Monthly Archives: August 2012

A True Story About A Horrible Thing I Did At Epcot

I was a really spoiled child. Like, had-a-Cabbage-Patch-Doll-in-1982-even-though-my-grandfather-was-working-two-jobs-to-afford-that-kind-of-shit spoiled. I had the set. up. let me tell you. My mom and I lived with my grandparents and assorted aunts and uncles, and then on the other side of the coin I had my other grandparents, who let me do shitty things like eat only the middles of Oreos and rub a brick of cheese on the front of the refrigerator because I had an “independent spirit.” So, basically when I wanted something, I ended up getting it.

One of these things was a trip to Disneyworld, which I got during Christmas of 1985. I had just turned five, and things could not be better for a five-year-old than to spend actual Christmas fucking day at Disneyworld. Now, I’m not telling you all this stuff about my totally entitled childhood to make you super jealous. Although you should be, because my childhood was rad. I am just telling you all this so that you understand what was going on in my mind the day I did this horrible, horrible thing.

It went down at Epcot center, in the World Showcase section of the park. My grandparents and I were dining in the Aztec pyramid that represents Mexico on the tour of nations assembled around the vast central lagoon. As a five-year-old from the midwest who had been exposed to every variation of cheese-and-potato-potluck-dish under the sun, my palate was not impressed at the variety of flavors present in my Mexican dinner, so I asked my grandparents if I could leave the table and visit the little gift shop we saw on our way in.

Because my grandparents are too trusting of the world in general, they said, “Sure, Jenny, totally go to that little gift shop full of grown up strangers and breakable merchandise.” And so, I went. The gift shop was very much like any Disney gift shop, full of toys and light up shit and t-shirts, but it also had a section of hand-worked glass items. I guess people are really optimistic about their chances of carrying an insanely fragile spiderweb of glass threads woven into the shape of a swan out of the park, into their luggage, through the airport and home. But it’s not my place to judge what other people spend their money on.

I knew better than to touch. Lord, I knew better. I’d had my hands smacked at the grocery store more times than I could remember, and that was from touching yogurt and poking the beef tongues through the packaging. I couldn’t help it then, can’t help it now. I like the squish. But the point is, I knew so much better than what I was about to do. In fact, I wasn’t even tempted to touch anything. It was a bunch of boring glass stuff.

Then, I saw it. A tiny glass unicorn with a gilded horn winking seductively up at five-year-old me. It had wings, too, so I guess that made it a pegasus. A unisus? A pegicorn? Something like that. It was a winged unicorn, and around the base of each wing dangled a wreath of glass flowers in sparkling, translucent pastels. This was pure magic, and I was totally unsupervised.

Well, unsupervised except for the lady standing next to me. I can remember everything about this woman. She had a long, brown trenchcoat on (remember, it was the week of Christmas, so it was actually kind of cold out), and her hair was that oddly unnatural honey-gold-brown color all the moms were dying their hair in 1985. It was long and swept up and into a banana clip. The nearest comparison I can give you to really illustrate what she looked like is, “Imagine Natalie from Forever Knight, but give her worse hair somehow.” As she perused the glass objects, she would carefully pick one up, turn it this way and that, and then set it carefully back down, all the time sparing distrustful glances for the unsupervised five-year-old standing waaaaay too close to all this glass shit.

I decided that the best way to touch the unicorn and look like a serious customer would be to imitate what this lady had been doing. I reached out with authority, picked up the unicorn, turned it this way and that, and then, out of nowhere came an explosion of glass at my feet. In my careful turning about and examination of the unicorn, one of the little flower wreaths slipped off the wing and smashed spectacularly at my feet.

Now, I reached a critical moment, a time when seconds seemed to last for years. I had no idea how much the unicorn could possibly cost. A hundred dollars? A thousand? Three cents? I was five-years-old, I had no fucking clue how much baloney cost, let alone a stunningly crafted glass Epcot unicorn. I had these horrible visions of having to sit on a time-out chair in a circle of cold white light, while the dark, indistinct shape of Mickey Mouse loomed over me, demanding answers. Or would they send the big guns? Would they send Mary Poppins to shame me? Nothing could have frightened me more than the idea that Mary Poppins herself might show up to express her displeasure.

I put the unicorn down with the speed and dexterity of a 19th century urchin picking pockets, pointed my chubby little finger directly at the lady beside me (who had seen the entire thing go down) and shouted at the top of my lungs, “WHAT DID YOU DO?!”

Every eye in the gift shop turned to this poor lady, holding a miniature spun glass teapot, who was standing awfully close to a lot of broken glass on the floor. That was my moment. I ran out of the shop as fast as I could, and never looked back.

I’m aware now, as an adult, that the consequences for breaking that unicorn at Disneyworld were probably going to be somewhere between “nothing” and “extra nothing.” It’s Disney. They expect there will be kids there, and I’m sure they expect that shit is going to get broken. But I didn’t know that at the time. And just to be sure, when we took my son to Disneyworld in 2007, we cautiously avoided the Mexico pavilion.

50 Shades Darker chapter 8 recap, or “I won’t participate in the plot, and you can’t make me!”

Welp, it’s official. Life fucking sucks and we’re all doomed: 50 Shades fanfic is being published as a novel. As J Bridger suggested in the comments section of the last recap, perhaps E.L. James will sue for copyright infringement. Also, maybe this is the year I quit writing and start working in a cigarette factory because that industry has some integrity compared to my industry right now.

Oh. There’s also a magazine now. So, the seas should be turning to blood at any minute.

We last left Ana standing outside of Chedward’s apartment, as Chedward, Taylor, Ryan Reynolds and that guy from Lost combed over it in search of a mysterious intruder.  No, wait, Sawyer had to stay in the hall with Ana, that’s right, because this happens to him:

“Taylor, Mr. Grey has entered the apartment.” He flinches and grabs the earpiece, pulling it out of his ear, presumably receiving some powerful invective from Taylor.

This is how I imagine Taylor’s sweep of the apartment, by the way:

But of course we don’t get to see any of that. No, we have to stay in the foyer with Ana, while Taylor has amazing adventures without us.

“Sorry, Miss Steele. This won’t take long.” Sawyer holds up both hands in a defensive gesture. “Taylor and the guys are just coming into the apartment now.”

Wait, Christian went into the apartment ahead of his security team? So, why is he bothering to pay them to protect him, if he won’t wait for them to do their job? Talk about control freak, he’s willing to bet his life on it.

Oh. I feel so impotent. Standing stock still, I listen avidly for the slightest sound, but all I hear is my aggravated breathing.

I don’t know, Ana, your posture seems kind of stiff to me. (Click here, you know what’s coming)

I have no idea how much time passes, and still we hear nothing. Surely no sound is good – there are no gunshots.

What about in the beginning of The Professional, where Leon slips a garrote around the dude’s neck and kills him silently? I can think of a bunch of ways to kill Christian Grey that wouldn’t be loud. Poison, smothering, slit his throat before he can yell, break his neck, chloroform him and drag him to a secondary location where I’ve got a Dexter-esque plastic wrap set-up waiting for him…

Look, it’s not like I’ve been thinking of this a lot, or anything.

Full disclosure: when I wrote the part about the garrote, I thought to myself, “You know, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen that movie… it’s possible that Leon doesn’t use a garrote at all. I should check that out. To the DVDs!”

Self shame is often the most effective type of shame.
He totally does, though. On a guy wearing a bolo tie.
Because waiting in tense silence for someone to possibly kill your boyfriend is a super bummer, Ana decides to walk around the foyer and look at the pictures on the wall.

I’ve never really looked at them before: all figurative paintings, all religious – the Madonna and child, all sixteen of them. How odd.

You haven’t really looked at them before because E.L. James suddenly needed a device to “foreshadow” information about Christian’s mother. Ana noticed so many little details about the art, the lighting, the layout, etc. on the first time she was in the apartment, I’m no longer buying that she just “hasn’t noticed” different rooms or, you know, huge art collections in the first fucking room off the elevator. Because I will not humor bad writing. If he had a mansion or a castle, I get not noticing something. If she didn’t constantly comment on the art everywhere she goes, I would buy, “Oh hey, I just never looked at them.” But in the real world, people tend to notice little shit like, “Oh hey, the guy I’m dating has sixteen paintings of the Virgin Mary in his foyer.” You notice, because that really is kind of strange.

Christian isn’t religious, is he? All of the paintings in the great room are abstracts – these are so different.

If they’re so different, a girl as astoundingly bright as Ana should have noticed them.

Abruptly, the doorknob moves. Sawyer spins like a top and draws a gun from his shoulder holster.

He spun like a top, did he? So, he’s whirling around in circles, gun drawn? I wish I could see it, because just imagining it is hilarious.

Christian comes out the door and gives the all clear, because he’s apparently a security guy now. Why not?

“Taylor is overreacting,” Christian grumbles as he holds out his hand to me.

Dude, you’re the one who hired him. It must be awesome to work for Christian. “You must protect me, I am in grave danger. You have no idea how very grave the dangerous danger I am in is, but I assure you: it is quite grave. The graviest. You must protect me, big, strong Taylor.” And then, the second some shit goes down and Taylor just does his job, it’s all, “Taylor, you big silly fraidy cat, there’s no danger! And now your overreaction has delayed my fucking!”

