We pick up from my random cut-off point yesterday where Ana had finished her ethically questionable in-house gynecological exam. This chapter isn’t even close to being done. Christian asks Ana how she liked the whole experience:
“Fine, thank you,” she answers. “She said that I had to abstain from all sexual activity for the next four weeks.”
What the hell? I gape at her in shock.
Ana’s earnest expression dissolves into one of taunting triumph. “Gotcha!”
Well played, Miss Steele.
Even in the book’s very rare moments of playfulness — which aren’t remotely funny anyway — he still has to sound like some kind of James Bond psycho petting a cat. Jokes? Oh, how droll, Miss Steele. But you won’t be laughing for long…
My eyes narrow and her grin vanishes.
“Gotcha!” I can’t help my smirk.
Ha ha! It’s funny because she’s so used to him actually being angry at her for no reason!
I weave my hands through her hair and kiss her hard, wondering if I should fuck her over the kitchen counter as a lesson.
All in good time, Grey.
Because she should know that — even if she’s kidding — she is never, ever allowed to deny him sex. We’re all still having a great time, right?
“As much as I’d like to take you here and now, you need to eat and so do I. I don’t want you passing out on me later,” I whisper.
Why not just go whole hog and have him play “here comes the airplane” with her? That’s about how mature and sexy all of this food obsession feels anyway.
Anyway, true to his word he saunters over to the fridge and plates a pre-prepared chicken salad. I have so many questions, most of them involving how gross and wilty a pre-made chicken salad is, but actually I’m missing the point because having put place mats on his OWN COUNTER, Grey is going the extra mile by dishing out a salad he didn’t make to his girlfriend who doesn’t really want to eat it. What an absolute saint.
From the wine fridge I take out the Chablis, feeling her eyes on me. I didn’t know I could be so domestic.
Then — because he’s basically a woman now anyway, what with putting food on plates like some kind of bitch — he grills Ana on exactly what type of birth control she got, because nothing about her life can ever be private again:
“Mini pill,” she says.
“And will you remember to take it regularly, at the right time, every day?”
Yes, Dad. GOD!
A blush steals across her surprised face. “I’m sure you’ll remind me,” she says with a hint of sarcasm, which I choose to ignore.
You should have had the shot.
It says how low my standards have fallen with this book that I’m surprised he didn’t insist on a particular type of birth control ahead of time, and that not doing so counts as restrained and respectful for him.
“I’ll put an alarm on my calendar. Eat.”
Just. Again… Ana had to sign an NDA saying she could never, ever talk about their relationship. Meanwhile, he gossips about her to his ex-lover/rapist, has his PA book her a gynecological exam, has his housekeeper clean her blood off of his bedsheets, and now he’s going to put an alarm into HIS calendar to remind HIM when she’s supposed to take her birth control pill — a calendar that his PA probably also has access to for scheduling reasons.
FUCK this guy.
Anyway, tiny baby bird Ana eats and Christian is SO PLEASED that she’s already on solids like a big girl:
She takes a bite, then another…and another. She’s eating!
“So I can put chicken Caesar on the list for Mrs. Jones?” I ask.
“I thought I’d be doing the cooking.”
“Yes. You will.”
What a treat.
Then he thinks Ana is giving him SEX LOOKS, even though she probably didn’t, which means that they need to finally have scary sex:
As if under her spell, I get up and tug her into my arms.
“Do you want to do this?” I whisper, inwardly begging her to say yes.
“I haven’t signed anything.”
“I know–but I’m breaking all the rules these days.”
I feel like this is the closest we’re going to get to consent, so let’s just go with it.
“Are you going to hit me?”
“Yes, but it won’t be to hurt you. I don’t want to punish you right now. If you’d caught me yesterday evening, well, that would have been a different story.”
HOW. How did someone write this and not at any point think, “Mm, maybe problematic.”
Her face turns to shock.
Oh, baby. “Don’t let anyone try to convince you otherwise, Anastasia.”
Try to convince her of what? That he’s not an abuser?
“One of the reasons people like me to do this is because we either like to give or receive pain. It’s very simple. You don’t, so I spent a great deal of time yesterday thinking about that.”
I’m so confused right now.
I wrap my arms around her, holding her against my hardening erection.
“Did you reach any conclusions?” she whispers.
“No, and right now, I just want to tie you up and fuck you senseless. Are you ready for that?”
So… he considered the fact that she wasn’t actually into BDSM, but ultimately he doesn’t care because what he wants is all that matters? IS that what this is saying? Because if so… partial points for brutal honesty, I guess.
Anyway, Ana consents which is… good. On the rock-bottom level of basic humanity that we’re forced to grade on.
I lead her upstairs and into my playroom. My safe place. Where I can do what I want with her.
Wait. No you can’t. And that’s why the contract is still necessary.
FUCK THIS DUDE.
Anyway, Christian pulls out the hair tie, braids her hair (I just don’t know), and they begin a long pre-amble to scary kink sex, which is boring and involves a lot of Christian telling Ana where to look and how to sit. Finally Christian feels she’s ready, so he leaves to don his official dom costume. I wish I was joking:
Walking past her, I open the door and for a moment look back at her. Her head is bowed; her eyes stay fixed on the floor.
