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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 darker9

 

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.

 

 darker18

 

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.

 

 darker19

 

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.

 

 darker20

 

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.

 

darker21 

 

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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Darker Chapter 3 (Saturday, June 11, 2011)

Normally, I start writing these recaps at around 3:30-4pm on a Sunday afternoon.  The trouble is, they take generally 5 or even 6 hours to complete.  So, when you factor in an hour’s break for dinner and maybe another hour just to take some me time, they often don’t go live until well after 11pm, sometimes after midnight, UK time.  Now, I work a day job and I have to be up at 7am tomorrow, after a week off (a week of lie-ins!), so I do not want to be awake, still writing about the bastard that is Christian Grey any later than 10pm, this evening.  So…  I’m starting early, in the hope of finishing early.

 

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At the end of the last chapter, Grey was falling asleep (because EL James thinks it’s the law to end chapters that way), thinking of how much he wants to make Ana happy.  Keep that in mind, because he will not doubt be an abusive twit towards her in this chapter and that is pretty much no. 1 in the Big Book of How NOT To Make Someone Happy.

This chapter opens with Grey asleep and dreaming.  Because again, EL JAMES DOES NOT KNOW HOW ELSE TO OPEN OR CLOSE CHAPTERS.  It’s getting boring, EL.  Change the freaking record.

Grey is dreaming about going gliding with Ana, but the dream becomes a nightmare when she looks at him with horror and disgust:

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Ana’s reaction is basically my reaction, any time someone says that these books are good.

Of course, because this couple are, like, OHMYGOD, so in synch, you guys, when Grey wakes up, he realises Ana is also tossing and turning, having a nightmare of her own.  He wakes her to ask if she’s okay and she tells him sleepily that she was dreaming about “the girl.”  When Grey pushes her for more information, Ana admits to her encounter with Leila, outside SIP:

 

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Despite it being 5am, Grey immediately phones Welch and tells him that Leila “accosted” Ana, which seems a bit of an exaggeration, but isn’t everything Grey says?!  Despite the fact that he’s having a serious conversation about the safety of the woman he supposedly loves, we get a totally unnecessary internal monologue about Ana’s breasts “straining” against his white shirt (which is all she’s wearing, having gotten out of bed to listen in to the phone call) and about her biting her lip, which is apparently “distracting.”

Two things: 1) Ana is a stick insect.  We’re told constantly that she’s the thinnest thin person ever to have walked the flipping Earth.  So, how are her boobs so big that they’re having to strain – which implies it’s hard for them to be contained – against the material of a shirt that fits a man who’s much bigger than her?  I know there are very slim women with naturally large breasts, but we’ve had so many descriptions of Ana being exceptionally petite, that I don’t picture her with some kind of comedy bazookas.

2) If you’re genuinely worried that your mentally unstable ex girlfriend is pursuing your new girlfriend and could cause some kind of harm to befall her, I’m not sure that the sight of said new girlfriend biting her lip – presumedly in fear or worry – would suddenly make you horny, whilst you’re discussing the seriousness of your concerns for her safety.

 

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Welch promises to ask around the stores close to SIP, to see if anyone saw anything that might provide them with a lead as to Leila’s whereabouts.  Grey ends the call and Ana asks him if he wants a cup of tea.  Grey – no, I’m not making this up – thinks no, he’d rather have sex, to put Leila out of his mind.  Because that’s totally my go-to response in a crisis.  “Shall we talk about this serious thing that’s happened?  No, let’s just fuck and ignore it, instead!”  I just rolled my eyes so hard that I gave myself some kind of strain…

Ana insists that she needs a cup of tea (side-note: this is one of the many times you can really tell a British person wrote this – tea is vital in a crisis, as any of my fellow Brits will tell you) and Grey gets “surly” with her, because she’d rather talk about what’s going on, than have more sexy fun times.  Ana, understandably, given that she’s the one being stalked by Leila, wants more information, but Grey refuses to give her any, because he’s gross.

 

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WHY, ANA?!  WHY DO YOU WANT INFORMATION THAT COULD HELP YOU?!  WHY DO YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE PERSON STALKING YOU?!  HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO MEEEEE?!

I really hate this cretin.

Luckily for Ana, she makes a big, blue-eyed, sad face at Grey and he caves.  Never mind that he shouldn’t only be telling her things that concern her because she’s made a sodding face he can’t say no, to…

 

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Grey admits that Leila had previously broken into his apartment and made a scene in front of Gail (Mrs Jones).  When Ana asks what kind of scene, Grey initially refuses to tell her (again), thinking that he doesn’t want her “mixed up in this,” and conveniently choosing to ignore the fact that she already is.  He even wonders, in his internal monologue, why Ana is getting so annoyed at his refusal to give her any more information.  Erm…  Maybe because she has literally EVERY RIGHT TO KNOW?!  Of course, the fans will lap this up as Grey trying to “protect” Ana by not giving her nasty details, but the reality is that keeping her in the dark is potentially dangerous.

Eventually, Grey tells Ana that Leila attempted suicide in front of Gail and naturally, Ana is worried and horrified.  Grey totally downplays the suicide attempt, as, apparently, did the psychiatrist who saw Leila in hospital, because EL James did as much research into mental health issues for this book as she did for BDSM in the first one:

 

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Have you, though?  Because it feels like you just want her found, because you’re pissed off with her.

He tells Ana that Leila’s husband doesn’t know where she is, because Leila ran out on him a few months ago.  Ana is shocked that Leila is married, which I guess you probably would be, given how hung up on Grey Leila still is.  She asks if Grey was having an affair with Leila when they were together and Grey says no, she was single then, thinking to himself “I don’t share, baby,” which just makes him sound creepy.

Ana gets Grey to confirm that Leila was his submissive and she left him because she wanted more and he didn’t.  Grey then asks her why she didn’t tell him about seeing Leila yesterday and – shockingly – the writing suggests Ana should feel bad for not having done so:

 

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She has the grace to look guilty?!

 

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For all Ana knew, that woman was just a random drunk, talking crap.  She didn’t know it was going to become something so important and she wasn’t obligated to tell Grey.  His constant assertion that she should feel guilty when she doesn’t do what he expects her, 100% of the time, makes me feel physically sick.  That’s not love, it’s control.

Of course, Grey’s had enough of talking by this point, so he tells her he wants to go back to bed.  He takes her back to his room and pulls his shirt off her.  And just… Call me prudish (you’d be wrong), but I feel like deciding you’re definitely having sex with a woman who’s just found out she’s being stalked by someone who might be dangerous and who wants to talk about it, is kind of…  Gross?

 

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Thankfully, we’re spared the inevitably boring, repetitive sex scene and we cut to them waking up again a little later.  Depressingly, because this couple have nothing between them beyond lust, Ana wakes up horny and when Grey asks whether she wants sex or breakfast, she chooses sex.  You know, how this pair don’t walk around with constant thrush is beyond me.

But EL James has obviously gotten bored of her own shit writing, because we skip that sex scene as well, and cut to them lying “in the afterglow.”  Grey thinks about how he’s never had moments like this with anyone else, because Ana is changing him SO MUCH, YOU GUYS.

 

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He asks if Ana’s sore and she says no, just tired.  He reminds her that she didn’t get much sleep the night before and she replies that she’s not been sleeping well all week (because they broke up and she was TOO SAD TO SLEEP).  This makes Grey feel guilty and he tells her he’s sorry.  Ana makes to tell him it was her fault and Grey does at least stop her, before telling her that he barely slept without her, too.  Grey takes yet another moment to ponder how new and strange this is, because EL hasn’t hammered us in the face with it enough yet, this chapter:

 

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To the edge of a really high cliff, where she’s going to push you off and watch your body bounce off jagged rocks, before disappearing under the waves forever.

Oh, hang on, that’s just in my headcanon.  Damn.

Grey tells her he’s going to take her out and buy her breakfast and we get some needless snobbery and internal bitching about Kate, when Ana tells him to shower using Kate’s bathroom because it’s bigger than hers, and Grey inwardly scoffs: “Of course it is.”

Dude, Kate’s dad bought the apartment.  I’m pretty sure that means Kate is entitled to the bigger bathroom.  Quit your Kate-hate for five seconds.

 

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After his shower, Ana starts asking Grey how often he works out.  He tells her he does so every weekday and talks about Claude, his trainer.  He suggests Ana works out with Claude, too, inwardly thinking about how strong he needs her if he ever gets her back in his playroom.  So, you know, he’s really doing everything Ana’s way, right?!

Ana agrees to this with little hesitation, which obviously delights her control-freak boyfriend.  He then asks her what she wants to do that day and Ana says she needs a haircut and she has to buy a new car.  Grey takes the Audi key out of the pocket of his jeans and tells her the Audi he bought her is outside and she can just have it back, now they’re back together.  Ana is angry and passes him the envelope containing the check Grey gave her from the sale of her old Beetle.  Grey takes this opportunity to not only internally rant about the mere idea of anyone giving him money, but to get aggressive when she insists she wants to buy the car, rather than accept it as a gift:

 

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Ana, in one of the rare moments we get of her standing up to this wank-stain, takes the envelope and dramatically rips it up, insisting that she won’t have the car and the money.  This does not go down well with Grey:

 

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Let’s have a think: YOU insisted on selling HER car, WITHOUT her consent.  YOU then insisted on giving her more cash than the car was worth, despite her saying she didn’t want to feel as though she was being bought.  YOU bought her an expensive car she never actually wanted and told her she had no choice but to accept it.  YOU insisted she kept both the flashy, expensive car AND the money for her old one.  Then you guys broke up.  Now, you’re still saying she can have the car and the money.  She’s saying she doesn’t want the money, she’d rather buy the car from you, almost certainly so she retains some independence and control, given that they were her reasons last time you had a fight about this.  Now, she’s ripping up a cheque, which isn’t the same as actually ripping up money, because she hasn’t deposited it, anywhere.  And you’re angry why?!  She has every right to do this.

But Grey decides to prove his control over her – as well as the level of stalking he’s done.  He phones Andrea – on, we discover, her wedding day – and demands that she has twenty four thousand dollars deposited immediately into Ana’s bank account, the details of which he already has.  After he hangs up the phone, he’s pissed off that Andrea didn’t tell him she was getting married, which just goes to show he’s a shitty boss, because if he wasn’t, he’d possibly have had an invite.

 

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Ana is understandably furious, but Grey believes she has no right to be:

 

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He tells her that he knows everything about her, saying in his internal monologue that he’s “trying to keep (his) cool.”  He also mentally refers to her as an “impossible woman,” because apparently it’s perfectly reasonable to have your still very new partner’s bank details on file and to insist on depositing money they’ve told you more than once they don’t want.

 

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And Ana’s reaction to this declaration, as well as his shitty, controlling behaviour and his angry stare in her direction?  IS TO FIND IT HOT.

