surely.

I would have thought that her saying she’s not leaving, multiple fucking times, per chapter, might mean she’s not leaving.  For the sake of all I hold dear, make this end.

As they get back in the car, Ana asks if he’ll be selling Escala to pay for the new house and Grey reminds her of how rich he is.  Again.

 

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He tells her she’ll have to “get used to being rich” if she marries him.  Ana says wealth has never mattered to her and he says that’s one of the things he loves about her, before adding that she probably doesn’t care about money because she’s never gone hungry.

He suggests he takes her to one of his clubs for a celebratory dinner and there’s a load of internal nudge-wink thoughts about how he belongs to Dominant clubs blah, blah, sexy blah.

They head to “The Mile High Club” and they’re both in flirty mood.  Grey suggests that Ana heads to the ladies restroom and removes her panties.  She does as she’s told.  Why do I feel like this is going to be really unsexy?  Ugh.

Meanwhile, Grey decides to order for her in her absence.  As usual:

While I wait at the table I scan the menu. It reminds me of our dinner in the private room at The Heathman. I summon the waiter and hope that Ana won’t give me a hard time because I’m ordering her meal.

Here’s a funny little idea: WAIT FOR HER AND LET HER ORDER FOR HERSELF, INSTEAD.  That way, she’ll have nothing to give you a hard time about.  Seriously, if I was with someone who insisted on never letting me order for myself, I’d be fuming.  Food is essentially the love of my life – ain’t nobody choosing what I eat, except me.

Ana returns:

The waiter scuttles off and Ana appears, a secret smile playing on her lips. Oh, Ana. She wants to play…but I’m not going to touch her.

Yet.

I want to drive her crazy.

You drive me crazy.  But not in a good way.

 

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There’s a really painfully crap scene of them eating oysters, which turns me off enormously, because oysters are gross.  I can stomach them deep fried, but raw?  Piss right off.

There’s loads of double entendre and it’s equally painful and I just want this chapter to end.

They have the briefest of conversations about the NDA, rather than the full discussion Flynn suggested they have:

“Speaking of contracts,” she continues. “The NDA.”

“Tear it up.”

“What? Really?”

“Yes.”

“You’re sure I’m not going to run to The Seattle Times with an exposé?”

I laugh, knowing how shy she is. “No. I trust you. I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt.”

“Ditto,” she says.

And that’s the end of the conversation.  Technically, Ana should have brought up the fact that Grey referenced marriage as “a different kind of contract,” but of course she doesn’t, because she’s more bothered by the fact that she’s wearing no pants and Grey has told her he’s glad she’s in a dress, but he still won’t touch her.

Because, you guys, nothing is more important than sex, okay?!

There’s another threat of spanking her in public:

“Eat.” I change the subject. “I am not taking you home until you’ve finished your meal, and then we can really celebrate.”

“I’m not hungry. Not for food.”

Ana. Ana. So easily distracted.

Eat, or I’ll put you across my knee, right here, and we’ll entertain the other diners.”

She shifts in her seat, making me think a spanking might be welcome, but her pursed lips tell a different story.

Red, because he admits her expression makes it look as though she wouldn’t want to be spanked in public.

We discover that Grey was definitely going to conduct a hostile takeover of Kate’s father’s business, until Ana placates him:

“Have you heard from your friend?” I ask.

“Which one?”

“The guy staying in your apartment.”

“Oh, Ethan. Not since he took Mia out for lunch.”

“I’m doing some work with his and Kate’s father.”

“Oh?”

“Yes. Kavanagh seems like a solid guy.”

“He’s always been good to me,” she answers, and my earlier thoughts about a hostile takeover of Kavanagh’s business recede.

Business decisions made by his dick?  AGAIN?!  How is this dude as successful as he claims?!

 

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They finish dinner and get up to leave, with Grey saying as he’s a member, they’ll send him a bill, so they won’t have to slow down on the way out.  He takes Ana to the elevator and, despite there being several other people in it, he makes his way to the back, slides his hand up Ana’s dress and starts to finger her.  But as always, Ana is not allowed to orgasm:

“Don’t come. I want that later,” I whisper, and I splay my hand on her belly and press down, knowing that this will emphasize everything she’s feeling.

Christian Grey is SUCH a good lover, he won’t allow his partner to orgasm unless he can, too.  Fuck this.  This isn’t erotica.  A story in which the heroine is constantly told she can’t orgasm unless the “hero” lets her?!  Bullshit.  I know orgasm denial is a thing and some people like it, but Ana doesn’t.  She wants to let go and orgasm.   Evidenced by this:

“You’d be surprised what I can do, Miss Steele.” Reaching out, I neaten her hair, pushing it behind her ear. “I want to get you home, but maybe we’ll only make it as far as the car.” I give her a quick smile, check that my jacket is covering the front of my jeans, then take her hand and lead her out of the elevator. “Come,” I bid her.

“Yes, I want to.”

Miss Steele!”

Then again, sometimes, she wants to build her orgasm up for a while, but he insists that she comes immediately.

This guy is the worst lover ever.  How is anyone getting off to this?!

 

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He gets grossly possessive as they head to the car:

“I’ve never had sex in a car,” she says, as her heels echo on the marble floor.

I stop and tip her head up so that we are eye to eye. “I’m very pleased to hear that. I have to say I’d be very surprised, not to say mad, if you had.”

I know he’s saying it because he knows she was a virgin when they met, so if she had sex with someone in a car, she’d have cheated on him, potentially, but this still grosses me out a bit.

Anyway, they drive back to Escala and despite knowing what Ana wants – sex in the car – Grey refuses to give it to her:

“We will fuck in the car at a time and place of my choosing,” I whisper. “Right now, I want to take you on every available surface of my apartment.” “Yes,” she says, even though it’s not a question.

Everything about that makes me feel sick.  Everything.  Firstly, he’s dictating their sex life, despite the fact that he is not her Dom and they supposedly no longer have to adhere to the whole “sex whenever the Dom wants” part of his shitty contract.  Secondly, I dislike the fact that he highlights that his comment wasn’t a question, because it implies that he would fuck her whether she agreed or not.  I repeat: EVERYTHING about this is gross.

And why is Grey not allowing her any of her sexual wants?  To punish her for not answering his proposal.  No, really:

“So, what happened to instant gratification?” she asks.

“It’s not appropriate in every situation, Anastasia.”

“Since when?”

“Since this evening.”

“Why are you torturing me so?”

“Tit for tat, Miss Steele.”

“How am I torturing you?”

“I think you know.” And I watch as realization dawns on her face. Yes, baby. I love you. And I want you to be my wife. But you won’t tell me your answer.

I don’t have to explain why that’s red, right?!  He denied her an orgasm because she still needs time to think about MARRYING the guy she’s barely known a month.

 

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I’m not misinterpreting any of this, either.  When Ana tries to tease him by saying she likes delayed gratification as well, Grey starts badgering her about the proposal again…

“I’m into delayed gratification, too,” she whispers, and gives me a shy smile.

She is torturing me! I tug her hand and pull her into my arms, and my fingers wrap around her nape and I angle her head so I can look into her eyes. “What can I do to make you say yes?” I beg her.

“Give me some time, please,” she says. I groan and my lips are on hers, my tongue seeking hers. The elevator doors open and we shuffle in, maintaining our embrace. And she’s lit from within. Her hands are on me. Everywhere. In my hair. Around my face. On my ass. And she’s kissing me back with such passion.

I burn for her.

Pushing her against the wall, revelling in the fervour of her kiss, I pin her with my hips and my erection. I have one hand in her hair and one on her chin. “You own me,” I whisper against her mouth. “My fate is in your hands, Ana.”

JUST STOP, YOU ASS-WIPE.  STOP TRYING TO PRESSURE HER ALL THE FUCKING TIME.  I HATE YOU.  I HATE YOU.  I FUCKING HATE YOU.

 

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They head into Escala and fuck on the table in the foyer.  Grey openly admits to lasting for less than a minute.  He also admits that fucking her is the only way he knows to show love, which is tragic, but not in the “poor Grey” way, just in the “oh how pathetic” sense:

I move faster. Loving her. The only way I really know how.

Her mouth opens, slack, wide, beautiful. And her legs tense around me. This is going to be quick.

And she comes around me, taking me with her. She calls out through her climax.

“Yes, Ana!” I cry. And come and come and come.

 

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They go to bed and fuck again.  Ana tells him she really loved the house and Grey tells himself that that means she might say yes to marrying him.

Their post-coitus glow is where this chapter ends.

Guys, we have just over 100 pages left and, if my calculations are correct, just two more chapters.

The end is in sight.

 

 

 

 

Darker Chapter 7 (Wednesday, June 15, 2011)

In the interest of honesty, I’m going to admit to you that I’ve dreaded recapping this chapter all week.

The last chapter was so melodramatic, so pointlessly over the top and so utterly riddled with examples of telling rather than showing any actual character development, that quite aside from the abuse these books glorify and excuse, I just couldn’t face yet more of the genuinely atrocious writing.

BUT…  After this chapter, there are only three more to go.  The end is in sight.  I can do this.

 

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Oh, Nadiya.

Right, let’s get into this chapter like Harry Maguire getting the ball into the back of the net (you’re damn right, I’m wearing my England shirt today!).

This chapter starts – seemingly – mere seconds after the last one ended.  If you remember, Ana had just stormed off to bed in a huff, after finding out that Grey had bathed his ex girlfriend and washed her hair for her, rather than merely calling for help, after she’d threatened his current girlfriend with a gun.  I can understand her feelings – I mean, sure, Grey was trying to calm Leila down and show her some compassion, but…  I’m fairly sure they have baths and showers at the clinic she’s now in.  He didn’t have to make the choice to wash her naked body.  And the way it was written – with Grey constantly retching at her stench etc – kind of made it seem like he was doing it more for himself than her, anyway, because sitting with her and waiting for help to arrive, whilst she was unwashed and dressed in filthy clothes was unappealing to him.

Of course, Grey takes Ana’s anger as an opportunity to be self-pitying and – yay – melodramatic:

I can’t believe I asked Ana to marry me. And she didn’t say no. But she didn’t say yes, either. She may never say yes.

In the morning, she’ll wake and come to her senses.

The day started so well. But it’s been a train wreck since this evening, since Leila.

Well, at least she’s safe and getting the help she needs. But at what cost? Ana? She now knows everything. She knows I’m a monster.

But she’s still here.

Focus on the positive, Grey.

I’m so sick and tired of this whole “I’m a monster” bollocks.  Yes, you are.  Not because you’re into BDSM, but because you use the cover of BDSM as an excuse to psychologically and emotionally abuse people, you coerce consent, you stalk people and you exercise obsessive levels of control over them, even when they ask you to stop.  If you recognise yourself as a monster, don’t just acknowledge it and then do nothing about it.  Make steps to be less vile.  Otherwise, all you are is someone moaning about how terrible you are, so that you a) have an excuse for your shitty behaviour (“I warned you I was a monster!”) and b) can delight in being told by idiots like Ana that of course you’re no such thing; you’re wonderful!

It’s manipulative crap and it needs to die.

 

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He goes on to give us yet more evidence, via his internal thoughts, that he doesn’t actually love Ana for who she is, but for what she does for him:

This is what she does to you, Grey. She makes you feel.

You know you’re alive when you’re with her.

So, if Ana leaves, he’ll be dead?  RUN, ANA!  SAVE THE WHOLE WORLD!

 

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Grey heads to his bedroom, thinking that it’ll be their bedroom if Ana marries him (side note: she’s already agreed to move in with him – isn’t it therefore already THEIR bedroom, now?!).  But before he gets there, he hears crying coming from the bathroom.  He goes in and sees that Ana is on the floor, sobbing her heart out.  Grey gets down next to her and she clings to him, still crying.  He thinks this:

Gently I stroke her back, thinking about how much more her tears affect me than Leila’s did.

Because I love her.

Compassion is reserved exclusively for people you claim to be in love with, apparently.  Leila had had a massive mental breakdown, was emaciated and filthy and had reached the point of total desperation.  But her tears didn’t affect this asshole, because he doesn’t love her.

For the ninety billionth time, WHAT DOES ANYONE SEE IN THIS ABSOLUTE CRETIN?!

Forgive me, but during the course of this World Cup, regardless of how well England do in their semi-final on Wednesday, one man has epitomised decency, kindness, respect and understanding, to the point that he’s being rightly praised by absolutely everyone.

Those are the virtues I want to see in my romantic “heroes,” not gaslighting, victim-blaming, selfishness, obsessive control or coercion.

I’d take Gareth Southgate over Christian Grey any day of the week.

 

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Grey thinks about how brave and strong Ana is, and feels bad (SHOCK!) that he’s rewarded her bravery only by making her cry.  This would be a great time to include a passage of internal thought, in which Grey realises how often he upsets or scares Ana and makes a promise to make meaningful changes to ensure he treats her better from now on.  But nope, this is EL James, so she doesn’t have him think anything of the sort.  Instead, he simply carries Ana to bed and she’s soon fast asleep, exhausted.

Once she’s asleep, it’s time for Grey to have another nightmare, conveniently placed so we can forget all his vile behaviour and feel sorry for him again, instead.  Hooray!

Leila stands before me. She’s a waif and her stench makes me take a step back.

The stench. No.

The stench.

He smells.

He smells of nasty. And dirt. It makes sick come into my mouth.

He’s mad. I hide under the table.

There you are, you little prick.

He has cigarettes. No.

I call my mommy. But she doesn’t hear me. She lies on the floor.

Smoke comes out of his mouth. He laughs. And he holds my hair.

The burn. I scream.

I don’t like the burn.

Mommy is on the floor. I sleep beside her. She is cold. I cover her with my blankie.

He’s back. He’s mad.

Crazy. Stupid. Bitch.

Get out of my way, you stupid fucking runt. He hits me and I fall.

He goes. He locks the door.

And it’s Mommy and me. 

And then she’s gone. Where is Mommy? Where is Mommy?

He holds the cigarette in front of me. No.

He takes a puff. No. He presses it against my skin. No.

The pain. The smell.

No.

It’s a horrible memory and a vile thing to happen to a small, defenceless child.  I can feel total sympathy for young Christian, without also using this example of his abusive childhood to excuse the way he abuses Ana, as an adult.  Isn’t that amazing?!

 

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You might be thinking: “But Emma, we can’t be certain EL James included this nightmare at this exact moment in the story, so that Ana would forget how rightfully hurt and angry she was and just blindly forgive him, because it’s somehow her responsibility to fix him, surely?!”

Well, I’m here to tell you that we can.  Because Grey wakes up in a cold sweat, to find Ana shaking him out of his dream, and he immediately blames her for the fact that he had the nightmare in the first place, because she left the bed for a while.  No, really:

“You left, you left, you must have left,” I mumble incoherently.

She sits down beside me. “I’m here,” she says, and lays her palm on my cheek.

“You were gone.”

I only have nightmares when you’re not here.

Red, because that is some A+ manipulative bullshit right there.  It’s also an outright lie.  

In the opening chapter of Grey, he dreams of losing his car under the sofa and his mother calling him “Maggot,” whilst he sadly pines over never being able to play with it again.  Ana isn’t with him, but he doesn’t describe this as a nightmare, even though some of his later “nightmares” have been no more traumatic.  In fact, he refers to himself as “dismissing it, as usual.”  He’s only suddenly been utterly horrified by his dreams since he got together with Ana.  Why?  Because the whole “I sleep better with you here” is a really great way to ensure Ana feels guilt-tripped into staying, even if she doesn’t want to.  And telling her that he only has nightmares when she’s not there guarantees that she’ll feel bad for him, which will lead her to forgetting his vile behaviour towards her and will make her promise not to leave him, which is exactly what Grey wants.

Sure enough, Ana yet again feels compelled to tell him she’ll never leave him.  I AM SO SHOCKED, YOU GUYS, I WAS NOT EXPECTING THIS.

It transpires that she only got up because she was thirsty and needed a drink.  Why would she have been thirsty?  Could it be due to all the crying she did before bed?  The crying he caused?  But God forbid she hydrate herself, because Grey’s uninterrupted sleep is much too important.

I hate this character.  I hate this book.  I hate EL James.  I need to breathe.

 

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Naturally, as soon as Ana has made the promise that Grey manipulates out of her literally every fucking chapter, he magically goes from traumatised to horny:

“Oh, Ana.” My mouth claims hers. She tastes of orange juice…sweetness and home.

My body responds as I kiss her, her ear, her throat. I tug her bottom lip with my teeth as I caress her body. My hand pushing up the T-shirt she’s wearing. She trembles as I cup her breast and she moans into my mouth as my fingers find her nipple.

“I want you,” I whisper. I need you.

“I’m here for you. Only you, Christian.”

Her words light a fire inside me. I kiss her again. Please never leave me.

We’re supposed to long for a relationship like this one and yet literally all this couple do is fight, cry and fuck.  That sounds bloody exhausting.

But Ana suddenly stops and tells Grey she can’t carry on.  His reaction?  Is really rapey and gross:

Suddenly, she pulls back and pushes against my arms. “Christian. Stop. I can’t do this.”

“What? What’s wrong?” I murmur against her throat.

“No, please. I can’t do this, not now. I need some time, please…”

“Oh, Ana, don’t overthink this,” I whisper, as my anxiety returns. I’m fully awake. She’s rejecting me. No. I’m desperate.

I just…  I cannot…  My rage is literally making my chest hurt, right now.

 

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She said NO.  He told her not to “overthink” it.  He is not listening to her, he is not respecting her and he is more concerned with the idea of being rejected than he is by her emotional state, right now.  He carries on with his attempt at seduction, biting her earlobe and, when she gasps in response, telling her he loves her and needs her.  He doesn’t ask her to explain why she needs to stop, or ask her if she wants to talk anything through.  He doesn’t ask her if she’s alright.  Instead, he tells her to touch his chest again, as though that’s all Ana needed.  He even – and I fucking wish I was making this up – thinks to himself that their entire relationship rests upon whether or not she’ll let him have sex with her right now:

Our relationship rests on this moment.

If she can’t do this…

If she can’t touch me.

If I can’t have her.

I wait.

Please, Ana.

 

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Their.  Relationship.  Rests.  On.  This.  Moment.

Their entire relationship, for him, depends right now, on whether he can let her touch his damn chest, so she’ll let him fuck her, despite the fact that she’s just told him no?!

This…  I just…  I don’t even have angry words.  I’m just stunned.  I’m disgusted.  I’m sad.

And the worst part is knowing that she will touch him, so he will get to have sex with her, and this incident will be glossed over and forgotten about, like all the other instances of abuse in this franchise.

 

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I’m going to need a lot of ice cream and alcohol when I finish this.

There’s a whole melodramatic page of Ana touching Grey’s chest and back and him fighting his demons, blah, blah, blah.  All of it is only there so that they can keep kissing and touching, ready for the inevitable sex scene, which arrives when Grey realises that taking control of him and touching his body is turning Ana on:

Fear erupts in my chest, hammering my heart. “Oh, fuck, Ana,” I cry out and stare down at her. She’s panting, eyes bright and brimming with sensuality.

This is turning her on. Fuck.

Don’t overthink this, Grey. Man up. Go with it.

I already hated the phrase “man up,” but congratulations EL, you just made me hate it more.  Yes, man up and carry on doing it with the woman who just wanted to stop doing it, a few minutes ago, before you manipulated her with the promise of being able to touch the bits of you she’s not normally allowed to.  How very manly of you.

I almost want to post that Gareth Southgate picture, again.  Ooh, or I could find one of Phil Lester…

But I should probably keep recapping this crap, instead.  Ugh.

 

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As he’s about to have sex with her, Grey tells her she can still say no, which is utter crap, because she already did and he made damn sure he found a way to carry on.  And Ana… Ana says something that doesn’t sound like enthusiastic consent:

“You want to do this? You can still say no. You can always say no.”

“Don’t give me a chance to think, Christian.” She’s breathless. 

Ew.  I mean, she adds “I want you, too,” but still…  She’d actually asked him to stop because she needed some time, earlier and he had replied “don’t overthink this,” which makes her response of “don’t give me a chance to think” now really gross.

Like literally everything else about this book.

Grey’s internal monologue tells us he needs to know she really wants this, so he makes her go on top.  Because that definitely proves something, apparently.

The whole sex scene is horrible.  I won’t copy and paste the whole thing (although as per usual, it’s very brief), but basically, Ana lowers herself onto him, Grey thinks he’s going to come instantly (unsurprising, seeing as he has zero staying power), he makes her slow down, then begs her to touch him again and we get all this “it’s so painful, the darkness is surfacing” rubbish again, before Grey cries and rolls on top of Ana, because he can’t take it, anymore.  He then orders her to come, because he is close and Ana clearly isn’t ready to.  So we get this vileness:

I drive into her. Trying to find my equilibrium, but I’m lost. Lost to this woman. Her breath is at my ear: Short. Panting. She’s reaching. She’s close. But she’s holding back.

“Let go, Ana,” I whisper.

“No.”

“Yes,” I plead, and I shift and roll my hips, filling her. She moans, loud and clear, her legs tensing.

“Come on, baby, I need this. Give it to me.”

We need this.

We’re meant to believe this guy is a great lover?!  She’s not done, yet.  She wants more – probably because Grey only lasts twenty seconds, so it’s hardly a surprise she’s not ready to let go, yet.  And we need this?!  Is this yet another reference to the fact that Grey believes their entire relationship was hanging on whether or not he was allowed to have sex with her?  Does it now hang on whether she comes on cue??!!

GOOD sex happens when your partner cares about your needs as well as their own.  He is literally telling her he needs her to come.  He doesn’t give a shit that she’s holding back, wanting to build her orgasm up a bit (seeing as he’s doing such a crap job of doing that, himself).  He’s ready, so she has to be.  Guys, this isn’t even good erotica.  It’s shit.

But of course, Ana comes on cue for him, because she is, as we’ve said before, a sex doll, existing only for his whims.

 

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And after the sex, some bonus manipulative demands!

HER FINGERS ARE IN my hair while my head rests on her chest. She’s here. She didn’t leave, but I can’t shake the feeling that I nearly lost her again. “Don’t ever leave me,” I whisper. 

You know how, in the third book, we’re supposed to believe that Ana pretends she’s leaving him and Grey just lets her go?  HAHAHAHAHA, NO.

Ana asks him what his nightmare was about, earlier, and Grey eventually tells her about the pimp stubbing cigarettes out on him, telling her that the nightmares are about the pain.  And then we get some victim-blaming of Ella, because we’ve not had that in a while:

“It hurt,” I mutter. “It’s the pain I remember. That’s what gives me nightmares. That, and the fact that she did nothing to stop him.”

Ana’s hold on me tightens. I lift my head, meeting her eyes. “You’re not like her. Don’t ever think that. Please.”

Yeah, you’re nothing like the woman the pimp made sell herself for cash, which she spent fuelling an addiction he did nothing to help her beat.  Look, I know she didn’t stop the guy stubbing cigarettes out on her son and that is bad, but the woman had her own problems and we know the pimp beat her, too.  I’m getting pains in my temples from the stress caused by the fact that EL James thinks the abuse Grey suffered was terrible and we have to sympathise with it, but the abuse Ella suffered was meaningless and we should hate her.  If I could meet EL James and contain my emotions long enough not to scream in her face, one of the many things I’d do is ask her to visit women who survived situations like Ella’s.  Listen to their stories.  Find out what their reality was like.  And then, if she still wants to victim-blame them, she can just tattoo the word “trash” on her forehead, so the world sees her for what she is.

I am not saying – for a second – that children who endured abuse and whose parents were addicted to drugs and failed to stop said abuse, don’t have every right to feel bitter or angry.  But we’re meant to believe that Grey is working on his issues with a supposedly competent therapist, yet we see zero evidence of that.  If he was working on them properly, he’d have some level of sympathy for what his mother suffered, even if it was mixed in with anger or bitterness.  But he has none.  He even goes on to refer to Ella as “weak” and blames her for “abandoning” him, through her death.

He tells Ana that the pimp’s reaction was always to use violence against him and Ana asks if that’s why Grey now hates to be touched.  He replies that it’s “complicated,” before going on:

“She didn’t love me.” She can’t have loved me. She didn’t protect me. And she left me. Alone.

“I didn’t love me. The only touch I knew was…harsh. It stemmed from there.”

I never had a mother’s loving touch, Ana.

Never.

Grace respected my boundaries.

I still don’t know why.

Maybe because she knew you were massive fucked up and she was trying to do her best by you?  But we can’t have you realise that about someone who took care of you, because then you couldn’t do your “woe is me” routine, could you?!

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Grey – hilariously – suggests that Dr Flynn can explain his trauma and his reaction to it better than he can (hilarious only because Flynn is a total quack, thanks to ELJ’s utter lack of research) and agrees to make Ana an appointment to discuss things with him.  Grey repeats his marriage proposal, telling Ana they can get to know each other after they’re married, which is one HELL of a red flag.  He also says they can have kids if she wants, which makes his later outburst at finding out she’s pregnant deeply ironic.

They fall asleep and when Grey wakes again, he discovers Ana is not in bed and, naturally, has a ten second freak out that’s she’s left him.  He then finds Ana frantically getting ready for work, having overslept.  He watches her getting dressed and suggests she calls in sick.  Ana tells him she can’t, because she’s not a “megalomaniac CEO with a beautiful smile.”

I just retched.

Of course, Grey focuses solely on the compliment, going on and on about it:

I laugh. She’s still here and I don’t think she hates me. “Beautiful smile, huh?”

“Yes. You know the effect you have on me.” She wraps her watch strap around her wrist and stops to fasten it.

“Do I?”

“Yes, you do. The same effect you have on all women. Gets really tiresome, watching them all swoon.”

 

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Ugh, I feel dirty every time I agree with a character in these horrific books, but YES, Ana.  It is tiresome.  In fact, I’d call it downright irritating and entirely unbelievable.