What a welcome sight. Good girl.
I want to run, but I contain my eagerness and walk purposefully downstairs to my bedroom.
Maintain some fucking dignity, Grey.
No one can see you, crazy.
In my closet I strip off all my clothes and from a drawer pull out my favorite jeans. My DJs. Dom jeans.
The first time I read this, I laughed ’til I cried. Even typing it out was an ordeal.
I slip them on and fasten all the buttons except the top one.
Too much chicken salad? We’ve all been there, buddy.
From the same drawer I retrieve the new riding crop and a gray waffle robe.
Honestly, every time I try to picture this it just makes him look like a small budget porno wizard.
As I leave I grab a few condoms and stuff them into my pocket.
Anyway, they have THE SEX. It involves a lot of stuff where he drags a leather riding crop around her vulva and then makes her taste it, which is fine. I do like this self-referential moment, though:
“Oh, baby, you taste mighty fine,” I whisper. “Shall I make you come?”
“Please,” she pleads.
One flick of my wrist and the crop smacks her behind. “Please, what?”
“Please, Sir,” she whimpers.
Good girl. I step back. “With this?” I ask, holding up the crop so she can see it.
“Yes, Sir,” she says, surprising me.
“Are you sure?” I can barely believe my luck.
“Yes, please, Sir.”
Oh, Ana. You fucking goddess.
They finish up and — like a Dad at his daughter’s Little League Game — he’s real proud of the effort she put in today:
I’m so proud of her. She did it. She did everything I wanted.
She’s everything I want.
And suddenly I’m overwhelmed by an unfamiliar emotion that rocks through me, slicing through sinew and bone, leaving unease and fear in its wake.
OH EL TRY HARDER THAN THAT.
Ana then tries to snuggle him which makes THE DARKNESS invade his soul, so he teaches her a lesson about violating the boundaries he refuses to establish or explain:
Oh, this will never do. You want her as a submissive, Grey. Show her what that means.
By… finally working out the contract properly?
No, of course not. By having more punishment sex. I skip over it because it is boring:
Our first time together in here, and she’s been a dream.
He’s going to buy her ice cream later for being so well-behaved.
“Hold up your hands.” My voice is husky. Slowly, she raises them as if they’re weighted with concrete, and I slide the scissors beneath the cable tie.
“I declare this Ana open,” I murmur, and snip, freeing her.
Like, as horrible as he is, if he was funny or interesting or smart, I could at least understand how Ana is so charmed by him. But he’s just a big bag of humorless corny dad jokes on top of being a total bastard. WHAT IS THE APPEAL?
I know the answer is money — even though she so doesn’t even want his money!!! — but that’s too depressing. I need more.
I love making her laugh. She doesn’t laugh enough.
I WONDER WHY.
“That’s my fault,” I admit to myself as I rub some life back into her shoulders and arms. She turns her face to me with a weary, searching look.
“That you don’t giggle more,” I clarify.
“I’m not a great giggler,” she says, and yawns.
Oh, well. Nevermind then.
Christian drifts off to sleep and has another RoboBabyChristian dream, which is particularly weird, and I’m really, genuinely sorry but it’s short and does raise a handful of things that I actually find semi-interesting, so here goes:
Mommy sits looking at me in the mirror with the big crack.
I brush her hair. It’s soft and smells of Mommy and flowers.
She takes the brush and winds her hair round and round.
So it’s like a bumpy snake down her back.
There, she says.
And she turns around and smiles at me.
Today, she’s happy.
I like when Mommy is happy.
I like it when she smiles at me.
She looks pretty when she smiles.
Let’s bake a pie, Maggot.
I like when Mommy bakes.
Christian Grey braids his submissives’ hair because it reminds him of his dead mom. EL James has actually constructed a story in which the lead male is having the most literal of Oedipal complexes where he wants to fuck-punish his dead mom.
I’m so close to quitting.
Anyway, Christian gets up and has ANOTHER SHOWER:
The piping-hot water cascades over me, washing away all the anxiety and unease that I’d felt earlier. As first times go, that was not bad, for either of us. And I’d thought that a relationship with Ana was impossible, but now the future now seems full of possibility. I make a mental note to tell Caroline Acton in the morning to dress my girl.
No, the double “now” typo is not mine.
Also, again, Ana hasn’t actually agreed to the contract. But Christian — to whom secrecy is very, very important — is involving yet another person in their relationship: a personal shopper that Ana hasn’t agreed to who will pick out clothes for her. That she doesn’t even want, though!!
Elsewhere, Ana also gets ready because we still have to sit through the scene where they go to dinner at his parent’s house, but — if you remember from the original book — Ana isn’t going to wear panties under her dress because Christian took them off and put them in his pants earlier, and this is constructed as a big sexy game between the two of them. And it’s boring.
Will she crack? I’m searching for an answer in her glittering blue eyes.
Ask me for your panties, baby.
This is what passes for plot in this book.
“Do you have everything you need?”
