Greetings, people. Before I begin this recap, I want to tell you about something that happened on Twitter this morning.
Sometimes, I run a search for “fifty shades abuse” into Twitter. Not to search for the campaign I co-run (I haven’t forgotten my log-in details or anything… at least not recently), but to see if there have been any new articles written, highlighting the abuse contained within the Fifty Shades franchise. We have a policy of not sharing any articles unless we’ve checked them to ensure the writing quality is good, we agree with the tone of the article and that the piece isn’t limiting their definition of abuse as simply “BDSM” (because don’t get me started on the amount of rubbish we get, from people claiming that consensual BDSM is abuse and that that’s the only abuse within the books… UGH, stupid people get everywhere, these days).
But it’s a search that often makes me mad. Because frequently, what it brings up, are fans insisting “FIFTY SHADES IS NOT ABUSE,” in various ways. This morning, I stumbled upon a tweet just saying: “This is me and my friends throwing copies of the book at people who say Fifty Shades is abuse,” accompanied by a gif similar to this one (weirdly, I can’t find the tweet, anymore):
It infuriated me for myriad reasons. The main reason being that, as with so many of them in the past, this fan was implying that you couldn’t possibly think there was abuse in Fifty Shades if you had actually read it.
It’s because I read the damn thing that I know it’s riddled with abuse. And it’s because I’m reading it from the abuser’s perspective now, that I know Grey makes the abuse even more plain. Yet there are still fans who refuse to believe that people like me have read the books at all, because they don’t recognise the abuse in it, meaning, apparently, that it can’t possibly exist. Well, wake up and smell the stalking, folks. Because I’m reading your “love story” and I’m horrified. Just because you don’t recognise Fifty Shades as abuse, doesn’t mean I haven’t actually read the books.
And just to prove myself that bit further, onto the next recap!
Guess how it opens? DID YOU SAY MOMMY DREAM?! THEN YOU GET A PRIZE!
As always, italics indicate quotes from this steaming dog-pile that somehow shifted millions of copies…
Mommy is gone. Sometimes she goes outside.
And it is only me. Me and my cars and my blankie.
When she comes home she sleeps on the couch. The couch is brown and sticky. She is tired. Sometimes I cover her with my blankie.
Or she comes home with something to eat. I like those days. We have bread and butter. And sometimes we have macrami and cheese. That is my favorite.
It is dark now, and my mommy is gone. I can reach the light when I stand on the stool.
On. Off. On. Off. On. Off.
Light. Dark. Light. Dark. Light.
I’m hungry. I eat the cheese. There is cheese in the fridge. Cheese with blue fur.
Look, young Christian had a tough time. I get that and I’m not about to belittle this experience. What grinds my gears is that we know these flashback dreams are only here to explain his behaviour and that’s not okay. Christian’s mother being a drug addicted prostitute with an abusive pimp does not somehow absolve Christian of the fact that he’s an abuser himself, as an adult. So, I can find room in my icy, cold heart to sympathise with Christian as a child, without also leaping to “hey, it doesn’t matter that he threatens to beat Ana despite her lack of consent, or that he stalks her when she asks for space! He once had to eat mouldy cheese!”
Sometimes she comes home with him. I hate him. I hide when he comes. My favorite place is in my mommy’s closet. It smells of Mommy. It smells of Mommy when she’s happy.
Notice how young Christian hates the abusive pimp and hides from him, yet as an adult, his hatred is solely for his dead mother. What a nice guy.
Thankfully, he then wakes from this nightmare, so that the real nightmare of me having to read romanticised abuse can begin…
I hate my dreams. They’re riddled with harrowing memories, distorted reminders of a time I want to forget. My heart is pounding and I’m drenched with sweat. But the worst consequence of these nightmares is dealing with the overwhelming anxiety when I wake.
Don’t worry, Christian. I’m sure you can threaten to non-consensually beat a woman who looks a bit like the mother you inexplicably blame for everything and that’ll make you feel loads better.
He decides to go for a run, then immediately begins brooding over the fact that he’s had no email or text from Ana.
Leave it, Grey.
Just fucking leave it!
I know I’ll see her at the graduation ceremony.
But I can’t leave it.
Yes, you can. You are an adult, with free will. You won’t leave it, because you’re also a vile pubic louse of a man, who hounds women until they do as he says. And subtly adding “but I can’t” here is a pathetic attempt to absolve Grey of guilt. Nice job, EL James. You tried.
Before my shower, I send her another text.
I just need to know she’s safe.