What a tool. I hope Christian fires Taylor, and then Taylor can get a better job. One fighting the Predator in South America.

Ana is so relieved that Christian isn’t dead, she has to spend a paragraph rhapsodizing about how hot he is. Then she bitches a little about how difficult his exes are, then they go into the apartment. Then Christian says:

“Taylor and his crew are checking all the closets and cupboards. I don’t think she’s here.”

So, the apartment hasn’t even been checked out yet, and you still brought Ana inside? While Leila, the totally off-the-rails ex-sub who may or may not have a gun could still be hiding inside? That’s totally sensible of you.

“Why would she be here?” It makes no sense.

“Exactly.”

Ana and Christian should never try to open any kind of detective agency. Here’s why:

IF SHE IS TRYING TO KILL CHRISTIAN, THE FIRST PLACE SHE WOULD GO IS TO HIS APARTMENT. WE KNOW THAT THIS IS WHAT SHE WOULD DO BECAUSE SHE HAS DONE SO BEFORE.

Ana asks Christian if Leila could get in, and Christian shoots that down, calling Taylor “overcautious.” Well, funny how it works, Christian, when you hire someone to be cautious on your behalf in matters of life and death, they tend to do exactly that. Because if you die, not only do they lose their job, it also looks terrible on their CV. “Last guy I guarded died.” Well, not hiring him, then, am I?

And here’s another, even more confusing aspect to this sudden, “Taylor sucks at his job and he’s way too careful” angle that Christian is trying to work. As an author, it’s E.L. James’s job to make the reader feel the tension of the situation. We’re supposed to really feel that Ana is in danger here, aren’t we? Otherwise, what is the point of the entire Leila plot? But if you’ve got the main characters saying, “Well, there’s really nothing dangerous happening here,” then you’re destroying that tension. Or, making them look really, really stupid. In this case? She’s managing to achieve both.

Ana asks Christian if he searched his playroom:

Christian glances quickly at me, his brow creasing. “Yes, it’s locked – but Taylor and I checked.”

I bet the reason Taylor knows about the playroom is that Chedward bottoms for Taylor all the time. You just know that Taylor is a Dom.

For the second time on this page, Christian suggests that Ana go to bed. “There might be someone hiding in your closed, but sweet dreams!” Amiright? He takes Ana to his bedroom and she gives him the note from Mrs. Robinson. Because now, when your car has been vandalized and a killer might be in your boyfriend’s apartment, now is the time to discuss this?

“Are you going to call the police about the car?” I ask as I turn around.

He sweeps my hair out of the way, his fingers softly grazing my naked back, and tugs down my 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.” he leans down and plants a gentle kiss on my shoulder.

This should be a big clue to Ana that the bodies of the other subs, the ones who didn’t escape after faking a suicide attempt in front of the housekeeper, are buried in the walls of the apartment. Otherwise, why on earth wouldn’t you call the police over a vandalized automobile and a possible stalker/intruder?

You know why? Because the plot is half-baked, so the only option in order to keep the book going is to have the characters actively resist participating in said plot in any meaningful way. It’s clear at this point that the Leila subplot is, like all the other subplots in this book, just there to fill out time between lackluster sex scenes. The outcome is rigged, and the main characters clearly know it, because they won’t take even a half-hearted stab at self-preservation. There is no reason for the reader to invest in their peril, because we already know that it’s not going to be perilous. It would get in the way of the fucking.

Later, back at the ranch:

I wake with a jolt, disoriented. Have I been asleep? Blinking in the dim glow the hallway casts through the slightly open bedroom door, I notice that Christian is not with me. Where is he? I glance up. Standing at the end of the bed is a shadow. A woman, maybe? Dressed in black? It’s difficult to tell.

Ana screams for help, and the security team comes running. Just kidding!

In my befuddled state, I reach across and switch on the bedside light, then turn back to look but there’s no one there. I shake my head. Did I imagine it? Dream it?

No, it was probably this guy:

Who could be Christian, for all we know, given the BDSM context of the story.

Ana sits up, looks around the room, decides she’s alone and goes out to look for Christian. Not to tell him that there was a person standing at the foot of his bed on the same night there was a possible B&E at his house, oh no. She just wants to know where he is, and blames the figure at the end of the bed on her overactive imagination.

Ana finds Christian in his study, on the phone:

“I don’t know why you’re calling at this hour. I have nothing to say to you… well, you can tell me now. You don’t have to leave a message.”

I stand motionless by the door, eavesdropping guiltily. Who is he talking to?

“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?” 

He sounds belligerent and angry. I hesitate to knock.

“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?… Good. Good night.” He slams the phone down on the desk.

Raise your hand if you actually believe Elena called Christian in the middle of the night. I know that’s how it’s written, but holy hell, can I see that going down in reverse and making way more sense based on what we know of the characters.

What is the obsession with Christian repeating everything twice? He told Ana to go to bed twice, he’s telling Elena to leave Ana alone twice… this book could be a lot shorter if Christian wasn’t so into repeating himself.

This chapter really made something jump out at me. See where she says Christian sounds “belligerent and angry?” Okay, those are pretty much the same thing. Belligerent means hostile, and anger is “a strong feeling of displeasure and usually antagonism.” So, why both? Because someone bought E.L. James a Word-A-Day calendar, and now we all have to suffer for it. There are ten dollar words awkwardly shoehorned into this entire book, but it’s never so evident as in this specific chapter.

Ana gets up the courage to knock on the door, and Chedward is so angry it frightens her. But then he tells her she looks beautiful in his t-shirt, so everything is magically okay. And Ana still doesn’t mention that, hey, there was a fucking intruder in your bedroom. Even if you think you imagined that, wouldn’t you mention it? Just in case?

NO! Because it would get in the way of the fucking!

He rises slowly out of the chair, still in his white shirt and black dress pants. But now his eyes are shining and full of promise… but there’s a trace of sadness, too.

How is wearing a white shirt and black pants in any way contradictory to the look in his eyes?

“Do you know what you mean to me?” he murmurs. “If something happened to you, because of me…” His voice trails off, his brow creasing, and the pain that flashes across his face is almost palpable.

Only if you’re touching his face. But if he’s seriously that worried about it, he could call the police.

I reach up and stroke his face, running my fingers through the stubble on his cheek. It’s unexpectedly soft. “Your beard grows quickly,” I whisper, unable to hide the wonder in my voice at this beautiful, fucked-up man who stands before me.

This kind of makes it sound like she thinks it’s fucked up that his beard grows quickly.

I trace the line of his bottom lip then trail my fingers down his throat, to the faint smudge of lipstick at the base of his neck. He gazes down at me, still not touching me, his lips parted. I run my index finger along the line and he closes his eyes.

Hold up a second. Was this the lipstick line she traced over his body like two chapters ago? So that he was wearing a skin-colored vest? What the hell, how is it still there? They’ve had sex twice, then went to a party at his parent’s house where there was dancing and more fucking, so that’s three times having sex, wearing clothing that’s rubbing all over while you’re dancing, then all the way home and into the house, I’m sorry, NO. The lipstick would not still be there. Also, he never took a fucking shower before he went to the party at his parent’s house? The big, fancy, raise-a-million-dollars black tie party, and he couldn’t be bothered to wash? He’d had sex with Ana twice before they got to that party. Not only would the lipstick line not be there, you know what would be there? Stink lines, the kind that come off smelly cartoon people. That’s what would be there. And the smell would probably be fantastic, like honeysuckle and lollipops, because that’s what Ana’s perfect hooch smells like.

Seriously, I know that long wear lipstick exists. My son walked around our seven day Disney vacation with a kiss on his forehead that he got from Snow White on day one. Every picture we have of that vacation looks like it happened on the same day, because that lipstick was staying put. But you know what else? It was on his forehead, and he wouldn’t let us wash it, like, at all. It would have come off, if he hadn’t treated his forehead like a fucking shrine to Snow White’s eternal promise to marry him (which, by the way, it totally was). What I’m saying is, unless Christian Grey had the same steadfast determination as a four-year-old autistic to avoid sweating, rubbing, or general touching of that lipstick on his skin, it’s not going to be there.

Ana slowly takes Christian’s shirt off, and then she orders him into the bedroom where, gosh, it’s a little chilly. I wonder why… oh, THE BALCONY DOORS ARE OPEN.

I don’t remember doing that. I recall scanning the room when I woke. The door was definitely closed.

I don’t remember you looking at the door, and I’m literally in your head. But whatever you need to build suspense, Ana.

Ana FINALLY gets around to telling Christian that, oh, hey, there was a person standing at the foot of your bed and I didn’t mention it until now. Christian makes Ana get dressed in his sweatpants because it’s far too dangerous for her to go upstairs to where the wardrobe he bought her is. It wasn’t too dangerous for her to come into the apartment before it was checked out by security, though. He gets on the phone:

“She’s still fucking here,” he hisses down the phone.

Well, wait. If the balcony doors were closed when Ana woke up, and now they’re open, doesn’t that mean that she left? But be super careful now, Christian, it will make up for you not giving a shit earlier, when you almost got your girlfriend killed.