Hey, Siri?  Show me a deeply unhealthy relationship…

 

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Listen, there is such a thing as Total Power Exchange relationships and I am not dissing them – if you actively want someone else having total power over you, that is not my business.  But Ana was genuinely furious just a few seconds ago, because her boyfriend had yet again gone against her wishes and she’d just found out he knows her bank details, when they’ve only known each other a few weeks and she’s never given them to him.  This sudden urge to be all over Grey feels like it wouldn’t have happened.

And yes, I know that sometimes, anger and lust can be intertwined and one can spill over into the other, but this just feels as though it was shoe-horned into this scene to make readers instantly forgive and forget the gross invasion of Ana’s freedom and privacy that Grey has just committed.

Well, I have news for you.

 

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Grey tells Ana he knows somewhere she can get her hair cut and that’s it – end of fight.  For now.

They walk hand in hand down the street and Grey comments on how “normal” it feels.  Ana tells him that Dr Flynn would probably agree that there’s nothing normal about him (LOL, mental health is FUNNY) and then suggests he’s exceptional, which… Hahaha, no.  Well, unless you mean exceptionally abusive, in which case, sure.

We skip ahead to after they finish brunch and Ana offers to pay, which, as always doesn’t go down well with our resident misogynistic snob:

 

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Ana rightfully points out that she’s twenty four thousand dollars better off, now, so she can afford to pay.

She again says she wants her hair cut and reminds Grey they’re off to his parents’ charity ball, later.  Grey gets inwardly snotty about the possibility of Ana wanting details about the charity they’re supporting.  It’s just so healthy to constantly be annoyed at the mere idea of opening up to your partner, right guys?!

 

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Oh, thank goodness.  I’d hate for you to have to have an open, honest conversation about yourself or your life.  Only bad couples do that.  Good couples just fuck like rabbits, invade one another’s privacy, make threats of non-consensual assault and stalk each other, after all.

 

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Speaking of healthy relationships, Grey decides to take Ana straight to Elena’s salon, where he’s taken all of his previous submissives, despite knowing Ana will hate the idea:

 

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If you’re panicking because someone has asked if you want “the usual,” maybe don’t take Ana to the same place you took all your submissives?!  Especially seeing as Ana is supposed to be so special and different.

Ana wants to know why he’s brought her to that specific salon and he tells her that he owns it, as well as three others like it.  And then, we quickly get a reminder that Ana isn’t that special, because she’s not beyond Grey wanting to change her:

 

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It took me less than five minutes on Google to find a psychiatrist who insisted that because no strict tests have been carried out, it would be unethical to say categorically that a shaved pubic region leads to better sex for women.  Indeed, I found several articles about sex being better when you don’t feel pressured into conforming by shaving off your pubic hair.  But please, EL.  Don’t let my brief actual research stop you from writing a misogynistic fuckwit and trying to pass him off as a hero.  Oh, and I don’t buy the idea that he wants her to shave her pubes for her own pleasure for a second.  He mentioned wanting her to get rid of it in the last chapter and it didn’t seem to be for any reason beyond his own desire.

Elena appears – because of course she does – and Grey hurries over to greet her, in an effort to stop her talking to Ana.  For her part, Ana watches them intently, clearly aware that something is going on.  Elena makes a snobby reference to Ana being Grey’s “little Southern Belle,” because he visited her in Georgia, which just adds to the whole “everyone in this book is a shit human” vibe that EL has apparently worked so hard to create.

Elena asks Grey if he’s going to introduce her to Ana, but he says no, admitting that Ana calls Elena Mrs Robinson.  Elena finds that hilarious – again, because of course she does – but then starts talking about Ana like she’s some evil wench and Grey’s some poor little baby:

 

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It’s definitely a good idea.  Also, two things:

  1. Ana hurt HIM?!  What, by not saying her safe word?!  Are you shitting me?!  The guy had stalked her, threatened her with non-consensual assault, manipulated her, forced her into agreeing to things she didn’t want (selling her car, for example) and constantly played his imaginary violin to make it sound as though he couldn’t help his atrocious behaviour, but ANA hurt him, by being in pain and upset (and admittedly, stubborn) and therefore not using her safe word?!  Piss off.
  2. Notice how in his head lately, Grey is suddenly all hearts and flowers, calling Ana his girlfriend and thinking about how wonderful things are when they’re together, but here, he is openly asked how things are going and whether he can deal with being in a “vanilla” relationship and he’s reluctant to just say “yes,” choosing to go with “time will tell,” instead.  Whether that’s because he’s talking to Elena in particular, I don’t know, but it doesn’t make him sound like the determined, committed boyfriend he’s trying to pass himself off to Ana as, anyway.

 

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When his conversation with Elena is over, Grey turns back to Ana and discovers that she’s pissed off.  Ana has realised who Grey was talking to and wants to leave.

 

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You’re the biggest idiot most people have met, to be fair.

As Ana storms off down the street, Grey yet again internally fails to grasp that his relationship with Elena was gross, whilst also deciding that Ana’s reaction to this situation might mean that Elena is right and that he can’t be in a vanilla relationship:

 

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Grey thinks about the fact that he’s “never tolerated this behaviour from a submissive, before,” once again failing to remember that Ana is NOT his sub.  He also describes Ana as “petulant,” which seems a bit rich, coming from the King of Sulking.

Ana herself decides to remind Grey that she’s not his submissive and he responds in a way that, in my eyes, proves he’s a shitty Dom:

 

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You wouldn’t indulge what behaviour?  Being upset that you’ve taken her to the same place you take every other girl you fuck?!  Feeling like she’s just one person on a freaking production line of women who all have to have the same haircut so they can look a bit more like your dead mother?!  Because I’d say that any submissive is allowed to say “no, thanks.  This is a hard limit for me – I will choose where I have my hair cut and what style I want.”  And if they do say that and you still force them to do as you say, or you threaten to non-consensually physically punish them for not going along with your wishes, that’s not a D/s relationship, it’s you being an abusive control freak.

 

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Ana asks him if he realises how fucked up the situation is and he says yes, although he inwardly pouts that he didn’t realise Elena would be there, as though that makes it all fine.  She storms off and Grey panics that she’s leaving him, causing him to ask her if she’s running from him.  Ana tells him she just wants a haircut somewhere where he hasn’t fucked half the staff and clientele, then says she wants to relax, have someone wash her hair and forget about all the baggage he has.  Grey offers to have Franco – the hairdresser who was going to cut Ana’s hair at Elena’s salon, Esclava, come to the apartment instead, if Ana wishes.  Ana changes the subject and begins quizzing Grey on the subject of Elena and his relationship with her, but before they can get very far, Grey’s phone rings.  It’s Welch, with details about Leila:

 

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Maybe that psychiatrist is less of an unprofessional twonk than Dr Flynn?!

Welch goes on to say that Leila has obtained a permit for a concealed weapon:

 

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I…  I just don’t believe this.  Not even for a second.  Look, this is not the place to get into a gun debate and I freely admit that, coming from Britain, where we had one school shooting and then banned handguns, I don’t know much about how American gun laws work, so I probably shouldn’t say too much, here.  It seems implausible, though.

Grey gets off the phone and passes the new information to Ana.  He decides Leila must be acting out of grief, following her lover’s death and demands that they head straight back to his apartment.  Ana angrily reminds him that they were having a conversation about his relationship with Elena and that she’s not finished talking.  Grey insists that they can talk back at home.  Ana replies that she still wants to get her hair cut and Grey immediately calls Esclava and arranges to Franco to come to the apartment to do it.  This enrages Ana, who yells at Grey (quite rightly – Leila or no Leila, she’s still allowed to make her own choices).  Grey tells her they’re going to go back to her apartment, pick up her things and head back to his place, where Ana will be staying for the foreseeable, so he can “protect” her.  Ana isn’t happy and she questions this.

And in response, Grey…  Well, Grey does this:

 

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Grey tells the reader that he knows Ana is mad, but he doesn’t “give a fuck.”

 

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It INFURIATES me that fans will yet again point to this as an example of Grey protecting Ana.  But that’s an excuse abusers use all the time: “I’m doing this to keep you safe.”  There is literally no need to pick her up and carry her, hitting her ass to make some kind of fucking point.  There was no need to threaten to drag her by her hair.  None of that is about keeping her safe, it’s about control.  He’s with her.  He could have gone with her to a hair salon and let her have her damn hair cut.  If he was that worried about Leila, he could have kept watch and leapt in front of Ana, had Leila pointed a gun.  God knows, I’d happily watch Grey take a bullet, after all.  Heck, I’d fire it.

Grey eventually puts Ana down, after she insists she’ll walk.  She demands to know why she has to stay at his place and Grey tells her about the concealed-weapon permit.  Ana immediately becomes fearful, not for her own life, but for his.  Bleurgh.  Personally, I say let the bastard die.

 

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When they return to Ana’s apartment, Grey watches Ana pack a bag and wonders whether she’s always been so “volatile,” or whether she changed after she left him.  Or perhaps he’s changed?!  OOOH, A REFERENCE TO HIM CHANGING!  THAT MUST MEAN HE REALLY HAS CHANGED, DESPITE HIM STILL BEING AN ABUSIVE SHIT STAIN!

Ana decides she’s taking her deflated helicopter balloon with her to Grey’s apartment, because Ana is nine.  Grey ponders her quiet mood and thinks of all the reasons she might be mad with him, realising there’s a lot to choose from:

 

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Remember how much he wanted to make her happy, at the end of the last chapter?  It’s only a few hours later and look how spectacularly well that’s going!

Ana tells Grey that Ethan – Kate’s brother – is coming to stay on Tuesday and she’s not sure he has a key, so she’ll need to be back at the apartment by then.  Surprisingly, Grey doesn’t outwardly comment, but he inwardly refers to Ethan as a beach bum and remembers him as “having his hands all over Ana.”  Which almost certainly means he just gave her a hug.

They head to Ana’s Audi and Grey refuses to let her drive it.  Because…  I don’t even sodding know, anymore.  Ana protests and he snaps at her.  She snaps back that he probably has access her driving test scores, because he’s a stalker.

 

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I’m just going to interrupt myself here to say – not for the first time – that I could cheerfully fling rotten fish at EL James for making each damn chapter of this book a whole day long.  Because it means that there are fewer chapters than you might expect in a normal novel, but each one is STUPIDLY lengthy.  This could have ended at least three times, by now, but NOPE.

As they drive towards Grey’s apartment, Ana wants to continue their discussion about Elena and his previous submissives, but Grey shuts her down by doing his usual trick of giving one-word answers out loud and thinking all the actual answers in his head, before going all melodramatic man-child on us:

 

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PLEASE CONFESS IT, SO SHE’LL LEAVE YOU AND THIS BLOODY BOOK CAN END.

Grey reminds himself that if he hadn’t contacted her about going to José’s show together, she probably wouldn’t have gotten in touch and they’d never have gotten back together, because when Ana says goodbye, she means it.  Which…  I don’t know, has he even met Ana?!