Another piece of crap straight from The Big Bumper Guide To Abuse. Abusers love to use the “I need to know you’re safe” line to ensure they can keep constant tabs on their victims. It’s not about caring for their wellbeing at all. It’s about being in control. If one editor (hahahaaa, as if these books saw an editor!) had just gone “you know, we ought to think about whether or not this level of concern might come across as possessive or stalkerish…” we could have been saved this whole mess.
Grey decides to work on his commencement address, in a vain effort to take his mind off Ana:
At the graduation ceremony later this morning I’ll be honoring the extraordinary work of the environmental sciences department and the progress they’ve made in partnership with GEH in arable technology for developing countries.
“All part of your feed-the-world plan?” Ana’s shrewd words echo in my head, and they nudge at last night’s nightmare.
And then he thinks this:
Sam, my VP for publicity, has sent a draft that is way too pretentious for me. It takes me an hour to rework his media-speak bullshit into something more human.
Christian Grey is the most pretentious man on the entire planet and he actually thinks he can turn the speech into “something more human?!” Okaaaay.
Nine thirty and still no word from Ana. Her radio silence is worrying—and frankly rude. I call, but her phone goes straight to a generic voice mail message.
I hang up.
Show some dignity, Grey.
Remember, the last email he sent her the previous night, was one in which he subtly mocked her car, as though she might not make it home in it, because it didn’t match up to his high standards. And also, remember that it’s an important day for her, yet he is bombarding her with unnecessary messages. But sure, she is being rude for not responding. Again, I say: Okaaaay.
Grey gets an email and briefly hopes it’s from Ana, only to realise it’s from Mia. He thinks this:
In spite of my bad mood, I smile. I’ve missed that kid.
Point 1) Mia is an adult and you’ve just proved that you’re patronising as well as pretentious.
Point 2) You do little besides internally bitch about your siblings, so… I don’t believe you.
This is Mia’s email:
I can’t wait to get out of here!
Rescue me. Please.
My flight number on Saturday is AF3622. It arrives at 12:22 p.m. and Dad is making me fly coach! *pouting!
I will have lots of luggage. Love. Love. Love Paris fashion.
Mom says you have a girlfriend.
Is this true?
What’s she like?
I NEED TO KNOW!!!!!
See you Saturday. Missed you so much.
À bientôt mon frère.
And this is Christian’s reaction:
Oh hell! My mother’s big mouth. Ana is not my girlfriend! And come Saturday I’ll have to fend off my sister’s equally big mouth and her inherent optimism and her prying questions. She can be exhausting.
“I’ve missed that kid” to “she can be exhausting” in under a minute. Told you.
Grey begins to choose his outfit for the commencement address he’s going to give and he purposefully chooses to wear that tie:
It will be my subtle message to Ana that I haven’t given up, and a reminder of good times.
Which good times? The time when you decided you’d rape her into changing her mind when she said no to you? Or the time you illegally tracked her phone and took a barely conscious woman back to your hotel? There are just so many to choose from!
He tries to call Ana again and is annoyed when there’s still no answer. Just a thought, oh dude whose brain is clearly as small and shrivelled as his dick, IT IS HER GRADUATION DAY. She’s probably nervous and fairly damn busy. Back the heck off.
Taylor comes in to explain that the A3 Grey ordered for Ana is due to be delivered that afternoon. They have a brief conversation about Taylor’s daughter, which is blatantly shoe-horned in so that EL can scream: “SEE! HE CARES ABOUT A CHILD! CHRISTIAN IS A GOOOOOOD MAAAAAAAN!”
Then, it’s time to set off and Grey thinks:
And though I’m loath to admit it, I’m anxious to see Miss Steele.
You have literally done nothing but try to get hold of her since you woke up, you idiot. Who are you loathe to admit this to?! Because you’ve admitted it to yourself like, ninety times already, today alone.
Upon arriving at the university, Grey is escorted into a small room by a young woman who blushes, because he is so freaking divine that all who see him immediately wet themselves. In the room, he notices Kate:
“Hi, Christian,” she says, strutting toward me with the confidence of the well-heeled. She’s in her graduation gown and appears cheerful enough; surely she’s seen Ana.
This just reads as though anyone who sees Ana must immediately become cheerful, which… Nah. Reading about her could cure insomnia. Just saying.
Kate informs Christian that she’s valedictorian and is surprised Elliot didn’t tell him in advance. Grey thinks snippily that he and Elliot don’t live in each other’s pockets, before asking whether Ana got home safely in “that deathtrap she calls a car.”
“Wanda. She calls it Wanda. And yes, she did.” She gazes at me with a quizzical expression.