Approximately three seconds later, Taylor and one of the other security guys burst into Christian’s bedroom. Christian gives them a precis of what has happened.

“How long ago?” Taylor demands, staring at me all business-like. He’s still wearing his jacket. Does this man ever sleep?

Does this man ever stop being interesting?

But it makes sense that Taylor would have stayed on the night of a home invasion. At least someone was taking it seriously. I’m looking at you here, Christian Grey.

“She knows the apartment like the back of her hand,” says Christian. “I am taking Anastasia away now. She’s hiding here somewhere. Find her. When is Gail back?”

“Tomorrow evening, sir.”

“She’s not to return until this place is secure. Understand?” Christian snaps.

Wait, wait, wait. It was totally okay for your girlfriend to enter the apartment before it was secure, but not your housekeeper? And what happened to this all being an overreaction, she would never come to the apartment, she couldn’t get in, anyway, and Taylor was being too careful by checking to see if she was hiding? None of this makes any sense.

Taylor asks if Christian is going to go to his parents’ house, and Christian doesn’t want to bring trouble to them, so he asks Taylor to book him a hotel. And then it’s Ana’s turn to be stupid, because she hasn’t had a chance in oh, so very, very long:

“Aren’t we all overreacting slightly?” I ask.

Christian glowers at me. “She may have a gun,” he growls.

She may have a sword. Or a potted plant.

“Christian, she was standing at the end of the bed. She could have shot me then if that’s what she wanted to do.”

Shooting someone in a dark room isn’t as easy as you might think, Ana. Also, it doesn’t matter why she’s there, it’s pretty freaking hostile to break into someone’s house and watch them sleeping.

 Oh dear, how did this get here?

Christian disappears into his closet while the security guy watches me. I can’t remember his name, Ryan maybe. He looks alternately down the hall and to the balcony windows. Christian emerges a couple of minutes later with a leather messenger bag, wearing jeans and a pinstriped blazer. He drapes a denim jacket around my shoulders.

“Oh, hey, there wasn’t enough time for you to not be wearing my sweatpants and the t-shirt you slept in, but plenty of time for me to put on a blazer and pack.” Unless that’s a bug out bag. That would be hilarious, if he had such a history of mentally unstable girlfriends that he actually had a bug out bag in his closet at all times.

“I can’t believe she could hide somewhere in here,” I mutter, staring out the balcony doors.

“It’s a big place. You haven’t seen it all yet.”

What the fuck? Is it the TARDIS? The only reason she “hasn’t seen it all yet” is because E.L. James wants to leave her options open, in case she wants to add some new place for them to fuck later. How on earth are people not seeing this?

Yesterday, I tweeted that I was so furious at this book, I couldn’t finish the recap. I’m sure that a lot of you who read that tweet thought that I was angry about the abusive relationship or the forced birth control, or some fresh hell I’d yet to share with you. Nope. I was mad because the writing is so pathetically bad, and people are arguing that it isn’t. There are really people out there who think this book is super well-written, and that plunges me to such depths of crushing despair that I could not continue writing the recap.

But now I’m fresh and invigorated, so let’s keep going:

“Why don’t you just call her… tell her you want to talk to her?”

“Anastasia, she’s unstable, and she may be armed,” he says irritably.

And with the crushing despair, again. Cheward already told Ana earlier in the chapter that he didn’t want to involve the police, because Leila is mentally not all there and doesn’t need “police intervention.” Christian wanted to find her and deal with it himself. Now, Ana is saying, “Why don’t you just deal with it yourself,” and he’s saying, “No, because that’s too dangerous.” But rather than call the police, he’s going to go on the run with Ana. This is not a viable option, Christian. You can’t just keep running away until she gets tired of chasing you. You either have to call the police or deal with it yourself. Those are the options, and you’re rejecting both. Why?

Drumroll please…

There isn’t enough plot in this book to sustain it over the five hundred (yes, five fucking hundred) pages it’s sprawled across. If Christian had called the police when she tried to kill herself in his house, or filed a PPO when she showed up outside of Ana’s workplace (the suicide attempt, approaching Ana, and getting a concealed carry license would have been enough for them to grant a restraining order), then most of this would already be handled. But this is a Twilight fanfic, first and foremost. When the vampire James is stalking Bella, the Cullens can’t involve the police, so as Leila the ex-sub is stalking Ana, so must the police also not be involved. The problem is, E.L. James (and apparently her editors as well) didn’t understand that when the characters aren’t vampires, this plot doesn’t work. The characters just bumble around in a trap of their own making, while the reader keeps wondering, “Hey… why not call the cops?”

“Supposing she tries to shoot Taylor?”

“Taylor knows and understands guns,” he says with distaste. “He’ll be quicker with a gun than she is.”

“Ray was in the army. He taught me to shoot.”

Christian raises his eyebrows and for a moment looks utterly bemused. “You, with a gun?” he says incredulously.

“Yes.” I am affronted. “I can shoot, Mr. Grey, so you’d better beware. It’s not just crazy ex-subs you need to worry about.”

You know what’s funny about shooting, Ana? You need a gun to do it. Since Leila has one (I guess?) and you don’t, your ability to shoot carries about as much weight as a hummingbird’s fart in a stiff breeze. But look at how quick Christian is to express “distaste” over the idea of his bodyguard knowing how to use a gun. What the fuck was he supposed to be protecting Christian with all these years? Long range karate? Is this The Pink Panther?

Because Taylor is a better boyfriend than Christian, he’s packed Ana a suitcase of her own clothes. Yup, that’s right. Christian went and packed for himself, but he was going to leave Ana twisting in the wind. It’s our dream man Taylor who did the polite thing and thought of Ana. And because of this, this exchange happens:

Before I can stop myself I hug him, hard. He’s taken by surprise, and when I release him, he’s pink in both cheeks.

“Be careful,” I murmur.

“Yes, Miss Steele,” he mutters, embarrassed.

Christian frowns at me and then looks questioningly at Taylor, who smiles very slightly and adjusts his tie.

I don’t know if I’m more annoyed that Taylor appears to genuinely like Ana (Taylor, how could you?!), or that Christian is irritated by his girlfriend being concerned about another human being’s life.

Taylor gives Christian a credit card, and then agent Ryan takes Christian and Ana down to the garage, where Ana surveys the damage to her Audi. Then this happens:

“How could she have known it was my car?”

He glances anxiously at me and sighs. “She had an Audi A3. I buy one for all my submissives – it’s one of the safest cars in its class.”

Ana points out that it wasn’t a graduation present, if he gives them to all of his submissives, and he argues that since she never actually submitted, it was a graduation present. Ana asks Christian if he still wants her to be his submissive, and, um, not really the time, Ana. You’re sort of on the run from a crazy vampire from a crazy ex.

I gaze out of the window, trying to rationalize my exhausted, overactive mind. If she’d wanted to hurt me, she had ample opportunity in the bedroom.

Leila can’t hurt you in the bedroom, she’s a sub. (Click here)

Christian tells Ana that he no longer hopes that she’ll be a sub for him, and Ana is worried that she’s not enough for him.

“You’re more than enough. For the love of God, Anastasia, what do I have to do?”

Tell me about yourself. Tell me you love me.

Or you could ask him about himself, or tell him that you love him, instead of just waiting for him to volunteer this shit.

She does ask him something, and that was why he thought she would leave him if Dr. Flynn had told her “everything”:

He sighs heavily, closing his eyes for a moment, and for the longest time he doesn’t answer. “You cannot begin to understand the depths of my depravity, Anastasia. And it’s not something I want to share with you.”

You wanted to before, remember? Like when you were wailing on her with a fucking belt? Have we forgotten that?

“And you really think I’d leave if I knew?” My voice is high, incredulous. Doesn’t he understand that I love him? “Do you think so little of me?”

This is a nifty trap an abuser sets up. What happens is, the abuser thinks so little of himself (or pretends to think so little of himself) that the victim immediately rushes to the position of, “I don’t care how fucked up you think you are, I am not like the other girls, I will stay with you.” Once the abuser has the victim in that position, the victim can’t leave. If she leaves, it’s giving up. It’s throwing in the towel. It’s quitting. And those are all things that strong, independent women of the world don’t do, right? Also, by leaving, the victim is letting the abuser down, and confirming all of those negative things the abuser thinks (or pretends to think) about himself. And since the victim loves the abuser, she doesn’t want to hurt him. At this point, Ana is trapped. She has to be with him forever, or break out of the victim mindset.

I bet I know how it ends:

“I know you’ll leave,” he says sadly.

“Christian… I think that’s veyr unlikely. I can’t imagine being without you.” Ever…

Probably best not to mention that last “ever…” while you’re both actively fleeing his psychotic stalker ex. Might make him a leeeetle bit jumpy.

“You left me once – I don’t want to go there again.”

Okay, is it really “leaving” someone if you didn’t live together and you had only been dating for like, two weeks? I think of “leaving” as being in a committed relationship and separating your belongings and shit like that. Not breaking up after two weeks of dating. And they weren’t even really dating, they were just fucking due to sex contract.