He tries to make her stay off work, but she insists on going and he “releases” her.  I just retched again.

Because Grey is unhealthily obsessed, rather than actually in love with Ana, the second she leaves for work, he emails her, wanting to tell her he misses her, but settling for reminding her to use her Blackberry rather than her work email system.  He then emails again, when she doesn’t instantly reply, telling her the bed feels too big without her, so he may as well go to work.

Whilst Grey is eating breakfast, Ana emails – using her work email address, which is almost certainly going to become an excuse for Grey to go mad at her – to say her boss is mad at her for being late, but she blames Grey for keeping her up with his shenanigans.  She jokes that he should be ashamed of himself, which gives Grey cause to inwardly mope about how he feels all the shame.

He replies:

You don’t have to work, Anastasia.

You have no idea how appalled I am at my shenanigans.

But I like keeping you up late 😉

Please use your BlackBerry.

Oh, and marry me, please.

She wants to work, so stop trying to force her to quit, you asshole.

You are not remotely ashamed of your shenanigans, so stop lying, you asshole.

She asked for time to think about your proposal, so stop rushing her, you asshole.

 

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Can anyone tell how fed up I am with this book?

Ana continues to use her work email to respond and she talks a lot of sense, which no doubt won’t go down well with Grey:

I know your natural inclination is toward nagging, but just stop.

I need to talk to your shrink.

Only then will I give you my answer.

I am not opposed to living in sin.

Good for you, Ana.

As expected, Grey gets shitty in response:

Anastasia, if you are going to start discussing Dr. Flynn, then USE YOUR BLACKBERRY.

This is not a request.

Christian Grey Now Pissed CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings, Inc

I’m only adding the irritating tagline because of the “now pissed” bit.  We all know EL James used taglines and subject titles etc in these incredibly boring emails just to pad out her word count, in the absence of any ability to write a fucking story.

He then sends her another email before she has chance to respond, which he tells the reader is sent in a “softer tone,” but which contains “shouty capitals” in which he yet again demands she use her Blackberry.  Ooh, much soft, very gentle, wow.

He lets Ana know that Flynn has arranged an appointment to see them both the following evening.  If I was Ana, I think I’d want to see Flynn without Grey there, so he couldn’t manipulate the situation, but hey ho.  I’d say that might be unethical, but that’s never stopped Dr Flynn, before…

Grey wanders to his playroom and we get yet more melodrama about how thinking of Ana crying and calling him fucked up wounds him right down to his bones.  Then he reminds himself that at least last time he made her cry (last night), she let him comfort her, which is progress.

Guys, if this is the bar at which you set your relationship at, it is too damn low.

 

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There’s some boring crap about how excited everyone at Grey’s company is, because the mayor is visiting or something – I skim-read it, whilst praying for death.  He speaks to Dr Flynn on the phone and tells him to answer any questions Ana may have.  He also admits to having proposed and Flynn is unsurprised, referring to Grey as “impulsive and in love.”  He tells Grey that marriage is hard work, but then casually agrees when Grey says he’s never shied away from hard work and doesn’t offer anything else.  What an excellent therapist he is.

We hear that Leila had a good night and Flynn believes he can help her, so… Sorry, Leila.

Elena texts and asks if Grey wants to have dinner, but he hasn’t got time for her, right now.

If this seems disjointed, it’s because it is.  It’s literally dull, unconnected scene after dull, unconnected scene.  Whoever told EL James she had any writing talent has clearly never read any other book ever.

At midday, Grey realises Ana still hasn’t replied to his shouty email, so he messages her again:

I haven’t heard from you.

Please tell me you are okay.

You know how I worry.

I will send Taylor to check!

That part is red, because Ana is at work.  She’s doing her job and God knows, Grey has been the one to tell her to stop emailing all the time, in the past.  She doesn’t need to be checked up on.  And if something bad turns out to have happened (I can’t remember when Jack’s assault of Ana takes place – it may well be this chapter), this controlling level of behaviour will yet again be “vindicated” and that just makes my blood boil, because what about all the times Grey has threatened to have people check up on Ana, or followed her without permission, when she’s been absolutely fine?

The mayor arrives for his visit and Sam, Grey’s PR guy is annoying Grey, probably because he’s a man that isn’t him.  Grey gets a call on his mobile from Ana, so Andrea – who’s watching Grey’s desk whilst he’s showing the mayor around – rushes to hand it to him, saying she wasn’t “brave enough” to answer it herself, because the phone was downloading his contacts.  I genuinely don’t know if this will become a relevant plot detail, but I’m including it just in case.  It seems a really bloody dull detail to include if it’s not important, somehow.

Grey takes the call and Ana asks why he’s so worried about her, just because she didn’t reply to an email.  She says Jack’s been “cracking the whip” and yes, that does lead to hilarious BDSM references, and Andrea panics, because the mayor is on his way up to Grey’s office and he’s still on the phone.

Professional businessman that he is, Grey does the whole “no, you hang up” stupidity with Ana, so that the call only just ends as the mayor arrives.

 

 

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We skip to later in the afternoon, after the mayor’s visit was a huge success.  Grey gets a call from Mia, telling him the family are holding a birthday party for him on Saturday and whatever plans he has, he has to cancel them.  She says she wants to personally invite Ana and asks for her number.  Grey pointedly remains silent, so Mia yells at him and he promises to text it to her, which he does after he gets off the phone.

Minutes later, Grey gets an email from Ana, asking when he was going to tell her it’s his birthday soon (see how little they know each other?!) and joking that he’s an old man and she’ll buy him batteries for his hearing aid as a gift.

He’s turning 28.

That’s seven years younger than me.

BRB, jumping out of the window.

 

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Grey responds, saying he doesn’t like celebrating his birthday (among other unimportant crap).  Ana replies saying she’s imagining him pouting and the image “does things” to her.  Grey notices she’s still using her work email and replies angrily, changing his email signature to reference his “twitchy palm.”

Because if this book has taught us anything by now, it’s that threatening to hit someone because they don’t do exactly as you tell them to, is really sexy.

Naturally, Ana decides it is really sexy and emails him back – from her personal account –  and tells him she now knows what to give him for his birthday, and she hopes it’ll leave her sore.

This… Isn’t believable.  When Grey first hit Ana, she said she was ashamed and confused by her arousal.  But since then, she spent the whole of the last book worrying she wasn’t enough for him, because she didn’t like being hit and made sore.  She left him, because he hit her and it really hurt.  Throughout this book, she’s veered wildly between still fretting that she’s not enough for him because she doesn’t like the idea of being hit really hard, and suddenly being all “BEAT ME, I WANT PAIN!”  It just doesn’t make sense.  Because we’re not in Ana’s head anymore and we can’t hear her rationalisation for her thoughts, it just comes across as her wanting one thing one minute and another the next.

Grey replies, telling her that his heart can’t stand the strain of another email like that and – retch – nor can his pants.  Oh and for the record?  He’s using his work email.  Like he always does.  Because it’s one rule for him and another for Ana.

 

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Ana replies telling him to stop bothering her at work, because his last email almost made her combust.  I wish it had.  I’d happily read about either of these hateful characters bursting into flames.  She asks Grey to pick her up from work at 6:30 and he agrees.

We cut to Taylor pulling up outside Ana’s workplace, with Grey inwardly wondering, for the nine thousandth time this chapter, whether Ana will marry him, or whether she’ll run now she knows what a monster he is.

Then Ana stumbles out of the building and, rather than heading to the car, collapses in the street.  I guess it is this chapter that Jack attacks her…

Grey and Taylor both rush to her:

I sink down beside her. “Ana, Ana! What’s wrong?”

I pull her into my lap to check what’s wrong, holding her head between my hands. She closes her eyes and sags against me as if in relief. “Ana.” I grasp her arms and shake her. “What’s wrong? Are you sick?”

“Jack,” she whispers.

“Fuck.” Adrenaline sweeps through my body, leaving a murderous fury in its wake. I glance up at Taylor. He nods and disappears into the building. “What did that sleazeball do to you?”

Ana giggles. “It’s what I did to him.” And she doesn’t stop laughing. She’s hysterical. I’m going to kill him.

“Ana!” I give her a shake. “Did he touch you?”

“Only once,” she whispers, and her giggling stops.

Rage fuels my muscles as I stand holding her in my arms. “Where is that fucker?”

From inside the building we can hear muffled shouts. I set Ana on her feet. “Can you stand?” She nods.

“Don’t go in. Don’t, Christian.”

“Get in the car.”

Is anyone else really wishing they could have read what was going on with Taylor, after he ran into the building, instead of this drama outside it?!  Because I’d bet it’s a damn sight more interesting…

As Grey continues to boil with rage, Ana makes a confession:

I’m going to kill him.

“No! Please!” she begs. “Stay. Don’t leave me on my own.”

I drag my hand through my hair, trying and failing to hang on to my temper while the muffled shouting inside SIP intensifies. Abruptly it stops. I pull out my phone.

“Christian, he has my e-mails,” Ana says in a whisper.

“What?”

“My e-mails to you. He wanted to know where your e-mails to me were. He was trying to blackmail me.”

I think I’m going to have a coronary. That motherfucking asshole.

 

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Any excuse for that GIF.

Grey calls Barney and tells him to wipe all of Ana’s emails to Grey from the SIP servers, then check that Hyde doesn’t have copies in his personal date files.  He then phones Jerry Roach and orders him to have Jack Hyde removed with immediate effect, or he’ll liquidate the company.

And then…  Then Grey starts victim-blaming Ana:

I hang up, feeling somewhat mollified, and turn to Ana. “BlackBerry!”

“Please don’t be mad at me.”

“I am so mad at you right now,” I snap. “Get in the car.”

“Christian, please—”

“Get in the fucking car, Anastasia, or so help me I’ll put you in there myself.”

“Don’t do anything stupid, please,” she says.

“Stupid!” I see red. “I told you to use your fucking BlackBerry. Don’t talk to me about stupid. Get in the motherfucking car, Anastasia—now!”

“Okay.” She holds up her hands. “But, please, be careful.”

Stop shouting at her, Grey.

Yes, he did tell Ana to use her phone, rather than her work computer for emailing.  But she’s been attacked – he knows this, because Ana told him Jack touched her – and now is not the time to take his anger out on her.  By all means, when things are calmer later on, say to her: “next time I ask you to use your personal account instead of your work email, please listen to me!”  But right now?  She’s upset.  Support her.

And of course, the only thing that stops Grey being an aggressive arsehole towards the woman he supposedly loves, who has just been attacked?  Is her begging him not to get hurt when he runs into the building, because it would make her SO VERY SAD.

“Please be careful,” she whispers, again. “I don’t want anything to happen to you. It would kill me.”

And there it is. She cares. Her affection for me is plain in her words and in her kind, concerned expression.

Calm down, Grey. 

God knows what he would have done if she hadn’t said that.

 

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Grey storms into the building, where he finds Hyde on the phone to Roach, calling Ana a prick tease.  Hyde already has bruises forming on his face from where Taylor has hit him.  So, basically, Grey’s attempting to act like the tough guy after the actual tough guy has already done it for him.  Oooh, swoon.

This is what happens when Grey gets face to face with Hyde:

“Well, look what the fucking cat dragged in,” Hyde says and sneers. “The boy fucking wonder.” 

“Pack your things. Get out. And she may not press charges.”

“Fuck you, Grey. I’ll be pressing charges against that little bitch, for kicking me in the balls in a completely unprovoked attack—and I’ll be sending your goon here down for assault, too. Hi, handsome,” he calls to Taylor, and blows him a kiss. Taylor remains stoic.

“I won’t tell you again,” I state, glaring at the cocksucker.

Homophobic insults?  Wow, ELJ really does have a problem, doesn’t she?  First the whole “I’VE WANTED TO BEAT YOU EVER SINCE YOU ASKED IF I WAS GAY” thing and now Grey’s internal monologue chucking gay slurs at Hyde?  Ew.

“Like I said, fuck you. You can’t come in here throwing your fucking weight around.”

“I own this company. You are surplus to requirements. Get out while you can still walk.” My tone is low.

The color drains from Hyde’s face.

Yeah. Mine. Fuck you, Hyde.

“I knew it. I knew something shady was going on. That little bitch your spy?”

“If you mention Anastasia once more, if you even think about her, if you even think about thinking about her, I will end you.”

That sentence is so hilarious, I had to take a laughter break…

His eyes narrow. “You like it when she kicks you in the balls?”

I hit him square on the nose and he topples backward and smacks his head on the shelves behind him before he slumps onto the floor.

“You mentioned her. Get up. Clear your desk. And get out. You’re fired.”

If this was anyone but Grey, who’s every bit as abusive as Hyde, albeit in different ways, I’d cheer.  But I can’t cheer anything this cretin does, so…  Meh.  I guess it’s nice he punched Hyde and not Ana.  That’s the best I can say for this arse-wipe.  He can’t look himself in the mirror and refer to himself as being any better than Hyde, because he isn’t.

 

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Hyde spits that his security guard saw Grey hit him and the security guard replies “I saw you fall,” making it obvious that he’s not backing him up one little bit.  Hyde once again says he’ll press charges against Ana for attacking him, but Grey references Hyde’s hushed-up harassment cases and Hyde eventually realises he’s been beaten.

We get a lot of macho bullshit from Grey’s inner thoughts, about how he wants to kill Hyde and that Hyde’s messed up face from the beating he’s taken pleases Grey.

Grey and Taylor return to the car outside, where Ana is waiting in the front passenger seat.  Grey’s internal monologue tells us:

Because Ana is already in the front seat, Taylor gives me the key and I slide into the driver’s seat. Taylor gets into the back.

I don’t know why it’s a given that Grey must drive, because Ana is in the front.  I wouldn’t be remotely shocked to find out that Grey doesn’t allow Taylor to sit next to her, because they’ve been too friendly towards one another in the past.

We get this, which also makes me uncomfortable:

Ana is quiet as I pull out into the traffic.

I don’t know what to say to her.

“I’m sorry for what happened to you and I’m sorry for making it worse by shouting at you.  I’m here to support you and I promise you Jack Hyde won’t hurt you, again.”

That was pretty easy, to be honest.

Grey gets a call from Barney, who wants to let him know what else was found on Jack’s personal hard drives, but Grey tells him to call later, because he’s on speakerphone and there are other people in the car.  That makes very, very little sense.  Ana is supposedly Grey’s partner and also the victim of Jack’s sexual assault.  That means it’s her business to know what was found in Jack’s files.  And Taylor is in this up to his neck already, having beaten Jack up on Grey’s behalf.  So, why can’t Grey just let Barney speak, so everyone’s in the loop?

Oh, wait.  I know.  Pointless drama.

 

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And now, we’re back to the victim-blaming!

“Are you talking to me?” Ana asks.

I glance at her. “No,” I mutter. I’m still too mad.

I told her he was trouble. And I told her to use her phone for e-mail. I was right about everything. I feel vindicated.

Grey, grow up, you’re behaving like a child.

Flynn’s words circle my brain. I’ve long held the belief that you never really had an adolescence—emotionally speaking. I think you’re experiencing it now.

I glance across at her in the hope I can say something amusing, but she’s staring out of the window. I’ll wait until we get home.

And then you’ll say something amusing?  I’ll look forward to that; there’s always a first time for everything.

Seriously though, this idiot supposedly knows he’s behaving badly towards her, but he doesn’t make any effort to stop.  I’m still waiting for this big change that fans insist he goes through.   Over halfway through the second book from his perspective and it shows no sign of happening.

As they arrive home, they start discussing events whilst waiting for the elevator:

Ana whispers, “Christian, why are you so mad at me?”

“You know why.” As we enter the elevator, I punch the code into the keypad. “God, if something had happened to you, he’d be dead by now. As it is, I’m going to ruin his career so he can’t take advantage of young women anymore, miserable excuse for a man that he is.”

If anything had happened to her…Leila yesterday. Hyde today. Hell.

It’s not her fault she was attacked.  His anger is totally misdirected.  Sure, she used her work email after he told her not to, but she didn’t say “hey, Jack?  Please molest me!”

Of course, rather than actually discuss what happened – and Grey’s reaction to it – Ana bites her lip and they end up kissing and clawing at each other, like the sex robots they are.

Grey asks Ana if she really did kick Hyde in the balls, like he accused her of doing.  Ana says yes and that Ray is ex Army and taught her to defend herself.  Grey makes a super creepy comment about having to remember that (which wouldn’t be so creepy, coming from a non-abusive partner).

When they get into the apartment, Grey calls Barney to ask what else Jack Hyde had on his computer and Barney admits that Jack had a file entitled “Greys,” which featured photos of all the Grey family, as well as articles about Charlie Tango, pictures of Grey with Ana and articles about Grey’s company.  Grey orders Barney to send across everything he found and tells him to keep quiet about it.

Just imagine if Ana found out someone had a secret file on her (someone aside from Grey,!) and decided not to tell Grey about it.  This guy has ludicrous double standards.

 

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Grey resolves to call Welch in the morning and have him investigate further.  Because calling the police is apparently something Grey is allergic to.

As he and Ana wait for Gail to serve them dinner, Ana worries about what today’s events have done for her career:

“What’s wrong?”

“I don’t know if I still have a job.”

“Do you still want one?”

“Of course.”

“Then you still have one.”

She rolls her eyes, and I smile and take another sip of my wine.

Because of course, when he said he wouldn’t interfere with her career anymore, he was, as always, lying.  Sure, in this case, it’s good that he can make sure she’s still employed at SIP, but we all know the extent to which he interferes and so I feel grossed out by this exchange.  Also, why does he insist on constantly trying to get her to give up work and be his little permanent sex slave??!!  She’s told him over and over that she wants to work.  He just doesn’t listen to her about anything.

Tell me again, how this relationship is supposed to be one we all aspire to.

Ana asks if Grey has spoken to Barney about what Jack had on his computer.  Grey lies that it was nothing important.  Again, please consider how Grey would react if the tables were turned and someone had a file of articles and photos about Ana and her family, that she chose not to warn Grey about.

Grey’s internal monologue insists that he’s trying not to worry Ana about the files, but that’s a lousy excuse and we all know it.

Still, Ana’s about to give Grey something else to be mad about: José will be delivering the photos of Ana that Grey bought at his show, on Friday, and he wants to go out for a drink with Ana, too:

“He wants to go out. For a drink. With me.”

“I see.”

“And Kate and Elliot should be back.”

I put my fork down on my plate. “What exactly are you asking?”

“I’m not asking anything. I’m informing you of my plans for Friday. Look, I want to see José, and he wants to stay over. Either he stays here or he can stay at my place, but if he does, I should be there, too.”

“He made a pass at you.”

“Christian, that was weeks ago. He was drunk, I was drunk, you saved the day—it won’t happen again. He’s no Jack, for heaven’s sake.”

Maybe not, but your boyfriend is.

“Ethan’s there. He can keep him company.”

“He wants to see me, not Ethan,” Ana says. I scowl at her.

“He’s just a friend,” she continues.

She’s already endured Hyde—what if Rodriguez gets drunk and tries his luck again with Ana? “I don’t like it.”

Ana takes a deep breath; she’s trying to keep her cool. “He’s my friend, Christian. I haven’t seen him since his show. And that was too brief. I know you don’t have any friends, apart from that god-awful woman, but I don’t moan about you seeing her.”

 

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You… You kind of do, Ana.

The conversation continues, culminating in yet more evidence that Grey has asked Ana to move in with him, without thinking about what that actually means:

“Elena. You’d rather I didn’t see her?”

“Exactly. I’d rather you didn’t see her.”

“Why didn’t you say?”

“Because it’s not my place to say. You think she’s your only friend.” She’s exasperated. “Just as it’s not your place to say if I can or can’t see José. Don’t you see that?”

She has a point. If he stays here, then he can’t make a pass at her. Can he? “He can stay here, I suppose. I can keep an eye on him.”

“Thank you! You know, if I am going to live here, too…” Her voice trails off.

Yes. She’ll need to invite her friends here. Jesus. I hadn’t thought about that.

Of course you hadn’t.  You’d just thought about the benefits for you.

Grey finally asks her if she’s okay, before he goes off to work in his office for a while.  He thinks about his marriage proposal and, shockingly, decides not to push her for an answer again, just yet.  Is that the change?!  I’m looking so hard for a drastic change that magically makes him a better person…

After he’s done working, Grey goes to look for Ana and is surprised that he can’t find her in the bedroom, bathroom or library.  He finds her in his playroom, looking with distaste at his collection of canes.  He watches her open a drawer and take out a butt plug.

He asks what she’s doing and she admits that she was bored and curious.  They have a serious red-flag conversation, the warning signs of which Grey utterly ignores as usual:

“You’re not mad?”

“Why would I be mad?”

“I feel like I’m trespassing. And you’re always mad at me.”

Am I? “Yes, you’re trespassing, but I’m not mad. I hope that one day you’ll live with me here, and all this”—I wave my hand around the room—“will be yours, too. That’s why I was in here today. Trying to decide what to do.”

I watch her expression, thinking about what she’s just said. I’m mostly angry at myself, not her. “Am I angry with you all the time? I wasn’t this morning.”

She smiles. “You were playful. I like playful Christian.”

“Do you, now?” I ask, raising an eyebrow and returning her smile. I love her compliments.

Instead of focusing on the slight compliment, why doesn’t he say out loud that he’s mostly angry with himself and not her?  For your partner to insinuate that they feel you’re constantly mad at them, is a pretty warning of problems in your relationship.  It’s not a healthy way to be.  But as always, Grey follows the path that’ll get his ego stroked.

 

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Grey talks Ana through some of the items in the playroom.  She’s not interested in butt plugs or, for some reason, vibrators, but starts getting turned on at the thought of nipple clamps.  He shows her a ball-gag and Ana reminds him that anything that might make her feel like she couldn’t breathe is a soft limit.  Grey goes off on a rant about how arousing it would be if she gave him ultimate control over her body, wearing a ball-gag so she couldn’t talk and he had to rely on her body to tell him what she wanted.  Ana says it sounds as though he misses being a Dominant and he tells her it’s what he knows best.  Ana insists that he still does have power over her and he tells her she makes him feel completely powerless.

He tells her she’s the only one with the power to hurt him and she says that works both ways.

I’m so fucking bored.

Ana hints that they could play, but Grey is annoyed at the thought, because she was attacked, earlier and doesn’t think she’s taking it seriously enough.  Ana carries on looking through Grey’s collection of toys and finds a spreader bar that she wants him to demonstrate on her.  He tells her he can’t do it in the playroom, and insists they go back to the bedroom, instead.

Ugh, why must I sit through another torturously same-y sex scene?!

 

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Ana asks why they can’t just have sex in the playroom and Grey makes a speech that, considering this book is supposed to be pro BDSM, really sounds anti as hell:

“Ana, you may be ready to go back in there, but I’m not. Last time we were in there, you left me. I keep telling you—when will you understand? My whole attitude has changed as a result. My whole outlook on life has radically shifted. I’ve told you this. What I haven’t told you is—” I pause, searching for the right words. “I’m like a recovering alcoholic, okay? That’s the only comparison I can draw. The compulsion has gone, but I don’t want to put temptation in my way. I don’t want to hurt you.”

And I can’t trust you to tell me what you will and won’t do.

She frowns. “I can’t bear to hurt you because I love you,” I add.

You can only do BDSM with someone you don’t love, you guys.  Who knew?!

Ana wants to fuck on the stairs, but Grey says no, so they head to the bedroom.  She goes down on him, letting him come in her mouth.  For reasons only Grey and EL James understands, this makes him tell her he’s going to “take revenge.”  Which means he’s going to go down on her.  Why not just say that, instead of making everything sound creepy?!

And guess what he tells her whilst he’s going down on her?  Why, that she’s his possession, of course!

“Say my name.”

“Christian,” she exclaims.

“Again.”

“Christian, Christian, Christian Grey,” she shouts.

She’s close. “You are mine,” I whisper, and suck and flick her with my tongue.

Just so you know, she might be close, but I’m absolutely the opposite.  You make me want to superglue my vagina shut.

 

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But he’s not done being possessive and gross, yet:

I run my fingers down her spine and pause over her ass. “When you’re ready, I want this, too.” I brush my thumb over her anus, and she tenses and gasps. “Not today, sweet Ana,” I reassure her, “but one day. I want you every way. I want to possess every inch of you. You’re mine.”

I’m only not red-inking that, because in a healthy relationship, this might be sexy for some.  But in this relationship, which is deeply unhealthy, it’s creepy and vile.

After the twelve seconds of shagging he gives her, they lie together and he thinks some flowery shit about her having brought light and love into his life.  He inwardly wishes she would accept his proposal and then they have a vomit-inducing pillow talk session:

She gives me a drowsy smile and closes her eyes.

“I never want to let you go.”

“I never want to go,” she rambles. “Never let me go.”

“I need you,” I whisper, and her lips lift in a tender smile as her breathing evens out.

She’s asleep.

So am I, practically.

But thankfully, this is where this chapter ends.

As a heads up, if England win their World Cup semi final game on Wednesday, there won’t be a recap next Sunday, as I’ll be too busy glued to the TV.  So, no offence, but I really, really hope there’s no recap, next week…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Darker Chapter 6 (Tuesday, June 14, 2011)

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I’ll be honest, I didn’t think you’d be getting a recap, this weekend.  I spent all of Friday night with my head down the toilet (working with kids is like working in a Petri dish) and all of yesterday in bed, so I figured it was highly unlikely I’d get around to any recapping.  But, through the power of rest and Lucozade (pro-tip: drink fizzy drinks when you’ve stopped being sick!  Everyone says to drink flat coke or lemonade, but you want it fizzy, because the fizziness causes you to burp and get rid of any nasty gases causing pain or nausea), here I am!

And now, I have to dive back into something that will make me feel sick all over again: Darker!

When we left things at the end of chapter 5, Grey had carried Ana to bed and was going off to have a shower, to scrub the day off himself.  It had been a tough day for him, apparently, what with all the treating employees like shit, claiming ownership of his girlfriend’s body and having her watched at work, despite promising not to.  Poor thing.

