Darker Chapter 8 (Thursday, June 16, 2011)

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

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

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

Grandpa is laughing.

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

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

My favorite place.

Elliot is running between the trees.

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

We have a picnic. I like picnics.

Mommy makes apple pie.

Mia walks to the blanket. And everyone cheers.

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

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

Grandpa looks at me.

He’s talking now?

Yes.

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

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

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

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

 

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DUN DUN DUUUUUUUUN.

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

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

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

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

Also, we get this grossness:

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

“I thought you liked it when I giggle.”

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

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

And we make sweet, unhurried love.

No more giggling.

Rarely have I gone so fast from:

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To:

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Why?”

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

Oh, baby, you’d appeal to women, too.

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

“I’m just thinking about work.”

“Baby, you’ll be fine. Trust me.”

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

Me? Interfere? Only to protect you, Ana.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

“That you’ll go.”

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

“Then why haven’t you answered me?”

“Answered you?”

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

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

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

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

I hate him so much, I may die.

 

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Ana makes a valid point:

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

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

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

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

My constant companion.

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

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

 

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

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

This book is riveting.

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

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

I’m so fucking bored.

 

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

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

“My criteria.”

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

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

Nowhere.  It’s nowhere.

He has Andrea arrange a viewing, just the same.

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

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

 

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

“Christian, what is it?”

This evening. Ana.”

“Yes.”

“What will you say?”

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

“That’s what I’m worried about.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

What the hell has she given me?

Cyanide tablets, if she has any sense.

 

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

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

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

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

Shit. I release her hand.

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

“The contractual ones, I do.”

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

Shit.

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

“As I thought.”

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

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

“Different kind of contract, hopefully.”

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

 

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

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

To Grey’s horror, this happens:

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

What?

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

Fuck. But? Shit.

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

“Thank you, Christian,” Flynn says.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

“I think time is up, John.”

“Nearly, Christian. Join us.”

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

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

“Not today, John.”

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

“It was good.”

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

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

“What does that mean?”

“You’ll see.”

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

“I’d rather you didn’t.”

“Why, exactly?”

“Because I don’t like to be driven.”

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

“I trust Taylor’s driving implicitly.”

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

I shrug. I want to drive.

“Is this my car?”

“Of course it’s your car.”

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

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

I hate this book.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

“He doesn’t think you’re a sadist.”

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

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

“Flynn and I have differing opinions on this.”

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

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

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

 

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Grey keeps pressing for information:

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

“He called me your lover.”

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

“Did you think of your subs as lovers?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ana likes this house.

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

Because he only ever thinks of what he wants.

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

 

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

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

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

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

She nods.

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

“The view?”

I nod.

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

“You do?”

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

This means she’s not leaving. Surely.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ana returns:

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

Yet.

I want to drive her crazy.

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

 

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

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

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

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

“Tear it up.”

“What? Really?”

“Yes.”

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

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

“Ditto,” she says.

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

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

There’s another threat of spanking her in public:

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

“I’m not hungry. Not for food.”

Ana. Ana. So easily distracted.

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

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

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

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

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

“Which one?”

“The guy staying in your apartment.”

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

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

“Oh?”

“Yes. Kavanagh seems like a solid guy.”

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

“Yes, I want to.”

Miss Steele!”

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

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

 

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He gets grossly possessive as they head to the car:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Since when?”

“Since this evening.”

“Why are you torturing me so?”

“Tit for tat, Miss Steele.”

“How am I torturing you?”

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

I burn for her.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Their post-coitus glow is where this chapter ends.

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

The end is in sight.

 

 

 

 

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Darker Chapter 7 (Wednesday, June 15, 2011)

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

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

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

 

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Oh, Nadiya.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But she’s still here.

Focus on the positive, Grey.

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

It’s manipulative crap and it needs to die.

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Because I love her.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Once she’s asleep, it’s time for Grey to have another nightmare, conveniently placed so we can forget all his vile behaviour and feel sorry for him again, instead.  Hooray!

Leila stands before me. She’s a waif and her stench makes me take a step back.

The stench. No.

The stench.

He smells.

He smells of nasty. And dirt. It makes sick come into my mouth.

He’s mad. I hide under the table.

There you are, you little prick.

He has cigarettes. No.

I call my mommy. But she doesn’t hear me. She lies on the floor.

Smoke comes out of his mouth. He laughs. And he holds my hair.

The burn. I scream.

I don’t like the burn.

Mommy is on the floor. I sleep beside her. She is cold. I cover her with my blankie.

He’s back. He’s mad.

Crazy. Stupid. Bitch.

Get out of my way, you stupid fucking runt. He hits me and I fall.

He goes. He locks the door.

And it’s Mommy and me. 

And then she’s gone. Where is Mommy? Where is Mommy?

He holds the cigarette in front of me. No.

He takes a puff. No. He presses it against my skin. No.

The pain. The smell.

No.

It’s a horrible memory and a vile thing to happen to a small, defenceless child.  I can feel total sympathy for young Christian, without also using this example of his abusive childhood to excuse the way he abuses Ana, as an adult.  Isn’t that amazing?!

 

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You might be thinking: “But Emma, we can’t be certain EL James included this nightmare at this exact moment in the story, so that Ana would forget how rightfully hurt and angry she was and just blindly forgive him, because it’s somehow her responsibility to fix him, surely?!”

Well, I’m here to tell you that we can.  Because Grey wakes up in a cold sweat, to find Ana shaking him out of his dream, and he immediately blames her for the fact that he had the nightmare in the first place, because she left the bed for a while.  No, really:

“You left, you left, you must have left,” I mumble incoherently.

She sits down beside me. “I’m here,” she says, and lays her palm on my cheek.

“You were gone.”

I only have nightmares when you’re not here.

Red, because that is some A+ manipulative bullshit right there.  It’s also an outright lie.  

In the opening chapter of Grey, he dreams of losing his car under the sofa and his mother calling him “Maggot,” whilst he sadly pines over never being able to play with it again.  Ana isn’t with him, but he doesn’t describe this as a nightmare, even though some of his later “nightmares” have been no more traumatic.  In fact, he refers to himself as “dismissing it, as usual.”  He’s only suddenly been utterly horrified by his dreams since he got together with Ana.  Why?  Because the whole “I sleep better with you here” is a really great way to ensure Ana feels guilt-tripped into staying, even if she doesn’t want to.  And telling her that he only has nightmares when she’s not there guarantees that she’ll feel bad for him, which will lead her to forgetting his vile behaviour towards her and will make her promise not to leave him, which is exactly what Grey wants.

Sure enough, Ana yet again feels compelled to tell him she’ll never leave him.  I AM SO SHOCKED, YOU GUYS, I WAS NOT EXPECTING THIS.

It transpires that she only got up because she was thirsty and needed a drink.  Why would she have been thirsty?  Could it be due to all the crying she did before bed?  The crying he caused?  But God forbid she hydrate herself, because Grey’s uninterrupted sleep is much too important.

I hate this character.  I hate this book.  I hate EL James.  I need to breathe.

 

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Naturally, as soon as Ana has made the promise that Grey manipulates out of her literally every fucking chapter, he magically goes from traumatised to horny:

“Oh, Ana.” My mouth claims hers. She tastes of orange juice…sweetness and home.

My body responds as I kiss her, her ear, her throat. I tug her bottom lip with my teeth as I caress her body. My hand pushing up the T-shirt she’s wearing. She trembles as I cup her breast and she moans into my mouth as my fingers find her nipple.

“I want you,” I whisper. I need you.

“I’m here for you. Only you, Christian.”

Her words light a fire inside me. I kiss her again. Please never leave me.

We’re supposed to long for a relationship like this one and yet literally all this couple do is fight, cry and fuck.  That sounds bloody exhausting.

But Ana suddenly stops and tells Grey she can’t carry on.  His reaction?  Is really rapey and gross:

Suddenly, she pulls back and pushes against my arms. “Christian. Stop. I can’t do this.”

“What? What’s wrong?” I murmur against her throat.

“No, please. I can’t do this, not now. I need some time, please…”

“Oh, Ana, don’t overthink this,” I whisper, as my anxiety returns. I’m fully awake. She’s rejecting me. No. I’m desperate.

I just…  I cannot…  My rage is literally making my chest hurt, right now.

 

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She said NO.  He told her not to “overthink” it.  He is not listening to her, he is not respecting her and he is more concerned with the idea of being rejected than he is by her emotional state, right now.  He carries on with his attempt at seduction, biting her earlobe and, when she gasps in response, telling her he loves her and needs her.  He doesn’t ask her to explain why she needs to stop, or ask her if she wants to talk anything through.  He doesn’t ask her if she’s alright.  Instead, he tells her to touch his chest again, as though that’s all Ana needed.  He even – and I fucking wish I was making this up – thinks to himself that their entire relationship rests upon whether or not she’ll let him have sex with her right now:

Our relationship rests on this moment.

If she can’t do this…

If she can’t touch me.

If I can’t have her.

I wait.

Please, Ana.

 

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Their.  Relationship.  Rests.  On.  This.  Moment.

Their entire relationship, for him, depends right now, on whether he can let her touch his damn chest, so she’ll let him fuck her, despite the fact that she’s just told him no?!

This…  I just…  I don’t even have angry words.  I’m just stunned.  I’m disgusted.  I’m sad.

And the worst part is knowing that she will touch him, so he will get to have sex with her, and this incident will be glossed over and forgotten about, like all the other instances of abuse in this franchise.

 

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I’m going to need a lot of ice cream and alcohol when I finish this.

There’s a whole melodramatic page of Ana touching Grey’s chest and back and him fighting his demons, blah, blah, blah.  All of it is only there so that they can keep kissing and touching, ready for the inevitable sex scene, which arrives when Grey realises that taking control of him and touching his body is turning Ana on:

Fear erupts in my chest, hammering my heart. “Oh, fuck, Ana,” I cry out and stare down at her. She’s panting, eyes bright and brimming with sensuality.

This is turning her on. Fuck.

Don’t overthink this, Grey. Man up. Go with it.

I already hated the phrase “man up,” but congratulations EL, you just made me hate it more.  Yes, man up and carry on doing it with the woman who just wanted to stop doing it, a few minutes ago, before you manipulated her with the promise of being able to touch the bits of you she’s not normally allowed to.  How very manly of you.

I almost want to post that Gareth Southgate picture, again.  Ooh, or I could find one of Phil Lester…

But I should probably keep recapping this crap, instead.  Ugh.

 

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As he’s about to have sex with her, Grey tells her she can still say no, which is utter crap, because she already did and he made damn sure he found a way to carry on.  And Ana… Ana says something that doesn’t sound like enthusiastic consent:

“You want to do this? You can still say no. You can always say no.”

“Don’t give me a chance to think, Christian.” She’s breathless. 

Ew.  I mean, she adds “I want you, too,” but still…  She’d actually asked him to stop because she needed some time, earlier and he had replied “don’t overthink this,” which makes her response of “don’t give me a chance to think” now really gross.

Like literally everything else about this book.

Grey’s internal monologue tells us he needs to know she really wants this, so he makes her go on top.  Because that definitely proves something, apparently.

The whole sex scene is horrible.  I won’t copy and paste the whole thing (although as per usual, it’s very brief), but basically, Ana lowers herself onto him, Grey thinks he’s going to come instantly (unsurprising, seeing as he has zero staying power), he makes her slow down, then begs her to touch him again and we get all this “it’s so painful, the darkness is surfacing” rubbish again, before Grey cries and rolls on top of Ana, because he can’t take it, anymore.  He then orders her to come, because he is close and Ana clearly isn’t ready to.  So we get this vileness:

I drive into her. Trying to find my equilibrium, but I’m lost. Lost to this woman. Her breath is at my ear: Short. Panting. She’s reaching. She’s close. But she’s holding back.

“Let go, Ana,” I whisper.

“No.”

“Yes,” I plead, and I shift and roll my hips, filling her. She moans, loud and clear, her legs tensing.

“Come on, baby, I need this. Give it to me.”

We need this.

We’re meant to believe this guy is a great lover?!  She’s not done, yet.  She wants more – probably because Grey only lasts twenty seconds, so it’s hardly a surprise she’s not ready to let go, yet.  And we need this?!  Is this yet another reference to the fact that Grey believes their entire relationship was hanging on whether or not he was allowed to have sex with her?  Does it now hang on whether she comes on cue??!!

GOOD sex happens when your partner cares about your needs as well as their own.  He is literally telling her he needs her to come.  He doesn’t give a shit that she’s holding back, wanting to build her orgasm up a bit (seeing as he’s doing such a crap job of doing that, himself).  He’s ready, so she has to be.  Guys, this isn’t even good erotica.  It’s shit.

But of course, Ana comes on cue for him, because she is, as we’ve said before, a sex doll, existing only for his whims.

 

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And after the sex, some bonus manipulative demands!

HER FINGERS ARE IN my hair while my head rests on her chest. She’s here. She didn’t leave, but I can’t shake the feeling that I nearly lost her again. “Don’t ever leave me,” I whisper. 

You know how, in the third book, we’re supposed to believe that Ana pretends she’s leaving him and Grey just lets her go?  HAHAHAHAHA, NO.

Ana asks him what his nightmare was about, earlier, and Grey eventually tells her about the pimp stubbing cigarettes out on him, telling her that the nightmares are about the pain.  And then we get some victim-blaming of Ella, because we’ve not had that in a while:

“It hurt,” I mutter. “It’s the pain I remember. That’s what gives me nightmares. That, and the fact that she did nothing to stop him.”

Ana’s hold on me tightens. I lift my head, meeting her eyes. “You’re not like her. Don’t ever think that. Please.”

Yeah, you’re nothing like the woman the pimp made sell herself for cash, which she spent fuelling an addiction he did nothing to help her beat.  Look, I know she didn’t stop the guy stubbing cigarettes out on her son and that is bad, but the woman had her own problems and we know the pimp beat her, too.  I’m getting pains in my temples from the stress caused by the fact that EL James thinks the abuse Grey suffered was terrible and we have to sympathise with it, but the abuse Ella suffered was meaningless and we should hate her.  If I could meet EL James and contain my emotions long enough not to scream in her face, one of the many things I’d do is ask her to visit women who survived situations like Ella’s.  Listen to their stories.  Find out what their reality was like.  And then, if she still wants to victim-blame them, she can just tattoo the word “trash” on her forehead, so the world sees her for what she is.

I am not saying – for a second – that children who endured abuse and whose parents were addicted to drugs and failed to stop said abuse, don’t have every right to feel bitter or angry.  But we’re meant to believe that Grey is working on his issues with a supposedly competent therapist, yet we see zero evidence of that.  If he was working on them properly, he’d have some level of sympathy for what his mother suffered, even if it was mixed in with anger or bitterness.  But he has none.  He even goes on to refer to Ella as “weak” and blames her for “abandoning” him, through her death.

He tells Ana that the pimp’s reaction was always to use violence against him and Ana asks if that’s why Grey now hates to be touched.  He replies that it’s “complicated,” before going on:

“She didn’t love me.” She can’t have loved me. She didn’t protect me. And she left me. Alone.

“I didn’t love me. The only touch I knew was…harsh. It stemmed from there.”

I never had a mother’s loving touch, Ana.

Never.

Grace respected my boundaries.

I still don’t know why.

Maybe because she knew you were massive fucked up and she was trying to do her best by you?  But we can’t have you realise that about someone who took care of you, because then you couldn’t do your “woe is me” routine, could you?!

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Grey – hilariously – suggests that Dr Flynn can explain his trauma and his reaction to it better than he can (hilarious only because Flynn is a total quack, thanks to ELJ’s utter lack of research) and agrees to make Ana an appointment to discuss things with him.  Grey repeats his marriage proposal, telling Ana they can get to know each other after they’re married, which is one HELL of a red flag.  He also says they can have kids if she wants, which makes his later outburst at finding out she’s pregnant deeply ironic.

They fall asleep and when Grey wakes again, he discovers Ana is not in bed and, naturally, has a ten second freak out that’s she’s left him.  He then finds Ana frantically getting ready for work, having overslept.  He watches her getting dressed and suggests she calls in sick.  Ana tells him she can’t, because she’s not a “megalomaniac CEO with a beautiful smile.”

I just retched.

Of course, Grey focuses solely on the compliment, going on and on about it:

I laugh. She’s still here and I don’t think she hates me. “Beautiful smile, huh?”

“Yes. You know the effect you have on me.” She wraps her watch strap around her wrist and stops to fasten it.

“Do I?”

“Yes, you do. The same effect you have on all women. Gets really tiresome, watching them all swoon.”

 

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Ugh, I feel dirty every time I agree with a character in these horrific books, but YES, Ana.  It is tiresome.  In fact, I’d call it downright irritating and entirely unbelievable.

He tries to make her stay off work, but she insists on going and he “releases” her.  I just retched again.

Because Grey is unhealthily obsessed, rather than actually in love with Ana, the second she leaves for work, he emails her, wanting to tell her he misses her, but settling for reminding her to use her Blackberry rather than her work email system.  He then emails again, when she doesn’t instantly reply, telling her the bed feels too big without her, so he may as well go to work.

Whilst Grey is eating breakfast, Ana emails – using her work email address, which is almost certainly going to become an excuse for Grey to go mad at her – to say her boss is mad at her for being late, but she blames Grey for keeping her up with his shenanigans.  She jokes that he should be ashamed of himself, which gives Grey cause to inwardly mope about how he feels all the shame.

He replies:

You don’t have to work, Anastasia.

You have no idea how appalled I am at my shenanigans.

But I like keeping you up late 😉

Please use your BlackBerry.

Oh, and marry me, please.

She wants to work, so stop trying to force her to quit, you asshole.

You are not remotely ashamed of your shenanigans, so stop lying, you asshole.

She asked for time to think about your proposal, so stop rushing her, you asshole.

 

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Can anyone tell how fed up I am with this book?

Ana continues to use her work email to respond and she talks a lot of sense, which no doubt won’t go down well with Grey:

I know your natural inclination is toward nagging, but just stop.

I need to talk to your shrink.

Only then will I give you my answer.

I am not opposed to living in sin.

Good for you, Ana.

As expected, Grey gets shitty in response:

Anastasia, if you are going to start discussing Dr. Flynn, then USE YOUR BLACKBERRY.

This is not a request.

Christian Grey Now Pissed CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings, Inc

I’m only adding the irritating tagline because of the “now pissed” bit.  We all know EL James used taglines and subject titles etc in these incredibly boring emails just to pad out her word count, in the absence of any ability to write a fucking story.

He then sends her another email before she has chance to respond, which he tells the reader is sent in a “softer tone,” but which contains “shouty capitals” in which he yet again demands she use her Blackberry.  Ooh, much soft, very gentle, wow.

He lets Ana know that Flynn has arranged an appointment to see them both the following evening.  If I was Ana, I think I’d want to see Flynn without Grey there, so he couldn’t manipulate the situation, but hey ho.  I’d say that might be unethical, but that’s never stopped Dr Flynn, before…

Grey wanders to his playroom and we get yet more melodrama about how thinking of Ana crying and calling him fucked up wounds him right down to his bones.  Then he reminds himself that at least last time he made her cry (last night), she let him comfort her, which is progress.

Guys, if this is the bar at which you set your relationship at, it is too damn low.

 

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There’s some boring crap about how excited everyone at Grey’s company is, because the mayor is visiting or something – I skim-read it, whilst praying for death.  He speaks to Dr Flynn on the phone and tells him to answer any questions Ana may have.  He also admits to having proposed and Flynn is unsurprised, referring to Grey as “impulsive and in love.”  He tells Grey that marriage is hard work, but then casually agrees when Grey says he’s never shied away from hard work and doesn’t offer anything else.  What an excellent therapist he is.

We hear that Leila had a good night and Flynn believes he can help her, so… Sorry, Leila.

Elena texts and asks if Grey wants to have dinner, but he hasn’t got time for her, right now.

If this seems disjointed, it’s because it is.  It’s literally dull, unconnected scene after dull, unconnected scene.  Whoever told EL James she had any writing talent has clearly never read any other book ever.

At midday, Grey realises Ana still hasn’t replied to his shouty email, so he messages her again:

I haven’t heard from you.