Ana asks Christian if he saw Elena after the breakup, which Christian denies:

“I didn’t go anywhere last weekend. I sat and made the glider you gave me. Took me forever,” he adds quietly.

Wasn’t that a kid’s model?

My heart clenches again. Mrs. Robinson said she saw him.

Did she or didn’t she? She’s lying. Why?

“Contrary to what Elena thinks, I don’t rush to her with all my problems, Anastasia. I don’t rush to anybody. You may have noticed – I’m not much of a talker.” He tightens his hold on the steering wheel.

Maybe you should have gone to her for help with the glider, if it took you that long. His comment about not being a talker leads to Ana asking him about what Carrick told her re: Christian not talking after his mom died, which he doesn’t confirm. He does talk about Mia and how much he loves her, to which Ana makes some comment about Mia trying to keep them apart at the banquet.

Oh, and all this time they’re driving on the highway, just in case they’ve been followed. Now I’m starting to think they’re being a little overcautious, myself.

Ana asks Christian about his relationship with Elena, and he reasserts that it was all consensual and good for him. Then he complains that Ana is able to “inveigle” information out of people. Except, “inveigle” means getting information out of people with deceit or flattery… Ana is actually pretty straightforward when she’s talking to people. She’s certainly being straightforward in the scene.

They get to the hotel, where Ana is pretty sure that the valet looks surprised at their arrival because they’re so late. If it’s so unthinkable that people would arrive late, why does the hotel have a third shift valet? They go inside to check in as Mr. and Mrs. Taylor, where the requisite stunned female waits to ogle Christian hungrily:

Of course, she’s overawed by Christian. I roll my eyes as she flushes crimson and stutters. Even her hands are shaking.

“Do… you need a hand… with your bags, Mr. Taylor?” she asks, going scarlet again.

So, here we have Ana criticizing another woman for acting exactly the same way she acts all the freaking time. How dare this slutty, slutty slattern FLUSH CRIMSON in the presence of Christian Grey! It’s unconscionable!

When Christian refers to Ana as his wife, Ana actually hides her hands because there’s no ring on her finger. I love how Ana naturally assumes that the girl at the desk is going to a) check out her finger to see if it’s true and b) call her on it.

By the way, I have never once checked into a hotel where I didn’t have to show photo identification to get a room. So, I don’t know how this whole “I’m Mr. Taylor” thing is working.

Ana refers to the receptionist as “Miss Flushing Crimson,” which actively makes me want to reach into the book and slap the shit out of her. Are you kidding me with this? You’re going to give her a derogatory name for something you do all the time? That would be like me calling someone a pothead in a negative way. It would be pothead/kettle.

In the room, Christian pours them some drinks and they stand by the fireplace, making infuriating conversation:

“You never cease to amaze me, Anastasia. After a day like today – or yesterday, rather – you’re not whining or running off into the hills screaming. I am in awe of you. You’re very strong.”

NO. NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO. Just repeatedly having a character say the same thing over and over about Ana does not alter her characterization. It doesn’t pull the wool over my eyes. It shouldn’t pull the wool over anyone’s eyes. Ana isn’t strong. She wasn’t able to successfully stay broken up for more than five days. She hasn’t picked up the phone and called the police to protect herself, because she’s waiting for Christian to protect her. And how fucking often are we going to have to read Christian saying, “I am in awe of you.” What is there to be in awe of? Her mind-boggling stupidity at every turn of the page? Her inability to think for herself? Her towering misogyny? Tell me, please, Chedward, tell me what is so awe fucking inspiring about your  too stupid to live girlfriend, because I am DYING to know.

Oh, Christian, what do I have to do to make you realize how I feel?

Let him beat you, my subconscious sneers.

Oh hey… maybe I’m Ana’s subconscious.

To lighten the mood, Ana brings up Jose. Actually, she asks where Christian is going to hang Jose’s pictures, and then it’s time for the sexy:

Very bravely – emboldened by the brandy, no doubt – I take Christian’s hand and pull him toward the bedroom.

So, just be aware, ladies, the bar for bravery has been lowered for us. It used to be “rescue a toddler from a burning building,” now it’s “fuck you boyfriend.” In other news, words don’t mean anything anymore.

They start to get down, and the lipstick is still on him (bullshit), and then there is another astounding feat of bravery for us to be “in awe” at:

Taking a deep breath and beyond courageous, I reach for the hem of my t-shirt and lift it over my head so I am naked before him.

Courageous. Used to apply to pulling unconscious drivers from burning, wrecked automobiles, now means getting naked in front of your boyfriend (who has seen you naked plenty of times). Also, words continue to not mean a goddamned thing anymore.

They have sex, the word “avaricious” is used, and then it turns into a Kathleen Woodiwiss novel:

“You’re going to unman me, Ana,” he whispers suddenly, breaking away from me and kneeling up.

Unman? I literally have not seen that used in romantic fiction since the very, very early ’90′s. In historical romances.

This is how I am imagining Christian now.
No, I lied. Fabio seems like a really nice guy. He doesn’t deserve that.

Christian tells Ana that she’s “the best therapy,” which sounds really healthy to me. Using other people to forget your problems is probably the best path toward mental health, right? Then they have orgasms and there’s a paragraph break. When we return:

His head rests on my belly, his arms wrapped around me. My fingers forage in his unruly hair, and we lie like this for I don’t know how long.

Pictured: Ana, “foraging” through Christian’s hair.
Ana reflects on her relationship with Christian:

He’s come a long way, as have I, in such a short time. It’s almost too much to absorb. With all the fucked-up stuff, I am losing sight of his simple, honest journey with me.

Words continue to not mean things, and also I cry tears of blood. He hasn’t come a long way. He hasn’t really come anywhere. No matter what Ana says, Christian still is getting everything he wants. He’s still manipulating her. And she hasn’t come a long way, she’s exactly the same person as she was when we first met her on page one of Fifty Shades of Grey. Just now, she’s had sex. Big whoop.

When they wake up in the morning, Christian informs Ana that Dr. Greene will be there shortly. Because even in an apparently life threatening stalker emergency, Christian Grey will see that the needs of his penis are met.

Ana thinks about how she doesn’t want another Audi, but that she doesn’t have a choice. If I were her, I would ask for a better car. But if I were her, I wouldn’t be dating Chedward, either. She goes to the dining room of the suite and finds Christian eating breakfast. He tells her she’s going to need her strength today. I’m thinking he doesn’t understand what a gynecologist visit entails, if he thinks you need to bolster your strength for it. Then he tells Ana he just plans to go out and get some fresh air. Since Ana is a frail and wilting Victorian, she clearly is going to need to eat so that she doesn’t faint dead away from such physical exertion. Or something. Then Dr. Greene arrives.

We’re in the bedroom, and Dr. Greene is staring at me openmouthed. She’s dressed more casually than last time, in a pale pink cashmere twin set and black pants, and her fine blonde hair is loose.

“And you just stopped taking it? Just like that?”

I flush, feeling beyond foolish.

“Yes.” Could my voice be any smaller?

“You could be pregnant,” she says matter-of-factly.

Wait, what? That’s not how the pill works. You don’t take it to avoid spontaneous pregnancy, and if you stop taking it you get pregnant. She would have had to have unprotected sex, which they did, but I believe she was on her period at that time. Now, I realize that it’s technically possible to have unprotected sex on your period and still get pregnant, but the pill wouldn’t have been effective then, either, because she’d just started taking it. And after she and Christian got back together, they were having protected sex. So, yes, I suppose she could be pregnant, but it seems pretty fucking unlikely.

Still, we have to go through the agony of Ana taking a pregnancy test and worrying about what “Fifty” will do when he finds out that she’s preggers. Only after the pregnancy test does Dr. Greene ask when Ana’s last period was, and then she shames Ana for her irresponsibility before giving her the results of the test:

“You’re in the clear. You’ve not ovulated yet, so provided you’ve been taking proper precautions, you shouldn’t be pregnant. Now, let me counsel you about this shot. We discounted it last time because of the side effects, but quite frankly, the side effects of a child are far-reaching and go on for years.” She smiles, pleased with herself and her little joke, but I can’t begin to respond – I’m too stunned.

Okay, the part about “You’ve not ovulated” and “you shouldn’t be pregnant,” those could have happened before telling Ana she could be pregnant and taking a pregnancy test. OB/GYNs know this shit. It would have been the first thing she asked. Plus, how is she telling whether or not Ana has ovulated based on a pregnancy test? And wait a second… any good doctor would have asked Ana if she wants the shot, rather than take her boyfriend’s word for it, right? So, I’m guessing Dr. Greene isn’t a very good doctor.

Dr. Green launches into full disclosure mode about side effects, and I sit paralyzed with relief, not listening to a word. I think I’d tolerate any number of strange women standing at the end of my bed rather than confess to Christian that I might be pregnant.

Then you need to not be having sex. Or grown up relationships. No, wait, not having sex, because as you’re sitting there thinking, “Gosh, it would be super icky to have to tell Christian I’m pregnant,” you’re ignoring what the doctor is telling you about the medicine you are relying on to not get pregnant.