Chapter 6 starts with…

…CAN YOU GUESS?!

GREY WAKING UP!!

 

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Maybe one day, EL James will learn how to start and end chapters without having her characters waking up or falling asleep, but today is not that day.

Grey is, naturally, waking in a sweaty panic, because that’s just his general waking mood.

It’s 1:45am and Ana is fast asleep next to him.  Grey can’t shake the feeling that something’s wrong and wonders if it’s Leila.  He gets up, grabs some clothes and heads to see his security dude, Ryan (that should definitely be Ryan’s job title, by the way), who assures him that nobody has seen Leila on the CCTV monitors and that Reynolds (the other security dude) has just finished a sweep of the apartment.

Grey heads to get a drink and ponders the current situation:

Where are you, Leila?

I see her in my mind’s eye, head bowed. Willing. Waiting. Wanting. Kneeling in my playroom, asleep in her room, kneeling by my side as I work in my study. And now for all I know she’s wandering the streets of Seattle, cold and lonely and acting crazy.

Just going to make the point that Grey’s only real thoughts of Leila are of her as a sex object or slave.  He doesn’t picture her as someone he talked to, or actually cared for.  Whether this is purposeful, because ELJ is obsessed with having Ana be the only woman Grey could possibly contemplate treating as a human being, or whether she wants to portray Leila as some kind of “perfect sub” to highlight the differences between Leila and Ana, I don’t know.  But it makes me a bit grossed out.  I’m fairly sure if an ex of mine had gone off the rails, made a suicide attempt in my home, destroyed my new partner’s car and gotten hold of a gun and was therefore a potential risk to me or anyone I loved, my thoughts of them wouldn’t be almost exclusively sexual.

Maybe I’m uneasy because Ana’s agreed to move in.

I can protect her. But she doesn’t want that. I shake my head. Anastasia is challenging. She’s very challenging.

Welcome to falling in love. Flynn’s words haunt me. So this is what it’s like. Confusing, exhilarating, exhausting.

Ana is about as challenging as a 4-piece jigsaw puzzle, made for toddlers.

 

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Grey walks over to the piano, thinking he doesn’t want to wake Ana.  He starts to play and… Wakes Ana.  I’m stunned.

He immediately stops playing, because she looks too good, he simply has to touch her.  They have a conversation that makes me want to throw my laptop across the room:

“Why do we fight?” I ask, as my teeth tease her earlobe.

“Because we’re getting to know each other, and you’re stubborn and cantankerous and moody and difficult.” She tilts her head to give me better access to her neck.

I smile against her skin as I run my nose down her throat.

Challenging.

“I’m all those things, Miss Steele. It’s a wonder you put up with me.” I graze her earlobe with my teeth.

I’ve put his internal thought of “challenging” in red, because he’s still blaming her for being difficult, despite actually admitting that he’s the moody, stubborn one.  All she’s doing is openly admitting to his behaviour and in doing so, sure, you could argue she’s challenging that behaviour, but she should be, because she shouldn’t have to tolerate it.  And note that nowhere in his internal thoughts does he ponder whether he ought to fix those negative personality traits, or work on his behaviour.  He just admits to being all the things she says he is and makes some joke about her putting up with him.  To all the fans who tell us how much he changes?  This is evidence that he doesn’t.  A person trying to change would have responded: “Yes, I know I can be all of those things, but I’m working on it, I promise.”  Grey does no such thing, because he doesn’t really see those traits as negative qualities.  He expects to be able to stay stubborn, cantankerous, moody and difficult and to just keep blaming Ana for being so damn challenging.

That’s the mindset of a psychological abuser.

 

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Then there’s a really badly written part, where Grey only explains his meaning in his head, causing Ana to quite possibly respond to something totally different:

“Is it always like this?” I whisper against her skin. I cannot get enough of her?

“I have no idea,” she says, her voice little more than a sigh.

This comes almost immediately after the last section I copied and pasted, so to me, because Grey doesn’t openly say “is it always like this?  I can’t get enough of you?” and instead just stops at “is it always like this?” it sounds as though he means “is it always like this?  Fighting and then making up all the time?”  Which… Well, sums up their relationship, to be honest.

Grey lies Ana against the piano and starts going down on her.  And as always, for him, sex has to equal ownership:

She’s mine. Exposed. At my mercy. And I love it.

Ew, change the record, prick.

Speaking of him being a prick, as Ana gets closer to orgasming, he decides to practise orgasm denial on her, as punishment for her arguing with him, earlier.

“No,” she whimpers. She doesn’t want me to stop.

“This is my revenge, Ana. Argue with me and I am going to take it out on your body somehow.”

 

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They are supposedly in a “vanilla” relationship and he’s threatening that he’ll take it out on her body, if she argues with him?!  Even in a BDSM relationship, any kind of “punishment” should happen with full consent.  This is fucking gross.

He fucks her, it’s badly written as usual, he lasts approximately nine seconds and again talks about “claiming” her:

“I want you so badly,” I whisper, and slowly claim her.

Just… So much ew.

A little later, Ana asks him if he drinks tea or coffee in the evenings, explaining that she wanted to bring a drink to his study for him, but wasn’t sure what he’d like.  Apparently going and asking him at the time didn’t occur to her.  Grey’s answer “water or wine,” proves to Ana that they still don’t really know one another very well and this gives Grey a chance to internally mope and to continue to refuse to be honest with her:

“We really know very little about each other,” she whispers.

“I know.” She doesn’t know me. And when she does…

She leans up, frowning. “What is it?”

I wish I could tell you. But if I do, you’ll leave.

I cup her beautiful, sweet face. “I love you, Ana Steele.”

“I love you, too, Christian Grey. Nothing you tell me will drive me away.”

We’ll see, Ana. We’ll see.

THEN FUCKING SEE, YOU DICKHEAD.  TELL HER.  IF SHE’S MOVING IN WITH YOU AND YOU HONESTLY THINK YOU’RE SUCH A MONSTER THAT SHE’LL LEAVE YOU IF SHE EVER FINDS OUT THE FULL TRUTH ABOUT YOU (WHICH YOU ARE, BY THE WAY), GIVE HER THE OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE AN INFORMED CHOICE BEFORE SHE GIVES UP HER HOME AND MOVES INTO YOURS.

Why am I reading this?!

 

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We get a really clumsy attempt at a metaphor, in the form of yet another boring Grey dream.  He’s in his grandfather’s apple orchard.  There are red and green apple trees.  The green apples are bitter, but the red ones are sweet.  There’s some shit about how “we fooled the tree, it thought it was going to make bitter apples, but they’re sweet.”  The section ends with:

We fooled the tree.

It’s not nasty. It’s sweet.

Not nasty. Sweet.

Are we supposed to believe this is Christian Grey’s subconscious referring to himself as “not nasty, sweet?”  Because if so, HAHAHAHAHAHA NO.  And if it’s a reference to relationships and his thought that commitment would be a bad thing, but it’s turned out great, it’s confused as all heck and just feels pointless.

When they’re both awake, Ana asks him if he had any more nightmares and he tells her no.  She asks what his nightmares are about and it’s time for some more dead-mother-bashing…

Her question catches me off-guard, and suddenly I’m thinking of my four-year-old self—helpless, lost, lonely, hurting, and filled with rage. “They’re flashbacks of my early childhood, or so Dr. Flynn says. Some vivid, some less so.”

I was a neglected, abused child.

My mother didn’t love me.

She didn’t protect me.

She killed herself and abandoned me.

The crack whore dead on the floor.

The burn.

Not the burn.

No. Don’t go there, Grey.

I tell you where else you can stop going: the whole “my mother didn’t love me” self-pity trip.  If Flynn was any kind of therapist, he’d have made Grey see that that simply isn’t true.  We see enough flashbacks of Ella trying to do nice things for her son to know that she obviously did love him, but was being abused by her pimp and was addicted to drugs.  I’m so sick of her being painted as some kind of monster.

Ana continues:

“Do you wake up crying and screaming?”

Ana’s question brings me back, and I’m running my finger along her collarbone, keeping contact with her. My dreamcatcher.

“No, Anastasia. I’ve never cried. As far as I can remember.”

Even that evil fucking bastard couldn’t make me cry.

Because crying is weak, apparently? If this is true – if he has never cried – this is definitely something Flynn should be working on, in their therapy sessions.  That’s a whole lot of repression, right there.  Still, ELJ obviously thinks not crying makes him somehow super strong, or something.  Thanks for encouraging toxic masculinity in your shitty books, ELJ!

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Ana asks if he has any happy childhood memories and Grey replies:

“I recall the crack whore baking. I remember the smell. A birthday cake, I think. For me.”

Mommy is in the kitchen.

It smells of nice.

Nice and warm and chocolate.

She sings.

Mommy’s Happy song.

She smiles. “This is for you, Maggot.”

For me!

Sure, “Maggot” isn’t the nicest of nicknames, but again, this is a woman who’s being abused and dealing with addiction, yet she’s still making the effort to bake a cake for Grey’s birthday.  Don’t give me that “she never loved him” bullshit.

Grey lists other happy memories, all taking place after he was adopted.  Then he confesses that his adopted mother, Grace, saved him by taking him on and thinks to himself that he’d be dead if he hadn’t gone to live with the Greys.  All of which makes the shitty way he treats them all the more grim.

He tells Ana that their conversation is rather deep for 6:15am and she replies that she’s made a vow to try to get to know him better, which seems sensible, given that she’s moving in with the guy.  He “nudge(s) her with (his) erection” and suggests a different way she can get to know him, because this guy isn’t actually interested in a relationship, he just wants a sex toy.  They have sex, because of course they do, but mercifully, it happens off screen.

 

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We cut to them eating breakfast and Ana asks when Grey is going to set up some training for her with Claude Bastille.  Grey says he’ll get Andrea to call Bastille to sort it out.  Their resulting conversation is creepy on so many levels:

“Andrea?”

“My PA.”

She’s back today. What a relief.

“One of your many blondes?”

“She’s not mine. She works for me. You’re mine.”

“I work for you.”

Oh yes! “So you do.”

“Maybe Claude can teach me to kickbox,” Ana says, but she’s grinning like a fool, too.

Clearly she wants to improve her odds against me. Now, this could be interesting. “Bring it on, Miss Steele.”

This chapter is barely a third of the way in and we’ve had at least three, if not four references to him owning Ana, so far.  That shit really needs to die.  And as for Ana wanting to improve her odds against him?!  That sounds threatening as hell.

Grey also internally thinks about how having sex first thing in the morning is really good for his mood.  Because that’s all that matters.  Him.

As they’re eating, Ana decides to ask Grey something and it dissolves into just a whole heap of red flags

“Can I ask you something?” Ana interrupts my thoughts.

“Of course.”

“And you won’t be angry?”

Red flag number 1: having to ask your partner not to be angry with you for asking an innocent question.

“Is it about Elena?”

“No.”

Then I won’t be angry.”

Red flag number 2: deciding that a subject you know your partner is concerned about and wants to discuss, is now determinedly off-limits and threatening anger if they bring it up.

“But I now have a supplementary question.” “

Oh?”

“Which is about her.”

My sense of humor evaporates. “What?”

Red flag number 3: Actually becoming angry when the subject is mentioned, again, despite knowing how important it is to your partner to understand it.

“Why do you get so mad when I ask you about her?”

“Honestly?” I ask.

“I thought you were always honest with me.”

“I endeavor to be.”

That sounds like a very evasive answer.

Red flag number 4: Grey does this a lot – he finds a way to give a non-answer, or a half-answer in response to questions he doesn’t feel like answering.  It’s not healthy to keep as much from your partner as he is purposefully keeping from Ana.

He tells her he is always honest with her…

 

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…Then he tells her he doesn’t want to play games with her (another lie), adding: “Well, not those sort of games.”

Naturally, this makes Ana all horny and she asks what games he does want to play, before getting the giggles, rendering her distracted enough for Grey to ask her what her original question was, so she doesn’t get to ask the one about Elena.  Another red flag?  Distracting someone like this, when they’re trying to get honest information out of you.

It turns out that Ana’s question was merely about the fact that former subs all signed the same agreement about staying over at weekends, meaning he surely can’t have had sex during the week.  Grey responds that that’s why he works out on weekdays and I honestly read this bit and just went: “IS THAT IT?!”

I feel like this whole section contained more pointless padding than an Ann Summers bra.

On the way to work, Grey reminds Ana that Kate’s brother Ethan is arriving later that day.  Good to know we’ll be getting some really possessive, creepy shit from Grey, later! Ana had forgotten and is grateful for the reminder, telling Grey it means she’ll have to go over her apartment at some point.  Naturally, Grey insists Sawyer drives her there and informs her that Sawyer will be watching her at work, again.  For her safety, you understand.  Ana responds with sarcasm and Grey wishes he could spank her.

Meanwhile, I wish Leila would turn up and disembowel Grey, before running off, wearing his testicles as earrings.

But we can’t always get what we want.

 

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He also tells her to use her Blackberry to email him, rather than the work email system.

“Yes, Christian.” She rolls her eyes.

“Why, Miss Steele, I do believe you’re making my palm twitch.”

“Ah, Mr. Grey, your perpetually twitching palm. What are we going to do with that?”

I laugh. She’s funny.

You aren’t.

I’ve long said that the whole “you’re making my palm twitch” is nothing but victim-blaming bollocks that refers to wanting to beat someone without consent and I’m not about to change my opinion, now.

Elena calls and tells Grey that the threatening note and the demand for cash that she was so worried about recently actually came from her sub, Isaac, and was just part of a scene.  Plot averted.

Ana gets dropped off at work and Taylor suggests they perform a sweep of Ana’s own apartment before she goes back there later, because of the threat from Leila.

Grey gets to work and Andrea is back, which means poor Montana doesn’t have to be treated like dirt, anymore.  Andrea introduces Grey to a new intern called Sarah, who Grey instantly gets internally misogynistic about, because she has a good, strong handshake and therefore can’t be “mousy,” and because he hopes he won’t find her enthusiasm “irritating.”

This fucking guy.

He asks Andrea why she didn’t tell him she was getting married and she explains that it’s because it says in her contract that she’s not supposed to fraternise with her colleagues, but her new husband works for the company.  She explains that he needed a green card and Grey gets internally judgemental, before Andrea adds that she didn’t marry him for that reason – she loves him – and then Grey gets to stop judging her.  For now, anyway.  I’m sure he’ll find an excuse.  He asks her how married life is going so far and Andrea says she’d recommend it.  Grey thinks Andrea is “glowing” and he compares her lovestruck, happy appearance with how he feels about his relationship with Ana:

MARRIAGE. I CONTEMPLATE THE institution when Andrea leaves. It obviously agrees with her. It’s what most women want. Isn’t it? I wonder what Ana would do if I asked her to marry me. I shake my head, feeling ambushed by the thought. Don’t be ridiculous, Grey.

And lo, the marriage seed is planted.

 

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Grey sends Ana an email, telling he loves waking up with her.  He adds “completely and utterly smitten” to his usual “CEO” signature, which I think is meant to be cute, but it would be cuter if he just didn’t send the damn “CEO” bit at all.

Ana replies like a good sex toy would:

Dear Completely & Utterly Smitten

I love waking up with you, too. But I love being in bed with you and in elevators and on pianos and billiard tables and boats and desks and showers and bathtubs and strange wooden crosses with shackles and four-poster beds with red satin sheets and boathouses and childhood bedrooms.

Yours

Sex Mad and Insatiable xx

I HAVE VOMITED ENOUGH THIS WEEKEND, DAMNIT.

I’m so glad their relationship is built on more than just sex, though, right guys?!

Grey spits his coffee out all over his computer keyboard, laughing at his hilarious girlfriend, and emails back to ask whether she only wants him for his body.

Ana replies “always” and then tells him to stop bothering her, because she has work to do.  Annoyingly, she now signs emails “SM&I” (sex mad and insatiable), because that isn’t already something I want to forget.

Later, Ana phones Christian’s mobile whilst he’s in a meeting, telling him that Jack has asked her to go out and get his lunch for her and that Grey ought to give her Sawyer’s number so she can let him know directly if she’s leaving the building for any reason.  This seems like a pointless call, seeing as the whole reason Ana was annoyed yesterday was because Sawyer was watching the building all day, without her knowing, and Grey has already told her that Sawyer will be doing the same thing again, today.  So, wouldn’t he just see her leave, without needing to be warned about it?!

Anyway, the call is basically only inserted here so that we can have Grey tell the business associates he’s having the meeting with that it’s his girlfriend on the phone and Ana can make another “joke” about the fact that they probably all thought he was gay, until now.

 

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There’s yet another pointless scene, this time in which Grey is training with Bastille and Bastille comments on him being too soft because he has a beautiful girlfriend, now.  The scene ends with Grey thinking: “Enough is enough, he’s going down.”

Later, Grey gets another email from Ana, this time telling him that Ethan has arrived and that he’ll be picking up the apartment keys from her at work.  She suggests that Grey picks her up from work at the end of the day and that they can ALL (capitals are hers, not mine) go out for a meal together, her treat.

I can’t wait for him to be butt-hurt and emasculated by the idea of a woman paying…

Sure enough…

I approve of your plan. Except the part about you paying! My treat.

I’ll pick you up at 6:00.

x

P.S.: Why aren’t you using your BlackBerry!!!

Let the woman pay, you utter jackass.  It’s the twenty first century – it’s allowed.

Because he’s pissy with her for using her work email, he changes his email signature to “completely and utterly annoyed” instead of “completely and utterly smitten.”  Because he is twelve.

Ana tells him she’s writing “in code,” which… well, she clearly isn’t.  She also tells him to stop being “crusty and cross.”

The word “crusty” just makes me think of his almost certainly permanently jizz-stained underpants.  Once again, I have vomited enough this weekend, ELJ.

 

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There’s a boring business call I’m going to skip because it has naff all to do with the piss-poor excuse for a “plot” in this book and is blatant dull padding, before Grey goes to pick Ana up from work and she actually refers to herself as “sex mad and insatiable” when he calls her to say he’s arrived.  I’m so glad this is sticking around, it’s not making me want to stick pins in my eyes or anything…

Grey gets another boring call about some disgruntled dude whose company Grey’s ludicrous business empire took over, whilst Ana gets out of the car to pick up Ethan from the apartment.  Grey carries on with the call, watching Ana get buzzed into the building and disappear through the door, before he suddenly sees Ethan heading down the street and realises it therefore wasn’t him who let Ana in.

DUN DUN DUUUUUUN.

He dashes out of the car, telling Taylor to follow him, and warns Ethan that there might be an armed intruder in the apartment with Ana.  He actually calls Ethan “Kavanagh,” which really pisses me off, because I feel like referring to him by his surname, the way he does Taylor, who is Grey’s employee, is some kind of power trip on Grey’s part.

I burst into the apartment and there they are.

A face-off.

Ana and Leila.

And Leila’s holding a gun.

SHOOT HIM, LEILA.  SHOOT CHRISTIAN GREY AND DO THE WORLD A FAVOUR.

 

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I want to lunge at Leila. Take the gun. Bring her down. But I freeze and check Ana. Her eyes are wide with fright and something I can’t name. Compassion, maybe? But to my relief, she’s unharmed.

The sight of Leila is a shock. Not only does she have her fingers wrapped around a gun, but she’s lost so much weight. She’s filthy. Her clothes are in tatters and her clouded brown eyes are expressionless. A lump forms in my throat and I don’t know if it’s fear or empathy. But my biggest concern is that she’s still holding a gun with Ana in the room.

Does she mean to harm her?

Does she mean to harm me?

Please harm him, Leila.

 

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Now, we’ve read this from Ana’s perspective and we know what happens.  But from Grey’s…  Oh, guys.  Prepare yourselves.

Grey stares at Leila and suddenly her lifeless eyes light up.  They hold one another’s gaze for several minutes, whilst Grey refuses to let Taylor do anything, much to Taylor’s disgust.  And basically, the gist is, Grey is SO damn amazing, Leila suddenly doesn’t want to hurt Ana or anyone else, anymore:

Slowly, the light in her eyes changes; the brightness increases, from dull brown to hazel. And I see a flash of the Leila I knew. There’s a spark of connection. A kindred spirit who enjoyed everything we shared.

Our old bond, it’s there. I sense it between us. She’s giving this to me.

Her breathing quickens and she licks her chapped lips, yet her tongue leaves no moisture.

But it’s enough. Enough to tell me what she needs. What she wants.

She wants me.

And then they fuck.

Except they don’t, but isn’t that how that reads?!

It goes on:

Me at what I do best.

Her lips part, her chest rises and falls, and a trace of color appears in her cheeks. Her eyes brighten, her pupils enlarging.

Yes. This is what she wants. To cede control. She wants a way out. She’s had enough.

She’s weary. She’s mine.

“Kneel,” I whisper, for her ears only. She drops to her knees like the natural submissive she is.

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She’s his.  And Ana’s his.  We are all his.

Please kill me, so I can stop reading this crap.

Grey takes the gun away from Leila, thinking something truly ironic:

Deep down I know I will never forgive Leila for this. I know she’s unwell—broken, even. But to threaten Ana? Unforgivable.

How many times has he threatened Ana?  And how many times has he excused himself, based on the fact that he’s some kind of broken man-child?!  Fuck you, Grey.

Grey tells Ana to leave with Taylor, assuring her that Ethan is outside, unharmed.  Ana remains rooted to the spot, so he tells her again to go and she again stays put:

I step beside Leila—and still Ana won’t move. “For the love of God, Anastasia, will you do as you’re told for once in your life and go!”

Our eyes lock and I implore her to leave. I can’t do this with her here. I don’t know how stable Leila is; she needs help, and she might hurt Ana. I try to convey this to Ana with my beseeching look. But she’s ashen. She’s in shock. Shit.

She’s had a fright, Grey. She can’t move.

“Taylor. Take Miss Steele downstairs. Now.” Taylor nods and makes a move to Ana.

“Why?” Ana whispers.

“Go. Back to the apartment. I need to be alone with Leila.” Please. I need you out of harm’s way. She looks from me to Leila. Ana. Go. Please. I need to take care of this problem.

“Miss Steele. Ana.” Taylor holds his hand out to Anastasia.

“Taylor,” I urge. Without hesitation, he scoops Ana into his arms and leaves the apartment.

Again with the shitty habit of only saying half the sentence out loud and thinking the rest in his stupid head.  If he had actually said “I need you out of harm’s way,” that would be far more reassuring to Ana than simply saying “I need to be alone with Leila.”  He knows how insecure and jealous Ana can be.

Once Ana is gone, Grey tells Leila to get up and to look at him.

Slowly, she lifts her head, and her pain is visible on her face. Tears spring to her eyes and start to trickle down her cheeks.

“Oh, Leila,” I whisper, and I embrace her.

Fuck. The smell. She stinks of poverty and neglect and homelessness. And I’m back in a small, badly lit apartment above a cheap liquor store in Detroit.

She smells of him. His boots. His unwashed body. His squalor.

Saliva pools in my mouth and I gag. Once. It’s hard to bear. Hell.

But she doesn’t notice. I hold her as she weeps and weeps and weeps, snot-sobbing all over my jacket. I hold her. Trying not to retch. Trying to banish the stench. A stench so achingly familiar. And so unwelcome. “Hush,” I whisper. “Hush.”

When she’s gasping for air and her body is racked with dry sobs, I release her. “You need a bath.”

I like how Grey manages to somehow make this about himself.

By which I mean, I hate it.

And sure, smells can evoke memories, of course they can, but you’re dealing with a woman in the grip of one heck of a breakdown, maybe focus on her.

 

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Grey takes Leila through Kate’s bedroom and into her en suite, which…  I mean, okay, if she’s the one with a bath, but I’m sure Ana’s shower would have sufficed to clean this woman.

Grey asks Leila if she wants a bath and she nods.  He tells her she’ll have to take her clothes off and she merely nods again, so he starts undressing her, as she seems unable to do it, herself:

I pull off her blouse and try not to register my shock at her appearance. She’s emaciated, all jutting bones and pointed angles, a sharp contrast to the Leila of old. It’s sickening.

This is my fault; I should have found her earlier.

Ugh.  So much of this is your fault, but I have no time for your self-pity.

Shockingly, he actually has the decency not to take off her underwear for her, insisting she do it herself, although he still has to inwardly feel horrified that she’s not as sexy as she used to be:

“You’ll need to take those off.” I’m referring to her grubby underwear. She looks at me. “No. You do it,” I say and turn around to give her a modicum of privacy. I hear her move, a scraping of her flats on the bathroom floor, and when she stops I turn around and she’s naked.

Gone are her lush curves.

She must not have eaten for weeks.

It’s galling.

Galling means causing annoyance.  So, this woman has suffered a mental breakdown and not only is Grey lamenting the loss of her “lush curves,” rather than focusing on helping her, he’s also pissed off that she’s not been eating properly.

This guy is a bell end.

I mean, I understand being angry that someone hasn’t been looking after themselves, when it comes from a frustrated place of loving that person and wanting them to be well, but this just feels entitled and typical of Grey.

 

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Grey starts washing Leila, using a scrubber belonging to Kate, thinking she won’t miss it, because she has another.  Again, I feel like maybe he could replace it, seeing as he’s loaded, but whatever.

He washes her hair, thinking to himself that he bathed Leila many times before, as a reward for her good behaviour in his playroom and that it was always a pleasure, back then, whereas this isn’t.

Once she’s clean, he wraps her in a large towel (again, Kate’s) and then he towel dries her hair and leads her back to the lounge, where he tells her to sit on the sofa and wait for him.  He returns to the bathroom, where he privately calls Doctor Flynn (sorry, Leila!) and tells him to come straight over.  At no point in the conversation does Grey give more of an address than “Ana’s apartment,” so… Does Flynn stalk her too?  I’m so confused.