In this moment, I love Kate more than any other character in fiction, purely because she clearly loathes Grey and enjoys cutting through his crap.
I’m relieved that Ana is in one piece, but pissed that she hasn’t replied to any of my messages.
Because it was never about her safety. It was about her being under his control. And it always will be.
Grey, Kate and the other academics head into the auditorium for the graduation ceremony. Grey is super professional about it:
Where is she? Methodically I inspect each row.
There you are.
I find her huddled in the second row. She’s alive. I feel foolish for expending so much anxiety and energy on her whereabouts last night and this morning. Her brilliant blue eyes are wide as they lock with mine, and she shifts in her seat, a slow flush coloring her cheeks.
You… You literally just confirmed that she was alive, by speaking to her roommate. Or did you forget?!
Yes. I’ve found you. And you haven’t replied to my messages. She’s avoiding me and I’m pissed. Really pissed. Closing my eyes, I imagine dripping hot wax onto her breasts and her squirming beneath me. This has a radical effect on my body.
Get it together, Grey.
That first bit is red, because he’s fantasising about something that could physically hurt her (burning) whilst he’s angry with her, which makes the whole “this is for your pleasure” thing a load of crap. You don’t go into a BDSM scene to take out your genuine rage at your partner. Guess what it’s called if you just want to hurt your partner in anger? Abuse. It’s called abuse.
Grey listens to Kate give a speech about seizing opportunities and thinks:
She’s obviously smart and popular and confident. Not the shy and retiring wallflower that is the lovely Miss Steele. It really amazes me that these two are friends.
Because, to Christian Grey, two people can only be friends if they are exactly the freaking same. Which must explain why Grey doesn’t have any friends, himself. It must be hard to find someone who’s that much of an abusive arsehole. I guess at least he has Elena.
His name is announced, he thinks “showtime, Grey” and, I kid you not, we have to read his entire damn speech. The WHOLE thing.
One of the only really relevant bits is this:
Over a billion people, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America, live in abject poverty. Agricultural dysfunction is rife within these parts of the world, and the result is ecological and social destruction. I have known what it’s like to be profoundly hungry. This is a very personal journey for me.
I think we’re supposed to decide this makes it okay for him to yell at Ana when she doesn’t want to eat, but… That’s not gonna happen.
The rest of it is all yadda, yadda, Grey Enterprises Holdings is solving world famine, yadda, yadda, doesn’t actually sound human despite his supposed rewrite, yadda, yadda, yadda.
He ends it thusly, with one of the best known Native American quotes of all time (my old dentist used to have it on his surgery wall):
We’re all privileged here. Some more than others, and I include myself in that category. We have a moral obligation to offer those less fortunate a decent life that’s healthy, secure, and well nourished, with access to more of the resources that we all enjoy here.
“I’ll leave you with a quote that has always resonated with me. And I’m paraphrasing a Native American saying: ‘Only when the last leaf has fallen, the last tree has died, and the last fish been caught will we realize that we cannot eat money.’ ”
But, coming from a guy who is constantly snooty about cheap wine, orders everything from the menu because he’s not sure what the girl he kidnapped might want to eat, who sends First Editions to her when they barely know one another and who decides on sight that her car is a “deathtrap” because it’s not as posh as his, this sentiment falls flatter than a bum note in a choir rehearsal.
And he tells us that he receives “rousing applause.”
Only out of politeness, dude. I suspect you think it’s because you’re the best public speaker ever and everyone just admires you so much and…
As soon as his speech is done, Grey returns to being incredibly mature and professional:
I resist looking at Ana and examine the WSU banner hanging at the back of the auditorium. If she wants to ignore me, fine. Two can play at that game.
The vice chancellor rises to commence handing out the degrees. And so begins the agonizing wait until we reach the S’s and I can see her again.
I SHALL IGNORE HER!
BUT OH, SUCH AN AGONISING WAIT UNTIL I SEE HER AGAIN!
Grow up, dude.
When he calls her name and she begins walking up to get her degree from him, Grey describes Ana as “looking pensive and worried.” She has every reason to be, because as she goes to collect her degree, this happens:
“Congratulations, Miss Steele,” I say as I give Ana her degree. We shake hands, but I don’t let hers go. “Do you have a problem with your laptop?”
She looks perplexed. “No.”
“Then you are ignoring my e-mails?” I release her.
“I only saw the mergers and acquisitions one.”
What the hell does that mean?
Her frown deepens, but I have to let her go—there’s a line forming behind her.
“Later.” I let her know that we’re not finished with this conversation as she moves on.