There’s another page of needless and overwrought drama about how Ana could have been pregnant, but isn’t:

He furrows his brow at me, puzzled. “My reaction? Well, naturally I’m relieved… it would be the height of carelessness and bad manners to knock you up.”

“Then maybe we should abstain,” I hiss.

Yes, you should, because you’re not emotionally ready for the responsibility of sex.

He gazes at me for a moment, bewildered, as if I’m some kind of science experiment. “You are in a bad temper this morning.”

Force birth control does that to a person.

“Ana, I’m not used to this,” he murmurs. “My natural inclination is to be it out of you, but I seriously doubt you want that.”

Your “natural inclination” is to beat her? WHY ARE SO MANY WOMEN SO IN LOVE WITH THIS BOOK?

They go and take a long and stupidly drama-filled shower, in which they argue over whether or not Christian is worthy of love:

“I can’t hear this. I’m nothing, Anastasia. I’m a husk of a man. I don’t have a heart.”

Okay, this is where I separate the nerd men from the nerd boys (even though I suspect the readership of this blog is mostly female…). When Christian says he’s a “husk,” the first thing I thought of was:

“It was like breaking up with the Joker.”

If you don’t get it, that means you’re cooler than I am, so good for you.

“Yes, you do. And I want it, all of it. You’re a good man, Christian, a really good man. Don’t ever doubt that. Look at what you’ve done… what you’ve achieved,” I sob. “Look at what you’ve done for me… what you’ve turned your back on, for me,” I whisper. “I know. I know how you feel about me.”

Okay, yeah, Christian Grey has achieved a lot. But so did like, Hitler, Mussolini, Pol Pot, Franco, Peron, they all achieved stuff and I don’t see people lining up to love them into wellness. And what has he done for Ana, really? He’s beaten her, he’s made her cry hysterically at the drop of a hat, he’s earned her a stalker, he’s controlled her career, he bought her a bunch of shiny toys that serve as leashes, he’s isolated her from her friends and family… and what else? Nothing of value. Oh, he gave her orgasms. I forgot about those. Orgasms trump everything. And what did he supposedly give up? His fetish. That’s what he gave up. She gave up her family, her friends, her emotional well-being, her independence, but he doesn’t get to cane anyone, so it all evens out.

By the way, the way he feels about her? He loves her. She says he loves her and he agrees, and the chapter is over.

In the past, I have tried to put up a recap twice a week. Unfortunately, I have a looming deadline. It’s actually not looming. It’s sort of… passed. So, I’m late with a book. I need to get it finished, so count on one recap per week for the next couple of weeks, until I get my work done.

How To Shame Your Husband

Today, my friend Warnement was telling me about this funny website where owners shame their dogs. I was like, “Shave their dogs?” and he was like “Shame them,” and I was like, “Aha, Joe! I told you yesterday when they were talking about this on the radio in the car that the dj said ‘shamed’ and you were like, ‘he said shaved, why don’t you get the wax out of your ears?’ and look who is flying high now on a rainbow of promises. This foxy lady right here!”

There may have been a celebratory dance involved.

If you are unfamiliar with what I’m talking about, there is a website where people submit photos, more like mugshots, if you will, of their guilty looking dogs beside hand written signs that explain what it was the dog did bad. Sometimes, the dog is pictured at the scene of the crime, or with evidence of his or her doggy wrong doing. Some of them don’t look guilty at all, which is even better. There is actually a chihuahua who looks like a hardened criminal facing a long sentence, but who has a tattoo of the Chinese character for YOLO. The site is here, but it’s not safe for work. The first link on the right hand side is of a woman getting her butthole tatooed. And apparently, she loved it. Emphasis mine.

You get the idea, right? Well, I decided that if it worked with dogs, it has to work with humans, right? And there are all these annoying things my husband does. So, I decided to call him out on them. And he was a great sport about it:

“I clean floors before I clean the surfaces.”

“I’ve never read Jen’s books. :( ” *

“I try to tell Jen how to cook.”

“The only time I tell Jen I love her is when I fart in the car.” **

“I leave my stubble from shaving in the sink.”
*This is true. Joe has never read any of my books all the way through. He read the first three chapters of The Turning, and occasionally he will read the sex scenes from my books aloud as he chases me through the house.
**Look how not guilty he looks about this one. And it’s also true. He will turn to me with such tenderness and say, “I love you.” My heart will start to melt. And then I smell it.

Your heart might kill you. Heads up.

So, I wasn’t planning a post for today, because I have copy edits to do and books to write. But a friend just sort of casually posted something on facebook, to the tune of, “Oh hey, you might not have realized it at the time, but I totally had a heart attack three months ago.”

WTF?!

He’s in his 30′s!

He couldn’t possibly have had a heart attack!

WTF?!

Well, he did have a heart attack, and he’s written about it on his blog, Open Source Judaism. Please go and check it out, because while I’d heard of people having a heart attack in their 30′s and 40′s, I always assumed it would never happen to me. No matter what age you are, go read his scary story, get a bead on your very real mortality, and take better care of yourselves, because I like you.

Yes, you personally.

50 Shades Darker chapter 7 recap, or “Nothing says romance like forced birth control.”

Okay, some links for you all.

50 Shades Generator, courtesy of Tanya Eby, AKA Blunder Woman. Actually, her husband found it. So, you know, they’re good for something, am I right, ladies?

This is the funniest 50 Shades twitter parody.

In The Beginning, There Was Fanfic: From The Four Gospels To Fifty Shades is a really cool article on fanfiction, how it got started, the way the community functioned before the internet, and touches on the 50 Shades phenomenon. The author raises an interesting point:

 As one leading fanfic site claims, “the majority of Twilight fanfic is porn”. Many of these stories will sound spookily familiar. In one: His Personal Assistant (2009), “Bella Swan, personal assistant to handsome, rich, successful Edward Cullen, decides to make oblivious boss fall in love with her”; in another (2009) “Edward is a millionaire obsessed with Isobella Swan”. One, The Submissive by Tara Me Sue, is described as “37 chapters of juicy graphic detail”, “Think Story of O meets Twilight minus the vampire stuff”. This story, which can be found on fanfiction.net, like the others above, predates the publication of Fifty Shades by two years and was not written by EL James.

So, not only is 50 Shades of Grey plagiarized from Twilight, it’s actually plagiarized from other Twilight fanfiction. Really let that sink in a moment, the fact that people are all:

and they’re doing it over a book that isn’t just ripped off from the source material, but ripped off from another rip off the source material. And keep in mind, E.L. James has already had the gall to try and shut down someone on fanfiction.net for plagiarizing 50 Shades. Is this the Matrix? Is this hell?
Finally, the awesome Julia Burns left a comment on my last recap, imagining what MST3K would look like if it really was the sequel to Good Will HuntingThis is what it would look like. It’s all coming together for your old friend Jen. It really is.
When we last left Bella Swan and Edward Cullen, they were at a charity ball at the Cullen mansion. Ana just bid the $24k that Christian deposited in her account on a weekend at Christian’s property in Aspen. Okay, but you realize that you’re not giving the $24k back, right, Ana? It’s for charity, it’s not like he’s going to get that money back. And if you’ve got your shots handy, it’s time for the “Drink When Ana Drinks” drinking game:

Holy shit, did I really just do that? It must be the alcohol. I’ve had champagne plus four glasses of four different wines.

Shots! Shots shots shots shots! EVERYBODY!

Ana looks at Christian, and notices that he looks happy, but she knows he’s going to be really angry.

My subconscious has finally decided to make an appearance, and she’s wearing her Edvard Munch The Scream face.

I bet E.L. James has that poster in her office. Think of how much calmer this entire book would have been if that poster had just been Monet’s Water Lilies.

Now, I’ve noted a few places in this book and the last where an otherwise fine paragraph or sentence will be ruined by something utterly creepy. To illustrate this point, I’m going to show you two excerpts out of order. This is the excerpt that is just fine. It’s actually pretty well written, and something that would get me hot in any other book:

“I don’t know whether to worship at your feet or spank the living shit out of you.”

Oh, I know what I want right now. I gaze up at him, blinking through my maks. I just wish I could read what’s in his eyes.

“I’ll take option two, please,” I whisper frantically as the applause dies down. His lips part as he inhales sharply. Oh, that chiseled mouth – I want it on me, now. I ache for him. He gives me a radiant sincere smile that leaves me breathless.

“Suffering, are you? We’ll have to see what we can do about that,” he murmurs as he runs his fingers along my jaw.

See? Taken out of the context of Chedward and Anabella, that’s actually some pretty good sexual tension. So, what was it that completely destroyed that entire passage for me? This one, that came directly before it:

Christian leans over to me, a large, fake smile plastered across his face. He kisses my cheek and then moves closer to whisper in my ear in a very cold, controlled voice.

So, read that, and go back and read the other passage, so that they’re in the correct order. Literally everything that comes after large, fake smiles and cold, controlled voices is sinister and creepy. All of it.

Things do not get better. While sitting at the same table as his sister, parents, and grandparents, Christian takes Ana’s hand and…

Slowly and surreptitiously, so I don’t realize his game until it’s too late, he eases my hand up his leg and against his erection.