Grey gives Leila some of Ana’s clothes to put on, as hers are fit for nothing but the bin.  I’m actually surprised he didn’t give her Kate’s.  Leila starts to talk about why she’s in such a bad place:

“He’s gone,” she says, and her face contorts with pain and grief.

“I know. I’m sorry.”

“He was like you.”

“Was he?”

“Yes.”

“I see.” Well, that explains why she sought me out.

It explains why she’s in such a bad way, if she’s been with another guy who’s anything like Christian Grey…

Grey dries Leila’s hair with a hairdryer, inwardly praising her for not touching him, because “she knows she’s not allowed.”  EVERYTHING has to be about him and it’s driving me fucking batty.

Grey tries to talk to Leila, asking whether she’s spoken to her parents.  She says no, they’re not talking to her.  Flynn arrives with his lead nurse, ready to take Leila:

“Would you like to come with me to a place where we can help you?” Flynn asks Leila. She says nothing, but her subdued brown eyes seek mine.

“I think you should go with the doctor. I’ll come with you.”

Flynn frowns but keeps his counsel.

Leila looks from me to him and nods. Good.

Just going to say that if Flynn – the supposed qualified doctor – has reason to think that Grey shouldn’t come with Leila, he really ought to say so.

 

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As they travel towards the clinic they’re taking Leila to, Grey thinks about how comforting it is to know that Ana will be at home, waiting for him.  Which makes me really hope she’s fucked off out.

At the clinic, Flynn tells Grey that Leila is a very sick woman, but that she’s calm and co-operative.  Grey tells Flynn he’ll pay for whatever treatment she needs, which Flynn says is very generous of him.  Grey admits that he feels responsible and whilst Flynn tells him he shouldn’t, I’m saying nothing…

Grey starts worrying that his phone has run out of battery, so he can’t call Ana to see if she’s okay.  As Taylor drives them back to Escala, he tells Grey that Ana went home with Ethan.  This pisses Grey off:

The thought is displeasing. So I picture her snuggled in the armchair in the library, asleep, a book in her lap. Alone.

ANA MUST NOT SPEAK TO ANY OTHER MAN IN ANY CIRCUMSTANCES WHATSOEVER, EVEN WHEN SHE’S JUST HAD A HUGELY TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCE AND PROBABLY NEEDED SOMEONE TO TALK TO.

Grey is a horrible, horrible person.

And he gets worse, because Ana read my mind and went out, rather than going home.  Grey… Does not take this well:

Where the hell is she?

Ryan is monitoring the CCTV. He looks up when I enter Taylor’s office. “Mr. Grey?”

“Did Miss Steele come home?”

“No, sir.”

“Fuck.” I thought she might have been and gone. I turn and head for my study. She doesn’t have her purse or her phone? Why hasn’t she come home? Part of me wants to send the entire team combing the city looking for her. But where do I start? I could call Kavanagh. Taylor says she left with him.

Shit. Ethan and Ana.

The idea does not sit well with me.

 

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Remember how Grey didn’t want Ana going out for her protection?  Well, Leila has been found.  She’s at a clinic.  He literally just left her there.  Ana has her friend with her, so she’s not alone.  This has nothing to do with worry for her safety or anything like that, he’s just being controlling and possessive.  She doesn’t have her phone with her, we’ve been told that already, but he doesn’t need to be able to contact her right away.  It’s totally plausible that she needed to go for a drink or something to get her head around events.  That’s perfectly reasonable.  His behaviour right now?  ISN’T.

He actually considers calling his brother and asking him to get Ethan’s number from Kate, before he realises it’s gone midnight in Barbados and he probably shouldn’t.  Naturally, he then lurches to:

She’s left you, Grey.

If only.

Now, a sensible person would put his phone on charge and check for messages.  After all, she may have tried to ring him from a pay phone.  Not Grey, though.  Not when he can be a melodramatic asshole, instead.  So we get things like:

In my bedroom, I pick up the book I’ve been reading and take it back into the living room.

And wait. And wait.

Ten minutes later, I throw the book onto the sofa beside me. I’m restless and the uncertainty about Ana’s whereabouts is becoming unbearable.

As is this entire book.

I head into Taylor’s office. He’s there with Ryan.

“Mr. Grey.”

“Can you send one of the guys to Ana’s place? I want to check if she’s returned to her apartment.”

“Of course.”

“Thanks.” I head back to the sofa and pick up my book again. I keep glancing at the elevator. But it remains quiet.

Empty. Like me.

Empty except for my growing unease.

She’s gone.

She’s left you.

Leila frightened her off.

 

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At this point, Grey gets a phone call on his mobile, so…  When did he charge it?!

Anyway, it’s Taylor calling to say that Ana’s not at her apartment, but at that very moment, Ana arrives home, slightly tipsy.

This does not go down well.

“Where the fuck have you been?” I bark at her.

She blinks and steps back. She’s flushed. “Have you been drinking?” I ask.

“A bit.”

“I told you to come back here. It’s now fifteen after ten. I’ve been worried about you.”

“I went for a drink or three with Ethan while you attended to your ex.” She spits out the last word like venom.

Hell. She’s mad.

A few things…

Firstly, of course she’s mad.  Because you didn’t say out loud that you wanted her to leave for her own protection, you just told her you needed to be “alone with Leila.”

Secondly, of course she’s going to be snappy with you if the first thing you do is “bark” at her when she gets in.

Thirdly, who the actual fuck says “it’s now fifteen after ten”?!  Was EL James stoned when she wrote this?!  QUARTER PAST.  IT IS QUARTER PAST.

Eventually, Grey’s anger melts into fear as he realises Ana is upset about something.

“What’s wrong?” I press her.

She shakes her head. “I’m no good for you,” she says.

My scalp tingles, pricked by fear. “What? Why do you think that? How can you possibly think that?”

“I can’t be everything you need.”

“You are everything I need.”

“Just seeing you with her—”

Christ. “Why do you do this to me? This is not about you, Ana. It’s about her. Right now, she’s a very sick girl.”

She’s legitimately upset and his reaction is “why do you this to me?”  Just another piece of manipulative bullshit from this bastard.

Ana continues:

“But I felt it. What you had together.”

“What? No.” I reach for her and she steps back, away from me, her cool eyes on mine, assessing me, and I don’t think she likes what she sees…

 

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Because Ana has said something that implies she might leave him, Grey goes into full-on guilt-trip, over-dramatic mode:

“You’re running?” My anxiety rises, tightening my throat. She looks away and her brow furrows, but she says nothing. “You can’t,” I whisper.

“Christian, I—” She stops and I think she’s struggling to say her goodbyes. She’s going. I knew it would happen. But so soon?

“No. No!” I’m on the edge of the abyss once more. I can’t breathe. This is it, what I’d predicted from the beginning.

“I…” Ana mutters.

How do I stop her? I look around the room, for help. What can I do? “You can’t go. Ana, I love you!” It’s my last-minute pitch to save this deal, to save us.

“I love you, too, Christian, it’s just—”

The vortex is sucking me under. She’s had enough. I’ve driven her away. Again. I feel dizzy. I put my hands on my head, trying to contain the pain that slices through me. My despair is carving a hole in my chest that gets bigger and bigger and bigger. It’s going to take me down. “No. No.”

This felt horribly personal for me, because when my abuser did things to hurt me, sometimes I’d say I couldn’t handle it and I needed to leave and I’d get the whole “no, you’re abandoning me like everyone else in my life has” and the gasping for breath and…  Ugh.  This made me angry and sad.

Grey tries to find his “happy place,” which was apparently when he was with Elena and could wear his pain on the outside.  So, he has a brief flashback to her whipping him, which seems totally appropriate for this scenario.

Then, he decides the way to show Ana he needs her to stay is by becoming submissive to her:

I drop to my knees. I take a deep breath and place my hands on my thighs.

Yes. Peace. I’m in a landscape of calm.

I give myself to you. All of me. I’m yours to do with as you wish.

What will she do? I look straight ahead, and I’m aware that she’s watching me. In the far distance, I hear her voice. “Christian, what are you doing?”

I inhale slowly, filling my lungs. Fall is in the air. Ana.

“Christian! What are you doing?” The voice is closer, louder, more high-pitched. “Christian, look at me!” I look up. And wait. She’s beautiful. Pale. Worried. “Christian, please, don’t do this. I don’t want this.”

You must tell me what you want. I wait.

This is manipulative horse shit.  Fans point to this scene as some kind of beautiful turning point, where he learns to sacrifice control and hand it over to her, but read the damn thing.  She’s confused and worried and asking him to stop and he doesn’t, because whatever he might claim he’s doing, in terms of giving himself to her, what he’s actually doing is making her feel guilty and scared, so she won’t walk away from him.  And that’s fucking vile.

 

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Ana cries and gets onto her knees so she’s level with him.  She tells him she was never going to leave and speaks very sensibly about needing space.  Grey’s internal monologue (because as per usual, he speaks none of this aloud) is full of self-pity and proves he’s not listening to her properly:

“It’s overwhelming. I just need some time to think. Some time to myself. Why do you always assume the worst?”

Because the worst happens.

Always.

“I was going to suggest going back to my apartment this evening. You never give me any time—time to just think things through.”

She wants to be on her own.

Away from me.

Bloody hell, dude.  She’s just saying she wants to have a bit of space to process what’s gone on, lately.  That’s understandable.  Stop feeling sorry for yourself.

Ana continues and…you’re going to need a sick bowl for this, guys:

“Seeing you with Leila…” She closes her eyes as if in pain. “It was such a shock. I had a glimpse into how your life has been…and…” She rips her gaze from mine and looks down at her knees. “This is about me not being good enough for you. It was an insight into your life, and I am so scared you’ll get bored with me, and then you’ll go, and I’ll end up like Leila, a shadow. Because I love you, Christian, and if you leave me, it will be like a world without light. I’ll be in darkness. I don’t want to run. I’m just so frightened you’ll leave me.”

She’s scared of the darkness, too.

She’s not going to run.

She loves me.

Try answering her, pillock.  Try reassuring her, instead of sitting there all mute, just so you can get her to spill her fucking guts.  Don’t think I don’t know what this tactic is all about.

And Ana doesn’t stop there.  She starts talking about someone who definitely isn’t the same guy I’ve been reading about:

“You’re, well, you’re you and I’m—” She looks at me, troubled. “I just don’t see it. You’re beautiful and sexy and successful and good and kind and caring—”

 

 

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She goes on and on about how undeserving she is of him and how scared she is of not being enough for him (seriously, I nearly retched) and he doesn’t respond.  Because he wants to hear her say all this, whilst he plays the poor little lost boy.  Seriously, this is what my abuser did every time I called him out on his shit.  Retreated into himself, said nothing, licked his lips a lot (for ages, I genuinely found the sight of anyone licking their lips absolutely abhorrent, because of this) and just stayed like it until I turned the subject round to how amazing he was and how I loved him and wasn’t worthy and was sorry for questioning him.

This whole scene is triggering as fuck.

He even inwardly starts bleating about how cross she is with him, despite the fact that she’s on her knees, sobbing and telling him she adores him and is unworthy of him:

She raises her hand and wipes her nose that’s blotchy and pink from crying. “Are you going to kneel here all night? Because I’ll do it, too!”

She’s mad at me.

She’s always mad at me.

 

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Grey finally starts talking about his fear upon walking in on the scene between Leila and Ana:

“I think I died a thousand deaths, Ana. Someone threatening you. All my worst fears realized. I was so angry, with her, with you, with Taylor, with myself.”

Why…  Why was he angry with Ana?  All she did was walk into her apartment.

And his anger at her continues…

“I just wanted you gone. I wanted you away from the danger, and…You. Just. Wouldn’t. Go.” My exasperation returns and I glare at Ana. “Anastasia Steele, you are the most stubborn woman I know.” I close my eyes and shake my head. What am I going to do with her?

Perhaps you could start by cutting her some damn slack??!!  Maybe you could try remembering that you knew she was frozen to the spot with fear earlier and you’ve just conveniently “forgotten” that, now?!  I’m just brainstorming, here…

We get more over-dramatic crap:

“This is me, Ana. All of me, and I’m all yours. What do I have to do to make you realize that? To make you see that I want you any way I can get you. That I love you.”

“I love you, too, Christian, and to see you like this is—” She pauses as she chokes back tears. “I thought I’d broken you.”

“Broken? Me? Oh no, Ana. Just the opposite.” You make me whole. Reaching out, I take her hand in mine. “You’re my lifeline,” I whisper.

This is genuinely making me feel as nauseous as the stomach bug did.

Grey decides that the only way to prove to Ana that she means everything to him, is by letting her do the one thing she’s always wanted to, but which he’s always forbidden.  He lets her touch his chest:

How can I make her see what she means to me?

Let her touch me.

Touch me, Ana. Yes.

And before I overthink it, I take her hand and place it on my chest, over my heart.

I’m yours, Ana. The darkness expands inside my rib cage and my breathing quickens. But I control my fear. I need her more. I drop my hand, leaving hers in place, and concentrate on her lovely face. Her compassion is there, reflected in her eyes. I see it. She flexes her fingers so I briefly feel her nails through my shirt.

Then she removes her hand. “No.” My response is instinctive, and I press her hand to my chest. “Don’t.”

She looks bewildered, but then she shuffles closer so our knees are touching. She reaches up.

Shit. She’s going to undress me.

Oh God, is there some melodramatic “AND NOW WE MAKE SWEET LOVE” scene coming up?!

 

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Ana touches his chest, feeling the scars left on him from the pimp who abused both he and his mother.  In another book, written well, featuring a lead character who wasn’t a total shit, this might be moving.  In this one…  It’s just overblown and I want it to hurry up and finish.

Fuck. I close my eyes. This will be hard to bear. I tilt my head up. Waiting. And I feel her lips, with acute tenderness, plant a kiss over my heart.

I groan.

It’s excruciating. It’s hell. But it’s Ana, here, loving me.

“Again,” I whisper. She leans in and kisses me above my heart. I know what she’s doing. I know where she’s kissing me. She does it again, and then again. Her lips landing soft and gentle on each of my scars. I know where they are. I know where they’ve been since the day they were burned into my body. And here she is, doing what no one’s ever done. Kissing me. Accepting me. Accepting this dark, dark side of me.

She’s slaying my demons.

My brave girl.

My beautiful brave girl.

And the not-so-subtle take home message?  You don’t need to work on your own issues, you just have to wait for the right person to love you into wellness.  That’s totally healthy and realistic and not at all insulting to the millions of abuse survivors (and those who did not survive) who tried to love their partners into wellness, only to realise it isn’t possible without them actually recognising their need to change and wanting to.

Grey begins to cry and Ana begs for forgiveness.  She tells him she’ll always love him and she’ll never leave him, which makes Grey inwardly do the whole “nobody can love a monster” bollocks for the ninety thousandth time.  Sensing he must be thinking something along those lines, Ana asks him to tell her the big secret that he thinks will make her run away from him.  So he does:

“I’m a sadist, Ana. I like to whip little brown-haired girls like you because you all look like the crack whore—my birth mother. I’m sure you can guess why.” 

 

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Ana is understandably freaked out:

Finally, she speaks, and her voice is a frail whisper. “You said you weren’t a sadist.” “

No, I said I was a Dominant. If I lied to you, it was a lie of omission. I’m sorry.”

I can’t look at her. I’m ashamed. I stare down at my fingers. Like she does. But she remains mute, so I’m forced to look at her. “When you asked me that question, I had envisioned a very different relationship between us,” I add.

It’s the truth.

Ana’s eyes widen, and suddenly she covers her face with her hands. She can’t bear to look at me.

Ana says yet again that she can’t be what he needs and she tells him “this is so fucked up,” which it is.

Grey starts telling her that she is everything he needs, basically openly saying her love has changed him:

“Ana, believe me. After I punished you and you left me, my worldview changed. I wasn’t joking when I said I would avoid ever feeling like that again. When you said you loved me, it was a revelation. No one’s ever said it to me before, and it was as if I’d laid something to rest—or maybe you’d laid it to rest, I don’t know. Dr. Flynn and I are still in deep discussion about it.”

Firstly, that’s a lie.  Grace has told him she loves him, even if Ella never did, I’m 100% certain of it.

Secondly, sure, it’s great he’s in deep discussion with Dr Flynn about how he reacted to Ana saying she loved him, but maybe Dr Flynn should have also been in fairly damn deep discussion about his need to beat women who look like his dead mother, too?!

Ana tells him she’s confused, because he spanked her with a ruler and he likes “kinky fuckery” and surely that means he does still have the same urges as always.  But Grey insists that he never wants to hurt her and the fact that she doesn’t want him to use anything like a cane etc on her means that he never will and the compulsion he once had has apparently gone.

He tells her that in a way, her leaving him was the best thing for their relationship, because it made him see how much she meant to him and that he would rather have her in a “vanilla” relationship than not at all.  He then tells her he’s surprised she hasn’t run a mile at his revelation, which Ana takes as a cue to further remind him how fucked up said revelation actually is (go, Ana!):

“Why? Because I might think you’re a sicko for whipping and fucking women who look like your mother? Whatever would give you that impression?” she snaps.

Fuck. Ana has her claws out, and she’s sinking them into me.

But I deserve it. “Well, I wouldn’t have put it quite like that, but yes.”

She’s angry, maybe? Hurt, possibly? She knows my secret. My dark, dark secret. And now I await her verdict.

Love me.

Or leave me.

 

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Ana says she’s exhausted and confused and would rather go to bed and talk about this in the morning, with a clear head.  Grey is shocked that she’s actually staying with him, rather than walking out.

And then…  Then this happens:

“Do you want me to go?”

“No! I thought you would leave once you knew.”

Her expression is softer, but she still looks confounded.

Please don’t go, Ana.

Life will be unbearable if you go.

“Don’t leave me,” I whisper.

“Oh, for crying out loud—no!” she shouts, startling me. “I am not going to go!”

“Really?” Unbelievable. She astonishes me, even now.

“What can I do to make you understand I will not run? What can I say?” She’s exasperated.

And to my surprise an idea springs to mind. An idea so wild and out of my comfort zone that I wonder where it came from. I swallow. “There is one thing you can do.”

“What?” she snaps.

“Marry me.”

 

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“Hey, woman I just seriously freaked out by confessing to a really gross inclination to beat and fuck women who look like my dead mother – enter into a binding legal agreement to stay with me until we die, just to prove to me that you’re not going to run away as a result of my being a totally fucked up piece of shit!”

So romantic.  I could cry, I really could.

Ana begins giggling, which turns into hysteria and sobbing.  When Grey finally gets her to speak, she actually talks a fair amount of sense:

“You’re cutting me to the quick here, Ana. Will you marry me?”

Slowly she sits up and places her hands on my knees. “Christian, I’ve met your psycho ex with a gun, been thrown out of my apartment, had you go thermonuclear Fifty on me—”

Fifty? I open my mouth to plead my case, but she holds up her hand to stop me, so I remain mute.

“You’ve just revealed some quite frankly shocking information about yourself, and now you’ve asked me to marry you.”

Yes, I think that’s a fair and accurate summary of the situation.”

“Whatever happened to delayed gratification?” she asks, confounding me once more.

“I got over it, and I’m now a firm advocate of instant gratification. Carpe diem, Ana.”

“Look, Christian, I’ve known you for about three minutes, and there’s so much more I need to know. I’ve had too much to drink, I’m hungry, I’m tired, and I want to go to bed. I need to consider your proposal just as I considered that contract you gave me. And”—she pauses and purses her lips—“that wasn’t the most romantic proposal.”

Hope stirs in my chest. “Fair point well made, as ever, Miss Steele. So, that’s not a no?”

She sighs. “No, Mr. Grey, it’s not a no, but it’s not a yes, either. You’re only doing this because you’re scared and you don’t trust me.”

He insists that he’s doing it because he loves her and wants to spend the rest of his life with her.  She tells him she’ll think about it and asks him for patience.  She then says she wants to go to bed, but Grey, obsessive about her food intake as ever, tells her she can’t go to bed without eating first, seeing as she didn’t eat whilst she was out, earlier.

He apologises for the shock of finding Leila in her apartment and tells her Taylor feels guilty, because he’d checked through it, earlier.  Ana says she doesn’t blame Taylor at all and Grey says he doesn’t either, especially as Taylor’s been out looking for Ana, too.  When Ana asks why, Grey reminds her that she didn’t have her phone on her and so he didn’t know where she was:

“I didn’t know where you were. You left your purse, your phone. I couldn’t even track you. Where did you go?”

I.

Couldn’t.

Even.

Track.

You.

Because stalking is just an acceptable part of these books.

 

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Ana says she went to a bar across the street with Ethan, so she could be close to what was happening at the apartment.  She asks what went on after she left and Grey tells her he bathed Leila and gave her some of Ana’s clothes to wear.

Ana is, understandably, upset at the idea of her boyfriend bathing his naked ex.

She stares at her untouched food.

“Ana.”

“What?” she whispers.

“Don’t. It doesn’t mean anything. It was like caring for a child, a broken, shattered child.”

She closes her eyes, and for a horrid moment I think she’s going to burst into tears.

“Ana?”

She stands and takes her plate to the sink and scrapes the contents into the trash.

“Ana, please.”

“Just stop, Christian! Just stop with the ‘Ana, please’!” she shouts with exasperation and starts to cry. “I’ve had enough of all this shit today. I’m going to bed. I’m tired and emotional. Now let me be.”

She storms out of the kitchen toward the bedroom, leaving me with cooling, congealing macaroni and cheese.

Shit.

 

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And that, friends, is where this chapter ends.

Thank the lord.

 

Darker Chapter 5 (Monday, June 13, 2011)

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Here we are again, folks!  Ready to dive head first into the vat of excrement that is Darker, by EL James.  I’ve skipped ahead a little for this chapter (I don’t usually – I prefer to write as I read, so my reactions are “in the moment,” so to speak) and…  Well, let’s just say if you’re a drinker, pour yourself a glass of something.  If not, have comfort food on standby.

We’re going to need it.

The chapter opens with Grey waking up, because OF COURSE IT DOES.  He yet again references how well he sleeps with Ana next to him.  He tells her this and mentions that he normally wakes before his alarm goes off.  Ana complains that it’s set too early and Grey decides to go for a run and let her sleep.  His security dude, Ryan, makes it obvious he wants to go with him for protection, but Grey dismisses the idea, telling himself that Leila was never one for early mornings and it’s therefore much too early for her to be causing any trouble.

Grey sets off, choosing The Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony as his running music.  He has one thing on his mind: Ana.

My mind clouds with chaotic images of all that has happened over the last few days: Ana at the ball, Ana on my boat, Ana at the hotel.

Ana. Ana. Ana.

My life has been completely overturned to the point that I’m not sure I recognize myself. Elena’s words come back to me: “Have you turned your back on who you are?”

Have I?

“I can’t change—” The words from the song echo through my head.

Clearly Elena thinks of herself as Mufasa from The Lion King.  I don’t even care that I used this GIF last week…

 

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Grey then starts thinking how much he likes having Ana at the apartment:

The truth is, I like being in her company. I like having her in my home. I’d like her to stay. Permanently. She’s brought humor, restful sleep, vitality, and love into my monochrome existence. I didn’t know I was lonely until I met her.

Then he gets obsessive, creepy and melodramatic:

But she won’t want to move in, will she? While Leila is still at large it makes sense for her to stay, but once she’s found, Ana will go. I can’t make her stay, though part of me would like to. But in the interim, if she ever finds out the truth about me, she’ll leave and never want to see me again.

No one can love a monster.

And when she leaves…

Hell.

He’d like to make her stay?  As in force her?!  Screw that.  And I was hoping to get more than two pages into this chapter, before we get the teensy-tiny violin out.  “Nobody can love a monster,” eh?  STOP BEING ONE, THEN.

 

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After getting home and having a brief chat with Gail (Mrs Jones), Grey showers, dresses and goes to wake up Ana.  Naturally, Ana wants sex, because that is her default setting, but Grey tells her he has a meeting at 8:30am and should be setting off, soon.  This makes Ana realise she’s running late and she leaps out of bed, much to Grey’s amusement:

Shaking my head, amused at her sudden burst of energy, I pop a few condoms into my pants pocket, then saunter into the kitchen for some breakfast.

You never know, Grey. I’ve learned that it’s good to be prepared around Anastasia Steele.

I…  I don’t understand.  Is he planning to fuck her in front of Gail, in the kitchen?  Or is he thinking he might just pop round to her workplace and do it there, instead?  I’m just so confused by his decision to take condoms.

He heads off to have breakfast and, when Ana appears, he thinks how good she looks:

Ana appears about ten minutes later, wearing some of the clothes I bought her. A silk blouse and a gray skirt. She looks different.

Sophisticated.

Elegant.

She’s beautiful.

Not a gauche student but a confident young working woman.

I approve and I wrap my arm around her. “You look lovely,” I say, kissing her behind her ear. My only misgiving about her appearance is that she has to spend time, looking like this, with her boss.

Don’t dwell, Grey. This is her choice. She wants to work.

Yes, she does.  So quit being once of those asshole men who think their girlfriend or wife’s attractive appearance is for their eyes only.

 

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Gail hands Ana some breakfast and then tells Ana that she’ll make her some packed lunch for work, giving Grey’s internal monologue an opportunity to make “protecting” Ana seem controlling and creepy:

“Mr. Grey says you’d like to take lunch with you to work. What would you like to eat?”

Ana shoots me a look.

Yeah, baby. I was serious. No going out.

His inner thought creeps me out so much, I’m red-inking it.

Gail refers to Ana as “ma’am” and Ana asks her to use her name, instead.  Which, to be fair, is exactly what I’d do,  but I bet Grey will find a way to be pissy about it, seeing as he doesn’t want Ana being friendly towards the staff…  Or is it just the staff members who have penises?!

Ana makes Grey agree that Sawyer will only drop her off and pick her up from work, rather than hanging out there all day.  Which makes his next conversation with Taylor, once Ana is out of earshot, all the creepier:

In the elevator Taylor greets me with an update. “Sir, there’s a coffee shop opposite SIP. I think Sawyer can station himself there during the day.”