This is so unprofessional, I literally can’t even stress enough how much this guy would never be asked to do something like this again. But above that, it’s damn abusive. He’s grabbing her hand and refusing to let go, so he can take a moment – her freaking moment, seeing as it’s her graduation – to snarl at her for not responding to his emails. And she’s telling him that she hasn’t seen his later messages and he can’t even lessen his vileness enough to let the damn thing go.
I hate this man.
But of course, I’m alone in that. Because he’s the most beautiful, wonderful man in the whole universe:
I’m in purgatory by the time we’ve reached the end of the line. I’ve been ogled, and had eyelashes batted at me, silly giggling girls squeezing my hand, and five notes with phone numbers pressed into my palm.
Listen, EL James? When the literal only way you can make your character out to be a guy worthy of being with, is to make practically every female character in the story make it obvious she fancies him? YOU’RE JUST A BAD WRITER. Because you’ve given us no reason why anyone would actually want Christian Grey. He’s wealthy, but not all women are shallow. He’s supposedly attractive, but attractiveness is subjective and there is nobody who gets hit on as much as we’re meant to believe this guy does. You’ve never shown us a redeeming quality, a niceness to him. You’ve never portrayed him as someone who is charming or polite, or even someone who smiles and generally seems nice. The only way you can think of to make this grotesque specimen seem remotely likeable is to have loads of women fawn over him for NO REASON. Why? Because you’re an appallingly bad writer. There are shopping lists written better than this crap.
Anyway, back to the abuse…
In the corridor I grab Kavanagh’s arm. “I need to speak to Ana. Can you find her? Now.”
Kavanagh is taken aback, but before she can say anything I add, in as polite a tone as I can manage, “Please.”
Red, because we know he’s acting in anger and Ana hasn’t actually done anything worthy of it. Also, grabbing Kate like this is just gross in general.
Naturally, because nothing Christian Grey does makes him a redeemable character, we have to have someone else praise him before the story can continue, so we get to see the university chancellor congratulating him on his speech. Yay. Best. Speech. EVEEEEER.
Kate returns with Ana, then we continue:
“Thank you,” I say to Kate, who gives Ana a worried glance. Ignoring her, I take Ana’s elbow and lead her through the first door I find. It’s a men’s locker room, and from the fresh smell I can tell it’s empty. Locking the door, I turn to face Miss Steele. “Why haven’t you e-mailed me? Or texted me back?” I demand.
Ooooooh, this is gonna take some time… BRING ON THE BULLET POINTS:
- If you are a responsible person, you don’t ignore the concern of your partner’s best friend. But then again, if you’re a decent person, you don’t grab people roughly and demand they fetch your partner immediately. All Grey had to do was show a little decency; calmly say “hey Kate, do you know where Ana is? I’d really love to see her” and then, when Ana arrives, show her some respect, too. Grey does neither.
- He doesn’t even address Ana. He thanks Kate for bringing Ana to him, then simply manhandles Ana through the first door he sees. Without so much as a “hello.”
- HE LOCKS THE DOOR BEHIND THEM. There’s no reason for this, beyond wanting complete control and to know he can do as he pleases without getting caught. If it was merely for privacy, he only needed to shut the door and, if someone opened it, politely say “sorry, we just needed some private space for a quick talk.” Given that there’s a graduation ceremony going on, it’s unlikely that the locker room would be in use and it’s equally unlikely that any of the graduation guests would be wandering in there. Locking the door is unnecessary and creepy.
- The ONLY reason he’s this enraged, is because Ana didn’t reply to his messages. Look, I know how annoying it is when you don’t get a response. At the time of writing, I’ve sent three messages trying to arrange a catch up with a friend, pre-Christmas, none of which has garnered a reply. But I’m sure as hell not about to grab my friend roughly and shove her into a room, which I LOCK behind us, so I can demand answers.
She blinks a couple of times, consternation writ large on her face. “I haven’t looked at my computer today, or my phone.” She seems genuinely bewildered by my outburst.
Because, despite the fact that she frequently lacks any semblance of a personality, Ana is a normal human being. Of course she’s bewildered by your outburst, you totally vile moron!
And of course, she tries to change the subject by congratulating him on his “great” speech. Ana, I read it. It was average at best.
“Thank you,” I mutter, derailed. How can she not have checked her phone or e-mail?
I don’t know, maybe because IT’S HER GRADUATION DAY AND NOT EVERYTHING REVOLVES AROUND YOU AND YOUR PENIS??!!
“Explains your food issues to me,” she says, her tone gentle—and if I’m not mistaken, pitying, too.
“Anastasia, I don’t want to go there at the moment.”
I don’t need your pity.