His parents. His grandparents. Same table.

Taking full advantage, I slowly caress him, letting my fingers explore. Christian keeps his hand over mine, hiding my bold fingers, while his thumb skates softly over the nape of my neck. His mouth opens as he gasps softly, and it’s the only reaction I can see to my inexperienced touch. But it means so much. He wants me. Everything south of my navel contracts. This is becoming unbearable.

It sure is, Ana. Seriously, wouldn’t all of this be painfully obvious? I get that there is an auction going on, and people are watching it. But I think I would notice if someone at my table was gasping because he was getting an under-the-table-handy. No auction is that enthralling, that anyone would miss that subtle detail. Also, I don’t think Ana’s touch can be accurately described as “inexperienced” anymore. They have sex almost every chapter. Of course, as the sex piles up (lol, “sex piles”), her euphemisms do seem to be getting more general. “Everything south of my navel,” could be her cunt, but it could also be her knees. I’m kind of imagining her legs stiffening up rigor mortis style and Ana toppling from her chair.

Now, let’s learn about pronoun agreement!

A week by Lake Adriana in Montana is the final lot for auction. Of course Mr. and Dr. Grey have a house in Montana, and the bidding escalates rapidly, but I am barely aware of it. I feel him growing beneath my fingers, and it makes me feel so powerful.

Do you see it? Let me give you a hint:

A week by Lake Adriana in Montana is the final lot for auction. Of course Mr. and Dr. Grey have a house in Montana, and the bidding escalates rapidly, but I am barely aware of it. I feel him growing beneath my fingers, and it makes me feel so powerful. 

Yup. Due to clumsy writing, Ana is now jacking off Christian’s father. Or both of them. Maybe she’s got one in each hand? That has to attract some attention at the dinner table.

Ana and Christian want to sneak off and have sex, because they are at his parents’ house, after all, but Mia ruins their plan by bringing up the First Dance Auction.

“The first dance will be with me, okay? And it won’t be on the dance floor,” he murmurs lasciviously into my ear. My giggles subside as anticipation fans the flames of my need. Oh yes! My inner goddess performs a perfect triple Salchow in her ice skates.

That bitch can do it all!

Christian gives Ana a kiss, and gives us all something to think about:

Glancing around, I realize that our fellow guests at the table are astonished. Of course, they’ve never seen Christian with a date before.

So, if they’re all astonished about that kiss on the cheek, what are the chances that they saw Ana fondling his dongle? Pretty high, right? He’s never appeared in public with a date before, so everyone is going to be watching him. It wouldn’t be a big deal if he was a womanizing billionaire like, oh, Tony Stark, right?

 Look at this suave motherfucker. It’s not just unsurprising, it’s damn well expected that someone will jack him off under the dinner table.

But Chedward isn’t Tony Stark, he’s the opposite. He doesn’t flaunt his conquests, so when he’s with a woman, it’s going to draw a lot of attention.
No, this whole comparison wasn’t just an excuse to work a picture of RDJ into my blog. Shut up. You don’t know.
Ana and Mia join ten other women – including Lily the requisite jealous bitch – on the stage, where horrible clarity dawns on Ana:

“Gentlemen, the highlight of the evening!” the MC booms over the babble of voices. “The moment you’ve all been waiting for! These twelve lovely ladies have all agreed to auction their first dance to the highest bidder!”

Oh no. I blush from head to toe. I hadn’t realized what this meant. How humiliating!

Okay, she didn’t realize what it meant when, on the last page, Mia said:

“The First Dance Auction. Come on!” 

What else could you possibly infer from the words “first dance auction”? It’s one of the most cliche fundraising events of all time, too. Seriously, what did Ana think was going to happen up on that stage?

“It’s for a good cause,” Mia hisses at me, sensing my discomfort. “Besides, Christian will win.” She rolls her eyes. “I can’t imagine him letting anyone outbid him. He hasn’t taken his eyes off you all evening.”

Mia senses her discomfort because Alice is psychic.

So, you’ve probably already deduced that this is going to be yet another chance for Ana to prove her Mary Sueishness by earning the highest bid for her first dance. You might think that you are prepared for the cliche that is to come, and that you will be able to weather the storm. You are wrong. It’s so much worse than you could have imagined.

You are going to need this again.
First of all, there is the angst: 

Yes, focus on the good cause, and Christian is bound to win. Let’s face it, he’s not short of a dime or two.

But it means spending more money on you! my subconscious snarls at me. But I don’t want to dance with anyone else – I can’t dance with anyone else – and it’s not spending money on me, he’s donating it to charity. Like the $24,000 he’s already spent? My subconscious narrows her eyes.

How dramatic can one person reasonably be about how another person spends their money? Or about dancing with someone else? Ana, you’re just going to dance with someone, not fuck them. And it’s going to raise money for drug addicted parents of small children, let’s not forget that.

“Now, gentlemen, pray gather around, and take a good look at what could be yours for the first dance. Twelve comely and compliant wenches.”

Jeez! I feel like I’m in a meat market. I watch, horrified, as at least twenty men make their way to the stage area, Christian included, moving with easy grace between the tables and pausing to say a few hellos on the way.

Okay, maybe I was wrong, because this is starting to sound like a really, really fancy gang bang. “Comely and compliant?” That’s a bit creepy, isn’t it? Wasn’t there a scene like this in the movie where Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman pretended to be into each other sexually, and no one was buying it? That had masks in it, didn’t it?

 Okay, there were masks. Maybe not an auction scene, maybe not credible heterosexuality, but definitely masks.

The MC announces each woman with little made up biographies. The first two women, Jada and Mariah, go for $5,000 and $4,000, respectively, and during this part of the auction, Mia mentions that she hopes Christian wins the first dance with Ana, so that there isn’t a “brawl.” 

Christian is watching me like a hawk. Brawler Trevelyan-Grey – who would have known.

“How long ago?” I ask Mia.

She glances at me, nonplussed.

“How long ago was Christian brawling?”

“Early teens. Drove my parents crazy, coming home with cut lips and black eyes. He was expelled from two schools. He inflicted some serious damage on his opponents.”

Okay, the first time I read this chapter, I totally missed the part where Mia said that there might be a brawl, so it looked like the conversation was coming out of nowhere and I was super confused. So, for all the people who say, “Who has the time to read a book multiple times just to bitch about it?” this is one of those cases that proves that if you’re going to rip something absolutely apart, you have to read it a few times or risk criticizing an element of the work that isn’t actually flawed.

However, holy fuck, is this flawed. First of all, they’re on a stage in front of three hundred guests. And they’re having this conversation about something intensely personal. Guess what, you’re not invisible, ladies. Someone is going to see you talking, someone is going to pay attention to what you’re talking about. Second, oh, hey there proof that Christian shouldn’t be involved in BDSM. If you have serious anger issues, to the point that your frequent physical assaults of other people had actual medical consequences, maybe being a Dom isn’t for you. Just saying.

We don’t find out how much the next girl goes for, because Ana stops paying attention, but the bidding is up to $4,000. Let’s recap:

  • Jada went for $5,000.
  • Mariah went for $4,000.
  • Jill’s only mentioned bid was $4,000.

So, what do you want to bet Mr. Grey bids for Ana?

“Beautiful Ana plays six musical instruments, speaks fluent Mandarin, is keen on yoga… well, gentlemen -” Before he can even finish his sentence Christian interrupts him, glaring at the MC through his mask.

“Ten thousand dollars.” I hear Lily’s gasp of disbelief behind me.

Did Lily bid? Also, why is Christian glaring at the MC? The MC is doing his job.

“Fifteen.”

What? We all turn as one to a tall, impeccably dressed man standing to the left of the stage. I blink at Fifty. Shit, what will he make of this? But he’s scratching his chin and giving the stranger an ironic smile. It’s obvious Christian knows him. The stranger nods politely at Christian.

OMG.  Is it Taylor? OMG. Is it Jack Hyde? OMG OMG OMG.

“Well, gentlemen! We have high rollers in the house this evening.” The MC’s excitement emanates through his harlequin mask as he turns to beam at Christian. This is a great show, but it’s at my expense. I want to wail.

Full disclosure: this post took me super long to write, not because of the stuff I’m writing, but because I spent literally two hours looking at each and every “Look at all the fucks I give” macro on the damned internet because I give so few fucks about Ana’s mortification that I had to get the exact. Right. One. There were Doctor Who ones, there was one of Renee Fleming, I’m telling you, there were a lot to choose from. There was a Darth Vader in a kilt riding a unicycle and playing the bag pipes one. But ultimately, MST3K won, because they seriously do not give a fuck and neither do I. Oh, poor Ana! You’re the belle of the ball again. That must be absolutely humiliating, to have two men fighting over a dance with you to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars, while the other women have all gone for like, four. Oh, how horrifying, that such attention is being called to you, because you don’t like it, even though you fucking thrive on it, because you’re a Mary Sue so Mary Sueish that they’ll have to retire the goddamned term and start using “Anastasia Rose Steele” instead. Poor. Poor. You.

“Twenty,” counters Christian quietly.

The babble of the crowd has died. Everyone is staring at me, Christian, and Mr. Mysterious by the stage.