Please tell me you are okay.

You know how I worry.

I will send Taylor to check!

That part is red, because Ana is at work.  She’s doing her job and God knows, Grey has been the one to tell her to stop emailing all the time, in the past.  She doesn’t need to be checked up on.  And if something bad turns out to have happened (I can’t remember when Jack’s assault of Ana takes place – it may well be this chapter), this controlling level of behaviour will yet again be “vindicated” and that just makes my blood boil, because what about all the times Grey has threatened to have people check up on Ana, or followed her without permission, when she’s been absolutely fine?

The mayor arrives for his visit and Sam, Grey’s PR guy is annoying Grey, probably because he’s a man that isn’t him.  Grey gets a call on his mobile from Ana, so Andrea – who’s watching Grey’s desk whilst he’s showing the mayor around – rushes to hand it to him, saying she wasn’t “brave enough” to answer it herself, because the phone was downloading his contacts.  I genuinely don’t know if this will become a relevant plot detail, but I’m including it just in case.  It seems a really bloody dull detail to include if it’s not important, somehow.

Grey takes the call and Ana asks why he’s so worried about her, just because she didn’t reply to an email.  She says Jack’s been “cracking the whip” and yes, that does lead to hilarious BDSM references, and Andrea panics, because the mayor is on his way up to Grey’s office and he’s still on the phone.

Professional businessman that he is, Grey does the whole “no, you hang up” stupidity with Ana, so that the call only just ends as the mayor arrives.

 

 

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We skip to later in the afternoon, after the mayor’s visit was a huge success.  Grey gets a call from Mia, telling him the family are holding a birthday party for him on Saturday and whatever plans he has, he has to cancel them.  She says she wants to personally invite Ana and asks for her number.  Grey pointedly remains silent, so Mia yells at him and he promises to text it to her, which he does after he gets off the phone.

Minutes later, Grey gets an email from Ana, asking when he was going to tell her it’s his birthday soon (see how little they know each other?!) and joking that he’s an old man and she’ll buy him batteries for his hearing aid as a gift.

He’s turning 28.

That’s seven years younger than me.

BRB, jumping out of the window.

 

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Grey responds, saying he doesn’t like celebrating his birthday (among other unimportant crap).  Ana replies saying she’s imagining him pouting and the image “does things” to her.  Grey notices she’s still using her work email and replies angrily, changing his email signature to reference his “twitchy palm.”

Because if this book has taught us anything by now, it’s that threatening to hit someone because they don’t do exactly as you tell them to, is really sexy.

Naturally, Ana decides it is really sexy and emails him back – from her personal account –  and tells him she now knows what to give him for his birthday, and she hopes it’ll leave her sore.

This… Isn’t believable.  When Grey first hit Ana, she said she was ashamed and confused by her arousal.  But since then, she spent the whole of the last book worrying she wasn’t enough for him, because she didn’t like being hit and made sore.  She left him, because he hit her and it really hurt.  Throughout this book, she’s veered wildly between still fretting that she’s not enough for him because she doesn’t like the idea of being hit really hard, and suddenly being all “BEAT ME, I WANT PAIN!”  It just doesn’t make sense.  Because we’re not in Ana’s head anymore and we can’t hear her rationalisation for her thoughts, it just comes across as her wanting one thing one minute and another the next.

Grey replies, telling her that his heart can’t stand the strain of another email like that and – retch – nor can his pants.  Oh and for the record?  He’s using his work email.  Like he always does.  Because it’s one rule for him and another for Ana.

 

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Ana replies telling him to stop bothering her at work, because his last email almost made her combust.  I wish it had.  I’d happily read about either of these hateful characters bursting into flames.  She asks Grey to pick her up from work at 6:30 and he agrees.

We cut to Taylor pulling up outside Ana’s workplace, with Grey inwardly wondering, for the nine thousandth time this chapter, whether Ana will marry him, or whether she’ll run now she knows what a monster he is.

Then Ana stumbles out of the building and, rather than heading to the car, collapses in the street.  I guess it is this chapter that Jack attacks her…

Grey and Taylor both rush to her:

I sink down beside her. “Ana, Ana! What’s wrong?”

I pull her into my lap to check what’s wrong, holding her head between my hands. She closes her eyes and sags against me as if in relief. “Ana.” I grasp her arms and shake her. “What’s wrong? Are you sick?”

“Jack,” she whispers.

“Fuck.” Adrenaline sweeps through my body, leaving a murderous fury in its wake. I glance up at Taylor. He nods and disappears into the building. “What did that sleazeball do to you?”

Ana giggles. “It’s what I did to him.” And she doesn’t stop laughing. She’s hysterical. I’m going to kill him.

“Ana!” I give her a shake. “Did he touch you?”

“Only once,” she whispers, and her giggling stops.

Rage fuels my muscles as I stand holding her in my arms. “Where is that fucker?”

From inside the building we can hear muffled shouts. I set Ana on her feet. “Can you stand?” She nods.

“Don’t go in. Don’t, Christian.”

“Get in the car.”

Is anyone else really wishing they could have read what was going on with Taylor, after he ran into the building, instead of this drama outside it?!  Because I’d bet it’s a damn sight more interesting…

As Grey continues to boil with rage, Ana makes a confession:

I’m going to kill him.

“No! Please!” she begs. “Stay. Don’t leave me on my own.”

I drag my hand through my hair, trying and failing to hang on to my temper while the muffled shouting inside SIP intensifies. Abruptly it stops. I pull out my phone.

“Christian, he has my e-mails,” Ana says in a whisper.

“What?”

“My e-mails to you. He wanted to know where your e-mails to me were. He was trying to blackmail me.”

I think I’m going to have a coronary. That motherfucking asshole.

 

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Any excuse for that GIF.

Grey calls Barney and tells him to wipe all of Ana’s emails to Grey from the SIP servers, then check that Hyde doesn’t have copies in his personal date files.  He then phones Jerry Roach and orders him to have Jack Hyde removed with immediate effect, or he’ll liquidate the company.

And then…  Then Grey starts victim-blaming Ana:

I hang up, feeling somewhat mollified, and turn to Ana. “BlackBerry!”

“Please don’t be mad at me.”

“I am so mad at you right now,” I snap. “Get in the car.”

“Christian, please—”

“Get in the fucking car, Anastasia, or so help me I’ll put you in there myself.”

“Don’t do anything stupid, please,” she says.

“Stupid!” I see red. “I told you to use your fucking BlackBerry. Don’t talk to me about stupid. Get in the motherfucking car, Anastasia—now!”

“Okay.” She holds up her hands. “But, please, be careful.”

Stop shouting at her, Grey.

Yes, he did tell Ana to use her phone, rather than her work computer for emailing.  But she’s been attacked – he knows this, because Ana told him Jack touched her – and now is not the time to take his anger out on her.  By all means, when things are calmer later on, say to her: “next time I ask you to use your personal account instead of your work email, please listen to me!”  But right now?  She’s upset.  Support her.

And of course, the only thing that stops Grey being an aggressive arsehole towards the woman he supposedly loves, who has just been attacked?  Is her begging him not to get hurt when he runs into the building, because it would make her SO VERY SAD.

“Please be careful,” she whispers, again. “I don’t want anything to happen to you. It would kill me.”

And there it is. She cares. Her affection for me is plain in her words and in her kind, concerned expression.

Calm down, Grey. 

God knows what he would have done if she hadn’t said that.

 

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Grey storms into the building, where he finds Hyde on the phone to Roach, calling Ana a prick tease.  Hyde already has bruises forming on his face from where Taylor has hit him.  So, basically, Grey’s attempting to act like the tough guy after the actual tough guy has already done it for him.  Oooh, swoon.

This is what happens when Grey gets face to face with Hyde:

“Well, look what the fucking cat dragged in,” Hyde says and sneers. “The boy fucking wonder.” 

“Pack your things. Get out. And she may not press charges.”

“Fuck you, Grey. I’ll be pressing charges against that little bitch, for kicking me in the balls in a completely unprovoked attack—and I’ll be sending your goon here down for assault, too. Hi, handsome,” he calls to Taylor, and blows him a kiss. Taylor remains stoic.

“I won’t tell you again,” I state, glaring at the cocksucker.

Homophobic insults?  Wow, ELJ really does have a problem, doesn’t she?  First the whole “I’VE WANTED TO BEAT YOU EVER SINCE YOU ASKED IF I WAS GAY” thing and now Grey’s internal monologue chucking gay slurs at Hyde?  Ew.

“Like I said, fuck you. You can’t come in here throwing your fucking weight around.”

“I own this company. You are surplus to requirements. Get out while you can still walk.” My tone is low.

The color drains from Hyde’s face.

Yeah. Mine. Fuck you, Hyde.

“I knew it. I knew something shady was going on. That little bitch your spy?”

“If you mention Anastasia once more, if you even think about her, if you even think about thinking about her, I will end you.”

That sentence is so hilarious, I had to take a laughter break…

His eyes narrow. “You like it when she kicks you in the balls?”

I hit him square on the nose and he topples backward and smacks his head on the shelves behind him before he slumps onto the floor.

“You mentioned her. Get up. Clear your desk. And get out. You’re fired.”

If this was anyone but Grey, who’s every bit as abusive as Hyde, albeit in different ways, I’d cheer.  But I can’t cheer anything this cretin does, so…  Meh.  I guess it’s nice he punched Hyde and not Ana.  That’s the best I can say for this arse-wipe.  He can’t look himself in the mirror and refer to himself as being any better than Hyde, because he isn’t.

 

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Hyde spits that his security guard saw Grey hit him and the security guard replies “I saw you fall,” making it obvious that he’s not backing him up one little bit.  Hyde once again says he’ll press charges against Ana for attacking him, but Grey references Hyde’s hushed-up harassment cases and Hyde eventually realises he’s been beaten.

We get a lot of macho bullshit from Grey’s inner thoughts, about how he wants to kill Hyde and that Hyde’s messed up face from the beating he’s taken pleases Grey.

Grey and Taylor return to the car outside, where Ana is waiting in the front passenger seat.  Grey’s internal monologue tells us:

Because Ana is already in the front seat, Taylor gives me the key and I slide into the driver’s seat. Taylor gets into the back.

I don’t know why it’s a given that Grey must drive, because Ana is in the front.  I wouldn’t be remotely shocked to find out that Grey doesn’t allow Taylor to sit next to her, because they’ve been too friendly towards one another in the past.

We get this, which also makes me uncomfortable:

Ana is quiet as I pull out into the traffic.

I don’t know what to say to her.

“I’m sorry for what happened to you and I’m sorry for making it worse by shouting at you.  I’m here to support you and I promise you Jack Hyde won’t hurt you, again.”

That was pretty easy, to be honest.

Grey gets a call from Barney, who wants to let him know what else was found on Jack’s personal hard drives, but Grey tells him to call later, because he’s on speakerphone and there are other people in the car.  That makes very, very little sense.  Ana is supposedly Grey’s partner and also the victim of Jack’s sexual assault.  That means it’s her business to know what was found in Jack’s files.  And Taylor is in this up to his neck already, having beaten Jack up on Grey’s behalf.  So, why can’t Grey just let Barney speak, so everyone’s in the loop?

Oh, wait.  I know.  Pointless drama.

 

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And now, we’re back to the victim-blaming!

“Are you talking to me?” Ana asks.

I glance at her. “No,” I mutter. I’m still too mad.

I told her he was trouble. And I told her to use her phone for e-mail. I was right about everything. I feel vindicated.

Grey, grow up, you’re behaving like a child.

Flynn’s words circle my brain. I’ve long held the belief that you never really had an adolescence—emotionally speaking. I think you’re experiencing it now.

I glance across at her in the hope I can say something amusing, but she’s staring out of the window. I’ll wait until we get home.

And then you’ll say something amusing?  I’ll look forward to that; there’s always a first time for everything.

Seriously though, this idiot supposedly knows he’s behaving badly towards her, but he doesn’t make any effort to stop.  I’m still waiting for this big change that fans insist he goes through.   Over halfway through the second book from his perspective and it shows no sign of happening.

As they arrive home, they start discussing events whilst waiting for the elevator:

Ana whispers, “Christian, why are you so mad at me?”

“You know why.” As we enter the elevator, I punch the code into the keypad. “God, if something had happened to you, he’d be dead by now. As it is, I’m going to ruin his career so he can’t take advantage of young women anymore, miserable excuse for a man that he is.”

If anything had happened to her…Leila yesterday. Hyde today. Hell.

It’s not her fault she was attacked.  His anger is totally misdirected.  Sure, she used her work email after he told her not to, but she didn’t say “hey, Jack?  Please molest me!”

Of course, rather than actually discuss what happened – and Grey’s reaction to it – Ana bites her lip and they end up kissing and clawing at each other, like the sex robots they are.

Grey asks Ana if she really did kick Hyde in the balls, like he accused her of doing.  Ana says yes and that Ray is ex Army and taught her to defend herself.  Grey makes a super creepy comment about having to remember that (which wouldn’t be so creepy, coming from a non-abusive partner).

When they get into the apartment, Grey calls Barney to ask what else Jack Hyde had on his computer and Barney admits that Jack had a file entitled “Greys,” which featured photos of all the Grey family, as well as articles about Charlie Tango, pictures of Grey with Ana and articles about Grey’s company.  Grey orders Barney to send across everything he found and tells him to keep quiet about it.

Just imagine if Ana found out someone had a secret file on her (someone aside from Grey,!) and decided not to tell Grey about it.  This guy has ludicrous double standards.

 

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Grey resolves to call Welch in the morning and have him investigate further.  Because calling the police is apparently something Grey is allergic to.

As he and Ana wait for Gail to serve them dinner, Ana worries about what today’s events have done for her career:

“What’s wrong?”

“I don’t know if I still have a job.”

“Do you still want one?”

“Of course.”

“Then you still have one.”

She rolls her eyes, and I smile and take another sip of my wine.

Because of course, when he said he wouldn’t interfere with her career anymore, he was, as always, lying.  Sure, in this case, it’s good that he can make sure she’s still employed at SIP, but we all know the extent to which he interferes and so I feel grossed out by this exchange.  Also, why does he insist on constantly trying to get her to give up work and be his little permanent sex slave??!!  She’s told him over and over that she wants to work.  He just doesn’t listen to her about anything.

Tell me again, how this relationship is supposed to be one we all aspire to.

Ana asks if Grey has spoken to Barney about what Jack had on his computer.  Grey lies that it was nothing important.  Again, please consider how Grey would react if the tables were turned and someone had a file of articles and photos about Ana and her family, that she chose not to warn Grey about.

Grey’s internal monologue insists that he’s trying not to worry Ana about the files, but that’s a lousy excuse and we all know it.

Still, Ana’s about to give Grey something else to be mad about: José will be delivering the photos of Ana that Grey bought at his show, on Friday, and he wants to go out for a drink with Ana, too:

“He wants to go out. For a drink. With me.”

“I see.”

“And Kate and Elliot should be back.”

I put my fork down on my plate. “What exactly are you asking?”

“I’m not asking anything. I’m informing you of my plans for Friday. Look, I want to see José, and he wants to stay over. Either he stays here or he can stay at my place, but if he does, I should be there, too.”

“He made a pass at you.”

“Christian, that was weeks ago. He was drunk, I was drunk, you saved the day—it won’t happen again. He’s no Jack, for heaven’s sake.”

Maybe not, but your boyfriend is.

“Ethan’s there. He can keep him company.”

“He wants to see me, not Ethan,” Ana says. I scowl at her.

“He’s just a friend,” she continues.

She’s already endured Hyde—what if Rodriguez gets drunk and tries his luck again with Ana? “I don’t like it.”

Ana takes a deep breath; she’s trying to keep her cool. “He’s my friend, Christian. I haven’t seen him since his show. And that was too brief. I know you don’t have any friends, apart from that god-awful woman, but I don’t moan about you seeing her.”

 

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You… You kind of do, Ana.

The conversation continues, culminating in yet more evidence that Grey has asked Ana to move in with him, without thinking about what that actually means:

“Elena. You’d rather I didn’t see her?”

“Exactly. I’d rather you didn’t see her.”

“Why didn’t you say?”

“Because it’s not my place to say. You think she’s your only friend.” She’s exasperated. “Just as it’s not your place to say if I can or can’t see José. Don’t you see that?”

She has a point. If he stays here, then he can’t make a pass at her. Can he? “He can stay here, I suppose. I can keep an eye on him.”

“Thank you! You know, if I am going to live here, too…” Her voice trails off.

Yes. She’ll need to invite her friends here. Jesus. I hadn’t thought about that.

Of course you hadn’t.  You’d just thought about the benefits for you.

Grey finally asks her if she’s okay, before he goes off to work in his office for a while.  He thinks about his marriage proposal and, shockingly, decides not to push her for an answer again, just yet.  Is that the change?!  I’m looking so hard for a drastic change that magically makes him a better person…

After he’s done working, Grey goes to look for Ana and is surprised that he can’t find her in the bedroom, bathroom or library.  He finds her in his playroom, looking with distaste at his collection of canes.  He watches her open a drawer and take out a butt plug.

He asks what she’s doing and she admits that she was bored and curious.  They have a serious red-flag conversation, the warning signs of which Grey utterly ignores as usual:

“You’re not mad?”

“Why would I be mad?”

“I feel like I’m trespassing. And you’re always mad at me.”

Am I? “Yes, you’re trespassing, but I’m not mad. I hope that one day you’ll live with me here, and all this”—I wave my hand around the room—“will be yours, too. That’s why I was in here today. Trying to decide what to do.”

I watch her expression, thinking about what she’s just said. I’m mostly angry at myself, not her. “Am I angry with you all the time? I wasn’t this morning.”

She smiles. “You were playful. I like playful Christian.”

“Do you, now?” I ask, raising an eyebrow and returning her smile. I love her compliments.

Instead of focusing on the slight compliment, why doesn’t he say out loud that he’s mostly angry with himself and not her?  For your partner to insinuate that they feel you’re constantly mad at them, is a pretty warning of problems in your relationship.  It’s not a healthy way to be.  But as always, Grey follows the path that’ll get his ego stroked.

 

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Grey talks Ana through some of the items in the playroom.  She’s not interested in butt plugs or, for some reason, vibrators, but starts getting turned on at the thought of nipple clamps.  He shows her a ball-gag and Ana reminds him that anything that might make her feel like she couldn’t breathe is a soft limit.  Grey goes off on a rant about how arousing it would be if she gave him ultimate control over her body, wearing a ball-gag so she couldn’t talk and he had to rely on her body to tell him what she wanted.  Ana says it sounds as though he misses being a Dominant and he tells her it’s what he knows best.  Ana insists that he still does have power over her and he tells her she makes him feel completely powerless.

He tells her she’s the only one with the power to hurt him and she says that works both ways.

I’m so fucking bored.

Ana hints that they could play, but Grey is annoyed at the thought, because she was attacked, earlier and doesn’t think she’s taking it seriously enough.  Ana carries on looking through Grey’s collection of toys and finds a spreader bar that she wants him to demonstrate on her.  He tells her he can’t do it in the playroom, and insists they go back to the bedroom, instead.

Ugh, why must I sit through another torturously same-y sex scene?!

 

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Ana asks why they can’t just have sex in the playroom and Grey makes a speech that, considering this book is supposed to be pro BDSM, really sounds anti as hell:

“Ana, you may be ready to go back in there, but I’m not. Last time we were in there, you left me. I keep telling you—when will you understand? My whole attitude has changed as a result. My whole outlook on life has radically shifted. I’ve told you this. What I haven’t told you is—” I pause, searching for the right words. “I’m like a recovering alcoholic, okay? That’s the only comparison I can draw. The compulsion has gone, but I don’t want to put temptation in my way. I don’t want to hurt you.”

And I can’t trust you to tell me what you will and won’t do.

She frowns. “I can’t bear to hurt you because I love you,” I add.

You can only do BDSM with someone you don’t love, you guys.  Who knew?!

Ana wants to fuck on the stairs, but Grey says no, so they head to the bedroom.  She goes down on him, letting him come in her mouth.  For reasons only Grey and EL James understands, this makes him tell her he’s going to “take revenge.”  Which means he’s going to go down on her.  Why not just say that, instead of making everything sound creepy?!

