Guys, guys, guys. You know how the last chapter ended with Grey demanding a background check on the girl he literally only just met and spent an entire interview purposefully intimidating and mocking? Well, this one actually begins with him reading the newly acquired information he has on her. By including this, EL James has shot herself in the foot (well, okay, she did that the second she wrote any of this from Grey’s perspective), because it shows just how creepy and invasive the background check really is. We discover Ana’s address, phone number, social security number, bank details (including how much she has in her account – $683.16, in case you were wondering), her SAT score, her current occupation, place of work, what she’s studying at college and the addresses and phone numbers of not only her dead father, but of her mother, too, and we also get a list of her mother’s husbands, plus wedding/divorce dates. Oh and it tells us that there’s no info on her sexual orientation, religious beliefs or political views and that there is nothing to indicate that she is in a relationship, at present.
HE HAS NO RIGHT TO ANY OF THIS. MOST OF THIS HAS TO HAVE BEEN ILLEGALLY GAINED AND ANYONE WHO IS NOT A PSYCHO WOULD NEVER DREAM OF OBTAINING THIS LEVEL OF INFO ABOUT SOMEONE THEY ONLY JUST MET.
Sorry. I just… Need a minute.
Immediately after reading his newly procured copy of The Stalker’s Guide To Ana, Grey’s internal monologue reminds us that he’s a lousy person, only concerned with his own wants and needs:
I cannot get the damned woman out of my mind and it’s seriously beginning to piss me off.
Oh, be still my beating heart! Isn’t that what we all long for, ladies?! A guy who’s irritated by his attraction to us?!
Of course, then the creep-factor is upped significantly by Grey telling the reader where he is. We know this from reading the original book, but for the benefit of the uninitiated, he’s sitting in his car, outside Ana’s workplace. Yep, he’s stalked her.
I knew it would lead to this. All week…I knew I’d have to see her again. I’d known it since she uttered my name in the elevator. I’d tried to resist. I’d waited five days, five tedious days, to see if I forget about her.
And I don’t do waiting. I hate waiting… For anything.
Yeah, I’m red-lettering the crap out of that last bit, Christian. Because we all know you’re every bit as rape-y as that makes you sound.
Also, notice how Christian’s decision to obtain private information about Ana without her consent, and to use that information to stalk her to her workplace, is somehow her fault, rather than his. Apparently she was supposed to have known he “needed” to see her again and just… I don’t know, shown up?!
He thinks about how he’s never pursued a woman before and wonders whether Ana would be a good submissive. I don’t know Grey, but you’re a sodding awful excuse for a Dom. Does that help?!
He goes on to “snort” at the idea that she might be gay (the background check had no information on her sexual orientation), but to admit that he’s sitting outside her workplace because she doesn’t have a boyfriend. As though the lack of one means she will automatically want him.
I hate this guy.
Grey even admits in his internal monologue that he’s hiding this behaviour from his therapist, Dr Flynn (so the fans who insist that his even having a therapist is somehow evidence of his willingness to change can go and play in traffic until I’ve calmed down):
I haven’t mentioned her to Flynn, and I’m glad, because now I’m behaving like a stalker. Perhaps I should let him know. No. I don’t need him hounding me about his latest solution-based therapy shit. I just need a distraction. And right now, the only distraction I want is the one working as a salesclerk in a hardware store.
You’ve come all this way. Let’s see if Miss Steele is as appealing as you remember.
I knew I shouldn’t have eaten before I started this recap…
Also, I have really bad emetophobia, so the fact I even used that gif is testimony to how much I needed something that accurately depicts how SICK this book is making me feel.
Let’s just back the abuse-train up for a second and point out that Grey knows that he’s stalking Ana. He knows that it’s wrong and that his therapist would discourage his behaviour. BUT HE DOES NOT CARE, BECAUSE HE WANTS ANA, REGARDLESS.
This is the guy we’re supposed to swoon over? I’d rather blend my ovaries into a smoothie, thanks.
Immediately after entering the store, we get another peek at Grey the potential rapist, as he gleefully explains that he’s going to buy things to use in a BDSM scene with Ana, without having any idea of whether or not she would be even remotely interested.
I mainly shop online for my needs, but while I’m here, maybe I’ll stock up on a few items: velcro, split rings… Yeah. I’ll find the delectable Miss Steele and have some fun.
And you know, just in case that wasn’t enough to convince you that this guy literally does not give a toss about consent, once he sees Ana behind the checkout desk, eating a bagel for lunch, his “cock twitches” (I find that mildly hilarious and I don’t know what that says about me) and we get this:
My body’s reaction is irritating. Maybe this will stop if I fetter, fuck and flog her… Not necessarily in that order. Yeah. That’s what I need.
And never mind what she needs, because this guy is the most important penis-owner in the whole, wide world.