“Oh yes,” she says with easy confidence.
“Are you sure?”
She nods, her lips curved in a smirk.
God, she has guts.
I mean, again… this guy is supposed to be all about the crazy sex, but going commando is mind-blowing for him?
Christian and Ana have the world’s longest car trip to his parent’s house, where they both think about darkness or something. Christian starts quizzing Ana on how she liked the scary kink sex, and Ana — who, let us never, ever forget, was forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement stating that no one in her life can know any details about their relationship — is a little wary of Taylor in the front seat who is listening to everything:
Sweetheart, don’t worry about Taylor. He knows exactly what’s going on, and he’s done this for four years.
“All part of my world, Anastasia.”
He’s the wooooooooooooooorst.
They finally arrive at his parents’ place and everyone’s really nice to Ana. Guess how Christian feels about that:
Mia takes her hand and drags her into the vestibule as my parents and I follow. “He’s never brought a girl home before,” Mia tells Ana in a shrill voice.
Of course it’s “shrill.” She is a woman after all.
“Mia, calm down,” Grace chides.
Yes, for fuck’s sake, Mia. Stop making such a scene.
Ana catches me rolling my eyes and shoots me a withering look.
Everything he does is awful. How is that even possible?
Carrick offers his hand. “Hello, son. Long time no see.” We shake hands and follow the women into the living room. “Dad, you saw me yesterday,” I mutter. “Dad jokes”–my father excels at them.
Christian and Ana then go into the living room where THAT BITCH KATE and Poochie D are cuddling. Kate — who Christian last saw as he barreled past her into her own apartment before yelling at his crying girlfriend — is less than pleased to see him, which of course is all Kate’s problem and not his.
And now Elliot has his big paws all over Ana.
Fuck, who knew my family was so touchy-feely all of a sudden? Put her down. I glare at Elliot and he grins–an I’m-just-showing-you-how-it’s-done expression plastered all over his face. I slip my arm around Ana’s waist and pull her to my side.
All eyes are on us.
Hell. This feels like a freak show.
BECAUSE YOU’RE ACTING CRAZY.
What the hell is wrong with my family?
Ana frowns. She’s probably finding them weird, too.
See… here’s the thing. The original book makes this big deal of Christian feeling like such a freak because his family is so perfect and normal. Which is fine, but then in Christian’s version he does everything he can to establish them as weird — and assumes Ana feels the same. So which is it?
I know that he’s meant to be “in denial,” but none of this is believable. He’s just an asshole and enjoys being an asshole.
“Sit,” I tell Ana, and I lead her over to one of the sofas. She does as she’s told and I sit at her side, careful not to touch her. I need to set an example for my overly demonstrative family.
Maybe they’ve always been this way?
I can’t help you write this, EL. These are questions you need to answer, not pose.
My father diverts me. “We were just talking about vacations, Ana. Elliot has decided to follow Kate and her family to Barbados for a week.”
Dude! I stare at Elliot. What the hell happened to Mr. Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em? Kavanagh must be good in the sack. She certainly looks smug enough.
I feel profoundly sad for EL James if all of the men she knows are such trash that she thinks that this is what passes for “normal” male behavior.
Ana uses this convenient segue to announce her trip to Georgia, which Christian is PISSED about, but offers very little internal dialog about why, so I won’t bother transcribing it. He’s also PISSED that Ana never mentioned her internship interviews but again he doesn’t offer much beyond what we got in the first book.
“Ana deserves a break,” Kavanagh interrupts, staring at me with ill-concealed antagonism.
A couple of things I love about this. Nothing in the text suggests she was interrupting anyone. But if a woman speaks without his consent, it is of course an “interruption.” And you have to enjoy the fact that he’s not interpreting all of this as a rather dire sign that his girlfriend is afraid to tell him things, and that her friend can tell that he’s had a bad effect on Ana, but instead that both of the women are just bitches who need to know their place.
I want to tell her to mind her own fucking business, but for Ana’s sake I hold my tongue.
What an absolute prince to not scream at his brother’s girlfriend, and his girlfriend’s roommate and best friend, in the middle of a family dinner.
Ana tells his family a little more about her potential internships and Christian continues to spectacularly miss the point:
When was she going to tell me this? I’m here with her for two minutes and I’m finding out details about her life that I should know!
So then talk to her about something other than sex for a change.
Christian — who just a moment ago said he wasn’t going to make things awkward at the table — then pulls Ana into the hallway to yell at her:
“When were you going to tell me you were leaving?” My temper is rapidly unraveling.
“I’m not leaving. I’m going to see my mother. And I was only thinking about it.” Ana dismisses me, as if I’m a child.
Because you are a child.
“What about our arrangement?”
“We don’t have an arrangement yet.”
But nothing. You made a BIG DEAL out of the contract, and now you’re dragging your feet about finalizing it because you want to make sure she can’t actually have any say in this. So fuck you.
I lead us through the living room door and into the hallway. “This conversation is not over,” I warn her as we enter the dining room.
And on that genuinely terrifying note, I’m going to cut things off here for today.
No, this fucking chapter is STILL not over.