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?”
“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…
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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
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.
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.
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?
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?!
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.
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:
If it’s with the sleazeball you work with, then the answer is no, over my dead body.
Ana, if you don’t want to get your hands dirty, I‘ll 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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
“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?!
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.
- SHE IS TRYING TO DO HER JOB, YOU CRUSTY JIZZ STAIN.
- 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.
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.
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.”
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.
There is so much wrong with this, I’m going to need to make a list:
- 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.
- This is victim-blaming. Suggesting that she can’t go away, because he’s seen how bad she is at protecting herself is vile.
- 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.
- Sexual assault is apparently okay, as long as the perpetrator has feelings for their victim? I guess Grey would say that…
- 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.
- 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.
- Of course he has an apartment, there. Is there anywhere he doesn’t have one?!
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.
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?”
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.”
“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.
“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.
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.”
“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.
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?
“I’m in love with Ana.”
“Thank you. I know.”
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 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.
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?!
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.
“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.
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.
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?
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.
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.”
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…”
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?
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…
“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.
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.
“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?”
“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.