“If he needs backup? You know, bathroom breaks.”

“I’ll send Reynolds or Ryan.”

“Okay.”

I know fans will justify this with “oh, but Leila has a gun and she could be dangerous,” but Ana made a point of saying she didn’t want to be shadowed or watched all day and this feels creepy, because Grey’s ensuring that’s exactly what happens.  And frankly, I wouldn’t put it past him to have Ana watched even without Leila being a risk.

 

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Grey gets to work and is immediately shitty towards the woman covering for Andrea, whilst she’s away:

I’D FORGOTTEN THAT ANDREA is out for her wedding but she won’t be having much of a honeymoon if she’s back at work tomorrow. The woman who’s replaced her and whose name I still can’t remember is browsing the Vogue Facebook page when I arrive. “No social media during office hours,” I say with a grunt.

Rookie mistake. But she should know this. She’s already an employee here.

This guy has such double standards.  No sneaky checks on Facebook or Twitter for his employees, whilst he’s sending emails – on a system he knows is monitored – telling his girlfriend what he wants to do to her when he gets her home.  Okaaay.

Also, her name is Montana Brooks.  What is wrong with you?!

And just to prove his hypocrisy, Grey goes into his office, sorts out delivery of Ana’s car, rather than working, then immediately sends Ana an email:

Good morning, Miss Steele

I just wanted to say thank you for a wonderful weekend in spite of all the drama. I hope you never leave, ever.

And just to remind you that the news of SIP is embargoed for four weeks.

Delete this e-mail as soon as you’ve read it.

Yours Christian Grey

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings, Inc. & your boss’s boss’s boss

 

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If security is so very important to him, maybe he should send her a freaking TEXT, instead of an email.  And the “your boss’s boss’s boss” bit is in red, because he’s thrown that in there to remind her that he’s taking over the company she works for, despite promising not to interfere in her career.  It’s controlling and almost threatening, seeing as a boss has the power to take someone’s job away, if they do something wrong.

Montana takes Grey a cup of coffee into his office and he tells her he needs ideas for a wedding present (for Andrea).  Montana suggests that it depends on how much he was planning on spending and how well he knows the recipient, but Grey holds his hand up to stop her talking, inwardly thinking how he doesn’t need “a lecture.”  Montana was being completely sensible in her answer and probably hesitant to suggest anything without clarifying those details, knowing how much of a bastard her boss is, so suggesting she’s lecturing him is deeply unfair.  She asks if Andrea has a bridal registry anywhere and Grey tells her to go and find out, inwardly thinking how glad he’ll be when Andrea’s back, despite the fact that in this interaction, Montana has done her job and done nothing wrong.

I’m making a Team Montana t-shirt and I’m going to wear it, whilst burning an effigy of Christian Fuckwit Grey.

 

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After a brief business meeting, which we mercifully skip over, Grey checks his emails and finds a response from Ana.  She wants to know whether he’s asking her to move in with him.  She makes a joke about his “epic stalking capabilities” in reference to the takeover of SIP, which is about as funny as a really bad IBS flare-up.  EL James really needs to learn that stalking is neither sexy or cute.  Ana asks how she sends the money she owes Coping Together after the charity auction and also tells Grey not to delete her email, but to reply to it.

Grey’s thoughts on the idea of Ana moving in are every bit as possessive and creepy and you’d expect:

Am I asking her to move in with me? Shit. Grey, this is a bold, sudden move.

I could look after her. Full-time.

She’d be mine. Really mine.

And deep down I know there is only one answer. A resounding yes. I ignore all her other questions and respond.

Red, because by “look after,” he means “control.”  And whilst “you’re mine” can be romantic when it’s said by someone who isn’t a creepy dickhead, this is Christian Grey speaking and we know he views Ana as something he owns.  Also, there’s only one other question in Ana’s email, but his decision to ignore it is rude.

He replies simply “yes please.”  Well, I say “simply ‘yes please’,” but we still get the time and date stamp, subject line, sender, recipient and email signature, because EL James likes to fill up her word count with that kind of stuff, in the absence of a plot.

Whilst waiting for Ana’s response, Grey starts reading the report he had compiled on Jack Hyde:

On the surface, his background check seems fine. He’s successful and earns a decent salary. He’s from humble beginnings and seems bright and ambitious, but there’s something unusual about his career path.

Who, in publishing, starts in New York, then works at various publishers across the U.S., ending up in Seattle? It makes no sense.

He doesn’t seem to have had any long-term relationships, and he never keeps an assistant for more than three months.

That means Ana’s time with him is limited.

Some of this data may well have been gleaned illegally.  And whatever Jack does later – and yes, it is abhorrent – Grey hasn’t yet read anything that suggests it’s going to happen.  He’s doing all this – obtaining detailed information about Ana’s boss and taking over the company with a view to potentially kicking him out – just because Jack Hyde is a good looking guy and Grey doesn’t want Ana around him, because Grey believes that he is the only man Ana is allowed to look pretty for or talk nicely to.  I can’t stress enough that Christian Grey is NO BETTER THAN JACK HYDE.

 

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Ana replies, reminding Grey that they promised they’d learn to walk before they ran, in terms of their relationship and asks if they can discuss moving in together in the evening, when she’s home.  She also lets him know (note: she tells him, rather than asks him) that she’s been asked to go to a conference in New York on Thursday and so she’ll be staying away overnight on Wednesday.

Grey’s reaction is… Not great.

She doesn’t want to move in with me. This is not the news I wanted. What did you expect, Grey? At least she wants to discuss it this evening, so there’s hope.

But then she also wants to fuck off to New York. Well, that sucks.

I wonder if this is a conference on her own. Or with Hyde?

 

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She doesn’t want to “fuck off to New York,” you asshole, she’s been asked to attend a conference.  Why does everything have to be about you and your pathetic, shrivelled dick?!

He sends her an email response, with the subject title “WHAT?” which seems totally reasonable and not at all aggressive or reactionary.  In the email, he merely agrees that they can talk later and asks if she’s going to New York alone.

Again, at the moment, Grey knows nothing about Jack Hyde to really imply that Jack’s dangerous.  He’s not worried about Ana possibly going away with him because he thinks Jack might harm her.  He’s worried because he’s a possessive piece of shit who trusts neither his girlfriend, despite her giving him no reason not to, nor any other man on the planet, because he judges everyone by his own appallingly low standards.

He returns to reading his report on Jack Hyde, whilst he waits for Ana’s reply:

Jack Hyde must be a prick to work for if he doesn’t keep an assistant for more than three months.

I know I’m an asshole, but Andrea’s worked for me for nearly a year and a half.

I didn’t know she was getting married.

Yes. That’s pissed me off, but before her there was Helena. She was with me for two years, and now she works in HR, recruiting our engineers.

Apparently, the ability to keep an assistant for longer than 3 months is enough of a difference between these dudes for Grey to decide that he must somehow be less of an asshole than Hyde is.  Because it’s all down to that.  Nothing to do with your actual behaviour, right?!

 

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Annoyingly (because Grey is smug enough when he’s not right about things), right at the end of the report into Jack Hyde, Grey finds exactly what he suspected:

And there it is. Three hushed-up harassment claims at his previous publishers and two official warnings at SIP.

Three?

He’s a fucking creep. I knew it. Why wasn’t this in his employee file?

He was all over Ana at the bar. Invading her space. Like the photographer.

Before Grey can react too much, he receives another email from Ana.  All it says is “Can we talk about this tonight?” but that’s all Grey needs to know:

Evasive, Miss Steele.

It’s a trip with him. I know it.

She looked sensational this morning.

He’s planned it, I bet.

Ugh, I bet he has.  I bet he’s the kind of creep who stands outside her apartment building, trying to work out which window is her bedroom.  I bet he’s the sort of guy who’d threaten to non-consensually beat her for not being hungry.  I bet he’d threaten to buy any company she worked for, so he could always control her, even when she’s out of the house, doing her job.

OH NO, THAT’S YOU.

I’m not downgrading Jack Hyde’s own abusive behaviour in any way, but I find it literally infuriating that Grey places himself on such moral high-ground over him, when his behaviour is as bad, if not worse in some cases.

Still, he sets about writing a reply to Ana:

Tell me.

If it’s with the sleazeball you work with, then the answer is no, over my dead body.

 

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Ana, if you don’t want to get your hands dirty, Ill do it.

Also, I don’t actually give a shit that Grey’s just found out that Hyde has had harassment claims made against him; he wasn’t going to let Ana go with him to New York anyway.  You know it.

Grey immediately calls Ros and tells her that SIP is spending too much money and that he’s ordering any trips and hotel stays on behalf of the company etc to be cancelled straight away.  Despite Ros pointing out that this won’t actually save very much cash, Grey is insistent, thinking “that will put a stop to Ana and New York.”  He reminds himself that Ana once said she’d love to visit New York and he decides he wants to be the one who takes her there.

Again, the fans will insist that this is all about him protecting Ana.  But it’s not.  It’s about control.  He wanted to buy the company so he could control her.  Now, she’s told him she’s been invited to attend a conference in New York and he’s using his position as her “boss’s boss’s boss” to ensure it doesn’t happen, because he doesn’t want her going away with another man.  And I maintain that he would have done the same thing based only on a hunch, had he not had information against Hyde.

Ana sends an email in response:

Yes. It is with Jack.

I want to go. It’s an exciting opportunity for me.  And I have never been to New York.

Don’t get your knickers in a twist.

I can already sense how well Grey will react to that.

But before he can email Ana back, he has to be completely unnecessarily shitty to Montana again:

I’m about to reply when I hear a knock. “What?” I bark.

Montana pokes her head around the door and lingers, which is especially irritating—either come in or don’t. “Mr. Grey, the registry for Andrea…” For a moment I have no idea what she’s talking about. “It’s at Crate and Barrel,” she continues, simpering.

“Okay.” What the hell am I supposed to do with that information?

“I’ve made a list of the items still available and their prices.”

“E-mail it to me,” I say through gritted teeth. “And get me another coffee.”

“Yes, Mr. Grey.” She smiles as if we’re discussing the fucking weather and shuts the door.

WHAT IS YOUR FUCKING PROBLEM WITH THIS WOMAN, YOU COMPLETE AND UTTER ANAL POLYP?!  Seriously, she’s just doing her job.  He asked her to find out whether Andrea was registered for gifts, anywhere, after she asked him and he wasn’t sure.  She’s just coming back, having done the job he asked her to do and having made a list of gifts for him to choose from.  She is literally doing exactly what she’s supposed to be doing and he’s treating her like absolute shit for it.  This guy can say what he likes about Jack Hyde, but if Montana Brooks was there as his permanent PA, I bet she wouldn’t stick around for longer than three months, either.

 

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Grey replies to Ana, telling her it’s not his knickers he’s worried about and that the answer is “NO.”  Just as a casual reminder, she never asked for his fucking permission.

I hate this book.

Montana brings Grey another coffee and reminds him that he has a meeting with Barney and Fred in the lab.

Really?!

 

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Whatever.

Grey tells her he’ll take his coffee with him.  He tries to drink some whilst it’s hot and apparently that stupidity is somehow Montana’s fault:

Montana leaves and I take a sip of coffee. Fuck. Shit. It’s scalding hot.

I drop the cup, the coffee, everything. Hell.

Fortunately, it misses me and my keyboard, but it’s all over the damn floor. “Ms. Brooks!” I yell. Jesus, I wish Andrea was here.

Montana pops her head around the door. Neither in. Nor out. And still wearing too much freshly applied lipstick. “I’ve just dropped my coffee all over the floor because it was scalding hot. Get it cleaned up, please.”

“Oh, Mr. Grey. I’m so sorry.” She scurries in to survey the mess and I leave her to deal with it. For a moment I wonder whether she might have done this on purpose.

I HOPE SHE DID, CONSIDERING HOW BADLY YOU’RE TREATING HER.

 

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Grey heads to the lab, where Barney tells him they’ve finally come up with a casing for a tablet and that they could easily adapt it for a mobile phone, too.  Fred yells “yabba dabba doooo” and man I wish I was drunk, right now, because recapping this kind of dull shit might be more fun.

As he heads away from his meeting, Grey receives an email from Ana, who appears to have grown a pair and decided not to be told what she can and can’t do:

Christian

You need to get a grip.

I am NOT going to sleep with Jack—not for all the tea in China.

I LOVE you. That’s what happens when people love each other.

They TRUST each other.

I don’t think you are going to SLEEP WITH, SPANK, FUCK, or WHIP anyone else.

I have FAITH and TRUST in you.

Please extend the same COURTESY to me.

 

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Now, remember how Grey has been sending her emails about her “sleazeball” boss and basically telling her what to do?  Well, he’s just remembered those emails are monitored and instead of being placated by her vow of faithfulness, he’s infuriated that she’s used such language in an email that could be seen by others:

What the hell! I told her the e-mails at SIP were monitored. We stop at several floors and I try, really try, to contain my anger. 

Red, because I bet you twenty English pounds he’s actually more mad that she stood up to him, than he is about the emails.

Still, he gets back to his office and calls Ana straight away:

“Will you please delete the last e-mail you sent me and try to be a little more circumspect in the language you use in your work e-mail? I told you, the system is monitored. I will endeavor to do some damage limitation from here,” I snarl and hang up.

I call Barney.

“Mr. Grey.”

“Can you delete Miss Anastasia Steele’s e-mail to me at nine fifty-five from the SIP server and all mine to her?”

There’s silence at the other end of the phone. “Barney?”

“Um. Sure, Mr. Grey, I was just working out how I can do it. I have an idea.”

Great. Let me know when it’s done.” 

What an excellent way of ensuring nobody will see the contents of that email.  I really hope Barney reads it.  And I hope he gives Ana a round of applause, too.

But Ana, unimpressed with her boyfriend’s aggressive phone call, has decided to ring Grey back and stand up for herself, some more:

“I am going to New York whether you like it or not.”

Don’t count on it.” Silence. “Ana?”

She’s hung up on me. Fuck. Again.

Who does that? Well, I might have just done it to her, but that’s not the point.

And I remember she did it when she drunk-dialed me.

I put my head in my hands. Ana. Ana. Ana.

 

“How dare you to me what I literally just did to you?!”

This guy makes me want to cry with rage.

And note the whole “Ana.  Ana.  Ana.”  We’re supposed to feel some kind of sympathy for Grey’s frustration, because he’s only protecting her, right?!

 

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Barney calls to say that the email has been safely deleted from the SIP servers.  Grey inwardly thinks that at least something is going right.  But then…

There’s a knock on the door. What now? Montana opens the door; she’s holding a can of carpet cleaner and some tissue. “Later,” I snap. I’ve had enough of her.

She quickly reverses out of the office. I take a deep breath. Today is turning into a shit day and it’s not even lunchtime. 

  1. SHE IS TRYING TO DO HER JOB, YOU CRUSTY JIZZ STAIN.
  2. HOW IS IT NOT EVEN LUNCHTIME?!  ARE YOU TELLING ME I HAVE OVER HALF THE DAMN DAY STILL TO GO IN THIS CHAPTER?!  PLEASE KILL ME.

 

Once that awful Montana woman is gone, Grey gets another email from Ana:

Please tell me you won’t interfere with my work.

I really want to go to this conference.

I shouldn’t have to ask you.

I have deleted the offending e-mail.

 

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Grey responds:

I am just protecting what is mine.

Nope.  Biiiiig bag of nope.  She’s not your property and you do not get to make this choice for her.  He also tells her he’s had her email wiped from the server and that he trusts her implicitly, but does not trust Jack.

Ana replies:

I don’t need protecting from my own boss.

He may make a pass at me, but I would say no.

You cannot interfere. It’s wrong and controlling on so many levels.

I never thought I’d see the day when I’d be clapping my hands and whooping “GO ANA!” so many times in one chapter of this hell-fest, but here we are.  I’m pointing it out, because we know for a fact it won’t last.  Then, I’ll be sad.

In response to this, rather than analysing his own behaviour whatsoever, or even considering what Ana has written, Grey thinks to himself:

“Controlling” is my middle name, Ana. I think I’ve told you this already, along with “unreasonable” and “weird.”

 

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THESE ARE BAD THINGS (with the exception of “weird” – I wear my weirdness like a badge of honour and I will not sully it by connecting it with this prick).  This is the guy who fans insist “changes.”  HE DOES NOT CHANGE.  Here he is, literally admitting to being controlling and unreasonable, as though these are perfectly acceptable characteristics to force on others.  This isn’t about Ana’s safety.  I will say this until my head explodes, if I have to.  This is about control.  It’s about his refusal to let her live any aspect of her life without his say-so.

He sends her an email with the subject heading “The answer is NO,” conveniently ignoring the fact that Ana has already said that she shouldn’t have to ask for his permission and that she doesn’t want his interference in her work life:

I have seen how “effective” you are at fighting off unwanted attention. I remember that’s how I had the pleasure of spending my first night with you. At least the photographer has feelings for you. The sleazeball, on the other hand, does not. He is a serial philanderer, and he will try to seduce you. Ask him what happened to his previous PA and the one before that.

I don’t want to fight about this. If you want to go to New York, I’ll take you. We can go this weekend. I have an apartment there.

 

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There is so much wrong with this, I’m going to need to make a list:

  1. Casually reminding her that he first got to spend the night with her when he stepped in as someone else attempted to force himself on her, before she passed out drunk and Grey took her back to his hotel with him, without her consent.
  2. This is victim-blaming.  Suggesting that she can’t go away, because he’s seen how bad she is at protecting herself is vile.
  3. It’s also manipulative.  He’s trying to remind her of a bad experience, which he reckons he had to save her from, in order to make her doubt herself, so she won’t want to go.
  4. Sexual assault is apparently okay, as long as the perpetrator has feelings for their victim?  I guess Grey would say that…
  5. Saying “I don’t want to fight” is gaslight-y AF.  It’s a subtle way of making Ana think she’s the one causing the fight by being unreasonable, whereas poor Grey is just trying to look out for her and rectify the situation.  You don’t get to start the fight by being an unreasonable control freak in the first place, then do the whole “oh please, let’s not fight” routine.
  6. She doesn’t necessarily just want to go to freaking New York.  It’s not just about visiting somewhere she hasn’t been before, it’s about her having asked him more than once not to interfere with her career.  It’s about the conference, not the damn city.
  7. Of course he has an apartment, there.  Is there anywhere he doesn’t have one?!

 

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When Ana doesn’t immediately reply, Grey calls Welch to thank him for the information on Jack Hyde and to find out if there’s any news about Leila.  Grey is still reluctant to involve the police, because he’s just so protective of Ana, clearly.  After their call, Montana buzzes Grey to let him know his mother is on the line.

Grace is calling to say sorry for the way she spoke about Ana at the masked ball.  But rather than be nice about it, Grey simply huffs that “it’s fine,” whilst inwardly thinking that it’s not.  Sounding obviously contrite and a little upset, Grace reminds Grey that it’s his birthday on Sunday and that the family would really like to throw him a party.  But rather than discuss this with his mother, or even thank her for the idea, Grey notices an email from Ana has come through and so he literally fobs his mother off by saying he’s too busy to talk.

Remind me: why does anyone think this guy is remotely attractive?!

Ana’s email doesn’t really reference anything from the one Grey sent, beyond sarcastically mentioning that he’s been busy interfering in her career.  She’s messaging to say that Elena has gotten hold of her email address and asked her to meet for lunch one day in the week.  Ana doesn’t want to go.

Oh, this day just gets better and better. What the hell is Elena doing now? And Ana is calling me out on my shit as usual.

I didn’t know arguing could be so tiresome.  And discouraging.  And worrying.  She’s mad at me.

 

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Oh, poor you.  Ask yourself why she’s mad, you utter moron.

He responds with something so reminiscent of the kind of shit abusers say when they know they’re in the wrong and are trying to manipulate their partners into thinking they’re acting out of love, it makes me want to remove my own eyes, so I never have to read anything as hateful as this book, again:

Don’t be mad at me. I have your best interests at heart.

If anything happened to you, I would never forgive myself.

I’ll deal with Mrs. Lincoln.

Grey calls Elena and I’m going to have to break their chat up into sections, because I have THINGS TO SAY:

“Do I have to get a banner and attach it to a plane and fly it over your office?”

She laughs. “My e-mail?”

She finds it funny that, having already been asked to leave Ana alone, she’s continuing to contact her.  I can see why Grey was attracted to Elena – she’s as abusive as he is.

“Yes, Ana sent it to me. Please. Leave her alone. She doesn’t want to see you. And I understand and respect that. You’re making my life really difficult.”

So, this isn’t about Grey caring for Ana.  He’s more concerned that this is a problem for him.  Also, he doesn’t understand or respect Ana.  At all.  Ever.

“You understand her?”

“Yes.”

Nope.  If he really understood Ana, he’d realise how important her career was to her and he wouldn’t be messing with it.

“I think she needs to know how hard you are on yourself.”

Give me a break.  Christian Grey is only hard on himself when he’s being melodramatic or feeling sorry for himself.  The rest of the time, he thinks he’s fucking brilliant.

“No. She doesn’t need to know anything.”

Yes, she does.  Because you’re still dancing around things and keeping stuff from her and a healthy relationship is based on honesty.

“You sound exhausted.”

To be fair, he and Ana are at it like rabbits, so he probably is, even though he can’t last longer than 30 seconds each time.

“I’m just tired of you going behind my back and chasing my girlfriend.”

“Girlfriend?”

“Yes. Girlfriend. Get used to it.”

Oooooooooh, well that’s her told.

She sighs long and hard.

For a minute, I saw “long and hard” and thought EL was writing another bloody awful sex scene.

“Elena. Please.”

“Okay, Christian, it’s your funeral.”

What the fuck?

Woman, I loathe agreeing with this horror of a man, but, like he said, WHAT THE FUCK?!  Piss off and leave them to their abusive relationship.  You had your turn.

 

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Grey is not in a great mood when he gets off the phone and he laments his lack of control (HA!):

Life has become complicated. It used to be easier when everything and everyone stayed where I placed them, in their designated compartments. Now, with Ana, everything’s changed. This is all new, and so far everyone, including my mother, seems to be pissed at me or pissing me off.

If they’re pissing you off, ask yourself why.  If they’re pissed at you, ask yourself an even more IMPORTANT why.

Ana emails again, asking him to please agree to discuss the New York trip at home.  She also asks him to leave her alone, whilst she’s trying to work and shockingly, Grey decides to do just that, even though he wants to go over to SIP and take her out for lunch.  Ooh, that must be the change fans bang on about.  Wow.

Oh, but wait…

Whilst Grey is eating lunch, Taylor calls to tell him that everything is okay, but that he should be aware that Ana left the office and went to a deli during her lunch break.  This is enough to make Grey, in his own words: “mad as hell.”

No change.  Nope.  None.

He calls her to admonish her:

“You assured me you wouldn’t go out.”

“Jack sent me out for some lunch. I couldn’t say no. Are you having me watched?” She sounds incredulous.

I ignore her question. “This is why I didn’t want you going back to work.”

“Christian, please. You’re being so suffocating.”

“Suffocating?”

“Yes. You have to stop this. I’ll talk to you this evening. Unfortunately, I have to work late because I can’t go to New York.”

Anastasia, I don’t want to suffocate you.”

“Well, you are. I have work to do. I’ll talk to you later.” She sounds as miserable as I feel and she hangs up.

I’m suffocating her? Maybe I am… I just want to protect her. I saw what Leila did to her car.

Don’t push her too far, Grey.  She’ll leave.

 

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How is “am I suffering her?” even a question at this point?!  He is having her watched, he controls what she does both in and out of the workplace, despite her asking him not to… He does nothing but suffocate her!

We cut to an appointment with Dr Flynn, so…  Wooooo boy, let’s buckle up for some major lack of research…

Flynn discusses Grey’s purchase of SIP and tells Grey he’s not surprised that Ana feels suffocated.  This displeases Grey, because, his internal monologue tells us, it’s “not what (he) want(s) to hear.”

Tough shit, dude.  It’s the truth.

Flynn goes on:

“I understand that you’re trying to protect her, and I know why you’re trying to do that. But this is an out-of-the-ordinary reaction. You have a bank account that allows you to do this, but you will drive her away if you continue on this path.”

He tells Grey that whilst he appreciates that Grey has a lot to deal with at the moment, what with Leila and Ana’s understandable animosity towards Elena, there’s obviously something bigger that Grey isn’t saying and he’s waiting for him to.

Grey slowly realises what Flynn is waiting for him to say:

He saw it on Saturday?

The bidding?

The dancing?

Shit.

“I’m in love with Ana.”

“Thank you. I know.”

 

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Flynn blathers on about how Grey’s capable of love and Grey bleats about how this is all new and scary and blah, blah, blah.  He tells Grey not to be so hard on himself, which he definitely wouldn’t be saying if he knew the extent of his client’s shitty behaviour.  He also tells Grey he can’t keep Ana locked up, which is a relief:

“…You’ve put measures in place to keep Ana and you safe. You’ve done all you can. You can’t be everywhere, and you can’t keep Ana locked up.”

“I want to.”

“I know you do. But you can’t. Simple.”

I shake my head, but deep down I know John’s right.

Deep.  Down.

Deep down he knows he can’t lock his girlfriend up against her will.  That’s…  That’s something that should be right up there with the obvious shit like “I mustn’t wipe my arse with a cactus.”

Flynn tells Grey that he’s experiencing a delayed adolescence, emotionally-speaking (still doesn’t mean he gets to behave like a shit-hole towards anyone) and, as Grey refuses to take any anti-anxiety medication, he suggests they practise some relaxation techniques.

“Okay.” I hold my hands up in surrender. “I’ll try my happy place.”

I sound sarcastic, but it will appease John, who’s looking at the clock.