Ana asks why Grey is invested in Elena’s hair salons and he tells her that she loaned him a hundred thousand dollars to set up his company when he quit university and he wanted to pay her back.  We get a flashback scene, in which Grey informs his parents that he’s dropping out and they yell at him.  It’s all too boring to repeat and only exists so Grey can look like the poor victim, disappointing his family again.

Ana continues asking about Elena and Grey says she was a rich trophy wife with a nasty, controlling husband.  Ana jokes about controlling men, because HAHA ABUSE IS CUTE AND FUNNY BUT ONLY WHEN CHRISTIAN GREY DOES IS, AM I RIGHT, LADIES?!

 

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Ironically, Grey then starts thinking about how abusive Elena’s husband got when he found out about his wife’s affair.  Because Grey hates abusive men:

 

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Other than himself, that is…

 

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As they arrive back at Escala (Escala and Esclava are so similar, I’m just waiting to mix them up…), Grey asks Ana if she’s still mad at him.  She says yes and he simply replies “okay” and doesn’t attempt to talk anything through, because why would he, when he’s an emotionally stunted rectal polyp?!

They see Taylor and Ana makes pleasantries with him, including asking him about his daughter.  Grey thinks about how he dislikes Taylor “charming Ana and vice versa,” because he’s so insecure, Ana cannot be allowed to speak to anyone with testicles.

Grey heads to his study as Ana makes herself at home.  He thinks about the morning he and Ana have had so far and how difficult Ana can be, because she doesn’t accept gifts without question and she has her own mind (I’m paraphrasing, but that’s the gist).  He also finds her hostility towards Elena hard to cope with, because Elena is a friend.  Grey makes a mental note to talk everything through with Dr Flynn, which… Well, that won’t help at all, because Dr Flynn is a poorly researched quack.

 

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Grey goes through the information Welch has sent on Leila:

 

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Side-note: “I activate the iMac”??!!  Grey is meant to be 27, not 107!  Who talks like that??!!

 

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Grey leaves his study and goes looking for Ana.  He hears her “talking to herself” in the closet and goes in, where he finds her sitting on the floor, talking to her mother on the phone, surrounded by all the new clothes he bought for her (without her consent).

Ana is frustrated by all the fancy clothes he’s bought for her, considering she just wants to be herself.  She tries to talk to Grey about this, but despite him thinking of his useless therapist having told him to be truthful, he STILL stick to barely more than monosyllabic responses, whilst thinking all the important stuff in his head.

 

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I doubt that’s what she wants to hear, but whatever.

Ana asks why he didn’t just go out looking for a new submissive who’d do exactly what he told her, after they broke up.  Grey once again starts thinking about how much Ana has changed him, and honestly, the only way in which she’s changed him, is he’s now decided he wants a committed relationship.  That’s it.  His behaviour, his abusive, controlling nature, hasn’t changed a bit.  I’m sick of all this “I’ve changed so much” bullshit and we’re only three chapters in…

Grey tells her that she gives him “hope” and when she asks what for, he replies “more.”  He decides to give her his “full pitch,” once again thinking of Ana as a business deal he wants to close.  To be honest, his whole speech is largely manipulative.  It’s not at all “this is how I feel about you,” or “you are X, Y or Z to me,” it’s all about what she does for him and how he doesn’t want her to leave him again.

He asks her to have a little faith in him and show him some patience, which is hilarious, because he shows her neither.  Ana agrees and Grey inwardly decides that whatever was making her mad is definitely dealt with, now.  In any other story, I’d expect that to be a red herring and for her to get furiously mad later on, but in this one…  Ugh, not so much.  I hope so, though.

Franco arrives to cut Ana’s hair and Grey leaves them to it, which is almost surprising, given how much of a control freak he is.  He heads back to his study, mulling over Elena’s words about how Ana “hurt” him, before reading an email from Dr Flynn.  Dr Flynn wants to know if Grey will be attending the charity masked ball, that night.  Grey replies yes and tells him he’ll be bringing Ana.  He looks at some documents regarding SIP and thinks how badly they’re being run, before Ana interrupts him to show off her hair cut.  The hairdresser is with her, so Grey naturally becomes a possessive bell-end.

 

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Just a quick reminder that it was Grey who arranged to have a male hairdresser come to the house.  See what I mean about not believing Grey’s suspicions about Jack Hyde, right now?!  He is exactly the same around any other man who speaks to, or frankly even looks at Ana.  He just wants to possess her and that is NOT the same as love.

 

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Side-note: whilst looking for a gif to insert here (went with Audrey, because she’s my idol), I typed “possessive” into Google.  One of the first image results?  Was a still from the first Fifty Shades film, of Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey.

Grey tells Ana he’s glad she kept her hair long and then asks if she’s still mad.  It seems my wish from earlier may have been granted:

 

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For someone who’s supposed to be intelligent, why is he not getting that his behaviour is the cause of her annoyance?!  He wanted to make her happy and yet all he does is make her mad and upset.  Why?  Because he NEVER considers her.  He does whatever he wants.  Even the things he supposedly does for her, are actually for him.

Also, ew to the fact he knows she probably wouldn’t let him spank her as punishment for rolling her eyes at him, but he’s still hung up on wanting to her.  That’s non-consensual physical violence he’s getting horny over and we’re supposed to think it’s sexy?!  NO.

He even suggests they go to bed to discuss the reasons she’s mad, because now all he can think about is wanting to fuck her.  But Ana is determined they’re going to talk:

 

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TELL HER WHY THEN, PRICK!

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I can’t bear needless drama.  I loathe it.  I had an abusive friend once who would FaceTime me to tell me all the ways I’d upset her over the past few weeks, and it would be crap like “you laughed at an in-joke with someone else,” or “you didn’t text me back right away” and honestly, it just did my head in, because as I used to say to her, if you tell someone straight off the bat “hey, that upset me,” that person can fix it.  If you let it fester for ages and allow it to turn into some totally ludicrous drama, it’s just going to cause pointless aggravation to everyone concerned.

Ana asks how he would feel, if she didn’t let him touch her.  He tells her he’d feel “devastated and deprived,” before promising to tell her why she can’t touch him “one day.”

Ana then moves on to the fact that he has her bank details, a fact she correctly refers to as “outrageous.”  Grey admits he has files on all of his submissives and takes her to see them.

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Ana is completely right.  It is fucked up that he does all this stuff.  It’s fucked up that he stalked her to Clayton’s.  It’s fucked up that he has the bank details of women he’s been sleeping with, still on file.  He doesn’t need all of that information.  He claims he’s just being “careful” because of what he does, but that’s bullshit.  What he’s doing is hoarding the kind of information he can use to bribe people into staying silent.  That’s what this is.  Imagine if a sub threatened to tell the world what an abusive dick he is.  He has the capacity to have her followed at all times.  He could drain her bank account or deposit hush money to keep her quiet.  He doesn’t need any of this.

Of course, he then decides to shut Ana up by telling her he makes roughly one hundred thousand dollars every hour.  Which is utterly ridiculous.

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Ana suggests they eat dinner and offers to cook, seeing as Gail has weekends off.  Ana asks who usually cooks at weekends, seeing as Grey is useless in the kitchen and he replies that his subs always cooked for him.  As Ana goes off to make them some food, Grey starts thinking about his past relationships and moping over the fact that Ana is bound to leave him one day (I wish):

 

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Grey tries to dance with Ana and she wriggles out of his arms, saying she’s still mad and will stay that way at least until they’ve eaten.  They discuss the choice of song and YAY, it’s time for some digs about mental health!

 

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HAHAHA, get it?!  Because Leila’s CRAZY!  HAHAHA!

Look, the abuse as romance is vile and gross and I don’t believe that EL James didn’t know what she was writing, because it’s so blatant, but I can at least go along with the idea that, judging by the source material being questionable as well, she was simply carried away with writing what she thought was passionate (that’s not my view, but I’m saying I can accept those who think that way).  But this stuff?  Nope, there’s no way you can conveniently excuse this, by saying EL didn’t know any better.   She’s literally just laughing at a mentally ill person.  And frankly, fuck that.

 

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Ana suggests that Grey surprises her by playing a different song of his choice.  He uses this opportunity to be a huge twat:

 

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Ugh, why would I apologise for obtaining your bank details without your consent, or making you feel shitty by taking you to my ex’s salon, or carrying you down the street like you’re just a piece of baggage?!

He then decides he’s going to seduce her.  And Ana… Ana asks him not to.  He doesn’t listen.

 

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He’s trying to seduce her out of her “crankiness,” because she’s pissed off at him with GOOD REASON.  And she’s asking him not to.  He even talks about her using a cooking utensil as a weapon, which shows he knows she’s not in the mood for this, but he has made his mind up it’s happening.

ARE YOU TURNED ON, YET?!

 

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He literally starts thinking that the only way Ana can prove she’s not mad at him and isn’t going to leave, is by fucking him:

 

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Eeeeew.

He tells her he won’t touch her until she says yes, but she has her hand on his cheek and he’s nuzzling her, leaning in like he’s about to kiss her and purposefully getting her worked up.  This was kind of triggering for me and I’m going to explain why, because I think real, lived experience of abuse is sometimes the best way to explain why this is abusive as all heck.

So, my abuser liked to say we weren’t in a relationship.  I was just a girl he happened to fuck.  It was his way of arms-lengthing me and of ensuring I had no leg to stand on if I had a go at him for sleeping with other people.  Of course, every time I tried to pull away, he’d do the whole “I love you, I’m scared by my feelings, I don’t know how to react, I’m fucked up…” and I’d hear “we ARE in relationship, I’m just frightened of admitting it” and I’d stay, hoping that one day, things would be normal.

On the one year anniversary of us having met and got together, he slept with someone else.  I was understandably devastated, but he made me feel guilty for being upset.  He tried to make out the girl he slept with had raped him, so I’d feel sorry for him.  And it stemmed from that first instance of cheating (that I knew of), that he occasionally started doing a really gross thing, which is equivalent to what Grey is doing, here.   He’d get me all riled up – sometimes to the point of taking my clothes off and being literally moments away from sex – then say: “I’m not doing anything to you until you say you agree that we’re not a couple.”

Now, some will judge me for not grabbing my clothes and walking away.  But when you’re that aroused and that manipulated, you blurt out your agreement.  Sex can be used as a weapon and my abuser used it as such, just as Grey is, here.  He tells her he won’t do anything until she says yes, but he’s manipulated the situation so she’s turned on and he knows she will say yes.  You can’t think with a clear mind when you’re in a state of arousal and he knows as much.

Anyway, sorry for making it personal.  I just wanted to explain why what he’s doing here is shit.

 

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They’re interrupted by the arrival of Taylor, who comes in to tell Grey he needs to call his mother about that evening’s ball.  Grey is snappy with him, but Taylor goes on to say that the security team put in place to watch them, whilst Leila is on the loose have arrived and they have guns.  This doesn’t please Grey, because apparently he hates firearms.  I hate it when we have things in common.  *shudder*

Grey asks Taylor if he knew that Andrea was getting married and Taylor says yes, although he doesn’t know who to, which makes Grey suspicious.  Still, Grey tells Taylor to ensure the bride and groom have their honeymoon suite upgraded.  I guess that’s mean to make us think Grey’s a nice guy, but…

 

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Grey returns to Ana, although his mind flits back to the fact that he has to call his mother.  He speaks a little about his childhood and his mother’s insistence on her children learning foreign languages, martial arts and musical instruments.  Ana says Grace must have been very proud of him especially, which makes Grey inwardly do the whole “WOE IS ME, I AM SUCH A TERRIBLE DISAPPOINTMENT” crap again.