No, you just need her total and utter subservience to you in all areas of life, whether she wants that or not.
He tells her he was worried about her driving home in such a deathtrap.
Ana bristles. “What? It’s not a deathtrap. It’s fine. José regularly services it for me.”
“José, the photographer?” This just gets better and fucking better.
“Yes, the Beetle used to belong to his mother.”
“Yes, and probably her mother and her mother before her. It’s not safe.” I’m almost shouting.
“I’ve been driving it for over three years. I’m sorry you were worried. Why didn’t you call?”
I called her cell phone. Does she not use her damned cell phone? Is she talking about the house phone? Running my hand through my hair in exasperation, I take a deep breath. This is not addressing the fucking elephant in the room.
The elephant in the room is that Grey wants an answer as to whether Ana will agree to be his sub. But up until now, he’s just been angry at her for not messaging back immediately. Oh, and supposedly annoyed that her car isn’t “safe.” Read: posh enough.
“Anastasia, I need an answer from you. This waiting around is driving me crazy.”
Her face falls.
“Christian, I…look, I’ve left my stepdad on his own.”
“Tomorrow. I want an answer by tomorrow.”
“Okay. Tomorrow, I’ll tell you then,” she says with an anxious look.
He’s pressuring her into making a decision on something huge, which she knows literally nothing about. She needs time to educate herself and to decide whether this is something she can handle, but he’s railroading her into a snap decision. This is a major red flag and this is not healthy, consensual BDSM. Consent should be informed and Ana is still nowhere near informed enough to make a proper decision on this.
Well, it’s still not a “no.” And once more, I’m surprised by my relief.
It’s not a “yes,” either, douchebag, but then you don’t really care about consent and I’m not remotely surprised by my rage.
What the hell is it about this woman?
VICTIM-BLAMING A-GO-GO! SHE MAKES ME BEHAVE THIS WAY!
She stares up at me with sincere blue eyes, her face etched in concern, and I resist the urge to touch her.
For once in your life, you’ve resisted an urge. Congratulations. You’re still a pig, though, so…
Grey asks Ana if she’s going for drinks and says he wants to meet Ana’s stepfather. Ana is not certain that that’s a good idea (and I agree). But of course, Grey doesn’t like the word “no,” so he continues to press for it. He inwardly wonders if Ana’s being hesitant because she now knows that he was poor as a kid (because she really comes across as such a materialistic, judgemental woman…), or whether it’s because she’s ashamed of his sexual kinks. And frankly, if you genuinely think she might be ashamed of your kinks, then you should not be pursuing a BDSM relationship with her, because she is blatantly not up for it.
Grey insists that she can introduce him to her stepfather as her “friend” and whilst this isn’t the most abusive part of this hell, I find it really triggering, because, combined with the whole “Ana is not my girlfriend” thing, it reminds me of my own abuser, who always insisted on being introduced as my “friend” (and would introduce me the same way) and, despite telling me he loved me, would constantly insist that we weren’t in a relationship. It was a way of controlling me and it worked. I did everything he wanted, hoping he’d eventually say “yes, we’re a couple” and everything would be okay. So, yeah, if I seem extra snarky right about now, this is why.
Anyway, Grey finally unlocks the door and they leave the locker room, despite the fact that Ana is still not fully on board with the idea of going for drinks and introducing Grey to her stepfather:
I open the door and follow her out but stop when I reach the chancellor and his colleagues. As one they turn and stare at Miss Steele, but she’s disappearing into the auditorium. They turn back to me.
Miss Steele and I are none of your business, people.
You’ve literally just locked a student in a room with you. It’s totally their business, if they believe you’ve potentially been acting improperly.
The chancellor asks Grey to come and have some canapés and meet some more people (and frankly, I wonder if the chancellor is doing that just to get him away from the student he’d locked in a freaking room). Thirty minutes later, as he heads to find Ana, Grey catches up with Kate, who asks if him if he’s invited Ana to lunch at his parents’ house on Sunday. But before Grey can answer, this happens:
What the fuck?
A tall blond guy who looks as if he’s walked off a beach in California has his hands all over her.
Who the hell is that? Is this why she didn’t want me to come for a drink?
Ana looks up, catches my expression, and pales as her roommate stands beside that guy.
You said yourself that she is not your girlfriend. And she hasn’t signed your contract, insisting that she belong to you and not see anyone else. So, she’s free to greet any tall, blond guys she likes. Notice how he leaps to the impression that this guy must be interested in her romantically. The idea of a friend hugging another friend is totally beyond him. He views Ana as his property and this person is not allowed to go near her.