Where is my happy place? My childhood in the orchard. Sailing or soaring. Always. It used to be with Elena. But now my happy place is with Ana. 

In Ana.

 

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Ew.  Why can’t he view her as a person and not just a vagina he gets to plug himself in to?!

We cut to Grey sitting outside SIP in the back of the Audi, with Taylor in front.  Grey calls Ana to ask what time she’ll finish and to say he’ll meet her outside.  He then tells Taylor they’ll just sit there and wait until 7:30pm when Ana finishes work.  Lucky Taylor.

They wait for an hour, before Ana comes out and gets in the car.  Grey asks her if she’s still mad with him for all the abusive bullshit he’s pulled:

I grasp her hand and squeeze it. “Are you still mad?” I ask.

“I don’t know,” she says.

I bring her hand to my lips and kiss each knuckle in turn. “It’s been a shitty day.”

A shitty day you literally caused with your obsessive, controlling, unreasonable behaviour.  But sure, gloss over that part and make out that being an obsessive, controlling, unreasonable bastard is equally as bad as suffering the behaviour of one.

Taylor stops the car outside Escala and Ana and Grey run through the rain into the building.  Once they’re in the elevator, guess what happens?!

 

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Yep, they get frisky.  Because I don’t know about you, but having someone potentially fuck up my first ever serious job for me definitely makes me hot.

Grey presses the elevator’s emergency stop button so they can get down to business.  And as per usual, it’s all about his needs and about possession:

This is what I want.

This is what I needed.

After such a shitty day.

She didn’t run.

She’s here.

For me.

With me.

“You’re mine, Anastasia.” The words wash against her throat.

“Yes. Yours. When will you accept that?” Her words are a sigh. And it’s what I want to hear. What I need to hear. I take her, fast, furious. I need her. With each little cry, each pant, each tug of my hair, I know she needs me, too.

 

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There is a little section after their passionate twenty seconds of sex, which makes me feel so sorry for Grey’s staff:

Taylor is waiting when the doors open. “Problem with the elevator,” I say as we step out, but I avoid eye contact with him.

Ana scampers off to the bedroom, no doubt to freshen up, and I make my way into the kitchen, where Mrs. Jones is preparing dinner.

“The Saab is here, Mr. Grey,” Taylor says, having followed me into the kitchen.

“Great. I’ll let Ana know.”

“Sir.” He smiles. He and Gail exchange a look before he turns to leave.

I hope Taylor and Gail tear these sex-obsessed arseholes to shreds when they get together over a bottle of wine, later.  Damn, I wish I could hang out with them.

But then, Gail goes and spoils it:

“Coq au vin, for two.” She gives me a fond sideways glance as she takes two plates out of the warming drawer.

Don’t be looking at this snake fondly, Gail.  He’s not fit to wipe your backside on.

 

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Ana and Grey eat dinner and make chit-chat about Grey’s work day.  Ana asks about his New York apartment and he promises to take her there, one day.  After dinner, Grey stops Ana from washing up, saying Gail can do it (see, Gail?  I told you!).  Then, he tells Ana that since she seems “more docile,” they should discuss their issues from the day.  Ana jokes that he seems more docile, because she’s doing such a good job of taming him, which… I just…  That’s just not true, is it?!

Anyway, she admits that Grey was right about Jack Hyde:

“You were right about Jack,” she says, and leans across the kitchen counter, regarding me seriously.

My blood runs cold. “Has he tried anything?”

She shakes her head. “No, and he won’t, Christian. I told him today that I’m your girlfriend, and he backed right off.”

“You’re sure? I could fire the fucker.” He’s history. I want him out.

Ana sighs. “You really have to let me fight my own battles. You can’t constantly second-guess me and try to protect me. It’s stifling, Christian. I’ll never flourish with your incessant interference. I need some freedom. I wouldn’t dream of meddling in your affairs.”

“I only want you safe, Anastasia. If anything happened to you, I—”

“I know,” she says, “and I understand why you feel so driven to protect me. And part of me loves it. I know that if I need you, you’ll be there, as I am for you. But if we are to have any hope of a future together, you have to trust me and trust my judgment. Yes, I’ll get it wrong sometimes—I’ll make mistakes, but I have to learn.”

It’s a passionate plea, and I know she’s right.

Welcome to the place all of us non-abusers have been since THE DAWN OF TIME.

Ana doesn’t stop there, either.  She tells him that he can’t try to control her in her workplace, anymore:

“You can’t interfere in my job. It’s wrong. I don’t need you charging in like a white knight to save the day. I know you want to control everything, and I understand why, but you can’t. It’s an impossible goal. You have to learn to let go.” She strokes my face. “And if you can do that—give me that—I’ll move in with you.”

You’d do that?”

“Yes,” she says.

So, she does do that.  But does Grey stop interfering in her career?

 

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Naturally, despite the fact that Grey’s just got exactly what he wants, he chooses this moment to get all melodramatic.  Again.

“But you don’t know me,” I blurt, suddenly panicked. I have to tell her.

“I know you well enough, Christian. Nothing you tell me about yourself will frighten me away.”

I doubt that. She doesn’t know why I do what I do. She doesn’t know the monster.

UGH, ENOUGH OF THIS SHIT, IT IS NOT INTERESTING.

Grey makes some saccharine speech about how much he loves her and everything he does is only to protect her and he still doesn’t actually tell her the big, scary secret he’s supposedly keeping and it all just sounds like the kind of crap abusers say to justify their behaviour.

Oh and speaking of abusers, remember how Grey has told Elena to stay away on multiple occasions?!  Well, this happens:

Taylor coughs in the background, and I stand with Ana by my side. “Yes?” I ask Taylor, a little more sharply than intended.

“Mrs. Lincoln is on her way up, sir.”

“What?” Taylor gives me an apologetic shrug.

I shake my head. “Well, this should be interesting,” I mutter, and give Ana a contrite smile.

 

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I was about to go off on a rant about how shitty it is to be asked multiple times to stay away and to just keep turning up or making contact, anyway, but I’ve suddenly realised that Elena is almost certainly being made worse in this book so that readers will go “oh, but she is really bad and it was her who showed Christian how to be in a BDSM relationship, so he doesn’t know any better,” and that just makes me furiously angry, so…

Elena arrives and the atmosphere between she and Ana is understandably frosty.  She also still seems to have a problem realising that Ana isn’t following the rules for submissives:

She looks from me to Ana. “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you had company, Christian. It’s Monday,” she says.

“Girlfriend,” I clarify. Submissives only on the weekend, Mrs. Lincoln. You know this.

“Of course. Hello, Anastasia. I didn’t know you’d be here. I know you don’t want to talk to me. I accept that.”

“Do you?” Ana’s tone is deadly. Hell.

Elena walks toward us. “Yes, I get the message. I’m not here to see you. Like I said, Christian rarely has company during the week.” She pauses and addresses Ana directly. “I have a problem, and I need to talk to Christian about it.”

Elena tells Grey that she’s being blackmailed and that she can’t go to the police.  She’s had a note demanding five thousand dollars, or the sender will “tell all.”

Whilst Elena and Grey discuss this, Ana makes her excuses and goes to bed.  As soon as Ana’s gone, Grey makes to offer Elena the blackmail money, but she changes the subject:

“I don’t think there’s a great deal I can do, Elena. If it’s a question of money…” I stop. She knows I’d give her the money. “I could ask Welch to investigate?”

“No, Christian, I just wanted to share. You look very happy,” she adds, changing the subject.

“I am.” Ana just agreed to move in.

“You deserve to be.”

“I wish that were true.”

 

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PLEASE MAKE THE SELF PITY END, I CANNOT TAKE ANYMORE.

“Christian.” Elena’s tone is chastising. “Does she know how negative you are about yourself? About all your issues?”

Well, she gets the brunt of those issues, so…

“She knows me better than anyone.”

“Ouch! That hurts.”

“It’s the truth, Elena. I don’t have to play games with her. And I mean it, leave her alone.”

“What is her problem?”

“You. What we were. What we did. She doesn’t understand.”

“Make her understand.”

“MAKE HER OKAY WITH STATUTORY RAPE, DAMNIT!”

Dear lord, this book.  This whole damn franchise.

“It’s in the past, Elena, and why would I want to taint her with our fucked up relationship? She’s good and sweet and innocent, and by some miracle she loves me.”

“It’s no miracle, Christian. Have a little faith in yourself. You really are quite a catch…”

 

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Elena starts asking Grey whether he misses using his playroom and Grey snaps that it’s none of her business (which it isn’t) and tells her she needs to stop trying to jeopardise his relationship with Ana.  Elena goes down the “I just don’t want you being hurt” route again and thankfully we’re spared too much of it, by Grey starting to get irritated and making it clear he wants her to leave.  He promises to get Welch to see if he can find out who’s blackmailing her and he also tells her to stop gossiping with his mother about his relationship with Ana.

Grey heads to the bedroom, where Ana wants to know more about Elena and… It ends in an argument, because of course it does:

“Will you tell me all about her? I am trying to understand why you think she helped you.” She glances down at her fingernails, then up at me, her eyes clear with conviction. “I loathe her, Christian. I think she did you untold damage. You have no friends. Did she keep them away from you?”

Oh, Christ. I’ve really had enough of this. I do not need this now. “Why the fuck do you want to know about her? We had a very long-standing affair, she beat the shit out of me often, and I fucked her in all sorts of ways you can’t even imagine, end of story.”

She’s taken aback. Eyes flashing, she tosses her hair over her shoulder. “Why are you so angry?”

“Because all of that shit is over!” And I’m shouting. 

Ana looks away, her mouth a hard line. Damn it. Why am I so volatile around her…?

Niiiice, subtle bit of victim-blaming, there.  It’s Ana’s fault that Grey is so angry all the time.  Because of course it is.

 

 

 

 

 

Ana asks if Elena ever acted as Grey’s submissive and he says yes.  We get a painfully awkward piece of foreshadowing:

“Do you expect me to like her?”

“No. Though it would make my life a hell of a lot easier. I do understand your reticence.”

“Reticence! Jeez, Christian—if that were your son, how would you feel?”

What a ridiculous question. Me. With a son?

Never.

 

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Grey tells Ana that Elena’s current sub, Isaac, is in his 20s and therefore a consenting adult.  Ana points out that Grey is in his 20s and Elena clearly has a taste for guys his age.  Grey changes the subject by telling Ana her new car has arrived a day early.  Ana excitedly asks if she can drive it to work the next day.  It’s a request that does not go down well with Grey…

“No.”

“Why not?”

“You know why not.” Leila. Do I have to spell it out? “And that reminds me,” I continue. “If you’re going to leave your office, let me know. Sawyer was there, watching you. It seems I can’t trust you to look after yourself at all.”

“Seems I can’t trust you, either,” she says. “You could have told me Sawyer was watching me.”

“Do you want to fight about that, too?” I ask.

“I wasn’t aware we were fighting. I thought we were communicating,” she replies, glaring at me.

I close my eyes, struggling to keep my temper. This is getting us nowhere. “I have to work.” I walk out, leaving her sitting on the bed, before I say something I’ll regret. All these questions. If she doesn’t like the answers, why does she ask me?

I don’t know, maybe it’s to get to know you better?  To understand why you’re the creepy, vile piece of shit you are?  Because this is what people in relationships do?  They communicate!  And the constant struggling to control his temper and the temptation to say things he knows he’ll regret just feels emotionally abusive, to me.

Grey heads to his office and finds an email from Elena has just come through:

I’m sorry. I don’t know what possessed me to come over. I feel that I’m losing you as a friend. That’s all. I value your friendship and advice so much. I wouldn’t be where I am without you. Just know that.

There’s a fairly strong argument that he wouldn’t be quite where he is, without you, but I don’t want to entirely blame you for his decision to behave abusively, because I’m pretty sure EL James is doing that for me.

 

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Grey thinks a similar thought to mine and then has a flashback to their time together:

She grabs a handful of my hair, tugging my head back. “What do you want to tell me?” she purrs, icy blue eyes boring into mine. I’m broken. My knees are sore. My back is covered in welts. My thighs ache. I can’t take any more. And she’s looking directly into my eyes. Waiting.

“I want to leave Harvard, Ma’am,” I say. And it’s a dark confession. Harvard had always been a goal. For me. For my folks. Just to show them I could do it. Just to prove to them I wasn’t the fuckup they thought I was.

“Leave? School?”

“Yes, Ma’am.” She lets go of my hair and swings the flogger from side to side. “What will you do?”

“I want to start my own business.”

She runs a scarlet fingernail down my cheek, to my mouth. “I knew something was bothering you. I always have to beat it out of you, don’t I?”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“Get dressed. Let’s talk about this.”

What a great scene, I’m so glad it was included.

Grey finally looks up from his work at 10:30 and ponders making business decisions based on who he’s fucking, again:

I’ve been lost in the final SIP contract. I wonder if I should make it a condition of sale to get rid of Hyde, but that might be actionable.

I strongly suspect it would, yes.

Grey heads back to the bedroom and panics when he sees that Ana isn’t there.  He finds her in the library, curled up in a chair, fast asleep, with a book in her lap.  I wonder briefly if it’s this one, because recapping this crap sends me to sleep, too.

He carries her off to bed and heads for a shower, to wash the day off himself.  And there, thank the lord, is where this chapter ends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Darker Chapter 4 (Sunday, June 12th, 2011)

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Okay, I need to tell you all something.  You know how much I loathe  EL James’ decision to make each chapter in this book 24 hours long?  Well, would you like to know how many pages the last chapter was in length?  According to my PDF, nearly 80.  Nearly 80 A4 pages.  There were probably at least 3 places – probably four or five – where this chapter could have ended, were the author not a weird, self-obsessed, sadistic, bad writer.

I haven’t counted how many pages make up this chapter, because I don’t want to depress myself right off the bat.  I’ll let the plot and the characters do that for me.

Ooh, also, today I’ve managed to copy and paste from the PDF, so quotes will be in italics, we can actually red-ink the abusive bits and this whole blog will look nicer.  HUZZAH!

 

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Shockingly, this chapter doesn’t start with Grey waking up.  No, EL James’ obsession with 24 hour chapters is so strong, that this chapter starts at midnight.  YAY.  Ana and Grey are still at his parents’ masked ball, but at the stroke of twelve, the MC announces that everyone can take off their masks.  I’m assuming Ana’s clothes also turn to rags and the Audi becomes a pumpkin, or something.  Then, I guess she runs off, losing a shoe en route, and Grey has to go around every house in the neighbourhood, touching the foot of every woman, until he finds one who orgasms instantly and that’s how he knows he’s found her, again.

Damnit, that would be a better story than this drivel.

They are watching a firework display, set to classical music.  Grey notes:

My parents have gone overboard for their guests, and it makes me feel a little less annoyed with them.

Because grand displays of wealth are the only things that impress this dude.

Speaking of which, the MC announces that the assembled guests have raised $1.8million and Grey just has to smugly think to himself:

My contribution of $600,000 has helped.

 

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I hope there’ll be a day when that GIF isn’t appropriate, but…  I’ve never seen Christian Grey and Donald Trump in the same room, is all I’m saying…

Grey thinks to himself that despite everything (all their arguing, plus Leila being on the loose), he’s really enjoyed spending so much time with Ana and he wants to spend much more time with her, over the coming days.  Aaaw.  Cute.  Gives him more time to abuse her, I guess.

As they prepare to leave, Grey broaches the subject of Ana’s $24,000 bid during the charity auction, before asking for the silver balls he gave Ana, back:

“So, Aspen?” I ask, to divert her.

“Oh, I haven’t paid for my bid,” she says.

“You can send a check. I have the address.”

“You were really mad.”

“Yes, I was.”

“I blame you and your toys.” “

You were quite overcome, Miss Steele. A most satisfactory outcome, if I recall. Incidentally, where are they?”

“The silver balls? In my bag.”

“I’d like them back. They are far too potent a device to be left in your innocent hands.”

“Worried I might be quite overcome again, maybe with somebody else?” she says, with a wicked gleam in her eye.

Ana, don’t tease me about these things.

Red, because there is not one single part of me that doesn’t genuinely believe he’d murder Ana if she cheated on him.

A DJ starts playing music and Grey asks Ana if she’d like to dance.  Ana says she’s exhausted, which makes me very certain she’ll somehow be wide awake and wanting sex, once they get home.  Mia says goodbye to them and tells Ana they really must “hit the mall,” sometime, before Grey ushers Ana away, telling his sister they have “a big day, tomorrow.”  Grey decides he ought to say goodnight to his parents before they leave and make up for his earlier “outburst” with his mother.

We stroll toward them. Grace’s face lights up when she sees us. Reaching up, she touches my face, and I try not to scowl at her.

 

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Grace must feel so very loved.

They head out of the party and things get gross very quickly:

“I really enjoyed this evening, Anastasia. Thank you.”

“Me, too…Some parts more than others.”

And clearly she’s thinking about our tryst in my childhood bedroom. “Don’t bite your lip,” I warn.

“Because even though you’ve said you’re exhausted and I’ve inwardly noted the fatigue in your eyes and in your voice, I will still force sex on you.”  Translating this shit is so depressing.

And then it gets worse:

“What did you mean about a big day tomorrow?” she asks. I tell her that Dr. Greene will make a house call and that I have a surprise for her. “Dr. Greene?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“Because I hate condoms.”

“It’s my body,” she grumbles.

“It’s mine, too,” I whisper. Ana. Please. I. Hate. Them.

 

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NO IT IS NOT YOUR BODY TOO, YOU ABSOLUTE FUCKING CRETIN.  IT BELONGS TO HER.  SHE IS NOT A THING YOU OWN.  THIS IS NOT YOUR DECISION TO MAKE.

Every time someone calls this shit feminist, Emmeline Pankhurst rolls in her grave.

But of course, instead of Ana continuing to assert her rights over her own body, this super example of modern feminism in action has her merely reach up to undo Grey’s bowtie and tell him how hot he is.

PLEASE KILL ME, I DON’T WANT TO LIVE IN A WORLD IN WHICH THIS EXISTS.

We deserve better.  We deserve books that show us strong, female characters who have control over their own bodies.  We deserve anything that propagates the idea that a man has control over a woman’s body like this, to be fired into the sun.

Also, note the full stops between each word Grey thinks, in his internal monologue: “Ana.  Please.  I.  Hate.  Them.”  It makes it sound as though he’s inwardly speaking through gritted teeth.  It makes him sound angry.  This is not a man with any consideration for his partner’s wants, needs or even right to choose.  This is all about him.  This is what abuse looks like.  And we’re being sold it as romance.

 

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As Ana and Grey climb into the car to head home, Ana is passed an envelope, with what Grey says is “familiar handwriting” on it.  It turns out to be a note from Elena, causing Ana to exclaim in annoyance that Grey told Elena that Ana refers to her as “Mrs Robinson.”  Ana doesn’t elaborate on what the note says, but naturally, rather than continue a discussion on the subject, like a healthy couple, she merely hands Grey back his kegel balls and says lustily: “Until the next time…”

As Taylor drives them home, Ana falls asleep and Grey takes some time to think about the important issues of the day:

Midway across the 520 bridge, she’s asleep. I take a moment to relax. So much has happened today. I’m tired, so I put my head back and close my eyes. Yeah. It’s been quite a day. Ana and the check. Her bad temper. Her willfulness. The lipstick. The sex. Yes. The sex.

All in red, because Ana’s bad temper was caused by his abusive behaviour, her “willfulness” was merely her trying to exercise her right to make her own decisions and clearly, all Grey really gives a shit about is the physical aspect of their relationship.

When they arrive at home, they discover that Ana’s car has been vandalised:

“Come. I’ll put you to bed.” My fingers curl around hers, and we follow Sawyer out of the elevator and into the foyer. Sawyer halts in front of us and holds up his hand. I tighten my grip on Ana’s fingers. What the hell?

“Will do, T,” Sawyer says, and turns to face us. “Mr. Grey, the tires on Ms. Steele’s Audi have been slashed and paint thrown all over it.” Ana gasps. What?

My immediate thought is that some mindless vandal has broken into the garage…then I remember Leila.

Grey insists on joining Taylor and the security team, doing a sweep of the apartment.  He tells Ana to stay down in the garage with Sawyer, whilst they go to check to see if the intruder has somehow broken in.  I think we’re supposed to think of Grey as some kind of brave hero, but…

 

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Once Grey and the team have scanned the whole apartment and determined that nobody is there, Grey tells Ana it’s time for bed.  She’s understandably nervous, but as they go inside, she passes him Elena’s note, so he can finally read it.  And yay, it’s time to paint Grey as a poor victim again!

Anastasia,

I may have misjudged you. And you have definitely misjudged me. Call me if you need to fill in any of the blanks—we could have lunch. Christian doesn’t want me talking to you, but I would be more than happy to help. Don’t get me wrong, I approve, believe me—but so help me, if you hurt him…He’s been hurt enough. Call me: (206) 279-6261.

Mrs. Robinson

 

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The irony of the woman who committed statutory rape against him, being all “HE’S BEEN HURT ENOUGH,” is not lost on me.  But, whilst I do feel sympathy for Grey’s childhood abuse and for the way he was taken advantage of as a teen, I’m sick to death of the whole “POOR ICKLE CHRISTIAN” routine.  He’s a grown up, who makes his own decisions.  And his decision is to constantly abuse and control those around him.  He’s not a victim, anymore, but he’s sure as hell creating them.

Grey tells the reader that the note “provokes (his) temper.”  He wonders whether Elena is playing games.

Now, one of the things fans insist about Grey is that he behaves the (shitty) way he does, because he wants to protect Ana.  But when Ana asks if he’ll be reporting the damage to her car to the police, he says no:

“Are you going to call the police about the car?” she asks, as she turns around. I move her hair out of the way and pull down the zipper. “No. I don’t want the police involved. Leila needs help, not police intervention, and I don’t want them here. We just have to double our efforts to find her.” I kiss her shoulder. “Go to bed.”

So, sure, he has a private investigator willing to break the law to track people – something he probably doesn’t want the police to find out about – and he has a security team at home, but when his clearly frightened girlfriend suggests doing the sensible thing and actually involving the police, he refuses, under the guise of protection, yet again – this time, for Leila’s benefit.  This is how abusers operate.  It’s all on their terms and it’s got nothing to do with protection.  it’s about control at any cost.  This guy isn’t a hero.

 

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I had to use that GIF, because it reminded me that Jodie is going to be the freaking Doctor and that made me happy, which is rare when I’m writing these recaps…

 Ana goes to bed and Grey heads to the kitchen to get a glass of water, where he ponders what’s been going on and indulges in some ableist thinking:

What the hell is going on? My world seems to be imploding. Just when I’m beginning to get back on track with Ana, my past is coming back to haunt me: Leila and Elena. I wonder for a moment if they might be colluding with each other, but then I realize that I’m being paranoid. What an absurd notion. Elena is not that crazy.

But Leila is crazy and crazy means bad, you guys!

He recalls how he would have been fine to carry on his relationship with Leila as it was, had she not wanted more and ended it when he wouldn’t give it to her.  Good for Leila, I say.

We get a flashback to Leila telling Grey she has feelings for him:

“Master. May I speak freely?” Leila says. She’s sitting at my right at the dinner table, wearing a fetching lacy La Perla one-piece. “Of course.” “I have developed feelings for you. I had hoped you would collar me and that I would stay by your side forevermore.”

Collar? Forevermore? I think to myself. What’s this once-upon-a-time bullshit?

“But I think that is beyond my dreams,” she continues.

“Leila. You know that’s not for me. We’ve discussed this.”

“But you’re lonely. I can see it.”

“Lonely? Me? I don’t feel that way. I have my work. My family. I have you.”

“But I want more, Master.”

“I can’t give you more. You know this.”

“I see.” She raises her face to look at me, her amber eyes scrutinizing me. She’s broken the fourth wall—she has never looked at me without permission. But I don’t scold her.

“I can’t. It’s not within me.” I’ve always been honest with her. This is nothing that she doesn’t know.

“It is within you, Sir. But maybe I’m not the person to make you realize it.” She sounds sad. She looks back down at her clean plate. “I’d like to terminate our relationship.” She’s caught me by surprise.

“Are you sure? Leila, this is a big step. I’d like to continue our arrangement.”

“I can’t do this anymore, Master.” Her voice cracks on the last word, and I don’t know what to say. “I can’t,” she whispers, clearing her throat.

“Leila—” I stop, bewildered by the emotion I hear in her voice. She’s been an impeccable sub. I thought we were compatible. “I’ll be sorry to see you go,” I say, because it’s true. “I’ve really enjoyed our time together. I hope you have, too.”

“I’ll be sorry, too, Sir. I’ve more than enjoyed everything. I had hoped…” Her voice trails off and she gives me a sad smile.

“I wish I felt differently.” But I don’t. I have no need of a permanent relationship.

“You’ve never given me any indication that you would.” Her voice is quiet.

“I’m sorry. You’re right. Let’s end this as you wish. It’s for the best, especially if you’ve developed feelings for me.”

I think this is literally just thrown in here so we can see how special Ana must be, to have changed him.  Woo-freaking-hoo.

 

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Taylor tells Grey that the Audi is a write-off and asks if Grey wants to involve the police.  Grey again says no.  Because he’s super concerned about protecting Ana, obvs.  Taylor tells Grey Leila did “a real number” on the car and Grey replies “if it is Leila,” so oooooooooh, EL is attempting a suspenseful plot!  I bet she’ll be eating with cutlery and wearing her big girl pants soon, too.

Taylor tells Grey that the Audi is a write-off and asks if Grey wants to involve the police.  Grey again says no.  Because he’s super concerned about protecting Ana, obvs.  Taylor tells Grey Leila did “a real number” on the car and Grey replies “if it is Leila,” so oooooooooh, EL is attempting a suspenseful plot!  I bet she’ll be eating with cutlery and wearing her big girl pants soon, too.