Grey calls his mother to say he’s bringing Ana to the ball.  He also gets an email from Flynn, saying he’s looking forward to meeting Ana (and breaking patient confidentiality…).

We skip ahead (PLEASE BE BY SEVERAL HOURS) and Ana is lying on her bed, researching Multiple Personality Disorder.  And again, mental illness is treated as something of a cute joke:

 

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Ana does at least seem to have Grey pretty much pegged:

 

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Grey insists he’s in need of her and he hands her the lipstick he had Taylor pick up, telling her it’s to mark out the no-go areas on his body; the places she’s not allowed to touch.

I’ll spare you the incredibly melodramatic scene in which Ana follows his guidance and draws on him in lipstick.  All the time she’s marking the no-go zones, Grey is thinking of her as “my salvation” and “my life buoy,” as though she’s saving him from something catastrophic.  And yes, he has childhood trauma and I’m not making light of that, but it is a needlessly over-dramatic scene.

Then, they immediately have sex and Grey becomes Mr Creepy Possessive Weirdo again:

 

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If you want to know how sexy this scene is, here’s a highlight:

 

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Ooooooooh.  I’m so turned on.  This is hot.

The rest of the scene is just as sexy as that line, trust me, but I have to show you one extra bit that… I honestly don’t understand:

 

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“My lips form the words.”  I…  Why use such a weird description, instead of just “My Ana,” I whisper” or something equally normal?!

After the sex, whilst they’re lying together, Grey tells Ana how beautiful she is.  When Ana doesn’t seem to believe what he’s saying, Grey manages to sound like a creepy, possessive shithead AGAIN:

 

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I mean, sure, Ana says “yes, yours, always” afterwards, but I don’t really give a shit.  Constantly telling someone they belong to you is still fucking creeptastic.

Ana tells Grey she wants to touch him in all the places she’s allowed to.  He lets her, although he also creepily tells her hates condoms, as he removes the one he’s wearing, and says he has a good mind to call the doctor and ensure Ana gets a birth control shot so he doesn’t have to wear them, anymore.  Not your choice, douchebag.

Ana starts touching him and he says he’s having to readjust, because nobody has touched him in a long time.  Ana realises he’s referring to Elena and Grey says he doesn’t want to talk about her, because it’ll drive Ana crazy.  He then creepily tells Ana that he’s glad that she hasn’t been with anyone but him, because that would drive him crazy.  The difference is, Ana is just jealous.  Grey would probably have all her exes killed.  Of course, Ana just makes a joke about him already being crazy, because did I mention that mental illness is HILARIOUS in this chapter?!

I’m so done with this book.

 

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Eventually all the touching makes Ana horny again, so they have sex.  Again.  That’s, what…  Four or five times, so far today?!  I’ve seen rabbits who shag less frequently.

After the – mercifully skipped – sex, Grey lies in bed, thinking about his relationship with Ana.  Again, I have to remark on the fact that he calls her difficult:

 

 

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what a shame.  I’d really rather you felt dead.  Because I’d like you to die.

Not sorry.

We cut to Grey back in his study.  He decides he’s “so over condoms” and emails Dr Greene, asking her to come and give Ana the birth control shot.  Not his decision at all, but hey.  This guy is a turd.

Grey goes to wake Ana up, in order for her to get ready for the masked ball they’re due to attend.  He wonders why she’s in the submissive’s room, when she’s not his sub.  He also feels a warm, happy sensation when she tells him she missed him in her dreams, but he refuses to acknowledge what the sensation is, because it’s too new and scary, despite having thought of Ana as “the woman I love” more than once, today.

Pick a melodramatic path and stick to it, ELJ.

At this point, I want to remind you that I said I was starting this recap early, to finish it at a sensible hour.  I started it at shortly after 1pm, if I remember rightly.  It’s now quarter to nine at night.  EL James’ decision to make each chapter last 24 hours is making me lose the will to live.

 

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Grey goes into his playroom, thinking he might liven up the masked ball for himself and Ana.  He has a big, melodramatic “she left me because I’m a monster” internal monologue, before fetching the kegel balls and taking them up to Ana’s room.  He shows them and Ana looks “alarmed,” asking him if he wants to spank her.  And yet, when he says no (despite thinking “I do”), she looks disappointed.  Make your mind up, Ana.

Grey inserts the kegel balls into Ana, thinking about how instant the effect she has on him is, as she bends down in front of him.  He tells her he’ll have to “take her” in that position when they get home.  Because they haven’t fucked enough, today.  He also gives her the earrings he originally bought her for the gala they were meant to attend together before they broke up.  Ana accepts them and Grey inwardly praises her for being able to “play nice.”  Ew.

Grey goes off to finish getting ready for the ball.  We then cut to a flashback of Grey and Elena getting ready for their own two-person prom:

 

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I know it’ll be gross and rape-y.  Did I mention I’m SO DONE with this book?!

 

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Before they head out to the ball, after Ana comes downstairs in her gown, looking all lovely, EL James steals a moment wholesale from Beauty And The Beast and has Grey take Ana to a room she’s not seen before.  Yes, he has a library.  And she can use it whenever she likes, as long as she never goes into the west wing, presumedly.  There’s also a billiard table and Grey challenges Ana to a game, someday.  She’s quite keen for this, which makes Grey think she must already know how to play.  When she won’t confirm this, Grey makes a joke about Dr Flynn and Ana’s response is exactly what mine would be, too:

 

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They arrive at the party and we get a whole load of wealth porn:

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Maybe you could try remembering that, next time you’re busy doing the whole “I had such a terrible life with my too-perfect-family routine?!  Just a thought.

As Mia appears and rushes to hug Ana and to introduce her to all of her friends, it seems that Grey isn’t only possessive when Ana is around men.  He sees a friend of Mia’s he dislikes and immediately decides to take Ana away from her:

 

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“I think Lily is being an asshole.”  HOW?!  Ana could have stepped back, looking uncomfortable for any reason, but notice how it has to be the girl who fancied Christian, that’s upset her?!

 

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Ana thanks Grey for taking her away, but when he insults Lily, she’s quick to tell him that Lily likes him.  Grey replies that the feeling is not mutual.

Grey asks Ana if she’s okay – each time she laughs, she stops abruptly, because of the kegel balls.  She insists she’s feeling great.  He thinks game on, which always feels a bit creepy, to me.

They meet Grey’s maternal grandparents and we’re told that his grandfather is his hero.  We get a flashback of Grey as a child, with his grandfather, in which they’re picking apples from an orchard.  So, there you have it: that’s why Grey gets so excited about Ana smelling of apples.

Grey says hello to Mia’s date and, because Mia’s date is a man, he’s obviously looking at Ana, so Grey obviously has to be a prick:

 

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Believe me when I say I am conveying “I WISH YOUR SHRIVELLED DICK WOULD FALL OFF AND YOU WOULD DIE” in the look of anguish I am currently giving my computer screen.

Grey’s father stands up and welcomes everyone.  He reminds the guests that they’re here to support the drugs charity, Coping Together,  a charity close to his and his wife’s hearts, and Grey instantly wonders whether Ana is thinking about Grey’s childhood, although she doesn’t ask.  He inwardly admits that the charity was set up because of him and the difficult start he had in life.

 

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Everyone is told to take the highest bill they have in their wallet or purse and place it into an envelope on their table.  Grey takes the opportunity to be snobby about money again:

 

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The use of sweetheart here is SO patronising, I actually feel sick.

 

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Grey starts thinking about how having Ana here is giving him an appreciation for his childhood, which…  I bet he doesn’t stick with that for long.  We’ll be back to “poor me” before you know it.

Ana’s kegel balls are starting to take effect and she tells him she’s “hungry,” and he knows she doesn’t mean for food.  Spoiler, that line has been used TWICE ALREADY in this chapter.  FFS.  By the end of their meal, Ana can’t take any more and Grey asks if she needs him to show her where the powder room is.  Mia cock-blocks him by saying she’ll take her, which of course, displeases Grey.  But before he can dwell on that, his grandmother tells him how happy he seems with Ana in tow and he dwells on that, instead:

 

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Cute.

The charity auction begins and first up is a weekend in Aspen, courtesy of Grey, who has a property there.  Ana decides to bid, using the money Grey deposited into her bank account:

 

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He tells her he doesn’t know whether to worship at her feet or spank the living shit out of her.  Ana – uncharacteristically, it has to be said – whispers that she’d prefer option two.  Grey’s response to this is to be wildly inappropriate, when you consider he’s sitting at a table with his parents and grandparents:

 

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It turns out that Ana is just as gross as her boyfriend, because she decides to keep rubbing his dick, despite the fact that she’s literally sitting feet away from his family:

 

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Then someone bids one hundred and ten thousand dollars for a weekend in Montana and everyone claps, including Ana, meaning she PUTS HER HANDS WHERE PEOPLE CAN GODDAMN SEE THEM.

Grey wants to give Ana a tour of the house, once the auction is over, but Mia persuades Ana to stay for the first dance auction, where men bid on having the first dance with one of twelve women.  It’s every bit as misogynistic and gross as you’d expect:

 

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Now, you know how I say Dr Flynn is a quack?  Well, he’s Grey’s therapist, right?  So, he almost certainly knows that Grey is possessive and controlling.  So, what does he do when it’s Ana’s turn to be auctioned off?  He tries to outbid Grey.

 

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Grey bids one hundred thousand dollars to end their totally unprofessional bidding war.

Afterwards, Grey takes her to his childhood bedroom and she reminds him she wants to be spanked.  So, he spanks her, she loves it, he fingers her, she comes, he fucks her and comes in about thirty seconds…  WHEN WILL THIS CHAPTER END??!!

After they’ve fucked for what, the ninety seventh time today, Ana starts looking at the pictures on his bedroom wall and Grey dismisses one of his birth mother:

 

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No one of consequence?!  You owe the fact you’re alive at all to that woman, you utter bastard.

We get a flashback of Grey’s father giving a teenage Grey the photo and asking if he recognises his birth mother.  Then, once the flashback is over, we get this vileness:

 

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SHE FUCKING WAS A VICTIM.  OF ABUSE.  JUST LIKE YOU.  SO WHY DO YOU GET TO STILL PLAY THE FUCKING VICTIM AND MAKE HER OUT TO BE THE DEVIL WHEN THE POOR WOMAN IS FUCKING DEAD??!!

Forgive me for my language, but EL James’ hatred of abuse victims is really shining through, right now, and I take that shit personally.