Even more importantly, notice how Ana reacts. She knows, this early on in their “relationship,” that Grey is possessive, jealous and has a capacity to get angry. MASSIVE. RED. FLAG.
Grey describes Ray Steele as wearing an “ill-fitting suit” and notes his rough hands, as he greets him. Kate refers to Grey as Ana’s boyfriend, which both Grey and Ray are a little taken aback by. Kate then introduces her brother to Grey:
“And this is my brother, Ethan Kavanagh,” says Kate, introducing the beach bum who has his arm wrapped around Ana.
Ah. The Kavanagh offspring, together.
I mutter his name as we shake hands, noting that they are soft, unlike Ray Steele’s.
Now stop pawing my girl, you fucker.
She’s not your girlfriend, remember? You fucker.
“Ana, baby,” I whisper, holding out my hand, and like the good woman she is, she steps into my embrace. She’s discarded her graduation robe and wears a pale gray halter-neck dress, exposing her flawless shoulders and back.
Two dresses in two days. She’s spoiling me.
Okay, firstly… She’s not dressing for you, you total twonk.
Secondly, “like the good woman she is”????!!!! Is it 1952???!! Come at me, women claiming this shit is feminist, because I’ll just point to this crap and say “OH NO IT ISN’T” like I’m in a freaking pantomime.
As Ray makes small talk with the “couple,” Grey purposefully traces his thumb along Ana’s back, making her tremble. Because trying to arouse or unnerve your new “girlfriend” in front of her stepfather is really romantic and not at all weird and disrespectful.
As they get onto the subject of fishing, Ana excuses herself and heads off to talk to Kate and Ethan, again. Of course, this means that whilst they’re talking, Grey is constantly staring at Ana. Which, again, is so totally healthy and cute.
“You still get out much to fish?” I refocus on Mr. Steele.
“Sure do. Annie’s friend José, his father, and I sneak out as often as we can.”
The fucking photographer! Again?
“He’s the guy that looks after the Beetle?”
“Yeah, that’s him.”
“Great car, the Beetle. I’m a fan of German-made cars.”
“Yeah? Annie loves that old car, but I guess it’s getting past its sell-by date.”
“Funny you should mention that. I was thinking of loaning her one of my company cars. Do you think she’d go for it?”
“I guess. That would be up to Annie, mind.”
GO RAY! I mean, Grey lied to him about him thinking of it as a “great car,” clearly, but Ray made the point of saying that a new car would be “up to Annie.” It’s her decision and Ray realises and respects that. What a shame Grey doesn’t – he’s already ordered the replacement Audi, remember.
Grey asks if Ana is also into fishing:
“No. That girl takes after her mother. She couldn’t stomach seeing the fish suffer. Or the worms, for that matter. She’s a gentle soul.” He gives me a pointed look. Oh. A warning from Raymond Steele. I turn it into a joke.
Of course you do. Because a father figure showing concern should always be turned into a joke. Yup.
As Ray excuses himself to go to the toilet, Ana and Grey briefly have their photo taken together and she compliments his choice of tie. Because LOL, they had sex using that. Man, I’m so aroused by this book.
Grey then tries to manipulate/seduce (senipulate? Maduce?!) her into saying “yes” to what he wants. But Ana clearly wants something beyond just using a tie during sex:
“You look lovely, Anastasia. This halter-neck dress suits you, and I get to stroke your back, feel your beautiful skin.”
Her lips part and her breath hitches, and I can feel the pull of the attraction between us.
“You know it’s going to be good, don’t you, baby?” My voice is low, betraying my longing.
She closes her eyes, swallows, and takes a deep breath. When she opens them again, she’s radiating anxiety. “But I want more,” she says.
Fuck. What is this?
Once again, tell me how we’re supposed to believe this guy is remotely intelligent?! I mean, in no way has Ana done anything but make it pretty clear that she wants more than just a sexual relationship with him! HOW IS THIS NEWS TO HIM?!
“More?” I whisper again. Her lip is pliant beneath my thumb. “You want hearts and flowers.” Fuck. It will never work with her. How can it? I don’t do romance. My hopes and dreams begin to crumble between us.
THEN WALK AWAY, YOU LOW-LIFE. IF YOU CAN’T DO ROMANCE AND THAT’S WHAT SHE WANTS, HAVE THE BLOODY DECENCY TO LISTEN TO HER AND DO THE DECENT THING.
But then there wouldn’t be this pathetic excuse for a story, so… Ugh.
“Anastasia. It’s not something I know.”
Of course; she’s never had a relationship before. “You don’t know much.”