And guess what he tells her whilst he’s going down on her?  Why, that she’s his possession, of course!

“Say my name.”

“Christian,” she exclaims.

“Again.”

“Christian, Christian, Christian Grey,” she shouts.

She’s close. “You are mine,” I whisper, and suck and flick her with my tongue.

Just so you know, she might be close, but I’m absolutely the opposite.  You make me want to superglue my vagina shut.

 

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But he’s not done being possessive and gross, yet:

I run my fingers down her spine and pause over her ass. “When you’re ready, I want this, too.” I brush my thumb over her anus, and she tenses and gasps. “Not today, sweet Ana,” I reassure her, “but one day. I want you every way. I want to possess every inch of you. You’re mine.”

I’m only not red-inking that, because in a healthy relationship, this might be sexy for some.  But in this relationship, which is deeply unhealthy, it’s creepy and vile.

After the twelve seconds of shagging he gives her, they lie together and he thinks some flowery shit about her having brought light and love into his life.  He inwardly wishes she would accept his proposal and then they have a vomit-inducing pillow talk session:

She gives me a drowsy smile and closes her eyes.

“I never want to let you go.”

“I never want to go,” she rambles. “Never let me go.”

“I need you,” I whisper, and her lips lift in a tender smile as her breathing evens out.

She’s asleep.

So am I, practically.

But thankfully, this is where this chapter ends.

As a heads up, if England win their World Cup semi final game on Wednesday, there won’t be a recap next Sunday, as I’ll be too busy glued to the TV.  So, no offence, but I really, really hope there’s no recap, next week…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Darker Chapter 6 (Tuesday, June 14, 2011)

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I’ll be honest, I didn’t think you’d be getting a recap, this weekend.  I spent all of Friday night with my head down the toilet (working with kids is like working in a Petri dish) and all of yesterday in bed, so I figured it was highly unlikely I’d get around to any recapping.  But, through the power of rest and Lucozade (pro-tip: drink fizzy drinks when you’ve stopped being sick!  Everyone says to drink flat coke or lemonade, but you want it fizzy, because the fizziness causes you to burp and get rid of any nasty gases causing pain or nausea), here I am!

And now, I have to dive back into something that will make me feel sick all over again: Darker!

When we left things at the end of chapter 5, Grey had carried Ana to bed and was going off to have a shower, to scrub the day off himself.  It had been a tough day for him, apparently, what with all the treating employees like shit, claiming ownership of his girlfriend’s body and having her watched at work, despite promising not to.  Poor thing.

Chapter 6 starts with…

…CAN YOU GUESS?!

GREY WAKING UP!!

 

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Maybe one day, EL James will learn how to start and end chapters without having her characters waking up or falling asleep, but today is not that day.

Grey is, naturally, waking in a sweaty panic, because that’s just his general waking mood.

It’s 1:45am and Ana is fast asleep next to him.  Grey can’t shake the feeling that something’s wrong and wonders if it’s Leila.  He gets up, grabs some clothes and heads to see his security dude, Ryan (that should definitely be Ryan’s job title, by the way), who assures him that nobody has seen Leila on the CCTV monitors and that Reynolds (the other security dude) has just finished a sweep of the apartment.

Grey heads to get a drink and ponders the current situation:

Where are you, Leila?

I see her in my mind’s eye, head bowed. Willing. Waiting. Wanting. Kneeling in my playroom, asleep in her room, kneeling by my side as I work in my study. And now for all I know she’s wandering the streets of Seattle, cold and lonely and acting crazy.

Just going to make the point that Grey’s only real thoughts of Leila are of her as a sex object or slave.  He doesn’t picture her as someone he talked to, or actually cared for.  Whether this is purposeful, because ELJ is obsessed with having Ana be the only woman Grey could possibly contemplate treating as a human being, or whether she wants to portray Leila as some kind of “perfect sub” to highlight the differences between Leila and Ana, I don’t know.  But it makes me a bit grossed out.  I’m fairly sure if an ex of mine had gone off the rails, made a suicide attempt in my home, destroyed my new partner’s car and gotten hold of a gun and was therefore a potential risk to me or anyone I loved, my thoughts of them wouldn’t be almost exclusively sexual.

Maybe I’m uneasy because Ana’s agreed to move in.

I can protect her. But she doesn’t want that. I shake my head. Anastasia is challenging. She’s very challenging.

Welcome to falling in love. Flynn’s words haunt me. So this is what it’s like. Confusing, exhilarating, exhausting.

Ana is about as challenging as a 4-piece jigsaw puzzle, made for toddlers.

 

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Grey walks over to the piano, thinking he doesn’t want to wake Ana.  He starts to play and… Wakes Ana.  I’m stunned.

He immediately stops playing, because she looks too good, he simply has to touch her.  They have a conversation that makes me want to throw my laptop across the room:

“Why do we fight?” I ask, as my teeth tease her earlobe.

“Because we’re getting to know each other, and you’re stubborn and cantankerous and moody and difficult.” She tilts her head to give me better access to her neck.

I smile against her skin as I run my nose down her throat.

Challenging.

“I’m all those things, Miss Steele. It’s a wonder you put up with me.” I graze her earlobe with my teeth.

I’ve put his internal thought of “challenging” in red, because he’s still blaming her for being difficult, despite actually admitting that he’s the moody, stubborn one.  All she’s doing is openly admitting to his behaviour and in doing so, sure, you could argue she’s challenging that behaviour, but she should be, because she shouldn’t have to tolerate it.  And note that nowhere in his internal thoughts does he ponder whether he ought to fix those negative personality traits, or work on his behaviour.  He just admits to being all the things she says he is and makes some joke about her putting up with him.  To all the fans who tell us how much he changes?  This is evidence that he doesn’t.  A person trying to change would have responded: “Yes, I know I can be all of those things, but I’m working on it, I promise.”  Grey does no such thing, because he doesn’t really see those traits as negative qualities.  He expects to be able to stay stubborn, cantankerous, moody and difficult and to just keep blaming Ana for being so damn challenging.

That’s the mindset of a psychological abuser.

 

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Then there’s a really badly written part, where Grey only explains his meaning in his head, causing Ana to quite possibly respond to something totally different:

“Is it always like this?” I whisper against her skin. I cannot get enough of her?

“I have no idea,” she says, her voice little more than a sigh.

This comes almost immediately after the last section I copied and pasted, so to me, because Grey doesn’t openly say “is it always like this?  I can’t get enough of you?” and instead just stops at “is it always like this?” it sounds as though he means “is it always like this?  Fighting and then making up all the time?”  Which… Well, sums up their relationship, to be honest.

Grey lies Ana against the piano and starts going down on her.  And as always, for him, sex has to equal ownership:

She’s mine. Exposed. At my mercy. And I love it.

Ew, change the record, prick.

Speaking of him being a prick, as Ana gets closer to orgasming, he decides to practise orgasm denial on her, as punishment for her arguing with him, earlier.

“No,” she whimpers. She doesn’t want me to stop.

“This is my revenge, Ana. Argue with me and I am going to take it out on your body somehow.”

 

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They are supposedly in a “vanilla” relationship and he’s threatening that he’ll take it out on her body, if she argues with him?!  Even in a BDSM relationship, any kind of “punishment” should happen with full consent.  This is fucking gross.

He fucks her, it’s badly written as usual, he lasts approximately nine seconds and again talks about “claiming” her:

“I want you so badly,” I whisper, and slowly claim her.

Just… So much ew.

A little later, Ana asks him if he drinks tea or coffee in the evenings, explaining that she wanted to bring a drink to his study for him, but wasn’t sure what he’d like.  Apparently going and asking him at the time didn’t occur to her.  Grey’s answer “water or wine,” proves to Ana that they still don’t really know one another very well and this gives Grey a chance to internally mope and to continue to refuse to be honest with her:

“We really know very little about each other,” she whispers.

“I know.” She doesn’t know me. And when she does…

She leans up, frowning. “What is it?”

I wish I could tell you. But if I do, you’ll leave.

I cup her beautiful, sweet face. “I love you, Ana Steele.”

“I love you, too, Christian Grey. Nothing you tell me will drive me away.”

We’ll see, Ana. We’ll see.

THEN FUCKING SEE, YOU DICKHEAD.  TELL HER.  IF SHE’S MOVING IN WITH YOU AND YOU HONESTLY THINK YOU’RE SUCH A MONSTER THAT SHE’LL LEAVE YOU IF SHE EVER FINDS OUT THE FULL TRUTH ABOUT YOU (WHICH YOU ARE, BY THE WAY), GIVE HER THE OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE AN INFORMED CHOICE BEFORE SHE GIVES UP HER HOME AND MOVES INTO YOURS.

Why am I reading this?!

 

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We get a really clumsy attempt at a metaphor, in the form of yet another boring Grey dream.  He’s in his grandfather’s apple orchard.  There are red and green apple trees.  The green apples are bitter, but the red ones are sweet.  There’s some shit about how “we fooled the tree, it thought it was going to make bitter apples, but they’re sweet.”  The section ends with:

We fooled the tree.

It’s not nasty. It’s sweet.

Not nasty. Sweet.

Are we supposed to believe this is Christian Grey’s subconscious referring to himself as “not nasty, sweet?”  Because if so, HAHAHAHAHAHA NO.  And if it’s a reference to relationships and his thought that commitment would be a bad thing, but it’s turned out great, it’s confused as all heck and just feels pointless.

When they’re both awake, Ana asks him if he had any more nightmares and he tells her no.  She asks what his nightmares are about and it’s time for some more dead-mother-bashing…

Her question catches me off-guard, and suddenly I’m thinking of my four-year-old self—helpless, lost, lonely, hurting, and filled with rage. “They’re flashbacks of my early childhood, or so Dr. Flynn says. Some vivid, some less so.”

I was a neglected, abused child.

My mother didn’t love me.

She didn’t protect me.

She killed herself and abandoned me.

The crack whore dead on the floor.

The burn.

Not the burn.

No. Don’t go there, Grey.

I tell you where else you can stop going: the whole “my mother didn’t love me” self-pity trip.  If Flynn was any kind of therapist, he’d have made Grey see that that simply isn’t true.  We see enough flashbacks of Ella trying to do nice things for her son to know that she obviously did love him, but was being abused by her pimp and was addicted to drugs.  I’m so sick of her being painted as some kind of monster.

Ana continues:

“Do you wake up crying and screaming?”

Ana’s question brings me back, and I’m running my finger along her collarbone, keeping contact with her. My dreamcatcher.

“No, Anastasia. I’ve never cried. As far as I can remember.”

Even that evil fucking bastard couldn’t make me cry.

Because crying is weak, apparently? If this is true – if he has never cried – this is definitely something Flynn should be working on, in their therapy sessions.  That’s a whole lot of repression, right there.  Still, ELJ obviously thinks not crying makes him somehow super strong, or something.  Thanks for encouraging toxic masculinity in your shitty books, ELJ!

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Ana asks if he has any happy childhood memories and Grey replies:

“I recall the crack whore baking. I remember the smell. A birthday cake, I think. For me.”

Mommy is in the kitchen.

It smells of nice.

Nice and warm and chocolate.

She sings.

Mommy’s Happy song.

She smiles. “This is for you, Maggot.”

For me!

Sure, “Maggot” isn’t the nicest of nicknames, but again, this is a woman who’s being abused and dealing with addiction, yet she’s still making the effort to bake a cake for Grey’s birthday.  Don’t give me that “she never loved him” bullshit.

Grey lists other happy memories, all taking place after he was adopted.  Then he confesses that his adopted mother, Grace, saved him by taking him on and thinks to himself that he’d be dead if he hadn’t gone to live with the Greys.  All of which makes the shitty way he treats them all the more grim.

He tells Ana that their conversation is rather deep for 6:15am and she replies that she’s made a vow to try to get to know him better, which seems sensible, given that she’s moving in with the guy.  He “nudge(s) her with (his) erection” and suggests a different way she can get to know him, because this guy isn’t actually interested in a relationship, he just wants a sex toy.  They have sex, because of course they do, but mercifully, it happens off screen.

 

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We cut to them eating breakfast and Ana asks when Grey is going to set up some training for her with Claude Bastille.  Grey says he’ll get Andrea to call Bastille to sort it out.  Their resulting conversation is creepy on so many levels:

“Andrea?”

“My PA.”

She’s back today. What a relief.

“One of your many blondes?”

“She’s not mine. She works for me. You’re mine.”

“I work for you.”

Oh yes! “So you do.”

“Maybe Claude can teach me to kickbox,” Ana says, but she’s grinning like a fool, too.

Clearly she wants to improve her odds against me. Now, this could be interesting. “Bring it on, Miss Steele.”

This chapter is barely a third of the way in and we’ve had at least three, if not four references to him owning Ana, so far.  That shit really needs to die.  And as for Ana wanting to improve her odds against him?!  That sounds threatening as hell.

Grey also internally thinks about how having sex first thing in the morning is really good for his mood.  Because that’s all that matters.  Him.

As they’re eating, Ana decides to ask Grey something and it dissolves into just a whole heap of red flags

“Can I ask you something?” Ana interrupts my thoughts.

“Of course.”

“And you won’t be angry?”

Red flag number 1: having to ask your partner not to be angry with you for asking an innocent question.

“Is it about Elena?”

“No.”

Then I won’t be angry.”

Red flag number 2: deciding that a subject you know your partner is concerned about and wants to discuss, is now determinedly off-limits and threatening anger if they bring it up.

“But I now have a supplementary question.” “

Oh?”

“Which is about her.”

My sense of humor evaporates. “What?”

Red flag number 3: Actually becoming angry when the subject is mentioned, again, despite knowing how important it is to your partner to understand it.

“Why do you get so mad when I ask you about her?”

“Honestly?” I ask.

“I thought you were always honest with me.”

“I endeavor to be.”

That sounds like a very evasive answer.

Red flag number 4: Grey does this a lot – he finds a way to give a non-answer, or a half-answer in response to questions he doesn’t feel like answering.  It’s not healthy to keep as much from your partner as he is purposefully keeping from Ana.

He tells her he is always honest with her…

 

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…Then he tells her he doesn’t want to play games with her (another lie), adding: “Well, not those sort of games.”

Naturally, this makes Ana all horny and she asks what games he does want to play, before getting the giggles, rendering her distracted enough for Grey to ask her what her original question was, so she doesn’t get to ask the one about Elena.  Another red flag?  Distracting someone like this, when they’re trying to get honest information out of you.

It turns out that Ana’s question was merely about the fact that former subs all signed the same agreement about staying over at weekends, meaning he surely can’t have had sex during the week.  Grey responds that that’s why he works out on weekdays and I honestly read this bit and just went: “IS THAT IT?!”

I feel like this whole section contained more pointless padding than an Ann Summers bra.

On the way to work, Grey reminds Ana that Kate’s brother Ethan is arriving later that day.  Good to know we’ll be getting some really possessive, creepy shit from Grey, later! Ana had forgotten and is grateful for the reminder, telling Grey it means she’ll have to go over her apartment at some point.  Naturally, Grey insists Sawyer drives her there and informs her that Sawyer will be watching her at work, again.  For her safety, you understand.  Ana responds with sarcasm and Grey wishes he could spank her.

Meanwhile, I wish Leila would turn up and disembowel Grey, before running off, wearing his testicles as earrings.

But we can’t always get what we want.

 

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He also tells her to use her Blackberry to email him, rather than the work email system.

“Yes, Christian.” She rolls her eyes.

“Why, Miss Steele, I do believe you’re making my palm twitch.”

“Ah, Mr. Grey, your perpetually twitching palm. What are we going to do with that?”

I laugh. She’s funny.

You aren’t.

I’ve long said that the whole “you’re making my palm twitch” is nothing but victim-blaming bollocks that refers to wanting to beat someone without consent and I’m not about to change my opinion, now.

Elena calls and tells Grey that the threatening note and the demand for cash that she was so worried about recently actually came from her sub, Isaac, and was just part of a scene.  Plot averted.

Ana gets dropped off at work and Taylor suggests they perform a sweep of Ana’s own apartment before she goes back there later, because of the threat from Leila.

Grey gets to work and Andrea is back, which means poor Montana doesn’t have to be treated like dirt, anymore.  Andrea introduces Grey to a new intern called Sarah, who Grey instantly gets internally misogynistic about, because she has a good, strong handshake and therefore can’t be “mousy,” and because he hopes he won’t find her enthusiasm “irritating.”

This fucking guy.

He asks Andrea why she didn’t tell him she was getting married and she explains that it’s because it says in her contract that she’s not supposed to fraternise with her colleagues, but her new husband works for the company.  She explains that he needed a green card and Grey gets internally judgemental, before Andrea adds that she didn’t marry him for that reason – she loves him – and then Grey gets to stop judging her.  For now, anyway.  I’m sure he’ll find an excuse.  He asks her how married life is going so far and Andrea says she’d recommend it.  Grey thinks Andrea is “glowing” and he compares her lovestruck, happy appearance with how he feels about his relationship with Ana:

MARRIAGE. I CONTEMPLATE THE institution when Andrea leaves. It obviously agrees with her. It’s what most women want. Isn’t it? I wonder what Ana would do if I asked her to marry me. I shake my head, feeling ambushed by the thought. Don’t be ridiculous, Grey.

And lo, the marriage seed is planted.

 

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Grey sends Ana an email, telling he loves waking up with her.  He adds “completely and utterly smitten” to his usual “CEO” signature, which I think is meant to be cute, but it would be cuter if he just didn’t send the damn “CEO” bit at all.

Ana replies like a good sex toy would:

Dear Completely & Utterly Smitten

I love waking up with you, too. But I love being in bed with you and in elevators and on pianos and billiard tables and boats and desks and showers and bathtubs and strange wooden crosses with shackles and four-poster beds with red satin sheets and boathouses and childhood bedrooms.

Yours

Sex Mad and Insatiable xx

I HAVE VOMITED ENOUGH THIS WEEKEND, DAMNIT.

I’m so glad their relationship is built on more than just sex, though, right guys?!

Grey spits his coffee out all over his computer keyboard, laughing at his hilarious girlfriend, and emails back to ask whether she only wants him for his body.

Ana replies “always” and then tells him to stop bothering her, because she has work to do.  Annoyingly, she now signs emails “SM&I” (sex mad and insatiable), because that isn’t already something I want to forget.

Later, Ana phones Christian’s mobile whilst he’s in a meeting, telling him that Jack has asked her to go out and get his lunch for her and that Grey ought to give her Sawyer’s number so she can let him know directly if she’s leaving the building for any reason.  This seems like a pointless call, seeing as the whole reason Ana was annoyed yesterday was because Sawyer was watching the building all day, without her knowing, and Grey has already told her that Sawyer will be doing the same thing again, today.  So, wouldn’t he just see her leave, without needing to be warned about it?!

Anyway, the call is basically only inserted here so that we can have Grey tell the business associates he’s having the meeting with that it’s his girlfriend on the phone and Ana can make another “joke” about the fact that they probably all thought he was gay, until now.

 

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There’s yet another pointless scene, this time in which Grey is training with Bastille and Bastille comments on him being too soft because he has a beautiful girlfriend, now.  The scene ends with Grey thinking: “Enough is enough, he’s going down.”

Later, Grey gets another email from Ana, this time telling him that Ethan has arrived and that he’ll be picking up the apartment keys from her at work.  She suggests that Grey picks her up from work at the end of the day and that they can ALL (capitals are hers, not mine) go out for a meal together, her treat.

I can’t wait for him to be butt-hurt and emasculated by the idea of a woman paying…

Sure enough…

I approve of your plan. Except the part about you paying! My treat.

I’ll pick you up at 6:00.

x

P.S.: Why aren’t you using your BlackBerry!!!

Let the woman pay, you utter jackass.  It’s the twenty first century – it’s allowed.

Because he’s pissy with her for using her work email, he changes his email signature to “completely and utterly annoyed” instead of “completely and utterly smitten.”  Because he is twelve.