 

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Grey and Ana head back downstairs to take part in the first dance, but during it, Dr Flynn asks if he can cut in.  This gives Grey a chance to be melodramatic again, whilst also thinking something highly ironic:

 

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HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA, YES HE WOULD.

But before we can dwell on that, we get yet another character in this shitty book describe Ana as someone who might “hurt” poor, precious ickle Christian.  This time, it’s his mother:

 

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Ana has given off literally nothing that might suggest she’s going to hurt Grey.  And seeing as we’re reading the whole story and seeing how much abuse he piles on her, we know it’s the other way round, so…  AAAAARGH.

Ana returns from her dance with Flynn and jokes to Grey that he’s told her everything.  Grey tells her he’s sure she wants to leave him, which makes Ana admit that she was only joking.  Grey is relieved and reminds himself that Flynn would never be so unprofessional, which feels like a line thrown in to make EL James feel better about the fact that she wrote him as an unprofessional dickhead in the original version of this book.

The band start playing You Don’t Know Me and Grey once again gets melodramatic, thinking about the fact that he has DARK SECRETS that Ana must NEVER KNOW.  Ugh.  I’m fucking tired.  I started this recap over nine hours ago.

Dear EL James:  I HATE YOU.

 

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When Ana goes to the restroom, Grey takes the opportunity to speak to Dr Flynn, who once again proves himself to be an unprofessional twat:

 

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Yep, a decent therapist would totally act like this.  Absolutely.  Well researched, EL James.  Slow clap.

Grey is then interrupted by his security dude, who tells him that Elena is talking to Ana:

 

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So, Grey catches up with Ana and Elena and is a total idiot in his response to the situation:

 

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Yep, that’s a great idea, remind your incredibly sensitive girlfriend of your sexual past with the woman who just threatened her.  You are a complete and utter wazzock.

When Ana goes to the bathroom, Grey phones Elena:

 

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Ana arrives back whilst Grey is still on the phone.   He ends the call and Ana reminds him that Elena cares for him and is probably just looking out for him, although she believes Elena still cares for him as more than a friend.

Grey’s father asks Ana to dance and Grey’s mother returns to finish the conversation she started, earlier.  She tells Grey that she heard from Elena that he and Ana had split up and it had left him heartbroken.  Grey denies that he was heartbroken (which is a lie) and says he knew the split was temporary, which was why he never told her (which is presumptuous AF of him).  But it turns out that that’s why Grace is so worried that Ana will hurt him.  She tells him she’s scared Ana’s after his money.  This doesn’t go down well.

 

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Grey asks Ana to dance with him and as she does, this chapter finally ends.  Nine and a half hours after I started recapping it.

 

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Darker Chapter 2 (Friday, June 10, 2011)

 

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If you follow our Twitter account, or you’ve “liked” our Facebook page , then you’ll know that last Sunday, a calamity happened.  I was probably 3/4 of the way through recapping chapter 2 of Darker, when I typed a word and felt it didn’t look right.  There weren’t any zig-zag lines underneath it, to indicate a typo, but I thought I’d spell-check the document, anyway.  Now, my internet at home is bad basically all the time, but last Sunday, it was super bad.  And when I clicked on the spell-check button, WordPress didn’t do anything.  Naturally, I clicked it again and this time, WordPress froze.  Completely and utterly.  I could do nothing.  “No biggie,” I thought to myself.  “WordPress autosaves, so this will be fine.  I’ll come back to it later, when the internet is behaving better.”  An hour later, I returned and…  Nothing had saved.  Not one word.  Not one GIF.  Nothing.

 

I won’t lie to you, guys.  Writing these recaps isn’t easy, most of the time.  I was horribly triggered when I originally read Fifty Shades of Grey, because Christian was so very much like my own abusive ex, yet he was being presented as some kind of sexy, romantic ideal.  Reading the stories from his point of view only serve to remind me even more of the man who almost destroyed me.  So, the idea of having to start again from scratch, having been working on this chapter recap for three and a half hours, getting irate at the abuse in it and feeling exhausted by how dull EL James’ characters and plot lines actually are, was really, really not appealing.

 

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But I’ve had a week to put all of that behind me.  I know the chapter better now, so maybe this recap won’t take as long?!  Who knows…  All I can say for sure is that if this recap is somehow lost again, before it’s published, then I am SKIPPING THIS DAMN CHAPTER, BECAUSE IT IS CLEARLY CURSED.

 

So…

 

Who’s ready for some really bad levels of inconsistency and yet more pity-party action from Grey?!  Well, it’s your lucky day!  Remember how the last chapter ended with Grey grinning after reading Ana’s email thanking him for the iPad, and thinking “she loves it.  She loves me,” as though it’s the best thing in the whole wide world?  Well, chapter two starts with him being horrified at the thought of her loving him, because he’s just such a monster.  The change in tone between one chapter ending and another starting has given me whiplash and I will be suing EL James for my injuries.

 

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Oh, yes.  New thing: my PDF copy of this steaming pile of crap won’t let me copy and paste.  So, to save time (seriously, the first recap of this book took almost five hours), I’ve decided to screen shot the damn thing, rather than type out every quote I want to use.  Yes, it means a lack of red-ink for the abusive stuff, but… Well, it’s a small price to pay.  I’ll highlight it myself, anyway.