Grey heads to his study, where he receives a late night phone call from Elena.  He’s understandably furious with her for the way she ranted at Ana and for the note Elena sent her after he’d specifically told her to stay away.  They argue on the phone:

“You’re angry. I can tell. If it’s about the note, listen—”

“No, you listen. I asked you, and now I am telling you. Leave her alone. She has nothing to do with you. Do you understand?”

“Christian, I only have your best interests at heart.”

“I know you do. But I mean it, Elena. Leave her the fuck alone. Do I need to put it in triplicate for you? Are you hearing me?”

“Yes. Yes. I’m sorry.” I’ve never heard her so contrite. It goes some way to cooling my anger.

Grey tells her “good” in response and then slams the phone down.  There’s a knock at the door and Ana appears.  Remember how exhausted she was?  How she simply had to sleep?  Ninety billion pounds says we’re about to suffer a sex scene.

 

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Sure enough…

“I missed you. Come to bed.” Her voice is sexy and cajoling.

 

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We get some flowery crap about how much Ana (by which I mean, her vagina) means to Grey:

I stand and walk around my desk to gaze down at her. What if Leila wants to hurt her? What if she succeeds? How could I live with that?

“Do you know what you mean to me? If something happened to you, because of me…” I’m overwhelmed by a familiar, uncomfortable feeling that expands in my chest, becoming a lump in my throat that I have to swallow.

And then Ana, who was asleep in the car, who spoke about how utterly exhausted she was, starts undoing Grey’s shirt and telling him she wants him in bed, now.   I don’t know about you guys, but when someone trashes my car, it really makes me want to have sex with an asshole who thinks they have a right to decide upon my birth control method, without my consent.

Thankfully, we’re saved by Grey realising that the balcony door is open, when it shouldn’t be:

I let her lead me across the living room, through the corridor, and into my bedroom. It’s cold. My nipples pucker against the chill in the room. “You opened the balcony door?” I ask.

“No,” Ana replies, looking at the open door with a bewildered expression. Then she turns to me, her face ashen. She’s alarmed.

“What?” I ask, as every hair on my body stands on end—not from cold but from fear.

“When I woke,” she whispers, “there was someone in here. I thought it was my imagination.”

“What?” I scan the room quickly, then dash to the balcony and look outside. No one there—but I distinctly remember locking this door during the search. And I know Ana’s never been on the balcony. I lock it again. “Are you sure?” I ask her. “Who?”

“A woman, I think. It was dark. I’d only just woken up.”

 DUN DUN DUUUUUUUN.

Grey calls Taylor and tells him Leila is still in the apartment.  This is the point at which a guy who wasn’t a controlling ass-wipe might realise that calling the police was the right thing to do, seeing as his private security team supposedly checked the whole place and still failed to find Leila.  Just saying.

Grey tells Ana to get dressed and wonders why the hell she didn’t tell him she thought she saw a woman in the bedroom, which…  You know, I hate to agree with this snake, but… GOOD POINT.  This all ties in neatly with my theory that Ana is actually just a sentient sex doll.

Grey demands that Taylor books somewhere for he and Ana to stay and tells Ana to go and get dressed.  He also tells Taylor to ensure that Gail doesn’t return to the apartment until it’s 100% safe, but seeing as Gail is Taylor’s girlfriend and Taylor’s not an asshole, I assume he’d have been doing that with or without Grey’s say-so.  Laughably, as Grey hurries to dress and pack for a quick escape, he actually makes sure he takes condoms.  Because sex is the obvious answer to having a mentally unstable person (with a gun) after you.

 

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Ana – dressed in Grey’s clothes – asks how Leila could still be hiding in the apartment if it had been searched.  Grey tells her it’s a big place; so big, she hasn’t even seen all of it, yet.  Fine, maybe Ana hasn’t, but the security team probably should have.  You know, if Grey’s so keen on protecting Ana.

Ana asks why Grey doesn’t just call Leila and tell her he wants to talk, but Grey reminds Ana that Leila isn’t stable enough for that.  Then there’s a little snippet about Ana knowing how to fire a gun that somehow manages to turn into a joke about Grey’s abusive behaviour, as well as yet another dig at Leila’s mental health…

“Ray was in the army. He taught me to shoot.”

“You, with a gun?” I scoff. I’m shocked. I loathe guns.

“Yes.” She sounds offended. “I can shoot, Mr. Grey, so you’d better beware. It’s not just crazy ex-subs you need to worry about.”

 

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Taylor arrives with some of Ana’s things.  Ana shows him affection – worried for his safety – and Grey is forced to give him a “look.”

She hugs him, taking him and me by surprise. “Be careful,” she says.

“Yes, Miss Steele,” Taylor replies, embarrassed yet pleased by her concern and her spontaneous affection. I give him a look and he adjusts his tie.

HOW DARE YOU BE HUGGED BY MY GIRLFRIEND, OH MAN WHO IS NINETY THOUSAND TIMES NICER THAN I AM?!

Taylor gives Grey his credit card to use at the hotel, presumedly to ensure nobody can track his whereabouts using his credit card.  But… As far as we know, Leila doesn’t have that level of stalker technology.  Grey does.

As they go down to the garage, they see Ana’s car for the first time.  Grey thinks:

My blood boils at the sight, but for Ana’s sake I control my rage.

First time for everything, I guess.

Ana wants to know how Leila knew which car to attack:

“How could she have known it was my car?”

I sigh. This is not going to go down well. “She had an Audi A3. I buy one for all my submissives. It’s one of the safest cars in its class.”

“So, not so much a graduation present, then,” she says quietly.

“Anastasia, despite what I hoped, you have never been my submissive, so technically it is a graduation present.”

 

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It’s not.  You had decided to pursue this girl from day one.  You stalked her, you tracked her phone and you treated getting her to agree to become your submissive as a business deal.  And if you’d wanted to her to feel different, you could have researched other cars with good safety records and got her one of those, instead.

Ana asks if he’s still hoping she’ll be his submissive.  Grey’s initially saved by a phone call from Taylor, letting them know which hotel he’s booked them into and that the room is in his name.  But once the call is over, Ana still has questions.  Grey tells her that no, he’s no longer wanting her to be his submissive (which isn’t true, because he’s still expecting to control her in all things, which isn’t part of a non BDSM relationship, at least not a healthy one).  She pushes further:

“Why did you think I’d leave when I told you Dr. Flynn had told me all there was to know about you?”

Is this what she’s brooding about? Keep it vague, Grey. “You cannot begin to understand the depths of my depravity, Anastasia. And it’s not something I want to share with you.”

“And you really think I’d leave if I knew? Do you think so little of me?”

“I know you’ll leave,” I answer, and the thought is untenable.

“Christian, I think that’s very unlikely. I can’t imagine being without you.”

“You left me once. I don’t want to go there again.”

She pales and begins fiddling with the drawstring on my sweatpants. Yeah. You hurt me. And I hurt you…

I am so, so, so fucking done with this “she hurt me by leaving” crap.  She left because he beat her with a belt and she didn’t want to be with someone who was going to be physically violent towards her!  No, she didn’t safe word, but we’ve been over and over this – she was scared, she was crying openly and a good Dom would have realised that, this being her first time experiencing something so intense, she might have needed to have been asked if she was okay and reminded that she could stop the scene if she needed to.  He did neither.  So, why is it okay that Leila left, because she realised she wanted more than Grey could give her (his internal monologue mentions having huge respect for her because she left for reasons of “self-preservation”), yet when Ana left because she realised they were incompatible, that was hurtful and wrong?!  Is it just because Ana was so damn special?!  Because if that’s the case, her leaving should have made Grey analyse his behaviour a damn sight more than he actually has.

Also, for the seventy-thousandth time, his constant insistence at keeping things from her, or only giving her vague information (as he tells himself to do, here) is yet another abuse tactic.  Keeping her in the dark about how “depraved” he is, means she can’t make a fully informed decision about being with him.   He keeps insisting she’d leave if she knew the truth, which means he’s trying to keep her with him, whilst also keeping her in the dark as to the valid reasons she might want to leave.  If you can’t see how unhealthy that is, I can’t help you.   Healthy relationships are built on honesty.

 

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The typo in that GIF is going to drive me mad, but I can’t find one without it.  BOO.

Ana tells Grey that Elena told her she saw him the Saturday after Ana left him.  Grey tells her that’s bullshit and reminds her that he’s not much of a talker, so he wouldn’t have rushed to see someone to talk it all out.   This prompts Ana to confess that she probed his father for information about him, at the masked ball.  She reveals that his father told her that Grey was mute for two years, that his mother was the one who examined him when he was brought to the hospital after being discovered in his birth mother’s apartment, and that playing the piano helped him recover, as did the arrival of Mia.

Ana then asks Grey to elaborate on his relationship with Elena:

“Can I ask you something about Elena?” Ana asks, when we’re stopped at a red light.

“If you must.” But I really wish she wouldn’t.

“You told me ages ago that she loved you in a way you found acceptable. What did that mean?”

“Isn’t it obvious?”

“Not to me.”

“I was out of control. I couldn’t bear to be touched. I can’t bear it now. For a fourteen-, fifteen-year-old adolescent boy with hormones raging, it was a difficult time. She showed me a way to let off steam.”

A FOURTEEN YEAR OLD BOY.  Elena was a married adult and she started a hardcore BDSM relationship with a CHILD.

 

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I know the story ends with Grey’s parents finding out and being disgusted and I know that Stockholm Syndrome is a genuine thing, but I just find this so, so gross.  And Kim Basinger talking about her character in the films as this amazing, strong woman and not the child-rapist she is, makes me feel sick. 

Ana carries on talking and Grey proves his creepy level of possessiveness, yet again:

“Mia said you were a brawler.”

“Christ, what is it with my loquacious family?” We’re stopped at the next red. I glare at her. “Actually, it’s you. You inveigle information out of people.”

“Mia volunteered that information. In fact, she was very forthcoming. She was worried you’d start a brawl in the tent if you didn’t win me at the auction,” she says.

“Oh, baby, there was no danger of that. There was no way I would let anyone else dance with you.”

“You let Dr. Flynn.”

“He’s always the exception to the rule.”

Including the Hippocratic oath, apparently.

 

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They arrive at the hotel, checking in under the names Mr and Mrs Taylor, and I can’t remember if this becomes relevant, so I’m quoting it:

The lobby is quiet, save for some random woman and her dog. At this time? Odd.

They go up to their room, pour drinks and, despite the fact that we get yet more references to how tired Ana is, Grey decides that since they’re back in a bedroom, it must be FUCK TIME:

“I’m okay,” she says. “How about you?”

I’m wired.  Anxious.  Angry. I know of one thing that will give me relief. You, Miss Steele. My panacea.

“Well, right now I’d like to drink this, and then, if you’re not too tired, take you to bed and lose myself in you.” I’m really chancing my luck. She must be exhausted.

THEN DON’T SUGGEST SHAGGING, YOU INCREDIBLY STUPID, WALKING ERECTION.

But naturally, Ana is, as mentioned so many times before, a sentient sex doll:

“I think that can be arranged, Mr. Taylor,” she says, and rewards me with a shy smile. Oh, Ana. You’re my heroine.

Because she wants sex, despite being tired.  That makes her his heroine.

 

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Once again, we get a reference to the fact that Grey is keeping things from the woman he supposedly loves:

“I told you, Christian, I’m not going anywhere, no matter what you’ve done. You know how I feel about you.”

Oh, baby, you’d run if you knew the truth.

IF ONLY SHE WOULD.

Ana asks where he’s planning on hanging the photos of her he bought at José’s exhibition.  Grey tells her that depends on circumstances, thinking that what he means is, it depends on whether she leaves him, because if she does, he won’t be able to stand seeing the pictures, anymore.  Of course, when Ana asks what circumstances it depends on, he won’t tell her.  Because open communication is for losers, you guys.

Ana suggests she might torture the truth out of him and, taking charge in a sexual scenario (unusual for her), she leads Grey into the bedroom, where Grey tells us:

All the breath leaves my body.

 

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Alas, he doesn’t mean it literally.

They have sex – it lasts for roughly thirty five seconds, lucky Ana – and as usual, Grey inwardly thinks of himself as “claiming” her and making her his.   I’m so bored of EL James using the same words over and over and I’m so sick of her perpetuating this bullshit idea that sex = ownership.

Afterwards, Grey thinks:

That unfamiliar feeling is back, swelling in my chest, fighting to get out. And I know what it is. I’ve known forever. I want to tell her I love her. But I can’t. The words burn to ashes in my throat.

Unfortunately, if he tells her he loves her, he’ll immediately die.  SO COME ON, DUDE, TELL HER!  PLEASE!

We cut to a more sensible time in the morning.  Grey wakes up and forces himself to get dressed and get out of bed, in case he rapes his sleeping girlfriend, or at least that’s what EL James makes it sound:

She’s too tempting to leave alone, and I know she needs sleep.

He goes off to email Dr Greene as his “first job” of the day – because even in the wake of all that’s happened, his priority is ensuring he doesn’t have to wear a condom, anymore.  This guy is such a shit stain.  Then, he organises a trip on his boat, The Grace, texts Taylor and reads a message from his mother, thanking he and Ana for their generosity at the ball.  This makes him think about his mother’s concerns that Ana might be a gold digger and he remembers that it was Elliot who always took girls home, rather than him, so his mother is just unused to meeting a woman he’s involved with.  Then, he has a flashback to a conversation about this, which I am certain is here purely to paint Elliot in a bad light and Grey in a better one (which is impossible, sorry EL):

“Elliot, darling, we get attached to them and then they’re history. It’s heartbreaking.”

“Don’t get attached.” He shrugs, chewing with his mouth open. “I don’t,” he mutters so only I can hear him.

“One day someone will break your heart, Elliot,” Grace says as she hands Mia a plate of mac and cheese.

“Whatever, Mom. At least I bring girls home.” He eyes me with disdain.

“Lots of my friends want to marry Christian. Ask them,” Mia pipes up in my defense. Ugh. What an unpleasant thought—her poisonous little eighth-grade friends.

“Don’t you have exams to study for, douchebag?” I give Elliot the finger.

“Study. Not me, dickless. I’m out tonight,” he brags.

“Boys! Enough! This is your first night home from college. You haven’t seen each other in ages. Stop arguing. Eat up.” I take a bite of mac and cheese. Tonight I get to see Mrs. Lincoln…

I could pick this all apart, but…  I’m just going to leave it here as one big pile of EW and merely say that Elliot’s relationship with Kate is healthier than Grey and Ana’s will ever be and I wish to GOD I was reading about them, instead.

 

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He ignores his mother’s text, because he’d much rather continue to sulk than actually be a nice person.  He orders breakfast for them both and when it arrives, he goes to wake Ana, who asks what time it is:

“Ten fifteen. I didn’t have the heart to wake you earlier.”

“You told me you didn’t have a heart at all.”

That at least is true. But I ignore her comment.

This makes it sound very much as though he’s admitting that “I didn’t have the heart to wake you” was a lie.  Which, combined with the earlier admission that he couldn’t leave her alone if he stayed in bed next to her, is creepy and rape-tastic.

Whilst Ana is eating her breakfast, Doctor Greene arrives and Grey inwardly admits that this is entirely about his needs, not Ana’s:

I show her into the master, and soon after Ana wanders in and gives me a disapproving look. I choose to ignore it and close the door, leaving her with Dr. Greene. She can be as annoyed as she likes, but she stopped taking her pills. And she knows I hate condoms.

This guy is such a man baby, I can’t even…

 

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Taylor calls and confirms that it was Leila that vandalised Ana’s car.  He suggests the couple stay away until the locks have all been changed at the apartment and tells Grey he’d like to run a security check of The Grace before they spend the day on the boat.

Whilst on the phone, Grey tells Taylor – who ordered a two bedroom suite for them at the hotel, thinking that Grey likes to sleep apart from his subs – that he needs only order one bedroom for he and Ana to share, in future.  He also tells him to instruct Gail to move all of Ana’s things from the submissive’s room to his own, back at the apartment.

When Ana finishes her appointment with Dr Greene, she explains that they’ll be “good to go” in seven days (ie. have sex without condoms).  Grey is naturally pissed off about this, because his teeny-weeny dick just can’t cope with another week of not getting his way.  But he can’t dwell too much on it, because he can tell that Ana is in a bad mood and he wants to know why.  Eventually, Ana confesses that Dr Greene told her she could have been pregnant and she’s had to take a test to prove she isn’t.  She’s angry with herself for coming off the pill, but I will say this AGAIN: THEY BROKE UP!  ANA NEVER WANTED TO BE ON THE FREAKING PILL IN THE FIRST PLACE!!  GREY MADE HER!!  ONCE SHE THOUGHT THEY WEREN’T GOING TO BE TOGETHER ANYMORE, IT MAKES PERFECT SENSE THAT SHE DIDN’T BOTHER TAKING A PILL SHE DIDN’T CHOOSE TO BE ON IN THE FIRST DAMN PLACE.

She admits she was more frightened of Grey’s reaction than of being pregnant, which is a MAJOR red flag.  Grey tells her he wouldn’t have been happy about it, referring to it as “bad manners” to get her “knocked up.”  Ana snaps that perhaps they should abstain from sex, in that case and then this happens:

I haul her into my embrace. She’s tense and stiff with indignation. I kiss her hair and hold her. “Ana, I’m not used to this,” I whisper. “My natural inclination is to beat it out of you, but I seriously doubt you want that.”

She could cry it out if I did. In my experience, women feel better after a good cry.

 

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Leaving aside what sounds like massive gender stereotyping, if not outright misogyny, his natural inclination is to beat a bad mood out of a woman??!!  That’s not BDSM.  For the love of all I hold dear, STOP CALLING THIS BDSM.  BDSM is about consensual, risk-aware kink.  Threatening to beat someone because they’re in a bad mood and you don’t know why?  Is fucking appalling.  I don’t give even the smallest of shits about the fact that he sulkily adds that he doesn’t suppose she’d want him to.  We all know that consent to this guy is just a word he throws around to make out that he’s not an abusive dick-for-brains.

Grey insists that they shower together and he asks Ana to wash off the remains of the lipstick on his body, from the “map” he helped her to draw of the areas she can’t touch.  As she does so, she can see that Grey is struggling to cope with her touching his body and it makes her cry.  We get a scene that’s yet again all about portraying Grey as the victim and so, yet again, I will say very clearly that it is possible to feel sympathy for the abuse a person may have suffered in the past, without allowing them to use it as a convenient excuse to abuse others in the present.  If only EL James had done any real research with any real psychologists, she’d know that to be true.

She touches my side and I freeze, as fear fills my gut, my chest, and my throat, leaving nothing but the darkness. It’s a gaping, aching void that consumes me, all of me. Ana sniffles and I open my eyes. She’s crying, her tears lost in the cascade of hot water, her nose pink. Her compassion is spilling down her face—her compassion and her anger as she washes away my sins.

No. Don’t cry, Ana. I’m just a fucked-up man.

Her lip trembles. “No. Please, don’t cry.” I fold her into my arms and hold her. “Please don’t cry for me.”

She starts sobbing. Really sobbing. And I cradle her head in my hands and lean down to kiss her. “Don’t cry, Ana, please,” I whisper against her mouth. “It was long ago. I am aching for you to touch me, but I just can’t bear it. It’s too much. Please, please don’t cry.”

“I…want to touch you, too…” she stutters between sobs. “More than you’ll ever know. To see you like this. So hurt and afraid, Christian. It wounds me deeply. I love you so much.”

 

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Grey looks incredulous at her words, because he’s just so unworthy of love, you guys.  So Ana says:

“You’re very easy to love. Don’t you see that?” 

 

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Let me see, what do I love most about Christian Grey…  Hmm, I just can’t decide…  Is the stalking?  The violation of consent?  The threats of actual assault, masquerading as “BDSM”?  The illegal access of  women’s bank details, which he keeps on file long after they’re no longer in his life?!  SO MANY REASONS TO LOVE HIM.

Ana continues to tell Grey how very loved and lovable he is, reminding him of all the people in his life who love him, including Elena.  His rapist.

THIS FUCKING BOOK.

The “YOU MUST FEEL SORRY FOR CHRISTIAN GREY” onslaught continues:

I can’t bear it. I put my finger over her lips and shake my head. “I can’t hear this. I’m nothing, Anastasia.” I’m a lost boy, standing before you. Unloved. Abandoned by the one person who was supposed to protect me, because I’m a monster. That’s me, Ana. That’s all I am. “I’m a husk of a man. I don’t have a heart.”

 

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“Yes, you do,” she cries passionately. “And I want it, all of it. You’re a good man, Christian, a really good man. Don’t ever doubt that.”

DOUBT IT.  DOUBT IT A LOT, BECAUSE IT IS BULLSHIT.

Here’s a little tip for you: if your “hero” is so utterly vile that the only way you can get people to see past his gross behaviour is by making out that he’s some poor, tortured victim, you haven’t written him very well.  If Grey was analysing himself and saying “I’m a monster, I don’t have a heart” because he could see that the way he treats others is wrong, then this story would have legs.  Because we could be seeing him redeem himself, learn from his past and grow into a better person who is worthy of Ana’s love.  But Grey isn’t doing that.  He’s not referring to himself as a monster because he actually views his behaviour towards others as bad.  He’s referring to himself as a monster a) because he has an interest in hardcore BDSM (waaaay to support the community you’re claiming to represent, ELJ) and b) because he feels sorry for himself.  And sure, he had a very traumatic start in life, but for the ninety billionth time, a good therapist would help him to realise he didn’t deserve it and it doesn’t have to define his life.  He doesn’t have a good therapist.  He has a quack who indulges him, because he pays him to.  Why?  Because Grey doesn’t want to get better, because then he couldn’t play the little boy lost act, anymore.

So, suck it up, bitch.  You are a heartless monster.  By choice.

Ana tells him she knows he loves her and we get a load of shitty “tearing my dark soul” crap as he admits that yes, he does.

It’s a deep, dark confession wrenched from my soul. And yet as I say the words out loud it all becomes clear. Of course I love her. Of course she knows. I’ve loved her since I met her. Since I watched her sleep. Since she gave herself to me and only me. I’m addicted. I can’t get enough. That’s why I tolerate her attitude.

 

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There is FUCK ALL WRONG with Ana’s attitude and everything wrong with his.  I’m so sick and tired of this.  It’s not funny, anymore.  It’s depressing.  It’s literally making me fucking depressed.  Every time he claims she’s got a bad attitude, it’s because she’s not doing exactly as he demands, or because she’s calling his behaviour out.  He’s not allowing her to express herself, or to have a say.  That’s NOT LOVE.

Naturally, Grey decides that, whilst being told he’s loved made him horrified, admitting he loves her makes him horny.  So he tells her to get out of the shower, so they can go back to bed.  Before they do, he starts drying her hair with a towel and Ana dries his.  Then, she uses his towel to dry him, with him allowing her to touch his whole back and some of his chest, although only the towel makes contact with his skin.  We skip the sex scene, thank God, and we cut to EL James’ unrivalled ability to tell, rather than show:

I AM A NEW being. A new Christian Grey. I am in love with Anastasia Steele, and what’s more, she loves me. Of course, the girl needs to have her head examined, but right now I’m grateful, spent, and happy.

SEE!  HE HAS CHANGED!  HE MUST HAVE, BECAUSE THE BOOK SAYS SO, EVEN THOUGH THERE IS LITERALLY NO CHANGE WHATSOEVER IN HIS ACTUAL BEHAVIOUR!

 

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Grey makes yet another comment about having taken Ana’s virginity meaning she’s his, completely.  Then, Ana asks if Grey knows who his biological father was.  Grey says no, adding that he knows it wasn’t “the crack whore’s pimp.”  Such loving words, about his dead mother…

Ana asks how he can be sure and he says it’s due to something his adopted father told him.  He tells Ana he doesn’t like talking about that time in his life and Ana looks suitably “guilty” and stops asking.

Ana asks him what the surprise he hinted he was planning for her that day is and he tells her to get dressed so he can take her out, somewhere.  There’s a gross reference to the fact that his “palm still twitches,” but since Ana is thrilled by the idea, I’m not quoting or red-inking it (if I did that with every potentially gross line this dude utters, believe me when I say these recaps would be at least 70% longer).

On the way to the boat, Grey pulls in at a Saab dealership, finally deciding to get Ana a car he different to the ones he’s bought for every other chick he’s banged.  He asks her what colour she’d like, but when she says “black,” he vetoes it, on the basis that it wouldn’t be easily spotted at night.  Ana reminds him that his car is black, but Grey insists this is about her protection, telling her he wants her to choose silver or white.  What was the point in offering to let her choose a colour for herself?!  They order a top of the range convertible to be delivered ASAP.

Back in Grey’s car, he asks Ana about food and manages to be creepy as always:

I remember that she didn’t finish her breakfast earlier and I ask her if she’s hungry.

I’m keeping track, Ana.

 

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Red ink, because that’s obsessive and invasive, under the guise of “caring.”  As usual.

They call in at a waterfront restaurant and when asked what she wants to drink, Ana says she’ll have whatever Grey’s having.  He’s thrilled by this, naturally, but it just smacks of a woman who’s well on her way to accepting that she has no real choices, what with the car-colour-debacle.  Grey also orders her food for her, so…  Point proven.

Ana asks Grey how he got started in business and this is such filler I can’t be arsed to repeat it.  It’s dull and my life is worse for having read it.

They natter about Ana’s own life and it’s equally dull, so…  SKIP!

After lunch, Grey finally gets to show off his boat, The Grace.  Ana is suitably impressed.  When she notices the name, she’s surprised he’d name his boat after his mother.

“Why do you find that strange?”

She shrugs, at a loss for words.

“I adore my mom, Anastasia. Why wouldn’t I name a boat after her?”

“No, it’s not that. It’s just—”

“Anastasia, Grace Trevelyan-Grey saved my life. I owe her everything.” Her smile is uncertain, and I wonder what’s going through her head, and what I might have done to make her think I don’t love my mother.

I’m going to go with: basically everything you’ve said and everything you’ve done.