“Twenty-five,” the stranger says.

Could this be any more embarrassing?

I don’t know, Ana. You could be watching it happen. Second hand embarrassment is often more crushing than actual embarrassment. Trust me, I’m having it right now, for both you and the author.

Christian stares at him impassively, but he’s amused. All eyes are on Christian. What’s he going to do? My heart is in my mouth. I feel sick.

“One hundred thousand dollars,” he says, his voice ringing clear and loud through the tent.

Okay, fine. She’s embarrassed. And it is kind of an embarrassing thing. But you know what’s more embarrassing? Being the girl who went for $4,000, when Ana went for $100,000. Just saying. I know that it buys into the whole patriarchal thing of a woman being worth what a man believes she’s worth, but this is a fun, albeit cliche, activity to raise money for a charity that helps parents of small children get off drugs. Maybe keep that in focus, take the ego stroke, and shut the fuck up about it. No one forced you to participate. Mia is overbearing, but if you had said you didn’t want to do it, she wouldn’t have made you.

Ana asks Christian who the other bidder was, and he says that he’ll tell her later. They have time for a quick fuck before the first dance actually happens, so he spirits her away to Edward Cullen’s bedroom:

“This was my room,” he says quietly, standing by the door and locking it behind him.

It’s large, stark, and sparsely furnished. The walls are white, as is the furniture; a double bed, a desk and chair, shelves crammed with books and lined with various trophies for kickboxing, by the look of them. The walls are hung with movie posters: The Matrix, Fight Club, The Truman Show, and two framed posters featuring kickboxers. One is named Guiseppe DeNatale – I’ve never heard of him.

Wait, has she heard of the other one? I love how Ana’s mind works, like she expects she’s going to have this knowledge of kickboxing because she knows fucking everything because she’s so “bright.” “Oh, Guiseppe DeNatale? I’ve never heard of him. I should comment on how I’ve never heard of him, because the reader obviously trusts that I have encyclopedic knowledge of every subject on the planet, and I wouldn’t want to mislead them. With great intelligence comes great responsibility, to paraphrase Spiderman.”

“I’ve never brought a girl in here,” he murmurs.

Oh, play her the lullaby you wrote for her, Edward! Please do!

They have a brief discussion about how she wants him to spank her, but he won’t because he said he wouldn’t do the punishment thing anymore.

“I vowed to myself I would not spank you again, even if you begged me.”

“Please,” I beg.

Well, clears that up, right? He’s down to spank her if she promises to use the safe word if she needs to. And then, it’s on to our latest installment of Word Rep Theatre. Emphasis mine:

He swallows, then takes my hand, and moves toward the bed. Throwing the duvet aside, he sits down, grabs a pillow, and places it beside him. He gazes up at me standing beside him and suddenly tugs hard on my hand so that I fall across his lap. He shifts slightly so my body is resting on the bed, my chest on the pillow, my face to one side. Leaning over, he sweeps my hair over my shoulder and runs his fingers through the plume of feathers on my mask.

Sometimes, word rep is unavoidable. Not these times. None of those times. It could have easily read:

He swallows, then takes my hand and moves toward the bed. Throwing the duvet aside, he sits. He gazes up at me and tugs me down, so that I fall across his lap. He shifts slightly so my body is resting on the mattress, my chest on a pillow beside him, my face turned away. Leaning down, he sweeps my hair over my shoulder and runs his fingers through the plume of feathers on my mask.

Nothing of value is lost by losing the word rep. This is actually a very common mistake a lot of writers make, thinking that they have to spell things out like assembly instructions, when it’s often just a few key words that get the description across. If you don’t believe me, read Tolkien’s Fellowship of The Ring and try to find the exact description of Rivendell. Then go look at what it looks like in the movie. Hardly any of the stuff you see in the movie is described in detail by Tolkien in the novel, but everyone had the exact same image of it in their heads, so that when they went to see the movie, they saw what they had seen when they’d read the book. It might be unfair to compare any author to Tolkien, but it’s just an example. Like J.K. Rowling with Privet Drive. She doesn’t go into a lot of detail about Privet Drive, but it still showed up in the movies as looking exactly the way people imagined it in the books. It’s not about using more words or more description, it’s about using the right words. Well, that and not repeating the same words over and over and over when it can be avoided.

Christian asks Ana if she really wants to be spanked, and why:

I groan as soon as his hand makes contact with my skin. I don’t know why… you tell me not to overthink. After a day like today – arguing about the money, Leila, Mrs. Robinson, the dossier on me, the road map, this lavish party, the masks, the alcohol, the silver balls, the auction… I want this.

Let’s pick out the bad reasons from the good:

Good reasons to want to be spanked:

  • All geared up from Ben Wa balls.
  • Inhibitions lowered by alcohol (now, this would be a bad reason to be all, “cane me!” but a light spanking with a bare hand would probably be okay).
  • The roleplay mystery of wearing masks at a fancy party gets you all revved up.

Bad reasons to want to be spanked:

  • Because you feel inferior in comparison to his ex-girlfriends who were more willing to explore BDSM fantasies, and to whom you’re afraid you’re going to lose him.
  • Because you argued about money.
  • Because he profoundly invaded your privacy.

I have no problem with Ana getting spanked, but let’s make sure it’s because she’s horny and wants it, okay? Not because she’s trying to prove that she can be just as good at getting spanked as his exes were.

He spanks her and fingers her for the next page, and then they have sex, and it’s super sexy, with Christian saying things like:

“This is going to be quick, baby,”

Oh, how I’ve longed to hear a man say that to me, let me tell you.

“Ana, shit,” he hisses as he comes, and the tortured sound sets me off again, spiraling into a healing orgasm that goes on and on and wrings me out and leaves me spent and breathless.

“Healing orgasm” sounds like it comes directly from one of those orgasmic birth books.

So, they get done and Ana notices a picture of a woman on a bulletin board in Christian’s room. She looks familiar, but it isn’t someone she can immediately place, and Christian won’t tell her who it is.  So, it’s probably his bio mom.

They go back out to the dance floor for the first dance, and halfway through, the mysterious other bidder cuts in. It’s Dr. Flynn, Christian’s psychologist, so it’s super professional of him to be at a party at Christian’s parents’ house, right? I suppose one could make an argument that he’s a friend of  the family, but in that case, shouldn’t he not be Christian’s doctor? We have a psychologist friend of the family, and she won’t work with any of us because of ethics or whatever. Or maybe I’m wrong, maybe we’re just way too cray for her. But I’m betting it’s not cool for a psychologist to hang out with patients in their down time.

The band strikes up another song, and Dr. Flynn pulls me into his arms. he’s much younger than I imagined, though I can’t see his face. He’s wearing a mask similar to Christian’s. He’s tall, but not as tall as Christian, and he doesn’t move with Christian’s easy grace.

Just in case you were wondering, Christian is still the most handsomest, most graciest, most awesomest.

What do I say to him? Why is Christian so fucked-up? Why did he bid on me? It’s the only thing I want to ask him, but somehow that seems rude.

I like that she thinks of two things she wants to ask him, but it’s singularly “only” the “only” thing she wants to ask him. She’s so “bright.”

“I’m glad to finally meet you, Anastasia. Are you enjoying yourself?” he asks.

“I was,” I whisper.

What a charmer, ladies and gents. And to think, it only costs $100k to dance with her.

Dr. Flynn asks if he’s the reason she’s not having fun anymore, and her answer is even more gracious:

“Dr. Flynn, you’re the shrink. You tell me.”

He grins. “That’s the problem, isn’t it? The shrink bit?”

I giggle. “I’m worried what I might reveal, so I’m a little self-conscious and intimidated. And really I only want to ask you about Christian.”

I’m not a mental health professional, but I think it must get really annoying to have everyone around you feel so certain that their brains are utterly fascinating to you and that you’re going to constantly be analyzing them. I bet Dr. Flynn has heard this kind of thing so many times that he wishes he could shoot lasers out of his eyes and incinerate anyone who jokes about the fact that he’s a psychologist.

He smiles. “First, this is a party so I’m not on duty,” he whispers conspiratorially. “And second, I really can’t talk to you about Christian. Besides,” he teases, “we’d need until Christmas.”

I gasp in shock.

“That’s a doctor’s joke, Anastasia.”

I flush, embarrassed, and then feel slightly resentful. He’s making a joke at Christian’s expense. “You’ve just confirmed what I’ve been saying to Christian… that you’re an expensive charlatan,” I admonish him.

You wanna back the rude train up a fucking minute, Ana? First of all, you were totally down with Dr. Flynn spilling intimate personal details about Christian if it would help you in your quest to be OMG THE BEST GIRLFRIEND EVER WHO FIXES HIM YAY!, but when he won’t break with doctor/patient confidentiality for you, you believe he’s crossing a boundary by making a joke?  So, it’s totally okay for you to go behind Christian’s back and ask his doctor for personal info, but his doctor making a joke about it is so totally inappropriate that you call him a “charlatan?” And not just calling him that, saying that you’ve called him that in the past, when you have no idea how he runs his practice, what his methods are, or if he’s actually helping Christian at all. You decided he was a charlatan because you think you can fix Christian better, with the magical healing power of your super vagina.