Anyway, yeah…  Grey is now really distraught that Ana loves him, despite being thrilled by it at the end of the last chapter.   Because how else can we sympathise with him?!  I assume that’s why EL has reverted back to the “woe is me, I am unlovable” bullshit, after all.
And Flynn would be proud?!  Okay, sure, Flynn’s a total quack who needs any kind of license he has revoked immediately, but a therapist worth their salt wouldn’t be encouraging their patient to push troubling thoughts entirely out of their heads.  They’d want to help them work through them.  That’s, like, basic stuff.  Yet more evidence that EL James did bugger all research.
Seriously, every time she claims to have researched anything in these books, a small part of me dies.
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Grey sends a tediously predictable response:
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1) I’m so bored of him telling her to go to sleep, yet carrying on freaking email conversations.
2) MUST we read the “from,” “to,” and “date” lines in every email?!  And does he have to use his work email signature every single time, when he’s emailing his girlfriend?!  And even if he must use the signature, WHY DO WE READERS NEED TO SEE IT??!!
Oh, hang on.  It’s because EL James had nothing new to add to this money-making book and is just padding it out as much as she can, in the absence of any actual writing talent.
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Grey carries on getting ready for bed, feeling a contentment he’s apparently unused to, before Ana responds:
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Ugh, of course he put that song on there.  And it wouldn’t have been intended as a joke, either.  It would have been literal.  We know he watches her apartment, wondering if she’s in.  We know he tracks her phone and turns up places he knows she’s going to be.  It’s played as some cutesy little joke, here, but the idea of him putting “the stalker’s anthem” on her iPad?  Is not funny at all.
But if you’re annoyed about that, I suggest you prepare yourselves.  Because Grey’s response…  Is fucking appalling:
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“Spanking occurs in vanilla relationships, too, you know.  Usually consensually and in a sexual context…but I am more than happy to make an exception.”
What.
The.
Fuck?!
I want to know what drugs the fans of this series are taking, because their beloved hero just admitted he’d happily spank his partner without consent and in a non-sexual scenario.  Hitting someone without their consent and out of anger, rather than arousal?  IS ASSAULT.
Don’t you dare tell me that EL James researched BDSM.  Don’t you dare call me a prude.  Don’t you dare tell me I’ve taken his words out of bloody context.
Fans will insist that this is in no way a threat of non-consensual physical violence, but quite frankly, if you can’t see that it very much is, I’m just gonna sit here like…
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One of the flimsy reasons fans give for this type of thing not being abusive as all HELL, is Ana’s positive reaction to Grey in general.  And of course, in response to this email that would make me run a billion miles away, she sends him an email saying she likes his “delicious threat.”
So, yaaaaay, it can’t be abuse, because despite the language making it very clear that Grey isn’t fussed about consent and that he’ll cheerfully hit her in anger, rather than sexual arousal, Ana likes it.  My counter argument to those fans is that Grey himself is surprised that Ana liked the threat.  He was expecting her not to:
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So, he sent her a message in which he said he’d spank her without consent and not in a sexual situation and he expected her not to like it.
What part of “Christian Grey is an abusive fuckwit and by writing the story from his PoV, EL James has proved as much” are you finding so hard to freaking understand??!!
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Ugh.
Anyway, Grey decides he ought to be a little softer in his response, so he sends her an email, instructing her to dream of him.  He then gets super possessive and creepy in his internal thoughts, before EL James drops in a real clanger of an attempt at foreshadowing:
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I can’t imagine why Leila was suddenly mentioned.  I’m totally sure that wasn’t shoe-horned in because we might have forgotten about that entire plot because the author is so dreadful, or anything…
Also, imagine being so insecure and possessive, that you genuinely want to be the only person in someone’s mind.  I mean, sure, you want your partner to think of you, but not obsessively.  Not to the point that they forget their friends, family members or work colleagues.  And if you do want that, I suggest you seek help, because that’s roughly ninety billion miles away from healthy.
Grey wakes the next morning and immediately starts asking himself whether Ana might have changed her mind, since last night.  He tells himself not to be so negative and then starts wondering what her morning routine is, instead.  He prepares himself for a stalker trip jog:
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Dude, if you feel the need to jog past your barely-girlfriend’s apartment to check on it/her at all, you are absolutely, 100% a stalker.  And for the record, stalking also refers to checking up on someone’s social media, tracking their phone and generally being all up in their business in every single way.  It’s not limited to standing outside someone’s house.  So, you?  ARE a stalker and unless you change drastically, you always will be.  Moron.
Of course, we have to accompany Grey on his run, during which he praises himself yet again for not having to stop outside Ana’s building, anymore.  He also wonders whether he’ll end up back at Ana’s place, later that evening.  He laughably tells the reader that it’ll be Ana’s choice, because he’s determined to do things her way.
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I mean, I’m determined to have a toned stomach and thighs, but CAKE EXISTS, SO IT AIN’T EVER HAPPENING.  Likewise, Hell will freeze over before this douche canoe ever truly does things Ana’s way.
Grey is cheerful to his housekeeper on his return from his run and he notes that this leaves her speechless.  I think it’s less about him seeming happy and more about the fact that she’s so used to him being a vile piece of shit towards her, to be honest.
He heads to work and immediately emails Ana, to ask if she had any breakfast (woah, EL, stop, this content is TOO EXCITING!).  She replies saying that she’s eating a banana at her desk and, seeing as she’s been unable to eat any breakfast for days, this is progress.  She also tells him she loves him, which again makes Grey flip out briefly and she tells him she’s started re-reading Robinson Crusoe on her British Library app, which makes Grey wonder whether it’s a dig at him, because the book is about ” a man alone.”  Dude, not everything is about you, you self-absorbed arsehole.
Anyway, Grey doesn’t focus on whether he is Robinson Crusoe in Ana’s eyes.  Oh, no.  He’s much more keen to berate her for her lack of proper food intake:
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For some reason, this made me retch a little bit.
Ana replies telling him that he will be doing the begging, which makes Grey laugh, because AHAHAHAHAHAAA, ANA IS SO VERY WITTY.
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Life is never boring with Ana?  THEN EXPLAIN TO ME WHY I’M BORED RIGHT NOW??!!
Andrea asks for a word with Grey and she reminds him that she’s off that afternoon and has Monday off, too.  Grey is furious and worried, because despite being a total piece of shit towards her (we get another mention of him being nice to a member of staff – this time Andrea – and her being shocked by it, shortly before this scene takes place), apparently he hates it when she’s not around.  Andrea placates him by saying she has a replacement called Montana Brooks coming to cover her and that everything will be fine.  We get some boring office chit-chat as she cancels some of Grey’s appointments, but reminds him of his parents’ forthcoming masked ball.  Grey decides he’ll ask Ana to be his date.
We then cut to a boring business meeting about shipping aid to Darfur, which exists purely so that Grey can say money is no object and look like a freaking hero, before Ros becomes the third member of staff to notice that he’s not being as much of a dickhead as usual:
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Here’s a little pro-tip for you, EL James: if all the other characters in your book are shocked that the “hero” is suddenly being nice to people?  You’ve written a shitty “hero.”
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We then cut to yet another boring meeting, this time regarding the solar-powered tablets that Grey wants to send to the third-world.  Again, he starts harping on about there being no need to consider expense and again, it’s clear that this is a shallow attempt at making him look like a good guy, when literally all of his other actions in this entire story show him as anything but.
We then cut to…seriously….ANOTHER BORING MEETING.
It’s as though EL James genuinely thinks her fans are so obsessed with Grey, they’ll tolerate page after page of “blue sky thinking” and “tomorrow’s technology, today,” when we know they’re skipping ahead to the badly written sex scenes.
This meeting, however, is at least relevant to the plot.  It’s about Grey’s takeover of SIP.  And he makes it clear during this meeting that he doesn’t “want to get into publishing,” as he falsely claims to Ana.  How?  By literally not getting that authors might feel concerned about the takeover happening:
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“Whatever.  I’m only buying the company to spy on my girlfriend and to sack her boss, because she’s not allowed to talk to anyone with a penis, besides me.”
Fixed it for you.
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Grey starts thinking about how Ana’s day might be going and whether she’s rolled her eyes at anyone.  Because apparently, she’s only allowed to do that at him, or something, I don’t even bloody know or care, anymore.  He ponders Jack Hyde and reminds the reader that Grey’s investigators are looking into Hyde’s behaviour, because Grey’s sure there’s something dodgy about him.  Yes, there is, but he has only the fact that Hyde has changed jobs frequently, to go on at this point.  He’d be exactly the same about any male boss, no matter how perfect they may be at their job, because this is much less about Ana’s safety as it is about him controlling her and isolating her from other men.
He drops another heavy-handed bit of foreshadowing as he thinks about Leila and decides he hopes she’s happy “wherever she is.”
Ros interrupts Grey to remind him that SIP’s email monitoring system is almost as stringent as his company’s and Grey makes a mental note to tell Ana.  Although we know he’s not going to stop sending inappropriate messages, so…  Meh.
We then move on to yet another extraordinarily dull meeting, during which Grey stops paying any attention, so he can email Ana – what did we just talk about??!!
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Yes, please get a grip.  Ideally on the ledge surrounding a very high building.  And then lose your grip and plummet to your grisly death.  Ta very much.
Ana has emailed to say she’s twiddling her thumbs and wants to know how he is and what he’s up to.  Grey’s reaction to this is… Weird.  It makes him firstly homophobic, for some reason, then he says he loves that she’s taken time out of her day to contact him, before deciding that he feels uneasy because it’s made him happy, and lord only knows, THAT IS NOT ALLOWED.
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He replies that she ought to have gone to work for him (which, unbeknownst to Ana, she technically will be, soon), then starts telling her he could think of much more exciting uses for her thumbs (mmm, sexy?!), before dropping in: “Your emails are monitored.”  So, you know, add the flirty thing and THEN remind her she’s being monitored?!  You truly are a moronic hell beast.
Grey starts getting impatient that Ana hasn’t emailed to say where she wants them to meet later, but we cut back to his exceptionally dull meeting, before he can internally whinge too much.  Yay?
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Seriously, I remember now that part of the reason I was so angry and upset that I lost this entire recap the first time I wrote it, was because this chapter is SO EXCRUCIATINGLY DULLI couldn’t bear the idea of having to read it again.
We cut to after the meeting has ended – thank you, sweet Jebus.  Grey is still at work and Andrea’s replacement has arrived.  Immediately, Grey dislikes her because she wears lipstick.  No, really.
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MONTANA BROOKS.  It’s not a hard name to remember.  If I can do it, so can you.
I think this is shoved in here to prove that Grey is surrounded by attractive women, but the only one he wants is Ana.  But this doesn’t make him sound sweet, it makes him sound like a rude asshole.  Oh, and naturally, we have to marvel over how Ana doesn’t need make up to be stunningly beautiful.  Unlike all of us plebs.
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We get a whole heap more pining from Grey, as he struggles to concentrate, because Ana hasn’t emailed.  He actually hopes her boss isn’t distracting her from him, because this supposed billionaire businessman has literally no idea how the freaking world of work actually… Well, works.
Then, Montana comes into his office and is perfectly nice to him, but he is a Grade A twat-waffle towards her in response:
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I don’t know, maybe she’s trying to make a good impression, in the hope of getting a permanent position at your wildly successful company?!  But don’t worry, I’m sure you being a prick towards her will have put her right off.
Finally, after poor Montana has left, Grey checks his emails again and finds one from Ana:
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Girl, there is only ONE JOKE you can “mine” from the name of the bar, and seeing as “Fifty,” in relation to Grey, refers to him being fucked up as a result of being abused by his mother’s pimp as a child, I’m going to go right ahead and judge you a heck of a lot for finding it funny.
Also, I’m interrupting my rage-y recap, to remind myself that I met my YouTube heroes, Dan and Phil, just over a week ago and I haven’t stopped being giddy about it, yet.  *sigh*
Anyway, Grey realises that Ana is making fun of him and decides to “have some fun with it.”  He emails her, saying that “mining is a very dangerous occupation.”
Ana replies: “And your point is?”  And briefly, I applaud her.
BRIEFLY.  We all know I loathe her.
Grey’s response to this is… Strange.
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If you didn’t want to fight, why did you purposefully try to wind her up with your initial response?!
And as for that sign-off…  “Laters, baby” was cringe-inducing enough, but “sooners rather than laters, baby” makes me dry heave.
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Grey briefly contemplates taking over Kavanagh Media – again, almost certainly not as a business decision, but to piss off Kate – before heading to meet Ana.
He arrives at 50’s and can’t even describe the place, without bringing everything back to himself and his poor, tortured soul:
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I’LL DO IT!  I’LL DO IT!  ME!  LET ME!
Grey spots Ana at the bar with Jack Hyde and immediately wants to piss all over her, to mark his territory.
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Grey notices that Ana’s shoulders are tense (from all the way across the bar?!  Besides which, Ana’s always tense around him) and starts displaying signs of aggression and deeply possessive behaviour:
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I’m genuinely shocked he doesn’t get his shrivelled little dick out and just pee all over Ana.
But he gets worse:
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Well, of course you don’t give a fuck.  You’re Christian “everyone is scum, beneath my shoes” Grey.  I’m dreading the pompous, patronising “I KNEW HE WAS TROUBLE” that is inevitably going to happen when Jack Hyde does turn out to be an asshole.  But I repeat what I’ve already said: Grey doesn’t know he’s an asshole, yet.  He’s just pissy because he’s relatively attractive and has a penis.
As they leave the bar and get into the car outside (poor Taylor – when does he get any time off?!), Ana asks why Grey’s interactions with Hyde seemed like a “pissing contest,” to which Grey replies: “Because it was.”
Well, that’s totally good and not at all a demonstration of toxic masculinity, or anything.
Grey asks Ana what she wants to do and naturally, she wants sex, because it’s been a few days and this woman is permanently aroused.  He asks her where she’d prefer to beg, his place or hers and Ana says it would be a change to go to her place.  Grey then instructs Taylor to hurry to Ana’s apartment.
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They make idle chit-chat on the way and for some reason, Grey does his arrogant “yes, I’m gorgeous, get over it” bollocks that he does with every other woman he meets, with Ana as well:
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Okay, firstly Grey, beauty comes from within.  You are fucking hideous.
Secondly, you’ve done more work than you have all week, because of Ana?  WHERE?!  We saw you in exceptionally boring meetings, but we also saw you impatiently checking your emails every few seconds and admitting you couldn’t concentrate on work because you were too busy thinking about Ana.  Now, we’re meant to believe you got loads done, thanks to her?!
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Grey starts lecturing Ana on the fact that Jack Hyde wants to sleep with her:
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Whether this is meant to show that Ana is really innocent and all “golly gee, nobody could possibly want plain old me,” or whether it’s just EL’s way of trying to make Grey look like the considerate boyfriend, who wants to protect his girlfriend, I don’t know.  But it falls flat, because when Ana insists that Jack can want as much as he likes, he won’t be getting her, Grey doesn’t back down from his possessive creepiness:
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This doesn’t come across as a caring boyfriend.  For a start, Jack would have to do far worse than just invite Ana for a drink after work for Grey to be able to fire him for sexual harassment.  And his whole “why is she frowning?  Does he make her uncomfortable?” thing is pathetic; Ana is more likely to be frowning because she’s only been at her job for a week or so and her controlling dick of a boyfriend is already making threats against her boss.
YES, I KNOW JACK HYDE TURNS OUT TO BE AS BAD AS GREY.  BUT WE DON’T KNOW THAT, YET.
Anyway, eventually the penny drops for Ana and she realises that the only way Grey would be able to sack her boss would be if he’d bought the company she’s just started working for.  You know, after she deliberately didn’t tell him too much about the job interviews she had lined up, because she didn’t want him interfering in her career.
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Why does this guy always think “show time!” when he’s about to reveal some creepy, gross information, or do something possessive and abusive?!  Does he actually think being a vile abuser is some kind of talent?!
To give her some teensy amount of credit, Ana yells at Grey, reminding him that he promised not to interfere in her career (to which he laughably again promises not to) and she tells him that making business decisions based on who he’s currently fucking is a really stupid way to do things.  And yep, she’s absolutely right.
Of course, this makes Grey in turn sad and then mad.  First he thinks that he was only trying to protect her and do what was best for her (remember that, it’s going to be relevant very soon) and then he wishes he could drag her across his knee and spank her.  Which, seeing as she’s furiously angry, she probably wouldn’t consent to, so IMAGINE THE RED INK, OKAY?!
They arrive at Ana’s apartment and, fearing that he’s blown his chances of getting into Ana’s panties himself, Grey tells Taylor that he’d better wait outside.  As he follows Ana to the building, he starts trying to explain himself and, for reasons known only to himself, opens by reminding her how long it’s been since they had sex.