Ana tells him she’s writing “in code,” which… well, she clearly isn’t.  She also tells him to stop being “crusty and cross.”

The word “crusty” just makes me think of his almost certainly permanently jizz-stained underpants.  Once again, I have vomited enough this weekend, ELJ.

 

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There’s a boring business call I’m going to skip because it has naff all to do with the piss-poor excuse for a “plot” in this book and is blatant dull padding, before Grey goes to pick Ana up from work and she actually refers to herself as “sex mad and insatiable” when he calls her to say he’s arrived.  I’m so glad this is sticking around, it’s not making me want to stick pins in my eyes or anything…

Grey gets another boring call about some disgruntled dude whose company Grey’s ludicrous business empire took over, whilst Ana gets out of the car to pick up Ethan from the apartment.  Grey carries on with the call, watching Ana get buzzed into the building and disappear through the door, before he suddenly sees Ethan heading down the street and realises it therefore wasn’t him who let Ana in.

DUN DUN DUUUUUUN.

He dashes out of the car, telling Taylor to follow him, and warns Ethan that there might be an armed intruder in the apartment with Ana.  He actually calls Ethan “Kavanagh,” which really pisses me off, because I feel like referring to him by his surname, the way he does Taylor, who is Grey’s employee, is some kind of power trip on Grey’s part.

I burst into the apartment and there they are.

A face-off.

Ana and Leila.

And Leila’s holding a gun.

SHOOT HIM, LEILA.  SHOOT CHRISTIAN GREY AND DO THE WORLD A FAVOUR.

 

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I want to lunge at Leila. Take the gun. Bring her down. But I freeze and check Ana. Her eyes are wide with fright and something I can’t name. Compassion, maybe? But to my relief, she’s unharmed.

The sight of Leila is a shock. Not only does she have her fingers wrapped around a gun, but she’s lost so much weight. She’s filthy. Her clothes are in tatters and her clouded brown eyes are expressionless. A lump forms in my throat and I don’t know if it’s fear or empathy. But my biggest concern is that she’s still holding a gun with Ana in the room.

Does she mean to harm her?

Does she mean to harm me?

Please harm him, Leila.

 

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Now, we’ve read this from Ana’s perspective and we know what happens.  But from Grey’s…  Oh, guys.  Prepare yourselves.

Grey stares at Leila and suddenly her lifeless eyes light up.  They hold one another’s gaze for several minutes, whilst Grey refuses to let Taylor do anything, much to Taylor’s disgust.  And basically, the gist is, Grey is SO damn amazing, Leila suddenly doesn’t want to hurt Ana or anyone else, anymore:

Slowly, the light in her eyes changes; the brightness increases, from dull brown to hazel. And I see a flash of the Leila I knew. There’s a spark of connection. A kindred spirit who enjoyed everything we shared.

Our old bond, it’s there. I sense it between us. She’s giving this to me.

Her breathing quickens and she licks her chapped lips, yet her tongue leaves no moisture.

But it’s enough. Enough to tell me what she needs. What she wants.

She wants me.

And then they fuck.

Except they don’t, but isn’t that how that reads?!

It goes on:

Me at what I do best.

Her lips part, her chest rises and falls, and a trace of color appears in her cheeks. Her eyes brighten, her pupils enlarging.

Yes. This is what she wants. To cede control. She wants a way out. She’s had enough.

She’s weary. She’s mine.

“Kneel,” I whisper, for her ears only. She drops to her knees like the natural submissive she is.

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She’s his.  And Ana’s his.  We are all his.

Please kill me, so I can stop reading this crap.

Grey takes the gun away from Leila, thinking something truly ironic:

Deep down I know I will never forgive Leila for this. I know she’s unwell—broken, even. But to threaten Ana? Unforgivable.

How many times has he threatened Ana?  And how many times has he excused himself, based on the fact that he’s some kind of broken man-child?!  Fuck you, Grey.

Grey tells Ana to leave with Taylor, assuring her that Ethan is outside, unharmed.  Ana remains rooted to the spot, so he tells her again to go and she again stays put:

I step beside Leila—and still Ana won’t move. “For the love of God, Anastasia, will you do as you’re told for once in your life and go!”

Our eyes lock and I implore her to leave. I can’t do this with her here. I don’t know how stable Leila is; she needs help, and she might hurt Ana. I try to convey this to Ana with my beseeching look. But she’s ashen. She’s in shock. Shit.

She’s had a fright, Grey. She can’t move.

“Taylor. Take Miss Steele downstairs. Now.” Taylor nods and makes a move to Ana.

“Why?” Ana whispers.

“Go. Back to the apartment. I need to be alone with Leila.” Please. I need you out of harm’s way. She looks from me to Leila. Ana. Go. Please. I need to take care of this problem.

“Miss Steele. Ana.” Taylor holds his hand out to Anastasia.

“Taylor,” I urge. Without hesitation, he scoops Ana into his arms and leaves the apartment.

Again with the shitty habit of only saying half the sentence out loud and thinking the rest in his stupid head.  If he had actually said “I need you out of harm’s way,” that would be far more reassuring to Ana than simply saying “I need to be alone with Leila.”  He knows how insecure and jealous Ana can be.

Once Ana is gone, Grey tells Leila to get up and to look at him.

Slowly, she lifts her head, and her pain is visible on her face. Tears spring to her eyes and start to trickle down her cheeks.

“Oh, Leila,” I whisper, and I embrace her.

Fuck. The smell. She stinks of poverty and neglect and homelessness. And I’m back in a small, badly lit apartment above a cheap liquor store in Detroit.

She smells of him. His boots. His unwashed body. His squalor.

Saliva pools in my mouth and I gag. Once. It’s hard to bear. Hell.

But she doesn’t notice. I hold her as she weeps and weeps and weeps, snot-sobbing all over my jacket. I hold her. Trying not to retch. Trying to banish the stench. A stench so achingly familiar. And so unwelcome. “Hush,” I whisper. “Hush.”

When she’s gasping for air and her body is racked with dry sobs, I release her. “You need a bath.”

I like how Grey manages to somehow make this about himself.

By which I mean, I hate it.

And sure, smells can evoke memories, of course they can, but you’re dealing with a woman in the grip of one heck of a breakdown, maybe focus on her.

 

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Grey takes Leila through Kate’s bedroom and into her en suite, which…  I mean, okay, if she’s the one with a bath, but I’m sure Ana’s shower would have sufficed to clean this woman.

Grey asks Leila if she wants a bath and she nods.  He tells her she’ll have to take her clothes off and she merely nods again, so he starts undressing her, as she seems unable to do it, herself:

I pull off her blouse and try not to register my shock at her appearance. She’s emaciated, all jutting bones and pointed angles, a sharp contrast to the Leila of old. It’s sickening.

This is my fault; I should have found her earlier.

Ugh.  So much of this is your fault, but I have no time for your self-pity.

Shockingly, he actually has the decency not to take off her underwear for her, insisting she do it herself, although he still has to inwardly feel horrified that she’s not as sexy as she used to be:

“You’ll need to take those off.” I’m referring to her grubby underwear. She looks at me. “No. You do it,” I say and turn around to give her a modicum of privacy. I hear her move, a scraping of her flats on the bathroom floor, and when she stops I turn around and she’s naked.

Gone are her lush curves.

She must not have eaten for weeks.

It’s galling.

Galling means causing annoyance.  So, this woman has suffered a mental breakdown and not only is Grey lamenting the loss of her “lush curves,” rather than focusing on helping her, he’s also pissed off that she’s not been eating properly.

This guy is a bell end.

I mean, I understand being angry that someone hasn’t been looking after themselves, when it comes from a frustrated place of loving that person and wanting them to be well, but this just feels entitled and typical of Grey.

 

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Grey starts washing Leila, using a scrubber belonging to Kate, thinking she won’t miss it, because she has another.  Again, I feel like maybe he could replace it, seeing as he’s loaded, but whatever.

He washes her hair, thinking to himself that he bathed Leila many times before, as a reward for her good behaviour in his playroom and that it was always a pleasure, back then, whereas this isn’t.

Once she’s clean, he wraps her in a large towel (again, Kate’s) and then he towel dries her hair and leads her back to the lounge, where he tells her to sit on the sofa and wait for him.  He returns to the bathroom, where he privately calls Doctor Flynn (sorry, Leila!) and tells him to come straight over.  At no point in the conversation does Grey give more of an address than “Ana’s apartment,” so… Does Flynn stalk her too?  I’m so confused.

Grey gives Leila some of Ana’s clothes to put on, as hers are fit for nothing but the bin.  I’m actually surprised he didn’t give her Kate’s.  Leila starts to talk about why she’s in such a bad place:

“He’s gone,” she says, and her face contorts with pain and grief.

“I know. I’m sorry.”

“He was like you.”

“Was he?”

“Yes.”

“I see.” Well, that explains why she sought me out.

It explains why she’s in such a bad way, if she’s been with another guy who’s anything like Christian Grey…

Grey dries Leila’s hair with a hairdryer, inwardly praising her for not touching him, because “she knows she’s not allowed.”  EVERYTHING has to be about him and it’s driving me fucking batty.

Grey tries to talk to Leila, asking whether she’s spoken to her parents.  She says no, they’re not talking to her.  Flynn arrives with his lead nurse, ready to take Leila:

“Would you like to come with me to a place where we can help you?” Flynn asks Leila. She says nothing, but her subdued brown eyes seek mine.

“I think you should go with the doctor. I’ll come with you.”

Flynn frowns but keeps his counsel.

Leila looks from me to him and nods. Good.

Just going to say that if Flynn – the supposed qualified doctor – has reason to think that Grey shouldn’t come with Leila, he really ought to say so.

 

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As they travel towards the clinic they’re taking Leila to, Grey thinks about how comforting it is to know that Ana will be at home, waiting for him.  Which makes me really hope she’s fucked off out.

At the clinic, Flynn tells Grey that Leila is a very sick woman, but that she’s calm and co-operative.  Grey tells Flynn he’ll pay for whatever treatment she needs, which Flynn says is very generous of him.  Grey admits that he feels responsible and whilst Flynn tells him he shouldn’t, I’m saying nothing…

Grey starts worrying that his phone has run out of battery, so he can’t call Ana to see if she’s okay.  As Taylor drives them back to Escala, he tells Grey that Ana went home with Ethan.  This pisses Grey off:

The thought is displeasing. So I picture her snuggled in the armchair in the library, asleep, a book in her lap. Alone.

ANA MUST NOT SPEAK TO ANY OTHER MAN IN ANY CIRCUMSTANCES WHATSOEVER, EVEN WHEN SHE’S JUST HAD A HUGELY TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCE AND PROBABLY NEEDED SOMEONE TO TALK TO.

Grey is a horrible, horrible person.

And he gets worse, because Ana read my mind and went out, rather than going home.  Grey… Does not take this well:

Where the hell is she?

Ryan is monitoring the CCTV. He looks up when I enter Taylor’s office. “Mr. Grey?”

“Did Miss Steele come home?”

“No, sir.”

“Fuck.” I thought she might have been and gone. I turn and head for my study. She doesn’t have her purse or her phone? Why hasn’t she come home? Part of me wants to send the entire team combing the city looking for her. But where do I start? I could call Kavanagh. Taylor says she left with him.

Shit. Ethan and Ana.

The idea does not sit well with me.

 

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Remember how Grey didn’t want Ana going out for her protection?  Well, Leila has been found.  She’s at a clinic.  He literally just left her there.  Ana has her friend with her, so she’s not alone.  This has nothing to do with worry for her safety or anything like that, he’s just being controlling and possessive.  She doesn’t have her phone with her, we’ve been told that already, but he doesn’t need to be able to contact her right away.  It’s totally plausible that she needed to go for a drink or something to get her head around events.  That’s perfectly reasonable.  His behaviour right now?  ISN’T.

He actually considers calling his brother and asking him to get Ethan’s number from Kate, before he realises it’s gone midnight in Barbados and he probably shouldn’t.  Naturally, he then lurches to:

She’s left you, Grey.

If only.

Now, a sensible person would put his phone on charge and check for messages.  After all, she may have tried to ring him from a pay phone.  Not Grey, though.  Not when he can be a melodramatic asshole, instead.  So we get things like:

In my bedroom, I pick up the book I’ve been reading and take it back into the living room.

And wait. And wait.

Ten minutes later, I throw the book onto the sofa beside me. I’m restless and the uncertainty about Ana’s whereabouts is becoming unbearable.

As is this entire book.

I head into Taylor’s office. He’s there with Ryan.

“Mr. Grey.”

“Can you send one of the guys to Ana’s place? I want to check if she’s returned to her apartment.”

“Of course.”

“Thanks.” I head back to the sofa and pick up my book again. I keep glancing at the elevator. But it remains quiet.

Empty. Like me.

Empty except for my growing unease.

She’s gone.

She’s left you.

Leila frightened her off.

 

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At this point, Grey gets a phone call on his mobile, so…  When did he charge it?!

Anyway, it’s Taylor calling to say that Ana’s not at her apartment, but at that very moment, Ana arrives home, slightly tipsy.

This does not go down well.

“Where the fuck have you been?” I bark at her.

She blinks and steps back. She’s flushed. “Have you been drinking?” I ask.

“A bit.”

“I told you to come back here. It’s now fifteen after ten. I’ve been worried about you.”

“I went for a drink or three with Ethan while you attended to your ex.” She spits out the last word like venom.

Hell. She’s mad.

A few things…

Firstly, of course she’s mad.  Because you didn’t say out loud that you wanted her to leave for her own protection, you just told her you needed to be “alone with Leila.”

Secondly, of course she’s going to be snappy with you if the first thing you do is “bark” at her when she gets in.

Thirdly, who the actual fuck says “it’s now fifteen after ten”?!  Was EL James stoned when she wrote this?!  QUARTER PAST.  IT IS QUARTER PAST.

Eventually, Grey’s anger melts into fear as he realises Ana is upset about something.

“What’s wrong?” I press her.

She shakes her head. “I’m no good for you,” she says.

My scalp tingles, pricked by fear. “What? Why do you think that? How can you possibly think that?”

“I can’t be everything you need.”

“You are everything I need.”

“Just seeing you with her—”

Christ. “Why do you do this to me? This is not about you, Ana. It’s about her. Right now, she’s a very sick girl.”

She’s legitimately upset and his reaction is “why do you this to me?”  Just another piece of manipulative bullshit from this bastard.

Ana continues:

“But I felt it. What you had together.”

“What? No.” I reach for her and she steps back, away from me, her cool eyes on mine, assessing me, and I don’t think she likes what she sees…

 

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Because Ana has said something that implies she might leave him, Grey goes into full-on guilt-trip, over-dramatic mode:

“You’re running?” My anxiety rises, tightening my throat. She looks away and her brow furrows, but she says nothing. “You can’t,” I whisper.

“Christian, I—” She stops and I think she’s struggling to say her goodbyes. She’s going. I knew it would happen. But so soon?

“No. No!” I’m on the edge of the abyss once more. I can’t breathe. This is it, what I’d predicted from the beginning.

“I…” Ana mutters.

How do I stop her? I look around the room, for help. What can I do? “You can’t go. Ana, I love you!” It’s my last-minute pitch to save this deal, to save us.

“I love you, too, Christian, it’s just—”

The vortex is sucking me under. She’s had enough. I’ve driven her away. Again. I feel dizzy. I put my hands on my head, trying to contain the pain that slices through me. My despair is carving a hole in my chest that gets bigger and bigger and bigger. It’s going to take me down. “No. No.”

This felt horribly personal for me, because when my abuser did things to hurt me, sometimes I’d say I couldn’t handle it and I needed to leave and I’d get the whole “no, you’re abandoning me like everyone else in my life has” and the gasping for breath and…  Ugh.  This made me angry and sad.

Grey tries to find his “happy place,” which was apparently when he was with Elena and could wear his pain on the outside.  So, he has a brief flashback to her whipping him, which seems totally appropriate for this scenario.

Then, he decides the way to show Ana he needs her to stay is by becoming submissive to her:

I drop to my knees. I take a deep breath and place my hands on my thighs.

Yes. Peace. I’m in a landscape of calm.

I give myself to you. All of me. I’m yours to do with as you wish.

What will she do? I look straight ahead, and I’m aware that she’s watching me. In the far distance, I hear her voice. “Christian, what are you doing?”

I inhale slowly, filling my lungs. Fall is in the air. Ana.

“Christian! What are you doing?” The voice is closer, louder, more high-pitched. “Christian, look at me!” I look up. And wait. She’s beautiful. Pale. Worried. “Christian, please, don’t do this. I don’t want this.”

You must tell me what you want. I wait.

This is manipulative horse shit.  Fans point to this scene as some kind of beautiful turning point, where he learns to sacrifice control and hand it over to her, but read the damn thing.  She’s confused and worried and asking him to stop and he doesn’t, because whatever he might claim he’s doing, in terms of giving himself to her, what he’s actually doing is making her feel guilty and scared, so she won’t walk away from him.  And that’s fucking vile.

 

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Ana cries and gets onto her knees so she’s level with him.  She tells him she was never going to leave and speaks very sensibly about needing space.  Grey’s internal monologue (because as per usual, he speaks none of this aloud) is full of self-pity and proves he’s not listening to her properly:

“It’s overwhelming. I just need some time to think. Some time to myself. Why do you always assume the worst?”

Because the worst happens.

Always.

“I was going to suggest going back to my apartment this evening. You never give me any time—time to just think things through.”

She wants to be on her own.

Away from me.

Bloody hell, dude.  She’s just saying she wants to have a bit of space to process what’s gone on, lately.  That’s understandable.  Stop feeling sorry for yourself.

Ana continues and…you’re going to need a sick bowl for this, guys:

“Seeing you with Leila…” She closes her eyes as if in pain. “It was such a shock. I had a glimpse into how your life has been…and…” She rips her gaze from mine and looks down at her knees. “This is about me not being good enough for you. It was an insight into your life, and I am so scared you’ll get bored with me, and then you’ll go, and I’ll end up like Leila, a shadow. Because I love you, Christian, and if you leave me, it will be like a world without light. I’ll be in darkness. I don’t want to run. I’m just so frightened you’ll leave me.”

She’s scared of the darkness, too.

She’s not going to run.

She loves me.

Try answering her, pillock.  Try reassuring her, instead of sitting there all mute, just so you can get her to spill her fucking guts.  Don’t think I don’t know what this tactic is all about.

And Ana doesn’t stop there.  She starts talking about someone who definitely isn’t the same guy I’ve been reading about:

“You’re, well, you’re you and I’m—” She looks at me, troubled. “I just don’t see it. You’re beautiful and sexy and successful and good and kind and caring—”

 

 

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She goes on and on about how undeserving she is of him and how scared she is of not being enough for him (seriously, I nearly retched) and he doesn’t respond.  Because he wants to hear her say all this, whilst he plays the poor little lost boy.  Seriously, this is what my abuser did every time I called him out on his shit.  Retreated into himself, said nothing, licked his lips a lot (for ages, I genuinely found the sight of anyone licking their lips absolutely abhorrent, because of this) and just stayed like it until I turned the subject round to how amazing he was and how I loved him and wasn’t worthy and was sorry for questioning him.

This whole scene is triggering as fuck.

He even inwardly starts bleating about how cross she is with him, despite the fact that she’s on her knees, sobbing and telling him she adores him and is unworthy of him:

She raises her hand and wipes her nose that’s blotchy and pink from crying. “Are you going to kneel here all night? Because I’ll do it, too!”

She’s mad at me.

She’s always mad at me.

 

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Grey finally starts talking about his fear upon walking in on the scene between Leila and Ana:

“I think I died a thousand deaths, Ana. Someone threatening you. All my worst fears realized. I was so angry, with her, with you, with Taylor, with myself.”

Why…  Why was he angry with Ana?  All she did was walk into her apartment.

And his anger at her continues…

“I just wanted you gone. I wanted you away from the danger, and…You. Just. Wouldn’t. Go.” My exasperation returns and I glare at Ana. “Anastasia Steele, you are the most stubborn woman I know.” I close my eyes and shake my head. What am I going to do with her?