 

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And in yet another piece of telling rather than showing even in the slightest, we get this:

Okay, so I once told Ana I didn’t have a heart—but there’s always been room for my family in what’s left of it. Even Elliot.

You told her that literally earlier today.  And why have you never shown that you give a shit about any of these people?!

He thinks about how he never realised he had room for anyone else in his affections, until Ana came along with her magical vagina.

I swallow as I try to contain the depth of feeling I have for her. She’s bringing my heart back to life, bringing me back to life.

EL James is an Evanescence fan.  Who knew?!

Grey asks Ana if she wants to come aboard and for once, it’s not a euphemism.   He introduces her to Mac (Liam McConnell, who has been looking after the boat for Grey, or something – I lose track of all these needless additional characters).

I’ve skipping a big chunk where Grey shows Ana around the boat, making a mental note to christen the bed in the master cabin, as well as a section where Ana asks whether sailing was where Grey learned to get so good at tying ropes.  Ooh, such kink, many references, wow.

They set sail, Mac and Grey…  Do stuff that’s boat-y.  Ana takes the wheel.  It’s all supposed to be romantic and exciting, but I hate these characters so much and none of this is written well and just… Ugh.

 

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They sail to a cove, where they drop Mac off, so he can visit a friend.  Ana asks Grey what they’re going to do now he’s gone and of course he tells her he wants to have sex.  Because that’s all this pair do, aside from fight.

Grey thinks some creepy, possessive thoughts (as usual):

I know she’s mine to do with as I please. My girl.

You still need consent, dude.  You will always need consent.

Then there is this hilariously awful line:

“Ah,” she breathes, and the sound is music to my dick.

After the twelve seconds of sex (how is anyone convinced this guy is good in bed, when he blows his load so damn fast?!), Grey starts having his “poor me, I have a dark, dark secret” inner thoughts again.  Oh, goodie.  I’ve missed those.

She doesn’t know the real you.

I frown at the ceiling. This thought keeps plaguing me. Why? It’s because I want to be honest with her.

Flynn thinks I should trust her and tell her, but I don’t have the nerve.

She’ll leave.

Sadly, she won’t.

Taylor calls and tells Grey that CCTV footage have proven that Leila was entering the apartment via the fire-escape stairwell.  They’ve changed all the locks and it’s safe for Grey and Ana to come home.

They prepare to leave The Grace and although they both claim to have loved being out on the water together, the only real thing they’re bothered about is the fact that they had sex.

“Thank you. That was a perfect afternoon.”

“I thought so, too. Perhaps we can enroll you in sailing school, so we can go out for a few days, just the two of us.” Or we could sail around the world, Ana, just you and me.

“I’d love that. We can christen the bedroom again and again.”

 

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Grey tells Ana that Taylor has already picked up all their stuff from the hotel and taken it back to the apartment.  We discover that Taylor’s first name is Jason and that Ana is very fond of him.  This, naturally, makes Grey jealous.  Because he’s six.

“You’re fond of Taylor,” I observe.

“I suppose I am. I think Taylor looks after you very well. That’s why I like him. He seems kind, reliable, and loyal. He has an avuncular appeal to me.”

“Avuncular?”

“Yes.”

“Okay, avuncular.”

Ana laughs. “Oh, Christian, grow up, for heaven’s sake.” What? She’s scolding me. Why? Because I’m possessive? Maybe that’s childish.

And also abusive, creepy and kind of pathetic.  But sure, go with “childish.”

Ana rolls her eyes at him and Grey tells her it evokes sexy memories.  Ana suggests she’ll let him relive them, some time.  I’m really confused as to when the girl who left him because she didn’t enjoy BDSM, suddenly became all about the spanking.  But whatever.  Grey does at least usually refer to her giving off mixed signals, when she makes these comments, although he doesn’t, here.

Grey tells Ana that Mac is from Northern Ireland and he helped build The Grace.  Why we need this additional information about a minor character, I don’t know.  Oh, hang on, yes I do…

 

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Ana asks whether Grey has many friends (seeing as when she asked if Mac was a friend, Grey was quick to emphasise that Mac works for him) and Grey thinks:

What would I need friends for?

Erm…  To call you out on your bullshit?  Give you the relationship advice you sorely need?  Boost your confidence so that you don’t feel the need to play the manipulative victim with your girlfriend?  I don’t know, you seem like someone who needs friends, but is much too much of a prick to have any, so…  Again, whatever.

Ana isn’t letting the subject drop though and over dinner, she broaches it again:

“You don’t seem to have many friends. Why is that?”

“I told you, I don’t really have time. I have business associates, though that’s very different from friendships, I suppose. I have my family, and that’s it.” I shrug. “Apart from Elena.”

Thankfully, she ignores my Elena comment. “No male friends your own age that you can go out with and let off steam?”

No. Just Elliot. “You know how I like to let off steam, Anastasia.” My voice is low. “And I’ve been working, building up the business. That’s all I do, except sail and fly occasionally.” And fuck, of course.

“Not even in college?”

“Not really.”

“Just Elena, then?”

I nod. Where is she going with this?

“Must be lonely.” Leila’s words come back to me: “But you’re lonely. I can see it.” I frown. The only time I felt lonely was when Ana left me. It was crippling. I never want to feel like that again.

Yet more bullshit thrown in to make us see Ana as the big bad meanie for leaving poor ickle Grey.  She’s the only one who saves him from loneliness!  She MUST tolerate his abusive crap, because he NEEDS her to!

I want to know what abusive dickheads EL James has been manipulated by in her life for her to fill her crappy, badly written books with this utter horse shit.

Or… Is she the abusive dickhead, using these books to justify her own behaviour?!

 

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As they wait for their meals to arrive, Ana confesses that she’s still worried that their vanilla relationship might not be enough for him.  Grey insists that he’s trying very hard for her and she tells him he’s been “amazing,” which just proves that Ana is dumb.

“I’m still me, Anastasia, in all my fifty shades of fucked up…ness,” I say, searching for the word. “Yes, I have to fight the urge to be controlling

HAHAHAHAHAHA, WHEN DO YOU EVER FIGHT IT?????!!!!!

but that’s my nature, how I’ve dealt with my life. Yes, I expect you to behave a certain way, and when you don’t it’s both challenging and refreshing. We still do what I like to do. You let me spank you after your outrageous bid yesterday.” The thought of last night’s arousing encounter preoccupies me for a moment. Grey! Keeping my voice low, I try to unravel how I feel. “I enjoy punishing you. I don’t think the urge will ever go, but I’m trying, and it’s not as hard as I thought it would be.” “

I didn’t mind that,” Ana says quietly, and she’s referring to our assignation in my childhood bedroom.

He tells her that the last few days have been the best of his life and Ana says they’ve been the same for her.  I threw up in my mouth a little bit, reading such schmaltz, especially centred around such vile individuals.  Yep, I’m including Ana, because she’s been ableist and ignorant in this chapter.

Ana asks if he still wants to take her into the playroom and he manages to make a simple “no, not at the moment” into yet another heaping of blame onto her shoulders for leaving him:

She persists. “So, you don’t want to take me into your playroom?”

Fuck. I swallow. “No, I don’t.”

Why not?” she asks.

Now I’m really in the confessional. “The last time we were in there you left me. I will shy away from anything that could make you leave me again. I was devastated when you left. I explained that. I never want to feel like that again. I’ve told you how I feel about you.”

“But it hardly seems fair. It can’t be very relaxing for you to be constantly concerned about how I feel. You’ve made all these changes for me, and I—I think I should reciprocate in some way. I don’t know, maybe try some roleplaying games.” She’s blushing.

“Ana, you do reciprocate, more than you know. Please, please don’t feel like this. Baby, it’s only been one weekend. Give us some time. I thought a great deal about us when you left. We need time. You need to trust me, and I you. Maybe in time we can indulge, but I like how you are now. I like seeing you this happy, this relaxed and carefree, knowing that I had something to do with it. I have never—” I stop. Don’t give up on me, Ana. I hear Dr. Flynn’s voice, nagging me. “We have to walk before we can run,” I say out loud.

“What’s so funny?” she asks.

“Flynn. He says that all the time. I never thought I’d be quoting him.”

“A Flynnism.”

I laugh. “Exactly.”

Not a single one of the “jokes” in this book has been funny.

 

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They move on to a discussion about travel, which seems like it’s just a convenient way for EL to hammer home the fact that Grey’s rich and Ana’s not.  She lists the many countries she’d love to visit, having never left the US, whilst Grey talks about all the places his parents took him, because “they could afford to.”  Eye.  Roll.  He ponders asking Ana to sail around the world with him, but tells himself not to get carried away.

Nah, just ask her to move in within a couple of weeks of getting back together.  Then propose.  That’s much more sensible.

As they drive home, Grey is lost in thoughts about eventually getting what he really wants from the relationship:

I can’t help thinking about our earlier intense conversation about our relationship. The truth is, I don’t know if I can maintain a vanilla relationship, but I’m willing to try. I don’t want to push her into something she doesn’t want to do.

But she’s willing, Grey. She said so. She wants the Red Room, as she calls it.

I shake my head. I think, for once, I’m going to take Dr. Flynn’s advice. Walk before we run, Ana.

I’m not sure if I’m supposed to be impressed with the fact that he’s not planning to force his desires on her, but if I am…  That’s a really, really low bar to set for your “hero,” ELJ.  Also, Ana didn’t actually say she wanted the Red Room.  She said she’d let him spank her again, because she enjoyed it, the night before.  She also said she was worried she wasn’t enough for him and asked if he wanted to go to the Red Room.  Not because she wanted to, but because she was worried she wasn’t enough to fulfil his needs.  That’s not the same thing as actively saying “I really want you to take me to the Red Room and do a full on BDSM scene on me, please,” which is the level of consent he should be looking for.  In actuality, the Red Room is full of implements that she’s made very clear she does not want used on her.  Thus, this internal thought smacks of him having heard what he wanted to hear.

 

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They arrive back at the apartment and Sawyer tells them there’s been no sign of Leila.  Grey tells Ana she’s not allowed out on her own and she agrees without a fuss.  For some reason, this also makes her laugh, which makes him laugh and it’s all so freaking cute, you guys.  I love this book so much.  I’m ready to start a fan club.

Grey pouts at her and she tells him not to, because his pout apparently has the same effect on her as her biting her lip does on him.  I guess when you’re dating a sulky sociopath, you learn to find it attractive?

 

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They get briefly frisky in the elevator, because these two can’t go longer than an hour or two without getting horny, then Taylor greets them as they step into the apartment.  For reasons best known to her, Ana tells him that she was “Mrs Taylor” at the hotel and Taylor jokes that it has a nice ring to it.  Why you’d have that conversation when you have a ludicrously, dangerously possessive boyfriend, I don’t know, but he takes it… Not well.  He snaps at her and Taylor, then insists that he wants a word with Ana in private:

“Don’t flirt with the staff, Anastasia.”

“I wasn’t flirting. I was being friendly. There is a difference.”

Don’t be friendly with the staff or flirt with them. I don’t like it.”

Red, because he’s basically telling her she can’t be polite or even nice to people who are paid to look after her.  It’s a way of isolating her and ensuring she doesn’t feel there’s anyone she can open up to.  Of course, rather than call him out on this and remind Grey that Taylor has always been good to her and she’s well within her rights to be nice to him, in return, she apologises:

She sighs. “I’m sorry.” She tosses her hair over her shoulder and looks down at her fingernails. I cup her chin and lift her head so I can see into her eyes.

“You know how jealous I am.”

“You have no reason to be jealous, Christian. You own me body and soul.” She looks at me as if I’ve lost my mind, and suddenly I feel foolish. She’s right. I’m completely overreacting.

Both red, Grey’s because it sounds like a threat and Ana’s comment because it’s obsessive and a sign that she’s no longer seeing herself as her own person, due to the deeply unhealthy relationship she’s in.  I also think Grey’s internal thought about overreacting only happens because she tells him that he owns her.  Had she not said it – had she merely said “you have no reason to be jealous” and left it at that – he almost certainly wouldn’t have been placated enough to apologise to Taylor, which he does in the next scene.

Taylor tells Grey a little more about how Leila was sneaking into the apartment, assuring him that she’s not there, now.  And he also makes a point of reassuring Grey that the police are still not involved:

“I’ve informed the facilities management at Escala that Miss Williams had a key. I felt they should know.”

“How did they respond?”

“Well, I stopped them from calling the police.”

“Good.”

 

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Grey fills Ana in on what Taylor has just told him about Leila, as Ana marvels at the fact that all her stuff is now in Grey’s bedroom:

I give her a quick rundown of what Taylor has just told me about the apartment and Leila. “I wish I knew where she was. She’s evading all our attempts to find her, when she needs help.”

Ana puts her arms around me, holding me, calming me. And I embrace her and kiss the top of her head. “What will you do when you find her?” she asks.

“Dr. Flynn has a place.”

Sorry, Leila.  You’re screwed.  You deserve better.

Ana asks why Leila’s husband can’t help her and Grey says that Leila’s husband has washed his hands of her.  Ana remarks that it’s sad and Grey thinks how boundless Ana’s compassion is.

Remember how everything Grey does is supposedly for Ana’s protection?  Well, he admits that moving her into his bedroom is for him, not her:

“Are you okay with all your stuff being here? I want you to share my room.”

“Yes.”

“I want you sleeping with me. I don’t have nightmares when you’re with me.”

You have nightmares?”

“Yes.”

She squeezes me tighter, and we stand in my closet wrapped around each other.

That sentence makes it sound like their legs are somehow entwined, too.  Which makes me wonder how they don’t topple over.  Can you tell I don’t give a shit about this plot?!  My mind is WANDERING.

Brace yourselves, everyone.  Ana mentions something about going to work the next day and Grey tells her she can’t.

“That’s ridiculous, Christian. I have to go to work.”

“No, you don’t.”

“I have a new job, which I enjoy. Of course I have to go to work.”

“No, you don’t.” I can look after you.

“Do you think I am going to stay here twiddling my thumbs while you’re off being master of the universe?”

“Frankly, yes,” I respond.

Ana closes her eyes and rubs her forehead as if she’s calling on all her inner strength. She doesn’t understand. “Christian, I need to go to work,” she says.

“No, you don’t.”

“Yes. I. Do.” Her tone is forthright and determined.

“It’s not safe.” Suppose something happens to you?

“Christian, I need to work for a living, and I’ll be fine.”

“No, you don’t need to work for a living, and how do you know you’ll be fine?” Fuck. This is why I like having submissives. This would not be an argument if she’d signed the fucking contract.

Okay, firstly, Ana just yell at him:

 

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Secondly…  So, basically, he is still hooked on the idea of her being his sub.  He still wants to be able to control her at all times.  This isn’t merely about protection – if it was, he would have immediately said: “Oh, I’m concerned about you working, with Leila on the loose.  I’m going to arrange to have some security set up at SIP, for your protection.  That way, you get to carry on with your life, but I get to know you’re safe.”  Those would be the words of a considerate, non-abusive partner.

Ana points out that Leila had been at the foot of the bed very recently and had the capacity to harm her, but didn’t.  She also puts her foot down and says she is going to work, which causes Grey to at least realise she’s right to have made her own mind up about it.  An internal thought he immediately undoes with his behaviour straight after, when he finally does suggest sending security (Sawyer) to work with her and Ana isn’t keen on the idea:

“Christian, that’s not necessary. You’re being irrational.”

“Irrational?” I snap. “Either he comes with you or I will be really irrational and keep you here.”

“How, exactly?”

“Oh, I’d find a way, Anastasia. Don’t push me.” I’m about to explode.

“Okay!” she shouts, holding up both her hands. “Okay, Sawyer can come with me if it makes you feel better.”

I want to kiss her or spank her or fuck her.  I step forward and she immediately takes a step back, watching me. Grey! You’re frightening the poor girl.

He wants to kiss her, spank her or fuck her in anger.  And she’s frightened, which means she wouldn’t necessarily consent, so…  EW.  This book is so gross.  It should be wrapped up with a massive warning label on the front.

 

Grey tells her he didn’t mean to frighten her and Ana jokes that she wasn’t scared, but she was getting ready to run away again.  Grey doesn’t find it funny, because of course he doesn’t.  He offers to give her a tour of this utterly ridiculous apartment that’s apparently so big there are loads of areas she’s not seen, yet.  As they go past the Red Room, Ana coyly asks if he’s sure he doesn’t want to go inside.  He tells her no, besides he hasn’t got the key with him.

He takes her to his TV room, which has an Xbox in it.  Ana finds this funny, because when he originally told her he wanted to show her his playroom, she thought he meant he wanted to play on an Xbox.  Hahahahaahahaaaaaaa, please GOD write something actually witty, EL, I implore you.

Instead, we get stilted dialogue like this:

“That was funny, when you thought I meant this room was my playroom.”

“I’m glad you find me amusing, Mr. Grey,” she says.

“That you are, Miss Steele, when you’re not being exasperating, of course.”

“I’m usually exasperating when you’re being unreasonable.”

“Me? Unreasonable?”

“Yes, Mr. Grey. ‘Unreasonable’ could be your middle name.”

“I don’t have a middle name.”

“Unreasonable would suit, then.”

“I think that’s a matter of opinion, Miss Steele.”

Oh God, the dialogue is so unbearable.  Please make them both mute for the rest of the book, pleeeeaaaase.

 

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Grey shows Ana the library, where he keeps his billiard table.  Remember how Grey reckoned Ana might have played, before?  Well, she challenges him to a game, with a wager attached.  A wager that sounds massively, massively out of character, coming from the woman who spent the whole of the last book asking why Grey felt the need to hit her and making it obvious she didn’t like it:

“Frightened of a little competition?” she interrupts me.

“Frightened of a little girl like you?” I scoff.

“A wager, Mr. Grey.”

“You’re that confident, Miss Steele?” This is a new side to Ana I’ve not seen before. Game on, Ana. “What would you like to wager?”

“If I win, you’ll take me back into the playroom.” Shit. She’s serious.

“And if I win?” I ask.

“Then it’s your choice.” She shrugs, trying to act nonchalant, but her eyes shine with mischief.

So, if she wins, he gets what he wants.  And if he wins, he gets what he wants.  That’s… That’s not how a bet usually works.  There’s meant to be a losing option.  But – I shall say it again, because we’re over 50 A4 pages into this chapter and I AM SO DONE – whatever.

 

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Grey asks whether Ana wants to play pool, snooker or carom billiards and she chooses pool, because that’s the one she knows how to play.  Grey starts plotting what he’ll choose as his prize, should he win.  Which he clearly expects to, because Ana’s just “a little girl.”  Don’t think that misogyny went unnoticed.

There’s this cringe-worthy moment:

“Okay,” she says, her voice breathy and soft as she chalks her cue. She purses her lips, and while watching me through her lashes, she slowly, deliberately blows off the excess.

I feel it in my dick.

I feel it in my toooeeeees!

Ana breaks and immediately pots a striped ball.  Clearly she can play.

We’re meant to find Ana playing pool sexy:

She prowls around the table, seeking her next victim. I like this new Ana. Predatory. Competitive. Confident. Sexy as hell.

Nah, sorry.

Naturally, when it’s finally his turn, Grey thinks:

“Showtime, Grey.”

 

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I’m not even sorry for that.

Grey pots the white, prompting Ana to ask if he’s trying to lose on purpose:

“You’re not trying to lose, are you?” She cocks her head to one side.

Oh no. For what I have in mind as the prize, I want to win, Anastasia. But then, I always want to win.” Blow job on her knees or… I could stop her from going to work. Hmm…A wager that could cost her her job. I don’t think that would be a popular choice.

So, Ana’s trying to play a sexy game with him and he’s still thinking about how he could use the situation to control her.  This guy is so blatantly a massive jackass, I’m struggling to see how anyone doesn’t recognise him as such.

Oblivious to his controlling thoughts, Ana the permanently horny sex doll makes a big deal of bending over the table, rubbing the cue etc, trying to turn Grey on.  It works, of course, because Grey is also a permanently horny sex doll.

I stroll around to stand behind her while she’s still bent over the table, and place my hand on her behind. “Are you waving this around to taunt me, Miss Steele?” I smack her hard. Because she deserves it.

She gasps. “Yes,” she whispers.

Oh, Ana. “Be careful what you wish for, baby.”

I don’t find the “I smack her hard, because she deserves it” erotic at all, but I’m not red-inking it, because Ana’s clearly well up for him giving her a bit of a slap on the ass.  Still, the “she deserves it” makes me uncomfortable.

Ana believes she’s definitely going to win and says “Red Room, here we come.”  Did Leila spike the water supply?!  I just…  Write a consistent character, EL.  You can’t expect that everyone reading this shit read the first 3 books from Ana’s perspective.  Then again, I did and I still feel like this is a very sudden transformation, from “no, thanks, I don’t like being hit,” to “FLOG ME, OH MASTER!”

 

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Grey tells Ana that if he wins, he wants to spank her, then fuck her over the billiard table.  In his internal monologue, he keeps insisting he doesn’t want to go to the Red Room, because if they go there, she might leave him, again.  This is a transparent attempt to make him the victim, as per usual, when in fact, if he ever, ever looked at his own actions, he could ensure that Ana wouldn’t leave him this time, by not doing something so intense, by reminding her of her safe words and by stopping, if she’s overwhelmed and sobbing, to ask if she’s okay and whether she wants to continue.

Grey wins.

I swagger over to where she stands with her mouth open, looking a little crestfallen. “You’re not going to be a sore loser, are you?” I ask.

“Depends how hard you spank me,” she murmurs.

Taking the cue from her, I place it on the table, hook my finger into the top of her blouse, and tug so she steps toward me. “Well, let’s count your misdemeanors, Miss Steele.” Holding up my fingers, I number her misdeeds. “One, making me jealous of my own staff.” Her eyes widen. “Two, arguing with me about working. And three, waving your delectable derrière at me for the last twenty minutes.”

Nope.  Nope.  It’s sexy to spank her if she wants to be spanked (and she seems to) and to say it’s punishment for waving her ass at him is fine and dandy, because she was doing it to purposefully get him all excited, because she wanted him excited.  But he’s still wanting to “punish” her for things that she doesn’t need punishment for.  Things he has no control over.  Being friendly towards the staff and choosing to still attend work are HER choices to make, not his.  Somehow, even when a spanking scene is entirely consensual, EL James manages to make it creepy and gross.

 

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Grey sees a ruler and decides to use it.

On the library desk I spy a Perspex ruler. Perfect. All day long she’s been making not-so-veiled remarks about missing this side of me. Let’s see how she fares with this. I hold it up so she can see it and flex it between my hands, then slip it into my back pocket and stroll over to her.

I remember slapping a perspex ruler on my arm, when I was a kid.  It hurt.  So, if Ana’s going to suddenly love this, I’m thinking someone’s performed a lobotomy on her.  Grey makes all this big talk about not using safe words, but how important it is for her to tell him to stop if she doesn’t like it.  He says he’s going to be rough with her.

We’re lovers, Anastasia. Lovers don’t need safe words.” I frown. “Do they?” This is something I know nothing about.

I guess not,” she responds. “I promise.”

Because, you guys, if you’re in a healthy, committed relationship, you can’t be doing BDSM, because that’s just for casual, short-term contracts?  I’m… I’m so confused by this shit.

Grey refers to the fact that she’s wearing a thong, twice, yet still, just a couple of paragraphs later, manages to tell the reader that Ana’s “beautiful ass” is visible, because she’s wearing a thong.  Dear GOD, EL.  Stop masturbating for five seconds and read back what you’ve already written, I beg of you.

He makes her try to pot the black, but slaps her ass each time, so she misses.  Eventually, he uses the ruler, enjoying the “crack” it makes as it makes contact with her skin:

She scrunches up her eyes as she takes the pain, but she doesn’t ask me to stop. Oh, baby. I spank her again, and again, and she moans. Her skin is turning pink beneath the ruler and my jeans are becoming impossibly tight as they restrict my arousal. I smack her again and again. And I’m lost. Lost in her. Owned by her. She’s doing this for me. And I love it. I love her.

“Stop,” she says. And I drop the ruler without thinking and release her.

“Enough?” I ask.

“Yes.”

“I want to fuck you now,” I whisper, my voice hoarse.

“Yes,” she pleads.

She wants this, too. Her ass is pink and she’s dragging air into her lungs.

I’m sure she does want the sex, too.  She’s constantly aroused.

 

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They fuck, Grey “claims her,” because as we’ve established by now, sex = ownership.  He slams into her, in, out, in, out…  These scenes are so utterly repetitive, I’m not sure whether they’re having sex or doing the Hokey Cokey.

Afterwards:

“How was that?” I ask.

“Teeth-clenchingly good,” she says. “I like it rough, Christian, and I like it gentle, too. I like that it’s with you.”

She likes it any which way.  Huzzah!

They go off to shower together and Grey tells Ana he’s glad she told him to stop spanking her when she’d had enough.  She tells him her ass is glad she told him to stop, too.  She also requests that Sawyer only accompany her to and from work, insisting that she’ll take a lunch from home, so she’ll be in the building all day and will be safe from Leila, there.  Grey reluctantly agrees.

They head to the bedroom, where an exhausted Ana prepares to sleep.  Grey wants to check his emails, beforehand:

I still have some work to do, but I want to stay with Ana. I’ve been in her company all day, and it’s been lovely. I never want this day to end.

OH GOD, I DO.  NOW.  NOW WOULD BE A GREAT TIME FOR MIDNIGHT TO ROLL AROUND.

And just like that, my wish is granted:

Ana is fast asleep as I lay down beside her. I watch her chest rise and fall with each breath. Over such a short time she has become so dear to me. “Ana, I love you,” I whisper. “Thank you for today. Please stay.” And I close my eyes.

THANK YOU, SWEET LORD. This chapter was around 70 A4 pages long.  I’m off to weep, copiously over the idea of having to do this all over again, next weekend.

 

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