Yep, belittling her lack of experience is a really sweet, kind and romantic thing to do.
“You know all the wrong things,” she breathes.
“Wrong? Not to me. Try it,” I plead.
Please. Try it my way.
There’s this crazy little thing called “compromise.” Grey blatantly doesn’t really want to try that. But you know what? Compromise is crucial in a healthy relationship. But hahahahahahaaaaa, this isn’t one.
“Okay,” she whispers.
“What?” Every hair on my body stands to attention.
“Okay. I’ll try.”
“You’re agreeing?” I don’t believe it.
“Subject to the soft limits, yes. I’ll try.”
Sweet. Lord. I pull her into my arms and wrap her in my embrace, burying my face in her hair, inhaling her seductive scent. And I don’t care that we’re in a crowded space. It’s just her and me. “Jesus, Ana, you’re so unexpected. You take my breath away.”
She’ll try. She says “I’ll try” twice. Remember how we always talk about enthusiastic consent? This is barely that. This is:
When what we’re looking for is:
What he should be saying here is “I promise you we’ll go at your pace. I’ll take things really slow. And I’ll try to give you a little more, too.” Because that is compromise.
But instead, he just thinks:
Deal done, Grey!
Ray returns and suggests he and Ana go to get some lunch. He invites Grey to join them, but Grey reckons he can tell that Ana is pleading with her eyes for him to say no, because she wants some alone time with her father. This guy has some kind of magical powers…
This then happens:
“Thank you, Mr. Steele, but I have plans. It’s been great to meet you, sir.”
Try and control your stupid grin, Grey.
“Likewise,” Steele replies—sincerely, I think. “Look after my baby girl.”
“Oh, I fully intend to,” I respond, shaking his hand.
In ways that you can’t possibly imagine, Mr. Steele.
This is just a kinky business deal to Grey. Ana has said she’ll “try” to do what he wants. And now that’s it. That’s a blanket “yes” to everything as far as he’s concerned and all he’s bothered about now is using Ana for sex. There’s nothing romantic about this. If he had any real ability to read Ana at all, he’d know how hesitant she is and that he ought to be reassuring her, but nope. He just cares about all the things he now feels he has blanket consent for.
Taylor collects Grey and they discuss the fact that the Audi A3 is ready for Grey to give to Ana. Grey thinks:
No doubt this will involve a discussion, and deep down I know it will be more than just a discussion. Then again, she’s agreed to be my submissive, so maybe she’ll accept my gift without any fuss.
Who are you kidding, Grey?
She’s agreed to try. And if you already know she’ll argue with you about this, why are you continuing to try to change her into something she isn’t, when you claim to like her just as she is?!
On his way back to his hotel, Grey thinks about a business meeting he has arranged with Kate’s father, then starts staring out of the window at couples, reminding himself that Ana wants a real relationship:
Ana wants “more.” I sigh heavily and plow my fingers through my hair. They always want more. All of them. What can I do about that? The hand-in-hand couple strolling to the coffee shop—Ana and I did that. We’ve eaten together at two restaurants, and it was…fun. Perhaps I could try. After all, she’s giving me so much. I loosen my tie.
Could I do more?
So, all of his ex subs have wanted more. And he’s never given them it. This is blatantly supposed to convey two things: 1) That Grey is just so wonderful, everyone wants a serious commitment from him and 2) That Ana is the special one, destined to change him. But to me, it just shows him up as a shitty person. He has never tried to give anything back to any of his subs, even when it’s been obvious they’ve had feelings for him. It wouldn’t kill him to take someone out for dinner, or spend a bit of time just snuggled up on the sofa with a DVD, but he’s viewed every single one of “the fifteen” as being there purely to serve him sex and agree to whatever he wants. He talks the talk about mutual pleasure, but his is the only pleasure that matters, here.
Back at the hotel, he has to go to the gym to work off his excess energy, because socialising with people has tested his patience. Plus he needs time to think about “more.”
I’ve got the feeling that I will hate the word “more” by the end of this.
Grey has a video call with Andrea:
“Will do. How was the graduation ceremony?” she asks.
Ana agreed to be mine.
She agreed to TRY. I literally can’t emphasise this enough. This prick is taking a very cautious “maybe” as a full-on “HELL YES” and that’s not right.
Grey then emails Ana to say he’s happy to talk through her soft limits, adding that she looked beautiful. Then he muses on the fact that just that morning, he’d thought it was all over between them, and that his therapist would have a field day if he knew how much he’d been obsessing over this girl.