Perhaps you could start by cutting her some damn slack??!!  Maybe you could try remembering that you knew she was frozen to the spot with fear earlier and you’ve just conveniently “forgotten” that, now?!  I’m just brainstorming, here…

We get more over-dramatic crap:

“This is me, Ana. All of me, and I’m all yours. What do I have to do to make you realize that? To make you see that I want you any way I can get you. That I love you.”

“I love you, too, Christian, and to see you like this is—” She pauses as she chokes back tears. “I thought I’d broken you.”

“Broken? Me? Oh no, Ana. Just the opposite.” You make me whole. Reaching out, I take her hand in mine. “You’re my lifeline,” I whisper.

This is genuinely making me feel as nauseous as the stomach bug did.

Grey decides that the only way to prove to Ana that she means everything to him, is by letting her do the one thing she’s always wanted to, but which he’s always forbidden.  He lets her touch his chest:

How can I make her see what she means to me?

Let her touch me.

Touch me, Ana. Yes.

And before I overthink it, I take her hand and place it on my chest, over my heart.

I’m yours, Ana. The darkness expands inside my rib cage and my breathing quickens. But I control my fear. I need her more. I drop my hand, leaving hers in place, and concentrate on her lovely face. Her compassion is there, reflected in her eyes. I see it. She flexes her fingers so I briefly feel her nails through my shirt.

Then she removes her hand. “No.” My response is instinctive, and I press her hand to my chest. “Don’t.”

She looks bewildered, but then she shuffles closer so our knees are touching. She reaches up.

Shit. She’s going to undress me.

Oh God, is there some melodramatic “AND NOW WE MAKE SWEET LOVE” scene coming up?!

 

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Ana touches his chest, feeling the scars left on him from the pimp who abused both he and his mother.  In another book, written well, featuring a lead character who wasn’t a total shit, this might be moving.  In this one…  It’s just overblown and I want it to hurry up and finish.

Fuck. I close my eyes. This will be hard to bear. I tilt my head up. Waiting. And I feel her lips, with acute tenderness, plant a kiss over my heart.

I groan.

It’s excruciating. It’s hell. But it’s Ana, here, loving me.

“Again,” I whisper. She leans in and kisses me above my heart. I know what she’s doing. I know where she’s kissing me. She does it again, and then again. Her lips landing soft and gentle on each of my scars. I know where they are. I know where they’ve been since the day they were burned into my body. And here she is, doing what no one’s ever done. Kissing me. Accepting me. Accepting this dark, dark side of me.

She’s slaying my demons.

My brave girl.

My beautiful brave girl.

And the not-so-subtle take home message?  You don’t need to work on your own issues, you just have to wait for the right person to love you into wellness.  That’s totally healthy and realistic and not at all insulting to the millions of abuse survivors (and those who did not survive) who tried to love their partners into wellness, only to realise it isn’t possible without them actually recognising their need to change and wanting to.

Grey begins to cry and Ana begs for forgiveness.  She tells him she’ll always love him and she’ll never leave him, which makes Grey inwardly do the whole “nobody can love a monster” bollocks for the ninety thousandth time.  Sensing he must be thinking something along those lines, Ana asks him to tell her the big secret that he thinks will make her run away from him.  So he does:

“I’m a sadist, Ana. I like to whip little brown-haired girls like you because you all look like the crack whore—my birth mother. I’m sure you can guess why.” 

 

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Ana is understandably freaked out:

Finally, she speaks, and her voice is a frail whisper. “You said you weren’t a sadist.” “

No, I said I was a Dominant. If I lied to you, it was a lie of omission. I’m sorry.”

I can’t look at her. I’m ashamed. I stare down at my fingers. Like she does. But she remains mute, so I’m forced to look at her. “When you asked me that question, I had envisioned a very different relationship between us,” I add.

It’s the truth.

Ana’s eyes widen, and suddenly she covers her face with her hands. She can’t bear to look at me.

Ana says yet again that she can’t be what he needs and she tells him “this is so fucked up,” which it is.

Grey starts telling her that she is everything he needs, basically openly saying her love has changed him:

“Ana, believe me. After I punished you and you left me, my worldview changed. I wasn’t joking when I said I would avoid ever feeling like that again. When you said you loved me, it was a revelation. No one’s ever said it to me before, and it was as if I’d laid something to rest—or maybe you’d laid it to rest, I don’t know. Dr. Flynn and I are still in deep discussion about it.”

Firstly, that’s a lie.  Grace has told him she loves him, even if Ella never did, I’m 100% certain of it.

Secondly, sure, it’s great he’s in deep discussion with Dr Flynn about how he reacted to Ana saying she loved him, but maybe Dr Flynn should have also been in fairly damn deep discussion about his need to beat women who look like his dead mother, too?!

Ana tells him she’s confused, because he spanked her with a ruler and he likes “kinky fuckery” and surely that means he does still have the same urges as always.  But Grey insists that he never wants to hurt her and the fact that she doesn’t want him to use anything like a cane etc on her means that he never will and the compulsion he once had has apparently gone.

He tells her that in a way, her leaving him was the best thing for their relationship, because it made him see how much she meant to him and that he would rather have her in a “vanilla” relationship than not at all.  He then tells her he’s surprised she hasn’t run a mile at his revelation, which Ana takes as a cue to further remind him how fucked up said revelation actually is (go, Ana!):

“Why? Because I might think you’re a sicko for whipping and fucking women who look like your mother? Whatever would give you that impression?” she snaps.

Fuck. Ana has her claws out, and she’s sinking them into me.

But I deserve it. “Well, I wouldn’t have put it quite like that, but yes.”

She’s angry, maybe? Hurt, possibly? She knows my secret. My dark, dark secret. And now I await her verdict.

Love me.

Or leave me.

 

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Ana says she’s exhausted and confused and would rather go to bed and talk about this in the morning, with a clear head.  Grey is shocked that she’s actually staying with him, rather than walking out.

And then…  Then this happens:

“Do you want me to go?”

“No! I thought you would leave once you knew.”

Her expression is softer, but she still looks confounded.

Please don’t go, Ana.

Life will be unbearable if you go.

“Don’t leave me,” I whisper.

“Oh, for crying out loud—no!” she shouts, startling me. “I am not going to go!”

“Really?” Unbelievable. She astonishes me, even now.

“What can I do to make you understand I will not run? What can I say?” She’s exasperated.

And to my surprise an idea springs to mind. An idea so wild and out of my comfort zone that I wonder where it came from. I swallow. “There is one thing you can do.”

“What?” she snaps.

“Marry me.”

 

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“Hey, woman I just seriously freaked out by confessing to a really gross inclination to beat and fuck women who look like my dead mother – enter into a binding legal agreement to stay with me until we die, just to prove to me that you’re not going to run away as a result of my being a totally fucked up piece of shit!”

So romantic.  I could cry, I really could.

Ana begins giggling, which turns into hysteria and sobbing.  When Grey finally gets her to speak, she actually talks a fair amount of sense:

“You’re cutting me to the quick here, Ana. Will you marry me?”

Slowly she sits up and places her hands on my knees. “Christian, I’ve met your psycho ex with a gun, been thrown out of my apartment, had you go thermonuclear Fifty on me—”

Fifty? I open my mouth to plead my case, but she holds up her hand to stop me, so I remain mute.

“You’ve just revealed some quite frankly shocking information about yourself, and now you’ve asked me to marry you.”

Yes, I think that’s a fair and accurate summary of the situation.”

“Whatever happened to delayed gratification?” she asks, confounding me once more.

“I got over it, and I’m now a firm advocate of instant gratification. Carpe diem, Ana.”

“Look, Christian, I’ve known you for about three minutes, and there’s so much more I need to know. I’ve had too much to drink, I’m hungry, I’m tired, and I want to go to bed. I need to consider your proposal just as I considered that contract you gave me. And”—she pauses and purses her lips—“that wasn’t the most romantic proposal.”

Hope stirs in my chest. “Fair point well made, as ever, Miss Steele. So, that’s not a no?”

She sighs. “No, Mr. Grey, it’s not a no, but it’s not a yes, either. You’re only doing this because you’re scared and you don’t trust me.”

He insists that he’s doing it because he loves her and wants to spend the rest of his life with her.  She tells him she’ll think about it and asks him for patience.  She then says she wants to go to bed, but Grey, obsessive about her food intake as ever, tells her she can’t go to bed without eating first, seeing as she didn’t eat whilst she was out, earlier.

He apologises for the shock of finding Leila in her apartment and tells her Taylor feels guilty, because he’d checked through it, earlier.  Ana says she doesn’t blame Taylor at all and Grey says he doesn’t either, especially as Taylor’s been out looking for Ana, too.  When Ana asks why, Grey reminds her that she didn’t have her phone on her and so he didn’t know where she was:

“I didn’t know where you were. You left your purse, your phone. I couldn’t even track you. Where did you go?”

I.

Couldn’t.

Even.

Track.

You.

Because stalking is just an acceptable part of these books.

 

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Ana says she went to a bar across the street with Ethan, so she could be close to what was happening at the apartment.  She asks what went on after she left and Grey tells her he bathed Leila and gave her some of Ana’s clothes to wear.

Ana is, understandably, upset at the idea of her boyfriend bathing his naked ex.

She stares at her untouched food.

“Ana.”

“What?” she whispers.

“Don’t. It doesn’t mean anything. It was like caring for a child, a broken, shattered child.”

She closes her eyes, and for a horrid moment I think she’s going to burst into tears.

“Ana?”

She stands and takes her plate to the sink and scrapes the contents into the trash.

“Ana, please.”

“Just stop, Christian! Just stop with the ‘Ana, please’!” she shouts with exasperation and starts to cry. “I’ve had enough of all this shit today. I’m going to bed. I’m tired and emotional. Now let me be.”

She storms out of the kitchen toward the bedroom, leaving me with cooling, congealing macaroni and cheese.

Shit.

 

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And that, friends, is where this chapter ends.

Thank the lord.

 

Darker Chapter 5 (Monday, June 13, 2011)

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Here we are again, folks!  Ready to dive head first into the vat of excrement that is Darker, by EL James.  I’ve skipped ahead a little for this chapter (I don’t usually – I prefer to write as I read, so my reactions are “in the moment,” so to speak) and…  Well, let’s just say if you’re a drinker, pour yourself a glass of something.  If not, have comfort food on standby.

We’re going to need it.

The chapter opens with Grey waking up, because OF COURSE IT DOES.  He yet again references how well he sleeps with Ana next to him.  He tells her this and mentions that he normally wakes before his alarm goes off.  Ana complains that it’s set too early and Grey decides to go for a run and let her sleep.  His security dude, Ryan, makes it obvious he wants to go with him for protection, but Grey dismisses the idea, telling himself that Leila was never one for early mornings and it’s therefore much too early for her to be causing any trouble.

Grey sets off, choosing The Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony as his running music.  He has one thing on his mind: Ana.

My mind clouds with chaotic images of all that has happened over the last few days: Ana at the ball, Ana on my boat, Ana at the hotel.

Ana. Ana. Ana.

My life has been completely overturned to the point that I’m not sure I recognize myself. Elena’s words come back to me: “Have you turned your back on who you are?”

Have I?

“I can’t change—” The words from the song echo through my head.

Clearly Elena thinks of herself as Mufasa from The Lion King.  I don’t even care that I used this GIF last week…

 

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Grey then starts thinking how much he likes having Ana at the apartment:

The truth is, I like being in her company. I like having her in my home. I’d like her to stay. Permanently. She’s brought humor, restful sleep, vitality, and love into my monochrome existence. I didn’t know I was lonely until I met her.

Then he gets obsessive, creepy and melodramatic:

But she won’t want to move in, will she? While Leila is still at large it makes sense for her to stay, but once she’s found, Ana will go. I can’t make her stay, though part of me would like to. But in the interim, if she ever finds out the truth about me, she’ll leave and never want to see me again.

No one can love a monster.

And when she leaves…

Hell.

He’d like to make her stay?  As in force her?!  Screw that.  And I was hoping to get more than two pages into this chapter, before we get the teensy-tiny violin out.  “Nobody can love a monster,” eh?  STOP BEING ONE, THEN.

 

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After getting home and having a brief chat with Gail (Mrs Jones), Grey showers, dresses and goes to wake up Ana.  Naturally, Ana wants sex, because that is her default setting, but Grey tells her he has a meeting at 8:30am and should be setting off, soon.  This makes Ana realise she’s running late and she leaps out of bed, much to Grey’s amusement:

Shaking my head, amused at her sudden burst of energy, I pop a few condoms into my pants pocket, then saunter into the kitchen for some breakfast.

You never know, Grey. I’ve learned that it’s good to be prepared around Anastasia Steele.

I…  I don’t understand.  Is he planning to fuck her in front of Gail, in the kitchen?  Or is he thinking he might just pop round to her workplace and do it there, instead?  I’m just so confused by his decision to take condoms.

He heads off to have breakfast and, when Ana appears, he thinks how good she looks:

Ana appears about ten minutes later, wearing some of the clothes I bought her. A silk blouse and a gray skirt. She looks different.

Sophisticated.

Elegant.

She’s beautiful.

Not a gauche student but a confident young working woman.

I approve and I wrap my arm around her. “You look lovely,” I say, kissing her behind her ear. My only misgiving about her appearance is that she has to spend time, looking like this, with her boss.

Don’t dwell, Grey. This is her choice. She wants to work.

Yes, she does.  So quit being once of those asshole men who think their girlfriend or wife’s attractive appearance is for their eyes only.

 

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Gail hands Ana some breakfast and then tells Ana that she’ll make her some packed lunch for work, giving Grey’s internal monologue an opportunity to make “protecting” Ana seem controlling and creepy:

“Mr. Grey says you’d like to take lunch with you to work. What would you like to eat?”

Ana shoots me a look.

Yeah, baby. I was serious. No going out.

His inner thought creeps me out so much, I’m red-inking it.

Gail refers to Ana as “ma’am” and Ana asks her to use her name, instead.  Which, to be fair, is exactly what I’d do,  but I bet Grey will find a way to be pissy about it, seeing as he doesn’t want Ana being friendly towards the staff…  Or is it just the staff members who have penises?!

Ana makes Grey agree that Sawyer will only drop her off and pick her up from work, rather than hanging out there all day.  Which makes his next conversation with Taylor, once Ana is out of earshot, all the creepier:

In the elevator Taylor greets me with an update. “Sir, there’s a coffee shop opposite SIP. I think Sawyer can station himself there during the day.”

“If he needs backup? You know, bathroom breaks.”

“I’ll send Reynolds or Ryan.”

“Okay.”

I know fans will justify this with “oh, but Leila has a gun and she could be dangerous,” but Ana made a point of saying she didn’t want to be shadowed or watched all day and this feels creepy, because Grey’s ensuring that’s exactly what happens.  And frankly, I wouldn’t put it past him to have Ana watched even without Leila being a risk.

 

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Grey gets to work and is immediately shitty towards the woman covering for Andrea, whilst she’s away:

I’D FORGOTTEN THAT ANDREA is out for her wedding but she won’t be having much of a honeymoon if she’s back at work tomorrow. The woman who’s replaced her and whose name I still can’t remember is browsing the Vogue Facebook page when I arrive. “No social media during office hours,” I say with a grunt.

Rookie mistake. But she should know this. She’s already an employee here.

This guy has such double standards.  No sneaky checks on Facebook or Twitter for his employees, whilst he’s sending emails – on a system he knows is monitored – telling his girlfriend what he wants to do to her when he gets her home.  Okaaay.

Also, her name is Montana Brooks.  What is wrong with you?!

And just to prove his hypocrisy, Grey goes into his office, sorts out delivery of Ana’s car, rather than working, then immediately sends Ana an email:

Good morning, Miss Steele

I just wanted to say thank you for a wonderful weekend in spite of all the drama. I hope you never leave, ever.

And just to remind you that the news of SIP is embargoed for four weeks.

Delete this e-mail as soon as you’ve read it.

Yours Christian Grey

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings, Inc. & your boss’s boss’s boss

 

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If security is so very important to him, maybe he should send her a freaking TEXT, instead of an email.  And the “your boss’s boss’s boss” bit is in red, because he’s thrown that in there to remind her that he’s taking over the company she works for, despite promising not to interfere in her career.  It’s controlling and almost threatening, seeing as a boss has the power to take someone’s job away, if they do something wrong.

Montana takes Grey a cup of coffee into his office and he tells her he needs ideas for a wedding present (for Andrea).  Montana suggests that it depends on how much he was planning on spending and how well he knows the recipient, but Grey holds his hand up to stop her talking, inwardly thinking how he doesn’t need “a lecture.”  Montana was being completely sensible in her answer and probably hesitant to suggest anything without clarifying those details, knowing how much of a bastard her boss is, so suggesting she’s lecturing him is deeply unfair.  She asks if Andrea has a bridal registry anywhere and Grey tells her to go and find out, inwardly thinking how glad he’ll be when Andrea’s back, despite the fact that in this interaction, Montana has done her job and done nothing wrong.

I’m making a Team Montana t-shirt and I’m going to wear it, whilst burning an effigy of Christian Fuckwit Grey.

 

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After a brief business meeting, which we mercifully skip over, Grey checks his emails and finds a response from Ana.  She wants to know whether he’s asking her to move in with him.  She makes a joke about his “epic stalking capabilities” in reference to the takeover of SIP, which is about as funny as a really bad IBS flare-up.  EL James really needs to learn that stalking is neither sexy or cute.  Ana asks how she sends the money she owes Coping Together after the charity auction and also tells Grey not to delete her email, but to reply to it.

Grey’s thoughts on the idea of Ana moving in are every bit as possessive and creepy and you’d expect:

Am I asking her to move in with me? Shit. Grey, this is a bold, sudden move.

I could look after her. Full-time.

She’d be mine. Really mine.

And deep down I know there is only one answer. A resounding yes. I ignore all her other questions and respond.

Red, because by “look after,” he means “control.”  And whilst “you’re mine” can be romantic when it’s said by someone who isn’t a creepy dickhead, this is Christian Grey speaking and we know he views Ana as something he owns.  Also, there’s only one other question in Ana’s email, but his decision to ignore it is rude.

He replies simply “yes please.”  Well, I say “simply ‘yes please’,” but we still get the time and date stamp, subject line, sender, recipient and email signature, because EL James likes to fill up her word count with that kind of stuff, in the absence of a plot.

Whilst waiting for Ana’s response, Grey starts reading the report he had compiled on Jack Hyde:

On the surface, his background check seems fine. He’s successful and earns a decent salary. He’s from humble beginnings and seems bright and ambitious, but there’s something unusual about his career path.

Who, in publishing, starts in New York, then works at various publishers across the U.S., ending up in Seattle? It makes no sense.

He doesn’t seem to have had any long-term relationships, and he never keeps an assistant for more than three months.

That means Ana’s time with him is limited.

Some of this data may well have been gleaned illegally.  And whatever Jack does later – and yes, it is abhorrent – Grey hasn’t yet read anything that suggests it’s going to happen.  He’s doing all this – obtaining detailed information about Ana’s boss and taking over the company with a view to potentially kicking him out – just because Jack Hyde is a good looking guy and Grey doesn’t want Ana around him, because Grey believes that he is the only man Ana is allowed to look pretty for or talk nicely to.  I can’t stress enough that Christian Grey is NO BETTER THAN JACK HYDE.

 

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Ana replies, reminding Grey that they promised they’d learn to walk before they ran, in terms of their relationship and asks if they can discuss moving in together in the evening, when she’s home.  She also lets him know (note: she tells him, rather than asks him) that she’s been asked to go to a conference in New York on Thursday and so she’ll be staying away overnight on Wednesday.

Grey’s reaction is… Not great.

She doesn’t want to move in with me. This is not the news I wanted. What did you expect, Grey? At least she wants to discuss it this evening, so there’s hope.

But then she also wants to fuck off to New York. Well, that sucks.

I wonder if this is a conference on her own. Or with Hyde?

 

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She doesn’t want to “fuck off to New York,” you asshole, she’s been asked to attend a conference.  Why does everything have to be about you and your pathetic, shrivelled dick?!