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Sorry for that weird formatting, the paragraph was split between two pages of the PDF.

 

More importantly, notice the lies he tells her, here.  He says he did it because he wanted to get into publishing.  That is NOT true.  He’s said all along, in his internal monologue, that he wanted to buy SIP to keep tracks on Ana.  To protect her, despite not having any real reason to believe, at this point, that she needs protection from anyone who works there.  Just a couple of paragraphs ago, he was inwardly whining: “I did what I thought was best.”  Now, he’s telling her he bought the company because he wanted to get into publishing.  But remember how he rolled his eyes and said “whatever” earlier, because he didn’t understand or care why authors might feel insecure about the company being taken over?!  This guy doesn’t give a toss about publishing.  If Ana worked as a toilet cleaner, he’d find some way of buying that company, too.

 

 

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Ana keeps her rage up for a little longer:

 

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And then, just as Grey chuckles to himself about the fact that Elliot would definitely approve of Ana calling Christian an ass, Ana magically decides that the fact that the guy she recently broke up with actually went out and bought her workplace, despite promising not to interfere in her career, is just a small, teensy thing, worthy of giggling over, because Grey is just so cute.

 

I wish I was kidding.

 

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FFS ANA.

 

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Seriously, this is a massive, enormous RED FLAG.

 

Even Ana isn’t so utterly thick that she wouldn’t realise he either bought the company just before they broke up, or signed the paperwork whilst they were no longer together.  He went behind her back to do something that will allow him a significantly larger level of control over her professional life – the one thing she was adamant she wanted him to stay out of.  To laugh this off is ridiculous.

 

Of course, Grey refers to himself as having merely exercised his right to purchase whatever he damn well pleases and even that doesn’t make her snap out of her pathetic, giggly mood.   No, instead, she invites him into her apartment, all swoony, because EL James wants me to die of rage.

 

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We get some bullshit internal monologue from Grey about building Ana’s trust in him, because he doesn’t want to lose her, again.  Newsflash, wank-face: don’t go behind her back, interfering in her career, for starters.  That’s not going to earn you many trust points.  Not that Ana seems to care.  UGH.  I hate this franchise.

 

Grey enters Ana’s apartment, decides he likes it and then goes off on a little internal bitch-fest about Kate:

 

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No, don’t think about the fact that she actually said to you, several times, during your initial “relationship,” that she didn’t want to feel like a prostitute by having you spend loads of money on her all the time.  That’s a great way to build up trust.

 

The two of them dance around each other, obviously wanting to shag each other’s brains out, but, because EL James needs to pad the heck out of this ripoff of her own ripoff, they have to do this tedious “what do you want,” “oh, I don’t know, what do you want?” fuckery, first.

 

And as per usual, the description of Grey pursuing Ana for sex makes her sound terrified and him sound creepy as fuck:

 

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You’re not mad, you moronic twonk.  You’re probably leaking all over the floor, seeing as you find this utter wazzock hot, for some reason.

 

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Grey starts internally banging on about how he needs to “reclaim” her and “make her (his) again.”  Because, ladies, if you let a man have sex with you, he owns you.  Never forget that.

 

We get yet another reference to being hungry, but not for food, before EL James tries to write in something to convince critics that Grey actually goes give a shit about Ana’s pleasure as well as his own:

 

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He asks her whether she wants him to kiss her and she says yes.  He then asks where and she replies “everywhere.”  Grey reminds her that she has to beg him, so she pleads “touch me” and when he again asks where, Ana tries to reach out for him.  And naturally, that goes down well:

 

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You’re damn right it is.  She’s tolerating your utterly shite behaviour.  She’s taken you back, when you don’t deserve it at all.  She’s tried all kinds of things for you, but you can’t have an adult conversation about your phobia of being touched?!  You can’t try, the way you insisted she tried your lifestyle?!  I also don’t buy his crappy “I can’t bear to be touched” schtick, considering he does let her touch him, sometimes.  In fact, Ana says as much to him, before suggesting they mark the areas she’s not allowed to touch, so she knows, once and for all.  Grey agrees to this and they head into her bedroom.

 

All I can think of is Grey being all “draw me like one of your French girls.”

 

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Except it’s more a case of “draw on me,” obviously…

 

But before anything fun can happen, Grey asks Ana whether she’s still on the pill.  And her response isn’t what he was hoping for…

 

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When he refers to “we,” he clearly isn’t referring to himself and Ana, because it was very much his decision that she went on the pill in the first place.  He arranged his choice of doctor to sort it out.  And why would she stay on it?  She wasn’t mad keen on being on the pill in the first place, but they’d broken up!  She didn’t expect to be having sex again any time soon, so she stopped taking her pill, probably thinking that it would be safer to use condoms with a new partner, some way down the road.  This isn’t some great tragedy, or a terrible act of stupidity on Ana’s part, yet Grey has to make it sound as though it is.

 

Ana is disappointed and tells him she wanted to go to bed with him.  Grey tells her he knows and he wanted that, too.  But then he goes on an internal rant in which he literally asks how he could be with her, if she’s stopped taking her pill.  DESPITE THE FACT THAT THEY BROKE UP AND SHE WOULDN’T HAVE THOUGHT SHE HAD ANY NEED TO TAKE IT:

 

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YOU ARE INCOMPATIBLE, BUT NOT MERELY BECAUSE SHE STOPPED TAKING THE FUCKING PILL AND YOU ARE A SELFISH WANK-STAIN WHO WON’T USE A CONDOM.

 

Grey literally keeps banging on about this in his head, thinking about how much he needs to fuck her without protection.  Dude, no you don’t.  You can use a condom.  You won’t die.

 

Sadly.

 

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After much pleading for his teensy-weensy micro-penis, Ana gives in and says she can cook dinner for them, if he doesn’t mind taking her grocery shopping, first.  Grey likes the idea of this, because it means he can find a drugstore and pick up the dreaded condoms he hates so much, too.

 

They head out to do some shopping and Grey goes full on hearts, flowers and melodrama in his internal monologue, which seems massively out of character, frankly:

 

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SEE, YOU GUYS?  SHE IS CHANGING HIM!  IT SAYS SO RIGHT THERE IN THE TEXT, SO IT MUST BE TRUE, EVEN THOUGH HIS PERSONALITY IS STILL EVERY BIT AS SHITTY AS IT ALWAYS WAS!

 

Ana quizzes Grey about his staff as they wander round the supermarket.  Then he asks her why she didn’t have any food in her apartment and uses the opportunity to blame her for their split.  Again.

 

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She has no reason to be contrite, for crying out loud!  She left him because he beat her with a belt and she didn’t enjoy it!  She was crying and sniffling and he still didn’t stop, because he was obsessed with her not safe-wording and didn’t think to check on whether she was okay.  He didn’t think for a second that she might be in too much pain to safe word, or that she might have forgotten what the word was, in the heat of the moment.   This is NOT all on HER.

 

They then see a whinging toddler and Grey wonders how people cope with small children, because EL James is all about smacking us in the face with foreshadowing, in this chapter.

 

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Poor, spoilt rich boy, having to experience real life.

 

Grey goes out of the supermarket to look for a liquor store and spots a convenience store, first.  He buys two packs of two condoms and grins to himself that that means “four fucks.”  Excuse me, whilst I vomit.

 

As they head back to Ana’s apartment, she talks about her new job.

 

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Good.  At the moment, you only think he’s an asshole because he looked the wrong way at a woman you consider your property.

 

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Grey looks for a corkscrew for the wine he’s bought and Ana points to a drawer with her chin.  It’s a weird niggle to have with a series so full of horror, but I loathe how often people point with their chins, in these books.  Try it.  Maybe you do it all the time, but if I point with something other than a hand, it’s usually an elbow, or I’ll cock my whole head in the direction of something.  When I try to point with my chin, I feel – and probably look – ridiculous.  So… I hate that EL keeps using the description.

 

Grey makes some internal reference to being glad Ana only roughly knows where the corkscrew is, because it means she’s not been comfort-drinking in his absence.  That’s good, because he knows what she’s like when she’s drunk.

 

So do we.  She gets kidnapped by dickhead billionaires, a thousand times worse than José, Jack or anyone else whose behaviour he claims to hate.

 

Ana tries to start a meaningful conversation about how little she really knows about him, which Grey – as always, because this is totally healthy in a relationship – shuts down.  Instead, he offers to help in the kitchen and we discover that Christian Grey has never, ever chopped a vegetable in his life.  His staff and his submissives have always handled that kind of thing for him.

 

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Ana keeps brushing up against him as he tries – and largely fails, because he’s a fucking moron – to chop a pepper.  There’s some distinctly un-sexy flirting and then, Grey utters the line you’ve probably read in countless blogs already:  “I think we’ll eat later.  Put the chicken in the fridge.”

 

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They start kissing and groaning and ooooh, it’s so sexy, I’m not at all bored out of my freaking mind.  Grey asks Ana what she wants.  She replies “you” and when he asks where she wants him, she replies “bed.”  Grey takes her to her room and his internal monologue is OFF THE SCALE LEVELS OF CREEPY.

 

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Ew.  Ew.  So much ew.

 

Ana tries to tell Grey what she wants in bed, but she’s obviously embarrassed, so she still uses words like “here” and “you know where,” rather than naming body parts.  When she asks Grey to go down on her (without actually saying that), he makes a mental comment about her pubic hair that really pisses me off:

 

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You’ll force her.  Like you fucking force her to do everything else you want.  It’s her pubic hair.  She should be able to decide whether or not she keeps it.  And anyway, didn’t he tell her in the first book that he liked it?!

 

I hate this guy so much.

 

 

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Ana gets all aroused and pleads with Grey to fuck her (again, not using those words), but he refrains from doing as she asks, for a while – despite telling her she needs to beg and he’ll do as she says.  Because this guy is all about going back on his promises, in favour of doing exactly what he wants.

 

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And of course, he’s hinted that he wants her to undress him, but the very second she reaches out for him…

 

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Well sodding remember, for once in your damn life, because your inconsistency is making an already torturously bad book, somehow even worse.

 

Eventually, he “sinks into her” and, because EL James writes the worst sex scenes of all time, it’s not long before he starts to “move, really move.”  Because that is the only description of sex this idiot knows.

 

And remember how I said earlier, that in this universe, if a guy fucks you, he owns you?  Well…

 

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And the creepy “you have to be mine forever” shit doesn’t end there:

 

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She stitches my torn soul together.

 

Did EL James actually write this, or did a fourteen year old?!

 

Grey “pretends” to be a caveman, but actually just sounds like his usual dick-wipe self:

 

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As Ana gets up to – presumedly – get the chicken back out of the fridge, Grey discovers the sad, deflated helicopter balloon she’s been keeping under her pillow since they broke up.  She admits that it kept her company in his absence, then heads back to the kitchen, whilst Grey has yet another melodramatic moment:

 

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Answers on a postcard, everyone.  Is it because she’s so manipulated by him that she can’t see straight?  Does she just have no better experience to fall back on?  HOW CAN THIS BE?!