Grey then thinks about the fact that the whole problem of her not responding to his messages was the fact that she hadn’t had her phone on her. And inexplicably, he decides that she needs a more reliable form of communication and contacts Taylor to ask him to have a Blackberry sent over to Ana.
I… I just don’t understand how this guy is so thick. She didn’t have her phone on her. It wasn’t a problem with the quality of phone! Just… ARGH, you moron. You controlling moron.
Grace (Grey’s adoptive mother, for those who might have forgotten) calls him and suggests he might like to bring Ana round for dinner:
“And then on Sunday Elliot is bringing his friend Kate to dinner. Would you like to come? You could bring Anastasia.”
That’s what Kavanagh was talking about today.
I play for time. “I’ll have to see if she’s free.”
“Let me know. It will be lovely to have all the family together again.”
I roll my eyes. “If you say so, Mother.”
“I do, darling. See you Saturday.”
She hangs up.
Take Ana to meet my parents? How the hell do I get out of that?
His first instinct is to try to get out of this, having just pondered whether he could really offer Ana “more.” It’s so typical of him. He knows that his family want to meet Ana and he also knows that Ana would probably like to meet them, but his first thought is of trying to wriggle out of the whole thing, because it doesn’t fit with what he wants.
Ana then emails to say she’s happy to drive over to Grey’s hotel to discuss her soft limits. Grey is pleased, because he wants an excuse to give her the car she hasn’t asked for and doesn’t want.
No, no baby. Not in that car. And my plans fall into place.
Grey calls Taylor to say that he’s on his way to deliver the car to Ana, asking Taylor to pick him up at 9:30. He takes two condoms, because he “might get lucky.” . He stops off to buy some pink champagne, because it’s pink, which is apparently symbolic?! I’m guessing EL James thinks “pink” means “hearts and flowers.” Good to know. That’s not condescending at all.
When he arrives at Ana’s apartment, Grey sees that she seems nervous:
“Come in.” She seems shy and awkward. Why? What’s happened?
“If I may.” I hold up the bottle of champagne. “I thought we’d celebrate your graduation. Nothing beats a good Bollinger.”
“Interesting choice of words.” Her voice is sardonic.
“Oh, I like your ready wit, Anastasia.” There she is…my girl.
SHE IS MY GIRL.
BUT SHE IS MOST CERTAINLY NOT MY GIRLFRIEND.
I loathe this guy.
Grey realises that Ana has packed up the first editions of Tess Of The D’Urbervilles to give back to him.
The room is empty, except for packing crates, the sofa, and the table. There’s a brown parcel on the table with a handwritten note attached.
“I agree to the conditions, Angel; because you know best what my punishment ought to be; only—only—don’t make it more than I can bear!”
She admits that she’s sending them back and that the note is her way of asking him to take things easy on her.
“It’s also a plea,” she whispers.
“A plea? For me to go easy on you?”
To me these books were an investment, but for her I thought they’d mean something.
“I bought these for you.” It’s a small white lie—as I’ve replaced them. “I’ll go easier on you if you accept them.”
DO AS I SAY AND THEN I WON’T HURT YOU, OH VERY NERVOUS WOMAN WHO IS JUST “TRYING” TO DO THIS THING SHE KNOWS NOTHING ABOUT.
“You see, this is what I was talking about, you defying me. I want you to have them, and that’s the end of the discussion. It’s very simple. You don’t have to think about this. As a submissive you would just be grateful for them. You just accept what I buy you because it pleases me for you to do so.”
“I wasn’t a submissive when you bought them for me,” she says quietly.
As ever, she has an answer for everything.
“No…but you’ve agreed, Anastasia.”
See what I mean about Grey deciding that “I’ll try” is blanket consent for everything he wants?!
Ana suggests that if the books really are hers, then she’ll donate them to a Darfur charity, seeing as that seems to be something he really cares about. He thinks:
You can burn them, for all I care…
When Ana says she’s going to think about what she should do with the books, Grey responds:
“Don’t think, Anastasia. Not about this.” Keep them, please. They’re for you, because your passion is books. You’ve told me more than once. Enjoy them.
And once again, as is so often his way, he internally thinks all of the things he ought to be saying out loud. Because otherwise, how could we keep all the DRAMA going?!
Speaking of which, this is the point at which I’m going to end this recap. This is yet another ludicrously long chapter, which really ought to have been split into two or even three, but EL James was obviously determined to go with the whole dates, rather than chapter numbers thing, and that means we have to read FOR NINETY BILLION HOURS just to get through one day in the Shadesverse.
I’ll do my best to get the rest of the chapter uploaded in recap form before Christmas. What a wonderful gift to you all.
Don’t worry, I’ve kept the receipt.