He sends her an email response, with the subject title “WHAT?” which seems totally reasonable and not at all aggressive or reactionary.  In the email, he merely agrees that they can talk later and asks if she’s going to New York alone.

Again, at the moment, Grey knows nothing about Jack Hyde to really imply that Jack’s dangerous.  He’s not worried about Ana possibly going away with him because he thinks Jack might harm her.  He’s worried because he’s a possessive piece of shit who trusts neither his girlfriend, despite her giving him no reason not to, nor any other man on the planet, because he judges everyone by his own appallingly low standards.

He returns to reading his report on Jack Hyde, whilst he waits for Ana’s reply:

Jack Hyde must be a prick to work for if he doesn’t keep an assistant for more than three months.

I know I’m an asshole, but Andrea’s worked for me for nearly a year and a half.

I didn’t know she was getting married.

Yes. That’s pissed me off, but before her there was Helena. She was with me for two years, and now she works in HR, recruiting our engineers.

Apparently, the ability to keep an assistant for longer than 3 months is enough of a difference between these dudes for Grey to decide that he must somehow be less of an asshole than Hyde is.  Because it’s all down to that.  Nothing to do with your actual behaviour, right?!

 

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Annoyingly (because Grey is smug enough when he’s not right about things), right at the end of the report into Jack Hyde, Grey finds exactly what he suspected:

And there it is. Three hushed-up harassment claims at his previous publishers and two official warnings at SIP.

Three?

He’s a fucking creep. I knew it. Why wasn’t this in his employee file?

He was all over Ana at the bar. Invading her space. Like the photographer.

Before Grey can react too much, he receives another email from Ana.  All it says is “Can we talk about this tonight?” but that’s all Grey needs to know:

Evasive, Miss Steele.

It’s a trip with him. I know it.

She looked sensational this morning.

He’s planned it, I bet.

Ugh, I bet he has.  I bet he’s the kind of creep who stands outside her apartment building, trying to work out which window is her bedroom.  I bet he’s the sort of guy who’d threaten to non-consensually beat her for not being hungry.  I bet he’d threaten to buy any company she worked for, so he could always control her, even when she’s out of the house, doing her job.

OH NO, THAT’S YOU.

I’m not downgrading Jack Hyde’s own abusive behaviour in any way, but I find it literally infuriating that Grey places himself on such moral high-ground over him, when his behaviour is as bad, if not worse in some cases.

Still, he sets about writing a reply to Ana:

Tell me.

If it’s with the sleazeball you work with, then the answer is no, over my dead body.

 

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Ana, if you don’t want to get your hands dirty, Ill do it.

Also, I don’t actually give a shit that Grey’s just found out that Hyde has had harassment claims made against him; he wasn’t going to let Ana go with him to New York anyway.  You know it.

Grey immediately calls Ros and tells her that SIP is spending too much money and that he’s ordering any trips and hotel stays on behalf of the company etc to be cancelled straight away.  Despite Ros pointing out that this won’t actually save very much cash, Grey is insistent, thinking “that will put a stop to Ana and New York.”  He reminds himself that Ana once said she’d love to visit New York and he decides he wants to be the one who takes her there.

Again, the fans will insist that this is all about him protecting Ana.  But it’s not.  It’s about control.  He wanted to buy the company so he could control her.  Now, she’s told him she’s been invited to attend a conference in New York and he’s using his position as her “boss’s boss’s boss” to ensure it doesn’t happen, because he doesn’t want her going away with another man.  And I maintain that he would have done the same thing based only on a hunch, had he not had information against Hyde.

Ana sends an email in response:

Yes. It is with Jack.

I want to go. It’s an exciting opportunity for me.  And I have never been to New York.

Don’t get your knickers in a twist.

I can already sense how well Grey will react to that.

But before he can email Ana back, he has to be completely unnecessarily shitty to Montana again:

I’m about to reply when I hear a knock. “What?” I bark.

Montana pokes her head around the door and lingers, which is especially irritating—either come in or don’t. “Mr. Grey, the registry for Andrea…” For a moment I have no idea what she’s talking about. “It’s at Crate and Barrel,” she continues, simpering.

“Okay.” What the hell am I supposed to do with that information?

“I’ve made a list of the items still available and their prices.”

“E-mail it to me,” I say through gritted teeth. “And get me another coffee.”

“Yes, Mr. Grey.” She smiles as if we’re discussing the fucking weather and shuts the door.

WHAT IS YOUR FUCKING PROBLEM WITH THIS WOMAN, YOU COMPLETE AND UTTER ANAL POLYP?!  Seriously, she’s just doing her job.  He asked her to find out whether Andrea was registered for gifts, anywhere, after she asked him and he wasn’t sure.  She’s just coming back, having done the job he asked her to do and having made a list of gifts for him to choose from.  She is literally doing exactly what she’s supposed to be doing and he’s treating her like absolute shit for it.  This guy can say what he likes about Jack Hyde, but if Montana Brooks was there as his permanent PA, I bet she wouldn’t stick around for longer than three months, either.

 

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Grey replies to Ana, telling her it’s not his knickers he’s worried about and that the answer is “NO.”  Just as a casual reminder, she never asked for his fucking permission.

I hate this book.

Montana brings Grey another coffee and reminds him that he has a meeting with Barney and Fred in the lab.

Really?!

 

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Whatever.

Grey tells her he’ll take his coffee with him.  He tries to drink some whilst it’s hot and apparently that stupidity is somehow Montana’s fault:

Montana leaves and I take a sip of coffee. Fuck. Shit. It’s scalding hot.

I drop the cup, the coffee, everything. Hell.

Fortunately, it misses me and my keyboard, but it’s all over the damn floor. “Ms. Brooks!” I yell. Jesus, I wish Andrea was here.

Montana pops her head around the door. Neither in. Nor out. And still wearing too much freshly applied lipstick. “I’ve just dropped my coffee all over the floor because it was scalding hot. Get it cleaned up, please.”

“Oh, Mr. Grey. I’m so sorry.” She scurries in to survey the mess and I leave her to deal with it. For a moment I wonder whether she might have done this on purpose.

I HOPE SHE DID, CONSIDERING HOW BADLY YOU’RE TREATING HER.

 

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Grey heads to the lab, where Barney tells him they’ve finally come up with a casing for a tablet and that they could easily adapt it for a mobile phone, too.  Fred yells “yabba dabba doooo” and man I wish I was drunk, right now, because recapping this kind of dull shit might be more fun.

As he heads away from his meeting, Grey receives an email from Ana, who appears to have grown a pair and decided not to be told what she can and can’t do:

Christian

You need to get a grip.

I am NOT going to sleep with Jack—not for all the tea in China.

I LOVE you. That’s what happens when people love each other.

They TRUST each other.

I don’t think you are going to SLEEP WITH, SPANK, FUCK, or WHIP anyone else.

I have FAITH and TRUST in you.

Please extend the same COURTESY to me.

 

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Now, remember how Grey has been sending her emails about her “sleazeball” boss and basically telling her what to do?  Well, he’s just remembered those emails are monitored and instead of being placated by her vow of faithfulness, he’s infuriated that she’s used such language in an email that could be seen by others:

What the hell! I told her the e-mails at SIP were monitored. We stop at several floors and I try, really try, to contain my anger. 

Red, because I bet you twenty English pounds he’s actually more mad that she stood up to him, than he is about the emails.

Still, he gets back to his office and calls Ana straight away:

“Will you please delete the last e-mail you sent me and try to be a little more circumspect in the language you use in your work e-mail? I told you, the system is monitored. I will endeavor to do some damage limitation from here,” I snarl and hang up.

I call Barney.

“Mr. Grey.”

“Can you delete Miss Anastasia Steele’s e-mail to me at nine fifty-five from the SIP server and all mine to her?”

There’s silence at the other end of the phone. “Barney?”

“Um. Sure, Mr. Grey, I was just working out how I can do it. I have an idea.”

Great. Let me know when it’s done.” 

What an excellent way of ensuring nobody will see the contents of that email.  I really hope Barney reads it.  And I hope he gives Ana a round of applause, too.

But Ana, unimpressed with her boyfriend’s aggressive phone call, has decided to ring Grey back and stand up for herself, some more:

“I am going to New York whether you like it or not.”

Don’t count on it.” Silence. “Ana?”

She’s hung up on me. Fuck. Again.

Who does that? Well, I might have just done it to her, but that’s not the point.

And I remember she did it when she drunk-dialed me.

I put my head in my hands. Ana. Ana. Ana.

 

“How dare you to me what I literally just did to you?!”

This guy makes me want to cry with rage.

And note the whole “Ana.  Ana.  Ana.”  We’re supposed to feel some kind of sympathy for Grey’s frustration, because he’s only protecting her, right?!

 

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Barney calls to say that the email has been safely deleted from the SIP servers.  Grey inwardly thinks that at least something is going right.  But then…

There’s a knock on the door. What now? Montana opens the door; she’s holding a can of carpet cleaner and some tissue. “Later,” I snap. I’ve had enough of her.

She quickly reverses out of the office. I take a deep breath. Today is turning into a shit day and it’s not even lunchtime. 

  1. SHE IS TRYING TO DO HER JOB, YOU CRUSTY JIZZ STAIN.
  2. HOW IS IT NOT EVEN LUNCHTIME?!  ARE YOU TELLING ME I HAVE OVER HALF THE DAMN DAY STILL TO GO IN THIS CHAPTER?!  PLEASE KILL ME.

 

Once that awful Montana woman is gone, Grey gets another email from Ana:

Please tell me you won’t interfere with my work.

I really want to go to this conference.

I shouldn’t have to ask you.

I have deleted the offending e-mail.

 

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Grey responds:

I am just protecting what is mine.

Nope.  Biiiiig bag of nope.  She’s not your property and you do not get to make this choice for her.  He also tells her he’s had her email wiped from the server and that he trusts her implicitly, but does not trust Jack.

Ana replies:

I don’t need protecting from my own boss.

He may make a pass at me, but I would say no.

You cannot interfere. It’s wrong and controlling on so many levels.

I never thought I’d see the day when I’d be clapping my hands and whooping “GO ANA!” so many times in one chapter of this hell-fest, but here we are.  I’m pointing it out, because we know for a fact it won’t last.  Then, I’ll be sad.

In response to this, rather than analysing his own behaviour whatsoever, or even considering what Ana has written, Grey thinks to himself:

“Controlling” is my middle name, Ana. I think I’ve told you this already, along with “unreasonable” and “weird.”

 

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THESE ARE BAD THINGS (with the exception of “weird” – I wear my weirdness like a badge of honour and I will not sully it by connecting it with this prick).  This is the guy who fans insist “changes.”  HE DOES NOT CHANGE.  Here he is, literally admitting to being controlling and unreasonable, as though these are perfectly acceptable characteristics to force on others.  This isn’t about Ana’s safety.  I will say this until my head explodes, if I have to.  This is about control.  It’s about his refusal to let her live any aspect of her life without his say-so.

He sends her an email with the subject heading “The answer is NO,” conveniently ignoring the fact that Ana has already said that she shouldn’t have to ask for his permission and that she doesn’t want his interference in her work life:

I have seen how “effective” you are at fighting off unwanted attention. I remember that’s how I had the pleasure of spending my first night with you. At least the photographer has feelings for you. The sleazeball, on the other hand, does not. He is a serial philanderer, and he will try to seduce you. Ask him what happened to his previous PA and the one before that.

I don’t want to fight about this. If you want to go to New York, I’ll take you. We can go this weekend. I have an apartment there.

 

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There is so much wrong with this, I’m going to need to make a list:

  1. Casually reminding her that he first got to spend the night with her when he stepped in as someone else attempted to force himself on her, before she passed out drunk and Grey took her back to his hotel with him, without her consent.
  2. This is victim-blaming.  Suggesting that she can’t go away, because he’s seen how bad she is at protecting herself is vile.
  3. It’s also manipulative.  He’s trying to remind her of a bad experience, which he reckons he had to save her from, in order to make her doubt herself, so she won’t want to go.
  4. Sexual assault is apparently okay, as long as the perpetrator has feelings for their victim?  I guess Grey would say that…
  5. Saying “I don’t want to fight” is gaslight-y AF.  It’s a subtle way of making Ana think she’s the one causing the fight by being unreasonable, whereas poor Grey is just trying to look out for her and rectify the situation.  You don’t get to start the fight by being an unreasonable control freak in the first place, then do the whole “oh please, let’s not fight” routine.
  6. She doesn’t necessarily just want to go to freaking New York.  It’s not just about visiting somewhere she hasn’t been before, it’s about her having asked him more than once not to interfere with her career.  It’s about the conference, not the damn city.
  7. Of course he has an apartment, there.  Is there anywhere he doesn’t have one?!

 

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When Ana doesn’t immediately reply, Grey calls Welch to thank him for the information on Jack Hyde and to find out if there’s any news about Leila.  Grey is still reluctant to involve the police, because he’s just so protective of Ana, clearly.  After their call, Montana buzzes Grey to let him know his mother is on the line.

Grace is calling to say sorry for the way she spoke about Ana at the masked ball.  But rather than be nice about it, Grey simply huffs that “it’s fine,” whilst inwardly thinking that it’s not.  Sounding obviously contrite and a little upset, Grace reminds Grey that it’s his birthday on Sunday and that the family would really like to throw him a party.  But rather than discuss this with his mother, or even thank her for the idea, Grey notices an email from Ana has come through and so he literally fobs his mother off by saying he’s too busy to talk.

Remind me: why does anyone think this guy is remotely attractive?!

Ana’s email doesn’t really reference anything from the one Grey sent, beyond sarcastically mentioning that he’s been busy interfering in her career.  She’s messaging to say that Elena has gotten hold of her email address and asked her to meet for lunch one day in the week.  Ana doesn’t want to go.

Oh, this day just gets better and better. What the hell is Elena doing now? And Ana is calling me out on my shit as usual.

I didn’t know arguing could be so tiresome.  And discouraging.  And worrying.  She’s mad at me.

 

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Oh, poor you.  Ask yourself why she’s mad, you utter moron.

He responds with something so reminiscent of the kind of shit abusers say when they know they’re in the wrong and are trying to manipulate their partners into thinking they’re acting out of love, it makes me want to remove my own eyes, so I never have to read anything as hateful as this book, again:

Don’t be mad at me. I have your best interests at heart.

If anything happened to you, I would never forgive myself.

I’ll deal with Mrs. Lincoln.

Grey calls Elena and I’m going to have to break their chat up into sections, because I have THINGS TO SAY:

“Do I have to get a banner and attach it to a plane and fly it over your office?”

She laughs. “My e-mail?”

She finds it funny that, having already been asked to leave Ana alone, she’s continuing to contact her.  I can see why Grey was attracted to Elena – she’s as abusive as he is.

“Yes, Ana sent it to me. Please. Leave her alone. She doesn’t want to see you. And I understand and respect that. You’re making my life really difficult.”

So, this isn’t about Grey caring for Ana.  He’s more concerned that this is a problem for him.  Also, he doesn’t understand or respect Ana.  At all.  Ever.

“You understand her?”

“Yes.”

Nope.  If he really understood Ana, he’d realise how important her career was to her and he wouldn’t be messing with it.

“I think she needs to know how hard you are on yourself.”

Give me a break.  Christian Grey is only hard on himself when he’s being melodramatic or feeling sorry for himself.  The rest of the time, he thinks he’s fucking brilliant.

“No. She doesn’t need to know anything.”

Yes, she does.  Because you’re still dancing around things and keeping stuff from her and a healthy relationship is based on honesty.

“You sound exhausted.”

To be fair, he and Ana are at it like rabbits, so he probably is, even though he can’t last longer than 30 seconds each time.

“I’m just tired of you going behind my back and chasing my girlfriend.”

“Girlfriend?”

“Yes. Girlfriend. Get used to it.”

Oooooooooh, well that’s her told.

She sighs long and hard.

For a minute, I saw “long and hard” and thought EL was writing another bloody awful sex scene.

“Elena. Please.”

“Okay, Christian, it’s your funeral.”

What the fuck?

Woman, I loathe agreeing with this horror of a man, but, like he said, WHAT THE FUCK?!  Piss off and leave them to their abusive relationship.  You had your turn.

 

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Grey is not in a great mood when he gets off the phone and he laments his lack of control (HA!):

Life has become complicated. It used to be easier when everything and everyone stayed where I placed them, in their designated compartments. Now, with Ana, everything’s changed. This is all new, and so far everyone, including my mother, seems to be pissed at me or pissing me off.

If they’re pissing you off, ask yourself why.  If they’re pissed at you, ask yourself an even more IMPORTANT why.

Ana emails again, asking him to please agree to discuss the New York trip at home.  She also asks him to leave her alone, whilst she’s trying to work and shockingly, Grey decides to do just that, even though he wants to go over to SIP and take her out for lunch.  Ooh, that must be the change fans bang on about.  Wow.

Oh, but wait…

Whilst Grey is eating lunch, Taylor calls to tell him that everything is okay, but that he should be aware that Ana left the office and went to a deli during her lunch break.  This is enough to make Grey, in his own words: “mad as hell.”

No change.  Nope.  None.

He calls her to admonish her:

“You assured me you wouldn’t go out.”

“Jack sent me out for some lunch. I couldn’t say no. Are you having me watched?” She sounds incredulous.

I ignore her question. “This is why I didn’t want you going back to work.”

“Christian, please. You’re being so suffocating.”

“Suffocating?”

“Yes. You have to stop this. I’ll talk to you this evening. Unfortunately, I have to work late because I can’t go to New York.”

Anastasia, I don’t want to suffocate you.”

“Well, you are. I have work to do. I’ll talk to you later.” She sounds as miserable as I feel and she hangs up.

I’m suffocating her? Maybe I am… I just want to protect her. I saw what Leila did to her car.

Don’t push her too far, Grey.  She’ll leave.

 

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How is “am I suffering her?” even a question at this point?!  He is having her watched, he controls what she does both in and out of the workplace, despite her asking him not to… He does nothing but suffocate her!

We cut to an appointment with Dr Flynn, so…  Wooooo boy, let’s buckle up for some major lack of research…

Flynn discusses Grey’s purchase of SIP and tells Grey he’s not surprised that Ana feels suffocated.  This displeases Grey, because, his internal monologue tells us, it’s “not what (he) want(s) to hear.”

Tough shit, dude.  It’s the truth.

Flynn goes on:

“I understand that you’re trying to protect her, and I know why you’re trying to do that. But this is an out-of-the-ordinary reaction. You have a bank account that allows you to do this, but you will drive her away if you continue on this path.”

He tells Grey that whilst he appreciates that Grey has a lot to deal with at the moment, what with Leila and Ana’s understandable animosity towards Elena, there’s obviously something bigger that Grey isn’t saying and he’s waiting for him to.

Grey slowly realises what Flynn is waiting for him to say:

He saw it on Saturday?

The bidding?

The dancing?

Shit.

“I’m in love with Ana.”

“Thank you. I know.”

 

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Flynn blathers on about how Grey’s capable of love and Grey bleats about how this is all new and scary and blah, blah, blah.  He tells Grey not to be so hard on himself, which he definitely wouldn’t be saying if he knew the extent of his client’s shitty behaviour.  He also tells Grey he can’t keep Ana locked up, which is a relief:

“…You’ve put measures in place to keep Ana and you safe. You’ve done all you can. You can’t be everywhere, and you can’t keep Ana locked up.”

“I want to.”

“I know you do. But you can’t. Simple.”

I shake my head, but deep down I know John’s right.

Deep.  Down.

Deep down he knows he can’t lock his girlfriend up against her will.  That’s…  That’s something that should be right up there with the obvious shit like “I mustn’t wipe my arse with a cactus.”

Flynn tells Grey that he’s experiencing a delayed adolescence, emotionally-speaking (still doesn’t mean he gets to behave like a shit-hole towards anyone) and, as Grey refuses to take any anti-anxiety medication, he suggests they practise some relaxation techniques.

“Okay.” I hold my hands up in surrender. “I’ll try my happy place.”

I sound sarcastic, but it will appease John, who’s looking at the clock.

Where is my happy place? My childhood in the orchard. Sailing or soaring. Always. It used to be with Elena. But now my happy place is with Ana. 