I found the first Fifty Shades book so triggering that I could only read detailed chapter-by-chapter recaps of the second and third, and that was when the story was told through Ana’s rose-tinted glasses. I can only be hugely honest and say that right now, I will need one HELL of a Crazy Ex Girlfriend binge-session to recover from the nausea and horrific memories this is causing. I’ll be fine (because I actually attended my therapy sessions and dealt with my trauma, unlike a certain asshole from this novel), but HOLY BALLS. This is HORRIBLE and EL James, if you ever read this: you are a truly terrible person for writing this and expecting people to think Grey is anything other than a despicable, hateful little man-child.
Nobody can prove that gif was aimed at EL James, okay?!
Anyway, on with the laughable attempt at a “story,” as Ana spots Grey…
She pins me with a discerning stare – shocked, I think – and I don’t know if this is a good response or a bad response.
“Miss Steele. What a pleasant surprise.”
“Mr Grey,” she says, breathy and flustered. Ah, good response.
Okay, hands up who sometimes sounds breathy and flustered when they’re having a bad response to something?!
But of course, Grey believes himself to be King of The Freaking World, so naturally, he assumes Ana must be flustered because she’s so immensely attracted to him. Okay, we know she is, but Grey has very little beyond “breathiness” to base that opinion on and it just further proves that this is a guy who would take every little thing as a sign of interest, to ensure he got what he wanted. Ew. So much ew.
He lies that he just happened to be in the area and his internal monologue talks about how beautiful Ana is and what a great body she has.
Her lips are still parted in surprise and I have to resist the urge to tip her chin up and close her mouth. I’ve flown all the way from Seattle just to see you, and the way you look right now, it was really worth the journey.
“Definitely” would have worked better than “really,” there, EL. Just from one writer to another. If you want another tip, writing a male hero who’s not a grade A piece of sh!t is also something you might want to try, sometime.
Ana gives him a “fake smile that (he’s) sure she reserves for customers” and for some reason, this causes him to think “game on.” He starts getting his
serial killer BDSM supplies, all the while thinking about how he’d like to use them on her. Her voice wavers and she blushes as she leads him to the electrical aisle to find cable ties, causing Grey to notice that she’s “affected by” him.
She’s not gay, then. I smirk.
I seriously wish she was. I’d rather read her and Kate getting it on. Or her and Leila. Or her and basically anyone else.
Could she be a submissive? She probably knows nothing of the lifestyle – my lifestyle – but I very much want to introduce her to it. You are getting way ahead of yourself on this deal, Grey.
Remember how we’ve criticised Grey for treating Ana like a business deal, before? He’s just essentially admitted that that’s how he sees her. Does anyone need smelling salts, or shall we just all stay swooning on the floor?!
“Are you in Portland on business?” She asks, interrupting my thoughts. Her voice is high; she’s feigning disinterest. It makes me want to laugh. Women rarely make me laugh.
Because you are a misogynist, Grey. And really? You only laugh when you think a woman is feigning disinterest? Can I recommend some female comedians you might like to check out?!
Apparently her face falls when Grey tells her that he’s visiting the WSU farming division in Vancouver (a lie, obviously) and he claims to “feel like a shit.”
If you need to go, Grey, please do.
Okay, I’m sorry, I’m just desperately looking for humour, right now…
Ana makes a quip about Grey’s “feed-the-world” plan and he thinks:
Is she laughing at me? Oh, I’d love to put a stop to that if she is.
Red, because let’s be honest, at this point, Ana is not his submissive and he has no right to stop her doing anything, using any means.
Grey ponders inviting Ana out for dinner, which his internal monologue tells us is something he thinks of as “intriguing,” seeing as he never usually takes a “prospect” out on dates. Dreamy.
He engages in small talk:
“Have you worked here long?” Of course, I already know the answer. Unlike some people, I do my research.”
Yeah, erm, about that…. Normal people just ask and wait for the answer. But sure, try to pass your creepy, invasive background checks off as something that makes you superior, Grey.
EDIT: During this section, Grey asks Ana what her interests are and she replies “books,” explaining that she’s especially into British classic literature. This, Grey tells us, is not good, because he assumes that means Ana is into hearts and flowers, which he doesn’t do. I forgot to mention this in my original recap and earlier, I suddenly realised I really ought to have, seeing as it’s going to become a fairly major plot point, when he send her first editions as a gift.
He continues making her fetch all the things she thinks he’s going to use for DIY, all the while checking out her body and making crude references to what he really wants to do with the stuff he’s going to buy. It’s supposed to create sexual tension, but it kind of just makes me want to puke, because I’m reading this with the full knowledge that BDSM is not something Ana is remotely confident about and that some of what he wants to do will actively upset her.
They eventually set up the idea of a photoshoot to go along with the interview Kate is writing up and Grey hands Ana his card, telling her to call him before 10am, tomorrow.
And if she doesn’t, I’ll head on back to Seattle and forget all about this stupid venture.
DON’T CALL HIM, ANA! PLEASE!