 

Meanwhile, despite knowing that Taylor is seeing his daughter in the morning, Grey texts him and asks him to source a mask for Ana to wear to the ball, the following evening, should she agree to be Grey’s date.  He also asks him to pick up a lipstick.

 

I wish it was for Taylor to wear.  I’d read the crap out of that, instead of this drivel.

 

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They eat dinner and chat a bit about Ana’s past.  Because that’s allowed.  Grey notes that Ana has always looked after other people, rather than the other way around.  It spurs him into telling her he wants to take care of her:

 

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THAT IS RULE NUMBER ONE, JACKASS.

 

You don’t have to have a whole heap of prior relationship experience to know that if you claim to care for someone and want to look after them, doing shit that makes them mad, despite knowing they’ll be pissed off about it, is a fairly important thing to avoid.  Grey isn’t so utterly stupid that he doesn’t realise that.  He just doesn’t give a toss.  Because he’s an abusive bastard.

 

Ana, understandably, is worried about her colleagues finding out that her boyfriend has just bought the company:

 

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I can’t stress this enough: Jack has done nothing wrong, at this point, beyond apparently show a level of interest in Ana, who has been clear that it’s not mutual.

 

Grey suggests that Ana just doesn’t tell anyone.  He explains that the news of the takeover is embargoed for four weeks anyway, whilst the management make changes.  This rings alarm bells for Ana, who is worried about her job.  But Grey doesn’t care and drops himself in it – admitting – without directly saying it – that he did only buy SIP because she works there:

 

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At this point, I am pretty sure my veins are full of molten rage.  Ana refers to him as “over-protective” and that’s exactly what an abuse victim would say, because abusers gaslight them into thinking this level of obsessive control over their lives is somehow for their benefit.  “I’m doing this to protect you.”

 

Grey agrees with her – internally, at least – and then Ana makes a joke about paging Doctor Flynn and the whole scene shifts to them wanting dessert.

 

I just…  He has just openly admitted that he’d buy any company she worked for and Ana is more concerned with playing around with ice cream and finding out if he happens to carry kegel balls around with him, because she liked those.  FFS.  I honestly think EL James was dropped on her head as a baby.  I can think of no other explanation as to why she wrote such a blatant portrayal of an abusive relationship and passed it off as romance.  Either that or she’s got a bad case of Stockholm Syndrome.

 

They go to her bedroom to mess around with the ice cream and Grey thinks “showtime” yet again, because EL James’ vocabulary is distinctly bloody limited.

 

Grey worries about the cold ice cream negatively affecting him, which is hilarious:

 

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It would make me scream, laughing.

 

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Twice in this scene, Grey makes the same “Ben.  And Jerry’s.  And Ana” joke, regarding the ice cream.  Twice, it’s about as funny as cholera.

 

During the actual sex, Grey manages to make a declaration of his feelings sound like something a psychopath would say:

 

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After the inevitable climax (if you’ve read one Fifty Shades orgasm, you’ve read them all), Ana admits to Grey that her feelings scare her.  And yet again, we’re presented with melodrama:

 

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If you really don’t want to feel like that again?  Maybe treat her better.  Juuuust a thought.

 

He invites her to the ball at his parents’ house and Ana says yes.  He thinks of it as a proper date.  He then goes to have a shower and genuinely gets snobbish about the size of her bathroom, because he’s an asshole.  Ana comes in to use the shower after him and he demands that she not take too long to return to bed, because, again, he’s an asshole.

 

Finally, he heads back into her room and we get an end to the chapter that sounds weirdly like it’s being spoke by a toddler, instead of a grown man:

 

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And that, thank God, is that.

 

Another chapter down.  And it only took five hours to rewrite this recap.  YAY.

Darker Chapter 1 (Thursday, June 9, 2011)

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

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

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

PRAY FOR MY SOUL.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The dedication of the book reads:

For my readers.

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

This book is for you.

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

I also have a message for you:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But then, in literally the next sentence…

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

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

And it just keeps going from there:

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

I HAVE SO MUCH TO SAY.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“My boss.”

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

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

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

“Well? Your last meal?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t try.  Fuck off.

Instead, we get:

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

Not because he gives a shit about the reply.

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

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

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

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

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

“Ana, please. We need to talk.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But I sense her.

All of her.

Here. Now.

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

Fuck. I want her. She bites her lip.

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

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

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

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Grey thinks some rapetastic thoughts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’ll take you. We can eat there.”

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

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

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

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

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

Grey asks Ana about work:

“What’s your boss like?”

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

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

HOLY FORESHADOWING, BATMAN!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Do what?” Shit—what’s this?

“Say something like that and then just stop.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m so hot for this guy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway, Grey reacts really well:

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The Anastasia collection? Stunning work.”

Stunning model.

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

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

“All of them?” She sounds surprised.

“Yes.” Irritating woman.

“The collection is fourteen thousand dollars.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Frankly, yes,” I respond in kind.

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

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

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

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

Then, hilariously, this happens:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But Ana isn’t backing down:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Please, can we stay longer?”

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

Nope.  Biiiiig bag of nope.

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

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

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

Maybe you should try that, sometime…

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

Get your fat paws off my girl.

STILL NOT CURRENTLY YOUR GIRL, DICKHEAD.

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

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

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

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

Then…  Oh, God.  Here it comes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ONE CHAPTER IN, YOU GUYS.

My blood pressure is in trouble, I can tell.

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

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

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

And of course, Ana then apologises:

“I’m sorry,” she says, hoarse.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Don’t start, Anastasia.”

“I am not a child, Christian.”

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

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

“Well, stop acting like one.”

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

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

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

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

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

“You choose.” She presses her lips together.

Yeah. Don’t play games with me, baby.

Fuck.  This.  Guy.

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

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

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

“A bottle, then.” You stupid prick.

“Sir.” He retreats.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yet again, Ana apologises:

“I’m sorry,” she whispers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Kinky fuckery?” she squeaks in disbelief.

“Kinky fuckery.”

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

“Well, I did. Answer me.”

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

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

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

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

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They continue:

“What does that mean?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I don’t want a set of rules.”

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

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

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

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

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

“Spank me with what?”

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

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

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

“More than fun,” she adds.

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

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

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

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

“But what about punishments?” she says finally.

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

“And the rules?”

“No rules.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

She then gives him some home truths:

“I never know what you’re thinking.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ana asks if Ella was abusive:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aaaaaaw.  How cute?

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

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

“What!” She sounds a little upset.

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

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

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

“So when will I see you?”

“Tomorrow?”

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

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

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

“Where?”

“I don’t know.”

“I could pick you up from there.”

“Okay. I’ll e-mail or text you.”

“Good.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And here endeth the first chapter of Darker.

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

 

 

 

Grey Chapter 23 (Tuesday, June 7, 2011)

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

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

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

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

We’re fucking. Fucking hard.

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

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

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

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

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

She. Is. Mine.

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

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

Nice….Reminder.

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

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

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

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

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

As an adult, Christian ejaculates only sadness and rage.

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

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

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

ONLY JOKING!

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

She saved you from this shit, Grey.

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

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

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He also adds:

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

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

Grey decides to get up and go for a stalk:

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

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

You give me nightmares.  You are a nightmare.

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

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

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

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

I have to think of a way.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

We cut to Grey in a therapy session with Flynn.

“The nightmares are back. Like never before.”

Flynn lifts a brow. “The same ones?”

“Yes.”

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

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

“I met a girl.”

“And?”

“She left me.”

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

I stare at him blankly.

Why is it different? Because Ana was different.

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

Yeah…Different.

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

“I miss her.”

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

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

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

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

I inhale sharply, my gut tightening with fear.

“Horrified,” I whisper.

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

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

He’s much, much worse.

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

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

“No.”

“And why’s that?”

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

“Are you surprised?”

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

“How did that make you feel?”

“Helpless.”

Aw.  Diddums.

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

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

“Familiar, how?” What does he mean?

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

Fuck, we’ve been over and over this.

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

“I wasn’t referring to Mrs. Lincoln.”

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

“You know.”

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

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

“No, it’s not,” Flynn concedes.

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

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Grey goes into full on victim-blaming mode:

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

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

Dr Flynn then says:

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

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

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

Dr Flynn continues:

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

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

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

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

Be with Ana?

“Yes,” I whisper.

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

“No, I haven’t.”

“Why not?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My thoughts take a darker turn.

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

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

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

Oh, fuck off.

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

And…

And then…

This chapter ends and another one fucking starts.

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

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Chapter 24 (Wednesday, June 8, 2011)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Since she left.

Grey resolves:

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

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

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

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

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

Except she’s not, she’s not…

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

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

I’m going to check on Ana.

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

What you need is a bloody restraining order.

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

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

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

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

We get another dose of heavy-handed foreshadowing:

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

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

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

“Your sandwich, Mr. Grey.”

“Chicken and mayonnaise?”

“Um…”

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

Olivia offers an inept apology.

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

“I’m sorry, Mr. Grey.”

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

I buzz Andrea.

“Sir?”

“Come in here.”

Andrea appears at the doorway, looking calm and efficient.

“Get rid of that girl.”

Andrea pulls herself up straight.

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

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

“Yes, sir.” Andrea flushes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Anastasia

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

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

Let me know.

Christian Grey

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

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

 

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

Four minutes!

Still nothing.

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

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

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

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But of course, five minutes later, this happens:

Hi Christian

Thank you for the flowers; they are lovely.

Yes, I would appreciate a lift.

Thank you.

Anastasia Steele

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

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

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

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

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

“Christian.” She sounds pissed. Tough.

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

“Not yet. But I can get them.”

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

“Can I ask why?”

“No.”

She’s silent for a moment.

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

“Ros, just do it, okay?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Grey Chapter 25 (Thursday, June 9, 2011)

We start on yet another dream:

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

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

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

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

I wake, with a start.

Today, I win her back.

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

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

Thirdly: I wish to GOD you were unsuccessful.

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

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

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

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

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Grey Chapter 22 (Monday June 6, 2011)

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

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

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

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

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

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

For fuck’s sake, she said she’d try!

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

Then she ran.

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

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

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

Why did I hit her so hard?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Screw you.

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

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

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

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

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

Of course. Herself.

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

Damn, will this pain ever just stop?

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

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

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

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

She can’t love me.

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

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

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

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

I really want Olivia to be gay.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And she won’t be able to forget me.

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

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

What to say?

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

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

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

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

The florist reads it back to me.

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

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

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

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

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

“Mind your own fucking business, Bastille.”

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

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

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

“Taylor, can we make a detour?”

“Where to, sir?”

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

“Yes, sir.”

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

As we approach her apartment, my heartbeat spikes.

Perhaps I’ll see her.

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

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

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

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

She’s home!

I hope she’s alone, and missing me.

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

Has she received my flowers?

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

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

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

I wish you’d never restarted.

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

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

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

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

UGH.