In Ana.

 

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Ew.  Why can’t he view her as a person and not just a vagina he gets to plug himself in to?!

We cut to Grey sitting outside SIP in the back of the Audi, with Taylor in front.  Grey calls Ana to ask what time she’ll finish and to say he’ll meet her outside.  He then tells Taylor they’ll just sit there and wait until 7:30pm when Ana finishes work.  Lucky Taylor.

They wait for an hour, before Ana comes out and gets in the car.  Grey asks her if she’s still mad with him for all the abusive bullshit he’s pulled:

I grasp her hand and squeeze it. “Are you still mad?” I ask.

“I don’t know,” she says.

I bring her hand to my lips and kiss each knuckle in turn. “It’s been a shitty day.”

A shitty day you literally caused with your obsessive, controlling, unreasonable behaviour.  But sure, gloss over that part and make out that being an obsessive, controlling, unreasonable bastard is equally as bad as suffering the behaviour of one.

Taylor stops the car outside Escala and Ana and Grey run through the rain into the building.  Once they’re in the elevator, guess what happens?!

 

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Yep, they get frisky.  Because I don’t know about you, but having someone potentially fuck up my first ever serious job for me definitely makes me hot.

Grey presses the elevator’s emergency stop button so they can get down to business.  And as per usual, it’s all about his needs and about possession:

This is what I want.

This is what I needed.

After such a shitty day.

She didn’t run.

She’s here.

For me.

With me.

“You’re mine, Anastasia.” The words wash against her throat.

“Yes. Yours. When will you accept that?” Her words are a sigh. And it’s what I want to hear. What I need to hear. I take her, fast, furious. I need her. With each little cry, each pant, each tug of my hair, I know she needs me, too.

 

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There is a little section after their passionate twenty seconds of sex, which makes me feel so sorry for Grey’s staff:

Taylor is waiting when the doors open. “Problem with the elevator,” I say as we step out, but I avoid eye contact with him.

Ana scampers off to the bedroom, no doubt to freshen up, and I make my way into the kitchen, where Mrs. Jones is preparing dinner.

“The Saab is here, Mr. Grey,” Taylor says, having followed me into the kitchen.

“Great. I’ll let Ana know.”

“Sir.” He smiles. He and Gail exchange a look before he turns to leave.

I hope Taylor and Gail tear these sex-obsessed arseholes to shreds when they get together over a bottle of wine, later.  Damn, I wish I could hang out with them.

But then, Gail goes and spoils it:

“Coq au vin, for two.” She gives me a fond sideways glance as she takes two plates out of the warming drawer.

Don’t be looking at this snake fondly, Gail.  He’s not fit to wipe your backside on.

 

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Ana and Grey eat dinner and make chit-chat about Grey’s work day.  Ana asks about his New York apartment and he promises to take her there, one day.  After dinner, Grey stops Ana from washing up, saying Gail can do it (see, Gail?  I told you!).  Then, he tells Ana that since she seems “more docile,” they should discuss their issues from the day.  Ana jokes that he seems more docile, because she’s doing such a good job of taming him, which… I just…  That’s just not true, is it?!

Anyway, she admits that Grey was right about Jack Hyde:

“You were right about Jack,” she says, and leans across the kitchen counter, regarding me seriously.

My blood runs cold. “Has he tried anything?”

She shakes her head. “No, and he won’t, Christian. I told him today that I’m your girlfriend, and he backed right off.”

“You’re sure? I could fire the fucker.” He’s history. I want him out.

Ana sighs. “You really have to let me fight my own battles. You can’t constantly second-guess me and try to protect me. It’s stifling, Christian. I’ll never flourish with your incessant interference. I need some freedom. I wouldn’t dream of meddling in your affairs.”

“I only want you safe, Anastasia. If anything happened to you, I—”

“I know,” she says, “and I understand why you feel so driven to protect me. And part of me loves it. I know that if I need you, you’ll be there, as I am for you. But if we are to have any hope of a future together, you have to trust me and trust my judgment. Yes, I’ll get it wrong sometimes—I’ll make mistakes, but I have to learn.”

It’s a passionate plea, and I know she’s right.

Welcome to the place all of us non-abusers have been since THE DAWN OF TIME.

Ana doesn’t stop there, either.  She tells him that he can’t try to control her in her workplace, anymore:

“You can’t interfere in my job. It’s wrong. I don’t need you charging in like a white knight to save the day. I know you want to control everything, and I understand why, but you can’t. It’s an impossible goal. You have to learn to let go.” She strokes my face. “And if you can do that—give me that—I’ll move in with you.”

You’d do that?”

“Yes,” she says.

So, she does do that.  But does Grey stop interfering in her career?

 

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Naturally, despite the fact that Grey’s just got exactly what he wants, he chooses this moment to get all melodramatic.  Again.

“But you don’t know me,” I blurt, suddenly panicked. I have to tell her.

“I know you well enough, Christian. Nothing you tell me about yourself will frighten me away.”

I doubt that. She doesn’t know why I do what I do. She doesn’t know the monster.

UGH, ENOUGH OF THIS SHIT, IT IS NOT INTERESTING.

Grey makes some saccharine speech about how much he loves her and everything he does is only to protect her and he still doesn’t actually tell her the big, scary secret he’s supposedly keeping and it all just sounds like the kind of crap abusers say to justify their behaviour.

Oh and speaking of abusers, remember how Grey has told Elena to stay away on multiple occasions?!  Well, this happens:

Taylor coughs in the background, and I stand with Ana by my side. “Yes?” I ask Taylor, a little more sharply than intended.

“Mrs. Lincoln is on her way up, sir.”

“What?” Taylor gives me an apologetic shrug.

I shake my head. “Well, this should be interesting,” I mutter, and give Ana a contrite smile.

 

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I was about to go off on a rant about how shitty it is to be asked multiple times to stay away and to just keep turning up or making contact, anyway, but I’ve suddenly realised that Elena is almost certainly being made worse in this book so that readers will go “oh, but she is really bad and it was her who showed Christian how to be in a BDSM relationship, so he doesn’t know any better,” and that just makes me furiously angry, so…

Elena arrives and the atmosphere between she and Ana is understandably frosty.  She also still seems to have a problem realising that Ana isn’t following the rules for submissives:

She looks from me to Ana. “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you had company, Christian. It’s Monday,” she says.

“Girlfriend,” I clarify. Submissives only on the weekend, Mrs. Lincoln. You know this.

“Of course. Hello, Anastasia. I didn’t know you’d be here. I know you don’t want to talk to me. I accept that.”

“Do you?” Ana’s tone is deadly. Hell.

Elena walks toward us. “Yes, I get the message. I’m not here to see you. Like I said, Christian rarely has company during the week.” She pauses and addresses Ana directly. “I have a problem, and I need to talk to Christian about it.”

Elena tells Grey that she’s being blackmailed and that she can’t go to the police.  She’s had a note demanding five thousand dollars, or the sender will “tell all.”

Whilst Elena and Grey discuss this, Ana makes her excuses and goes to bed.  As soon as Ana’s gone, Grey makes to offer Elena the blackmail money, but she changes the subject:

“I don’t think there’s a great deal I can do, Elena. If it’s a question of money…” I stop. She knows I’d give her the money. “I could ask Welch to investigate?”

“No, Christian, I just wanted to share. You look very happy,” she adds, changing the subject.

“I am.” Ana just agreed to move in.

“You deserve to be.”

“I wish that were true.”

 

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PLEASE MAKE THE SELF PITY END, I CANNOT TAKE ANYMORE.

“Christian.” Elena’s tone is chastising. “Does she know how negative you are about yourself? About all your issues?”

Well, she gets the brunt of those issues, so…

“She knows me better than anyone.”

“Ouch! That hurts.”

“It’s the truth, Elena. I don’t have to play games with her. And I mean it, leave her alone.”

“What is her problem?”

“You. What we were. What we did. She doesn’t understand.”

“Make her understand.”

“MAKE HER OKAY WITH STATUTORY RAPE, DAMNIT!”

Dear lord, this book.  This whole damn franchise.

“It’s in the past, Elena, and why would I want to taint her with our fucked up relationship? She’s good and sweet and innocent, and by some miracle she loves me.”

“It’s no miracle, Christian. Have a little faith in yourself. You really are quite a catch…”

 

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Elena starts asking Grey whether he misses using his playroom and Grey snaps that it’s none of her business (which it isn’t) and tells her she needs to stop trying to jeopardise his relationship with Ana.  Elena goes down the “I just don’t want you being hurt” route again and thankfully we’re spared too much of it, by Grey starting to get irritated and making it clear he wants her to leave.  He promises to get Welch to see if he can find out who’s blackmailing her and he also tells her to stop gossiping with his mother about his relationship with Ana.

Grey heads to the bedroom, where Ana wants to know more about Elena and… It ends in an argument, because of course it does:

“Will you tell me all about her? I am trying to understand why you think she helped you.” She glances down at her fingernails, then up at me, her eyes clear with conviction. “I loathe her, Christian. I think she did you untold damage. You have no friends. Did she keep them away from you?”

Oh, Christ. I’ve really had enough of this. I do not need this now. “Why the fuck do you want to know about her? We had a very long-standing affair, she beat the shit out of me often, and I fucked her in all sorts of ways you can’t even imagine, end of story.”

She’s taken aback. Eyes flashing, she tosses her hair over her shoulder. “Why are you so angry?”

“Because all of that shit is over!” And I’m shouting. 

Ana looks away, her mouth a hard line. Damn it. Why am I so volatile around her…?

Niiiice, subtle bit of victim-blaming, there.  It’s Ana’s fault that Grey is so angry all the time.  Because of course it is.

 

 

 

 

 

Ana asks if Elena ever acted as Grey’s submissive and he says yes.  We get a painfully awkward piece of foreshadowing:

“Do you expect me to like her?”

“No. Though it would make my life a hell of a lot easier. I do understand your reticence.”

“Reticence! Jeez, Christian—if that were your son, how would you feel?”

What a ridiculous question. Me. With a son?

Never.

 

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Grey tells Ana that Elena’s current sub, Isaac, is in his 20s and therefore a consenting adult.  Ana points out that Grey is in his 20s and Elena clearly has a taste for guys his age.  Grey changes the subject by telling Ana her new car has arrived a day early.  Ana excitedly asks if she can drive it to work the next day.  It’s a request that does not go down well with Grey…

“No.”

“Why not?”

“You know why not.” Leila. Do I have to spell it out? “And that reminds me,” I continue. “If you’re going to leave your office, let me know. Sawyer was there, watching you. It seems I can’t trust you to look after yourself at all.”

“Seems I can’t trust you, either,” she says. “You could have told me Sawyer was watching me.”

“Do you want to fight about that, too?” I ask.

“I wasn’t aware we were fighting. I thought we were communicating,” she replies, glaring at me.

I close my eyes, struggling to keep my temper. This is getting us nowhere. “I have to work.” I walk out, leaving her sitting on the bed, before I say something I’ll regret. All these questions. If she doesn’t like the answers, why does she ask me?

I don’t know, maybe it’s to get to know you better?  To understand why you’re the creepy, vile piece of shit you are?  Because this is what people in relationships do?  They communicate!  And the constant struggling to control his temper and the temptation to say things he knows he’ll regret just feels emotionally abusive, to me.

Grey heads to his office and finds an email from Elena has just come through:

I’m sorry. I don’t know what possessed me to come over. I feel that I’m losing you as a friend. That’s all. I value your friendship and advice so much. I wouldn’t be where I am without you. Just know that.

There’s a fairly strong argument that he wouldn’t be quite where he is, without you, but I don’t want to entirely blame you for his decision to behave abusively, because I’m pretty sure EL James is doing that for me.

 

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Grey thinks a similar thought to mine and then has a flashback to their time together:

She grabs a handful of my hair, tugging my head back. “What do you want to tell me?” she purrs, icy blue eyes boring into mine. I’m broken. My knees are sore. My back is covered in welts. My thighs ache. I can’t take any more. And she’s looking directly into my eyes. Waiting.

“I want to leave Harvard, Ma’am,” I say. And it’s a dark confession. Harvard had always been a goal. For me. For my folks. Just to show them I could do it. Just to prove to them I wasn’t the fuckup they thought I was.

“Leave? School?”

“Yes, Ma’am.” She lets go of my hair and swings the flogger from side to side. “What will you do?”

“I want to start my own business.”

She runs a scarlet fingernail down my cheek, to my mouth. “I knew something was bothering you. I always have to beat it out of you, don’t I?”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“Get dressed. Let’s talk about this.”

What a great scene, I’m so glad it was included.

Grey finally looks up from his work at 10:30 and ponders making business decisions based on who he’s fucking, again:

I’ve been lost in the final SIP contract. I wonder if I should make it a condition of sale to get rid of Hyde, but that might be actionable.

I strongly suspect it would, yes.

Grey heads back to the bedroom and panics when he sees that Ana isn’t there.  He finds her in the library, curled up in a chair, fast asleep, with a book in her lap.  I wonder briefly if it’s this one, because recapping this crap sends me to sleep, too.

He carries her off to bed and heads for a shower, to wash the day off himself.  And there, thank the lord, is where this chapter ends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Darker Chapter 4 (Sunday, June 12th, 2011)

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Okay, I need to tell you all something.  You know how much I loathe  EL James’ decision to make each chapter in this book 24 hours long?  Well, would you like to know how many pages the last chapter was in length?  According to my PDF, nearly 80.  Nearly 80 A4 pages.  There were probably at least 3 places – probably four or five – where this chapter could have ended, were the author not a weird, self-obsessed, sadistic, bad writer.

I haven’t counted how many pages make up this chapter, because I don’t want to depress myself right off the bat.  I’ll let the plot and the characters do that for me.

Ooh, also, today I’ve managed to copy and paste from the PDF, so quotes will be in italics, we can actually red-ink the abusive bits and this whole blog will look nicer.  HUZZAH!

 

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Shockingly, this chapter doesn’t start with Grey waking up.  No, EL James’ obsession with 24 hour chapters is so strong, that this chapter starts at midnight.  YAY.  Ana and Grey are still at his parents’ masked ball, but at the stroke of twelve, the MC announces that everyone can take off their masks.  I’m assuming Ana’s clothes also turn to rags and the Audi becomes a pumpkin, or something.  Then, I guess she runs off, losing a shoe en route, and Grey has to go around every house in the neighbourhood, touching the foot of every woman, until he finds one who orgasms instantly and that’s how he knows he’s found her, again.

Damnit, that would be a better story than this drivel.

They are watching a firework display, set to classical music.  Grey notes:

My parents have gone overboard for their guests, and it makes me feel a little less annoyed with them.

Because grand displays of wealth are the only things that impress this dude.

Speaking of which, the MC announces that the assembled guests have raised $1.8million and Grey just has to smugly think to himself:

My contribution of $600,000 has helped.

 

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I hope there’ll be a day when that GIF isn’t appropriate, but…  I’ve never seen Christian Grey and Donald Trump in the same room, is all I’m saying…

Grey thinks to himself that despite everything (all their arguing, plus Leila being on the loose), he’s really enjoyed spending so much time with Ana and he wants to spend much more time with her, over the coming days.  Aaaw.  Cute.  Gives him more time to abuse her, I guess.

As they prepare to leave, Grey broaches the subject of Ana’s $24,000 bid during the charity auction, before asking for the silver balls he gave Ana, back:

“So, Aspen?” I ask, to divert her.

“Oh, I haven’t paid for my bid,” she says.

“You can send a check. I have the address.”

“You were really mad.”

“Yes, I was.”

“I blame you and your toys.” “

You were quite overcome, Miss Steele. A most satisfactory outcome, if I recall. Incidentally, where are they?”

“The silver balls? In my bag.”

“I’d like them back. They are far too potent a device to be left in your innocent hands.”

“Worried I might be quite overcome again, maybe with somebody else?” she says, with a wicked gleam in her eye.

Ana, don’t tease me about these things.

Red, because there is not one single part of me that doesn’t genuinely believe he’d murder Ana if she cheated on him.

A DJ starts playing music and Grey asks Ana if she’d like to dance.  Ana says she’s exhausted, which makes me very certain she’ll somehow be wide awake and wanting sex, once they get home.  Mia says goodbye to them and tells Ana they really must “hit the mall,” sometime, before Grey ushers Ana away, telling his sister they have “a big day, tomorrow.”  Grey decides he ought to say goodnight to his parents before they leave and make up for his earlier “outburst” with his mother.

We stroll toward them. Grace’s face lights up when she sees us. Reaching up, she touches my face, and I try not to scowl at her.

 

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Grace must feel so very loved.

They head out of the party and things get gross very quickly:

“I really enjoyed this evening, Anastasia. Thank you.”

“Me, too…Some parts more than others.”

And clearly she’s thinking about our tryst in my childhood bedroom. “Don’t bite your lip,” I warn.

“Because even though you’ve said you’re exhausted and I’ve inwardly noted the fatigue in your eyes and in your voice, I will still force sex on you.”  Translating this shit is so depressing.

And then it gets worse:

“What did you mean about a big day tomorrow?” she asks. I tell her that Dr. Greene will make a house call and that I have a surprise for her. “Dr. Greene?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“Because I hate condoms.”

“It’s my body,” she grumbles.

“It’s mine, too,” I whisper. Ana. Please. I. Hate. Them.

 

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NO IT IS NOT YOUR BODY TOO, YOU ABSOLUTE FUCKING CRETIN.  IT BELONGS TO HER.  SHE IS NOT A THING YOU OWN.  THIS IS NOT YOUR DECISION TO MAKE.

Every time someone calls this shit feminist, Emmeline Pankhurst rolls in her grave.

But of course, instead of Ana continuing to assert her rights over her own body, this super example of modern feminism in action has her merely reach up to undo Grey’s bowtie and tell him how hot he is.

PLEASE KILL ME, I DON’T WANT TO LIVE IN A WORLD IN WHICH THIS EXISTS.

We deserve better.  We deserve books that show us strong, female characters who have control over their own bodies.  We deserve anything that propagates the idea that a man has control over a woman’s body like this, to be fired into the sun.

Also, note the full stops between each word Grey thinks, in his internal monologue: “Ana.  Please.  I.  Hate.  Them.”  It makes it sound as though he’s inwardly speaking through gritted teeth.  It makes him sound angry.  This is not a man with any consideration for his partner’s wants, needs or even right to choose.  This is all about him.  This is what abuse looks like.  And we’re being sold it as romance.

 

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As Ana and Grey climb into the car to head home, Ana is passed an envelope, with what Grey says is “familiar handwriting” on it.  It turns out to be a note from Elena, causing Ana to exclaim in annoyance that Grey told Elena that Ana refers to her as “Mrs Robinson.”  Ana doesn’t elaborate on what the note says, but naturally, rather than continue a discussion on the subject, like a healthy couple, she merely hands Grey back his kegel balls and says lustily: “Until the next time…”

As Taylor drives them home, Ana falls asleep and Grey takes some time to think about the important issues of the day:

Midway across the 520 bridge, she’s asleep. I take a moment to relax. So much has happened today. I’m tired, so I put my head back and close my eyes. Yeah. It’s been quite a day. Ana and the check. Her bad temper. Her willfulness. The lipstick. The sex. Yes. The sex.

All in red, because Ana’s bad temper was caused by his abusive behaviour, her “willfulness” was merely her trying to exercise her right to make her own decisions and clearly, all Grey really gives a shit about is the physical aspect of their relationship.

When they arrive at home, they discover that Ana’s car has been vandalised:

“Come. I’ll put you to bed.” My fingers curl around hers, and we follow Sawyer out of the elevator and into the foyer. Sawyer halts in front of us and holds up his hand. I tighten my grip on Ana’s fingers. What the hell?

“Will do, T,” Sawyer says, and turns to face us. “Mr. Grey, the tires on Ms. Steele’s Audi have been slashed and paint thrown all over it.” Ana gasps. What?

My immediate thought is that some mindless vandal has broken into the garage…then I remember Leila.