But before any photoshoots or 10am calls can take place, we meet Ana’s workmate Paul. And this happens:
We both turn as a young man dressed in casual designer gear appears at the far end of the aisle. His eyes are all over Miss Anastasia Steele. Who the hell is this prick?!
In case you’d forgotten, Ana is not Grey’s girlfriend. She is still very little more than a stranger to him. Petty jealousy is one thing, but it gets worse…
She walks towards him and the asshole engulfs her in a gorilla-like hug. My blood runs cold. It’s a primal response.
Get your fucking paws off her.
I fist my hands and am only slightly mollified when she doesn’t return his hug.
This is NOT romantic. It’s not cute, or sad to see “poor ickle Christian” feel like he can’t get his one twu wuv, because some other guy is in the way. It’s possessive and vile.
I almost wonder whether EL James – for once in her life – read back her own work and realised that Grey comes across as a total bastard here, because Grey’s internal monologue briefly backtracks, telling himself not to bother; this guy must be Ana’s boyfriend. He contemplates leaving, but then decides that because Ana touches Paul’s arm, rather than his hand, it means she’s not interested in him.
Of course, Grey’s backtrack lasts all of about three paragraphs, before he’s back to labelling Paul an “asshole” in his internal monologue, purely because Paul’s a man Ana knows better than she knows him. Indeed, when Paul realises who he is and asks if he’s the Christian Grey, Grey’s internal response is:
Yeah, that’s me, you prick.
And then he casually goes back to pondering whether the girl ringing up his secret-BDSM stuff would ever agree to be his submissive. Because Grey’s moods swing faster than anything else ever discovered by mankind.
He does his hormonal teenage boy act, whilst Ana puts his items through the till, wondering whether he’ll ever see her again (oh, come on Grey, you’re a stalker, of course you will – through her window, whilst she sleeps!) and eventually tells her he’s glad that she did the interview with him rather than Kate.
Then, he leaves the store and doesn’t look back over his shoulder at Ana, because he’s showing restraint apparently (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA FOREVER), but can’t resist checking his rearview mirror to see if he gets a last glance of her:
She’s not in the window, staring out at me.
Oh, boo-hoo, babycakes.
Alas, this is the chapter that NEVER ENDS, so rather than that being a neat end to his stalker field trip, we get to see him call Taylor to arrange a room at The Heathman, send his work over and have Charlie Tango moved. Because this book isn’t just abuse-apology! It’s also REALLY boring!
Five hours after he left her workplace, Grey has still not received a call from Ana, which is unusual, what with him being the most important man on the planet and everything. He’s getting impatient:
I’m annoyed at her for not phoning, but mostly, I’m angry with myself. I’m a fool for being here. What a waste of time its been, chasing this woman. When have I ever chased a woman?
If it helps you feel better, Christian, I’m angry at you, too. I feel like EL is really trying to make us feel sorry for Grey in these sections, but it’s not working, because he’s coming across as such an utterly spoilt, over-dramatic brat.
Although we do get a fabulous bit of melodramatic comedy, when Grey tells the reader he’s able to work in peace in his hotel room, then says:
PEACE? I haven’t known peace since Miss Steele fell into my office.
Sadly, before we can get any further comedy gold out of poor Christian’s woes, his phone rings with a “vaguely familiar” number. SPOILER: It’s vaguely familiar because he had a gross background check done on the person calling.
My face erupts in a shit-eating grin.
Add that to the list of sentences I literally never want to read again, please…
Grey can hear Ana’s breath hitch on the phone and of course, this allows him to tell for sure that he’s affecting her the same way she’s affecting him.
As a side-note, every time EL James uses “affecting” this way, I read it as “infecting,” which is appropriate, since this whole franchise is a disease.
Any hope of poor, troubled Christian merely being glad the girl he likes has called him evaporates instantly, once he knows he’ll be seeing her the next day:
“Um – we’d like to go ahead with the photoshoot for the article. Tomorrow, if that’s okay. Where would be convenient for you, Sir?”
In my room. Just me and you. And the cable ties.
Yeah, you’re getting red ink for that one, too, Grey. Because whilst it’s normal to maybe fantasise about someone you fancy, you’re doing it incessantly about this person, despite the fact that you’ve wondered throughout this entire chapter, whether or not she would even be open to BDSM. And more importantly, she is still not yours and she’s trying to organise a photoshoot as professionally as she can. You are reducing her to a sex object, having tracked her down to her workplace and shown up unexpectedly, gotten possessive over her when you have no right to do so and wallowed in self-pity just because she didn’t stand in the freaking window, pining after you as you drove off. So quit being a sleazy PoS.
Once he hangs up the phone, Grey confirms to the reader yet again, that he views Ana as something he wishes to acquire, rather than as a person, by asking himself:
How the hell am I going to close this deal?
And that is where the chapter ends and I am finally released into the wild, to weep furiously over the thought that anyone, anywhere, finds this jerk remotely attractive.
I just can’t wait for chapter three…