Grey insists on joining Taylor and the security team, doing a sweep of the apartment.  He tells Ana to stay down in the garage with Sawyer, whilst they go to check to see if the intruder has somehow broken in.  I think we’re supposed to think of Grey as some kind of brave hero, but…

 

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Once Grey and the team have scanned the whole apartment and determined that nobody is there, Grey tells Ana it’s time for bed.  She’s understandably nervous, but as they go inside, she passes him Elena’s note, so he can finally read it.  And yay, it’s time to paint Grey as a poor victim again!

Anastasia,

I may have misjudged you. And you have definitely misjudged me. Call me if you need to fill in any of the blanks—we could have lunch. Christian doesn’t want me talking to you, but I would be more than happy to help. Don’t get me wrong, I approve, believe me—but so help me, if you hurt him…He’s been hurt enough. Call me: (206) 279-6261.

Mrs. Robinson

 

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The irony of the woman who committed statutory rape against him, being all “HE’S BEEN HURT ENOUGH,” is not lost on me.  But, whilst I do feel sympathy for Grey’s childhood abuse and for the way he was taken advantage of as a teen, I’m sick to death of the whole “POOR ICKLE CHRISTIAN” routine.  He’s a grown up, who makes his own decisions.  And his decision is to constantly abuse and control those around him.  He’s not a victim, anymore, but he’s sure as hell creating them.

Grey tells the reader that the note “provokes (his) temper.”  He wonders whether Elena is playing games.

Now, one of the things fans insist about Grey is that he behaves the (shitty) way he does, because he wants to protect Ana.  But when Ana asks if he’ll be reporting the damage to her car to the police, he says no:

“Are you going to call the police about the car?” she asks, as she turns around. I move her hair out of the way and pull down the zipper. “No. I don’t want the police involved. Leila needs help, not police intervention, and I don’t want them here. We just have to double our efforts to find her.” I kiss her shoulder. “Go to bed.”

So, sure, he has a private investigator willing to break the law to track people – something he probably doesn’t want the police to find out about – and he has a security team at home, but when his clearly frightened girlfriend suggests doing the sensible thing and actually involving the police, he refuses, under the guise of protection, yet again – this time, for Leila’s benefit.  This is how abusers operate.  It’s all on their terms and it’s got nothing to do with protection.  it’s about control at any cost.  This guy isn’t a hero.

 

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I had to use that GIF, because it reminded me that Jodie is going to be the freaking Doctor and that made me happy, which is rare when I’m writing these recaps…

 Ana goes to bed and Grey heads to the kitchen to get a glass of water, where he ponders what’s been going on and indulges in some ableist thinking:

What the hell is going on? My world seems to be imploding. Just when I’m beginning to get back on track with Ana, my past is coming back to haunt me: Leila and Elena. I wonder for a moment if they might be colluding with each other, but then I realize that I’m being paranoid. What an absurd notion. Elena is not that crazy.

But Leila is crazy and crazy means bad, you guys!

He recalls how he would have been fine to carry on his relationship with Leila as it was, had she not wanted more and ended it when he wouldn’t give it to her.  Good for Leila, I say.

We get a flashback to Leila telling Grey she has feelings for him:

“Master. May I speak freely?” Leila says. She’s sitting at my right at the dinner table, wearing a fetching lacy La Perla one-piece. “Of course.” “I have developed feelings for you. I had hoped you would collar me and that I would stay by your side forevermore.”

Collar? Forevermore? I think to myself. What’s this once-upon-a-time bullshit?

“But I think that is beyond my dreams,” she continues.

“Leila. You know that’s not for me. We’ve discussed this.”

“But you’re lonely. I can see it.”

“Lonely? Me? I don’t feel that way. I have my work. My family. I have you.”

“But I want more, Master.”

“I can’t give you more. You know this.”

“I see.” She raises her face to look at me, her amber eyes scrutinizing me. She’s broken the fourth wall—she has never looked at me without permission. But I don’t scold her.

“I can’t. It’s not within me.” I’ve always been honest with her. This is nothing that she doesn’t know.

“It is within you, Sir. But maybe I’m not the person to make you realize it.” She sounds sad. She looks back down at her clean plate. “I’d like to terminate our relationship.” She’s caught me by surprise.

“Are you sure? Leila, this is a big step. I’d like to continue our arrangement.”

“I can’t do this anymore, Master.” Her voice cracks on the last word, and I don’t know what to say. “I can’t,” she whispers, clearing her throat.

“Leila—” I stop, bewildered by the emotion I hear in her voice. She’s been an impeccable sub. I thought we were compatible. “I’ll be sorry to see you go,” I say, because it’s true. “I’ve really enjoyed our time together. I hope you have, too.”

“I’ll be sorry, too, Sir. I’ve more than enjoyed everything. I had hoped…” Her voice trails off and she gives me a sad smile.

“I wish I felt differently.” But I don’t. I have no need of a permanent relationship.

“You’ve never given me any indication that you would.” Her voice is quiet.

“I’m sorry. You’re right. Let’s end this as you wish. It’s for the best, especially if you’ve developed feelings for me.”

I think this is literally just thrown in here so we can see how special Ana must be, to have changed him.  Woo-freaking-hoo.

 

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Taylor tells Grey that the Audi is a write-off and asks if Grey wants to involve the police.  Grey again says no.  Because he’s super concerned about protecting Ana, obvs.  Taylor tells Grey Leila did “a real number” on the car and Grey replies “if it is Leila,” so oooooooooh, EL is attempting a suspenseful plot!  I bet she’ll be eating with cutlery and wearing her big girl pants soon, too.

Taylor tells Grey that the Audi is a write-off and asks if Grey wants to involve the police.  Grey again says no.  Because he’s super concerned about protecting Ana, obvs.  Taylor tells Grey Leila did “a real number” on the car and Grey replies “if it is Leila,” so oooooooooh, EL is attempting a suspenseful plot!  I bet she’ll be eating with cutlery and wearing her big girl pants soon, too.

Grey heads to his study, where he receives a late night phone call from Elena.  He’s understandably furious with her for the way she ranted at Ana and for the note Elena sent her after he’d specifically told her to stay away.  They argue on the phone:

“You’re angry. I can tell. If it’s about the note, listen—”

“No, you listen. I asked you, and now I am telling you. Leave her alone. She has nothing to do with you. Do you understand?”

“Christian, I only have your best interests at heart.”

“I know you do. But I mean it, Elena. Leave her the fuck alone. Do I need to put it in triplicate for you? Are you hearing me?”

“Yes. Yes. I’m sorry.” I’ve never heard her so contrite. It goes some way to cooling my anger.

Grey tells her “good” in response and then slams the phone down.  There’s a knock at the door and Ana appears.  Remember how exhausted she was?  How she simply had to sleep?  Ninety billion pounds says we’re about to suffer a sex scene.

 

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Sure enough…

“I missed you. Come to bed.” Her voice is sexy and cajoling.

 

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We get some flowery crap about how much Ana (by which I mean, her vagina) means to Grey:

I stand and walk around my desk to gaze down at her. What if Leila wants to hurt her? What if she succeeds? How could I live with that?

“Do you know what you mean to me? If something happened to you, because of me…” I’m overwhelmed by a familiar, uncomfortable feeling that expands in my chest, becoming a lump in my throat that I have to swallow.

And then Ana, who was asleep in the car, who spoke about how utterly exhausted she was, starts undoing Grey’s shirt and telling him she wants him in bed, now.   I don’t know about you guys, but when someone trashes my car, it really makes me want to have sex with an asshole who thinks they have a right to decide upon my birth control method, without my consent.

Thankfully, we’re saved by Grey realising that the balcony door is open, when it shouldn’t be:

I let her lead me across the living room, through the corridor, and into my bedroom. It’s cold. My nipples pucker against the chill in the room. “You opened the balcony door?” I ask.

“No,” Ana replies, looking at the open door with a bewildered expression. Then she turns to me, her face ashen. She’s alarmed.

“What?” I ask, as every hair on my body stands on end—not from cold but from fear.

“When I woke,” she whispers, “there was someone in here. I thought it was my imagination.”

“What?” I scan the room quickly, then dash to the balcony and look outside. No one there—but I distinctly remember locking this door during the search. And I know Ana’s never been on the balcony. I lock it again. “Are you sure?” I ask her. “Who?”

“A woman, I think. It was dark. I’d only just woken up.”

 DUN DUN DUUUUUUUN.

Grey calls Taylor and tells him Leila is still in the apartment.  This is the point at which a guy who wasn’t a controlling ass-wipe might realise that calling the police was the right thing to do, seeing as his private security team supposedly checked the whole place and still failed to find Leila.  Just saying.

Grey tells Ana to get dressed and wonders why the hell she didn’t tell him she thought she saw a woman in the bedroom, which…  You know, I hate to agree with this snake, but… GOOD POINT.  This all ties in neatly with my theory that Ana is actually just a sentient sex doll.

Grey demands that Taylor books somewhere for he and Ana to stay and tells Ana to go and get dressed.  He also tells Taylor to ensure that Gail doesn’t return to the apartment until it’s 100% safe, but seeing as Gail is Taylor’s girlfriend and Taylor’s not an asshole, I assume he’d have been doing that with or without Grey’s say-so.  Laughably, as Grey hurries to dress and pack for a quick escape, he actually makes sure he takes condoms.  Because sex is the obvious answer to having a mentally unstable person (with a gun) after you.

 

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Ana – dressed in Grey’s clothes – asks how Leila could still be hiding in the apartment if it had been searched.  Grey tells her it’s a big place; so big, she hasn’t even seen all of it, yet.  Fine, maybe Ana hasn’t, but the security team probably should have.  You know, if Grey’s so keen on protecting Ana.

Ana asks why Grey doesn’t just call Leila and tell her he wants to talk, but Grey reminds Ana that Leila isn’t stable enough for that.  Then there’s a little snippet about Ana knowing how to fire a gun that somehow manages to turn into a joke about Grey’s abusive behaviour, as well as yet another dig at Leila’s mental health…

“Ray was in the army. He taught me to shoot.”

“You, with a gun?” I scoff. I’m shocked. I loathe guns.

“Yes.” She sounds offended. “I can shoot, Mr. Grey, so you’d better beware. It’s not just crazy ex-subs you need to worry about.”

 

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Taylor arrives with some of Ana’s things.  Ana shows him affection – worried for his safety – and Grey is forced to give him a “look.”

She hugs him, taking him and me by surprise. “Be careful,” she says.

“Yes, Miss Steele,” Taylor replies, embarrassed yet pleased by her concern and her spontaneous affection. I give him a look and he adjusts his tie.

HOW DARE YOU BE HUGGED BY MY GIRLFRIEND, OH MAN WHO IS NINETY THOUSAND TIMES NICER THAN I AM?!

Taylor gives Grey his credit card to use at the hotel, presumedly to ensure nobody can track his whereabouts using his credit card.  But… As far as we know, Leila doesn’t have that level of stalker technology.  Grey does.

As they go down to the garage, they see Ana’s car for the first time.  Grey thinks:

My blood boils at the sight, but for Ana’s sake I control my rage.

First time for everything, I guess.

Ana wants to know how Leila knew which car to attack:

“How could she have known it was my car?”

I sigh. This is not going to go down well. “She had an Audi A3. I buy one for all my submissives. It’s one of the safest cars in its class.”

“So, not so much a graduation present, then,” she says quietly.

“Anastasia, despite what I hoped, you have never been my submissive, so technically it is a graduation present.”

 

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It’s not.  You had decided to pursue this girl from day one.  You stalked her, you tracked her phone and you treated getting her to agree to become your submissive as a business deal.  And if you’d wanted to her to feel different, you could have researched other cars with good safety records and got her one of those, instead.

Ana asks if he’s still hoping she’ll be his submissive.  Grey’s initially saved by a phone call from Taylor, letting them know which hotel he’s booked them into and that the room is in his name.  But once the call is over, Ana still has questions.  Grey tells her that no, he’s no longer wanting her to be his submissive (which isn’t true, because he’s still expecting to control her in all things, which isn’t part of a non BDSM relationship, at least not a healthy one).  She pushes further:

“Why did you think I’d leave when I told you Dr. Flynn had told me all there was to know about you?”

Is this what she’s brooding about? Keep it vague, Grey. “You cannot begin to understand the depths of my depravity, Anastasia. And it’s not something I want to share with you.”

“And you really think I’d leave if I knew? Do you think so little of me?”

“I know you’ll leave,” I answer, and the thought is untenable.

“Christian, I think that’s very unlikely. I can’t imagine being without you.”

“You left me once. I don’t want to go there again.”

She pales and begins fiddling with the drawstring on my sweatpants. Yeah. You hurt me. And I hurt you…

I am so, so, so fucking done with this “she hurt me by leaving” crap.  She left because he beat her with a belt and she didn’t want to be with someone who was going to be physically violent towards her!  No, she didn’t safe word, but we’ve been over and over this – she was scared, she was crying openly and a good Dom would have realised that, this being her first time experiencing something so intense, she might have needed to have been asked if she was okay and reminded that she could stop the scene if she needed to.  He did neither.  So, why is it okay that Leila left, because she realised she wanted more than Grey could give her (his internal monologue mentions having huge respect for her because she left for reasons of “self-preservation”), yet when Ana left because she realised they were incompatible, that was hurtful and wrong?!  Is it just because Ana was so damn special?!  Because if that’s the case, her leaving should have made Grey analyse his behaviour a damn sight more than he actually has.

Also, for the seventy-thousandth time, his constant insistence at keeping things from her, or only giving her vague information (as he tells himself to do, here) is yet another abuse tactic.  Keeping her in the dark about how “depraved” he is, means she can’t make a fully informed decision about being with him.   He keeps insisting she’d leave if she knew the truth, which means he’s trying to keep her with him, whilst also keeping her in the dark as to the valid reasons she might want to leave.  If you can’t see how unhealthy that is, I can’t help you.   Healthy relationships are built on honesty.

 

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The typo in that GIF is going to drive me mad, but I can’t find one without it.  BOO.

Ana tells Grey that Elena told her she saw him the Saturday after Ana left him.  Grey tells her that’s bullshit and reminds her that he’s not much of a talker, so he wouldn’t have rushed to see someone to talk it all out.   This prompts Ana to confess that she probed his father for information about him, at the masked ball.  She reveals that his father told her that Grey was mute for two years, that his mother was the one who examined him when he was brought to the hospital after being discovered in his birth mother’s apartment, and that playing the piano helped him recover, as did the arrival of Mia.

Ana then asks Grey to elaborate on his relationship with Elena:

“Can I ask you something about Elena?” Ana asks, when we’re stopped at a red light.

“If you must.” But I really wish she wouldn’t.

“You told me ages ago that she loved you in a way you found acceptable. What did that mean?”

“Isn’t it obvious?”

“Not to me.”

“I was out of control. I couldn’t bear to be touched. I can’t bear it now. For a fourteen-, fifteen-year-old adolescent boy with hormones raging, it was a difficult time. She showed me a way to let off steam.”

A FOURTEEN YEAR OLD BOY.  Elena was a married adult and she started a hardcore BDSM relationship with a CHILD.

 

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I know the story ends with Grey’s parents finding out and being disgusted and I know that Stockholm Syndrome is a genuine thing, but I just find this so, so gross.  And Kim Basinger talking about her character in the films as this amazing, strong woman and not the child-rapist she is, makes me feel sick. 

Ana carries on talking and Grey proves his creepy level of possessiveness, yet again:

“Mia said you were a brawler.”

“Christ, what is it with my loquacious family?” We’re stopped at the next red. I glare at her. “Actually, it’s you. You inveigle information out of people.”

“Mia volunteered that information. In fact, she was very forthcoming. She was worried you’d start a brawl in the tent if you didn’t win me at the auction,” she says.

“Oh, baby, there was no danger of that. There was no way I would let anyone else dance with you.”

“You let Dr. Flynn.”

“He’s always the exception to the rule.”

Including the Hippocratic oath, apparently.

 

 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.

 

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Once again, we get a reference to the fact that Grey is keeping things from the woman he supposedly loves:

“I told you, Christian, I’m not going anywhere, no matter what you’ve done. You know how I feel about you.”

Oh, baby, you’d run if you knew the truth.

IF ONLY SHE WOULD.

Ana asks where he’s planning on hanging the photos of her he bought at José’s exhibition.  Grey tells her that depends on circumstances, thinking that what he means is, it depends on whether she leaves him, because if she does, he won’t be able to stand seeing the pictures, anymore.  Of course, when Ana asks what circumstances it depends on, he won’t tell her.  Because open communication is for losers, you guys.

Ana suggests she might torture the truth out of him and, taking charge in a sexual scenario (unusual for her), she leads Grey into the bedroom, where Grey tells us:

All the breath leaves my body.

 

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Alas, he doesn’t mean it literally.

They have sex – it lasts for roughly thirty five seconds, lucky Ana – and as usual, Grey inwardly thinks of himself as “claiming” her and making her his.   I’m so bored of EL James using the same words over and over and I’m so sick of her perpetuating this bullshit idea that sex = ownership.

Afterwards, Grey thinks:

That unfamiliar feeling is back, swelling in my chest, fighting to get out. And I know what it is. I’ve known forever. I want to tell her I love her. But I can’t. The words burn to ashes in my throat.

Unfortunately, if he tells her he loves her, he’ll immediately die.  SO COME ON, DUDE, TELL HER!  PLEASE!

We cut to a more sensible time in the morning.  Grey wakes up and forces himself to get dressed and get out of bed, in case he rapes his sleeping girlfriend, or at least that’s what EL James makes it sound:

She’s too tempting to leave alone, and I know she needs sleep.

He goes off to email Dr Greene as his “first job” of the day – because even in the wake of all that’s happened, his priority is ensuring he doesn’t have to wear a condom, anymore.  This guy is such a shit stain.  Then, he organises a trip on his boat, The Grace, texts Taylor and reads a message from his mother, thanking he and Ana for their generosity at the ball.  This makes him think about his mother’s concerns that Ana might be a gold digger and he remembers that it was Elliot who always took girls home, rather than him, so his mother is just unused to meeting a woman he’s involved with.  Then, he has a flashback to a conversation about this, which I am certain is here purely to paint Elliot in a bad light and Grey in a better one (which is impossible, sorry EL):

“Elliot, darling, we get attached to them and then they’re history. It’s heartbreaking.”

“Don’t get attached.” He shrugs, chewing with his mouth open. “I don’t,” he mutters so only I can hear him.

“One day someone will break your heart, Elliot,” Grace says as she hands Mia a plate of mac and cheese.

“Whatever, Mom. At least I bring girls home.” He eyes me with disdain.

“Lots of my friends want to marry Christian. Ask them,” Mia pipes up in my defense. Ugh. What an unpleasant thought—her poisonous little eighth-grade friends.

“Don’t you have exams to study for, douchebag?” I give Elliot the finger.

“Study. Not me, dickless. I’m out tonight,” he brags.

“Boys! Enough! This is your first night home from college. You haven’t seen each other in ages. Stop arguing. Eat up.” I take a bite of mac and cheese. Tonight I get to see Mrs. Lincoln…

I could pick this all apart, but…  I’m just going to leave it here as one big pile of EW and merely say that Elliot’s relationship with Kate is healthier than Grey and Ana’s will ever be and I wish to GOD I was reading about them, instead.

 

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He ignores his mother’s text, because he’d much rather continue to sulk than actually be a nice person.  He orders breakfast for them both and when it arrives, he goes to wake Ana, who asks what time it is:

“Ten fifteen. I didn’t have the heart to wake you earlier.”

“You told me you didn’t have a heart at all.”

That at least is true. But I ignore her comment.

This makes it sound very much as though he’s admitting that “I didn’t have the heart to wake you” was a lie.  Which, combined with the earlier admission that he couldn’t leave her alone if he stayed in bed next to her, is creepy and rape-tastic.

Whilst Ana is eating her breakfast, Doctor Greene arrives and Grey inwardly admits that this is entirely about his needs, not Ana’s:

I show her into the master, and soon after Ana wanders in and gives me a disapproving look. I choose to ignore it and close the door, leaving her with Dr. Greene. She can be as annoyed as she likes, but she stopped taking her pills. And she knows I hate condoms.

This guy is such a man baby, I can’t even…

 

darker23 

 

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.