Of course, rather than get offended, Dr. Flynn is utterly charmed by Ana, because this book makes no goddamned sense:

Dr. Flynn snorts with laughter. “you could be on to something there.”

Ana grills him on where he’s from (England) and why he came to America (he doesn’t tell her).

He snorts. “No, Anastasia. that you don’t give much away.”

“There’s not much to give away,” I smile.

No shit.

Their dance finishes and Christian comes back to claim her from the sinister Dr. Flynn.

“It’s been a pleasure to meet you, Anastasia.” He gives me his warm smile again, and I feel like I’ve passed some kind of hidden test.

Yes, because as I mentioned before, your brain is so fascinating that Dr. Flynn couldn’t help but analyze you outside of office hours.

Ana jokingly tells Christian that Dr. Flynn told her everything about him, and it turns into angst-o-rama times:

Christian tenses. “Well, in that case, I’ll get your bag. I’m sure you want nothing more to do with me,” he says softly.

I stop. “He didn’t tell me anything!” My voice fills with panic.

Christian blinks before relief floods his face. He pulls me into his arms again. “Then let’s enjoy this dance.” He beams down at me, reassuring me, and then spins me around.

Why would he think that I’d want to leave? It makes no sense.

Does anyone else feel like they’re reading about high schoolers? And not like, one high schooler and one really immature hundred year old dude who is a vampire, I mean like, two fourteen year olds? “I can’t dance with anyone else!” “You want to leave me now!” “I don’t want to leave you!” Ugh. You’re at a swanky party with lots of swanky people. Why don’t you just shut the fuck up and enjoy yourselves, already?

Ana goes to the bathroom, and on the way she gets sidelined by Mrs. Robinson, who wants to also act like a fourteen year old. She tells Ana that Christian is in love with her:

I am reeling. Christian loves me? He hasn’t said it, and this woman has told him that’s how he feels? How bizarre.

A hundred images dance through my head: the iPad, the gliding, flying to see me, all his actions, his possessiveness, $100,000 for a dance. Is this love?

No, it’s not love. He bought you the iPad to avoid telling you how he feels. He took you gliding because it’s an activity he enjoys. He flew to visit you in Georgia, yes, but he did it after you told him not to, because you wanted time away from him. He paid $100,000 for a dance because he wanted to display to everyone that he owns you. Possessiveness is not love. Nothing he has done has been an expression of love.

But on to Mrs. Robinson acting like a fourteen year old:

“I’ve never seen him so happy, and it’s obvious that you have feelings for him, too.” A brief smile flits across her lips. “That’s great, and I wish you both the best of everything. But what I wanted to say is if you hurt him again, I will find you, lady, and it won’t be pleasant when I do.”

Yeah, Ana. Now that you’re with him, you’re with him forever, because if you break up with him and hurt his feelings, Mrs. Robinson is going to beat you up. Because this is high school.

She stares at me, ice-cold blue eyes boring into my skull, trying to get under my mask.

Taken literally, that sentence is really funny, and implies that Ana is wearing the mask under her skull.

Just when I thought this entire chapter was just going to be one long, slow backslide into alcoholism for me, this happens:

“I’m laughing at your audacity, Mrs. Lincoln. Christian and I have nothing to do with you. And if I do leave him and you come looking for me, I’ll be waiting – don’t doubt it. And maybe I’ll give you a taste of your own medicine on behalf of the fifteen-year-old child you molested and probably fucked up even more than he already was.”

BOOM. Atomic burn. I’m even going to ignore the fact that Ana kind of threatens to molest Mrs. Robinson there, because she called her a molester to her face. Good for Ana!

Ana leaves the tent all angry, and still needing to pee, and Christian intercepts her, wanting to know what’s wrong. Ana tells him to ask Mrs. Robinson, and Christian says he’ll talk to her:

“You will do no such thing.” I cross my arms, my anger spiking again.

Okay, so what do you want him to do here, Ana? Because you’re mad at him for what Mrs. Robinson did, which doesn’t make a lot of sense. He can’t control whether or not she approaches you. But are you saying, “You will do no such thing,” because you don’t want him to confront his molester, or are you saying it because you don’t want him to talk to a woman who you feel is competition for his affection? I think it’s the latter. Yet, you somehow want him to make this situation right by you. The only way he can do this is by speaking to her, and yet if you ask him to do this, you’re asking him to defend you against his rapist.

Obviously, in this situation the only thing to do is say, “Look, she’s way too possessive of you. I’m not going to try and cross her path again, let’s just avoid her and let the cray cray die down.” So that’s what they do.

HA! No, I’m totally kidding. Ana calls Mrs. Robinson “old” (I thought she was forty) and then goes to the bathroom, and then when she comes back out:

Christian is on the phone some distance away and out of earshot of the few people laughing and chatting nearby. As I get closer, I can hear him. He’s very terse.

“Why did you change your mind? I thought we’d agreed. Well, leave her alone… This is the first regular relationship I’ve ever had, and I don’t want you jeopardizing it through some misplaced concern for me. Leave. Her. Alone. I mean it, Elena.”

Wait a second… aren’t they at the same party? Why is he calling her?

Christian and Mrs. Robinson on the way to homeroom.
Christian gets off the phone, and Ana has to make another crack about Mrs. Robinson’s age:

“How’s the old news?”

Har har. We all remember Ana’s description of Mrs. Robinson, right? That she looked like she was in her late thirties or early forties? You’re not going to be twenty-two forever, Ana. Your youth and ability to wear low-waisted jeans will fade. And when that day happens, I hope Christian dumps your ass for a twenty-two year old blonde with pigtails and lipstick you don’t approve of.

Christian asks Ana if she wants to stay for the fireworks, and she is all about fireworks, so they’re going to stay.

“We’ll stay and watch them, then.” He puts his arms around me and pulls me close. “Don’t let her come between us, please.”

Well, that’s really not Ana’s responsibility, is it? Mrs. Robinson is actively trying to come between the two of you. She’s the one to blame. The best course of action is to ignore her, not call her the second Ana goes to the bathroom. He goes on to say that Mrs. Robinson is a good friend. How good a friend can she be if she took sexual advantage of him as a child? And if Christian rejects the idea that his relationship with Mrs. Robinson is wrong, then wouldn’t it be his job to make sure Mrs. Robinson doesn’t come between them? The fact that Christian feels helpless and unable to control the situation with Mrs. Robinson only reinforces what we already knew, that she’s a creeper and Christian is her prey. So now Ana and Christian and Mrs. Robinson are locked in this chain of abuse. Mrs. Robinson has abused Christian, so Christian reacts to her as though she were an abuser, Christian is currently abusing Ana, so Ana reacts to him as though he were an abuser.

Christian’s dad wants to dance the last dance with Ana (I guess to pay her back for the under the table bad grammar action earlier in the chapter), and to feel her out to make sure she can afford the $24k bid she made during the auction.

“I’m delighted to be able to contribute. I unexpectedly came into some money. I don’t need it. And it’s such a worthy cause.”

He smiles down at me, and I seize the opportunity for some innocent inquiries. Carpe diem, my subconscious hisses from behind her hand.

How does someone “hiss” a phrase with no sibilant consonants? And you know, if my son was a billionaire, and his broke ass college student girlfriend was so casual about dropping $24k, I would be on full gold digger alert. Especially if I knew she lived rent free with a roommate whose parents have supported her financially all through college.

“Christian told me a little about his past, so I think it’s appropriate to support your work,” I add, hoping that this might encourage Carrick to give me a small insight into the mystery that is his son.

Way to carpe that diem, Ana, in a totally passive way.

Carrick tells Ana that he’s never seen Christian so “buoyant,” and that it’s clearly all Ana’s doing. He tells her that Dr. Grey was on duty when Christian was brought into the emergency room, and that he didn’t speak for two years after his bio mom’s death. Playing the piano was what made Christian start to come out of his shell, as did the addition of Mia to the family.

“He’s always been such a loner. We never thought we’d see him with anyone. Whatever you’re doing, please don’t stop. We’d like to see him happy.” He stops suddenly, as if he’s overstepped the mark. “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to make you uncomfortable.”

I don’t know if it’s that Carrick “overstepped the mark” or that the author just showed her hand. You know how when you start filling up a glass of water when you’re really thirsty, halfway is good, full is better, but it gets to that point that the glass is overfull and if you try to take a drink, you just get water everywhere? This chapter. This chapter is equivalent to exactly that. If one person had commented, “Hey, you guys make a cute couple,” I wouldn’t have noticed so much. If maybe one other person had also commented on Ana and Christian’s relationship, it would have still seemed like the characters were reassuring Ana that they liked her and her involvement with Christian. but somehow, when Carrick does it, near the end of a chapter that has been an endless parade of “You’re so good for him/you’re totally saving him just like you wanted to/you guys are going to get married and have babies forever!” I suddenly snapped and realized that this is the author trying to force the reader to accept them as a couple. “All these fictional characters think the relationship is love everlasting,” I imagine E.L. James screaming at the computer as she mashes two paper doll characters together in front of the screen, “so you have to, as well, reader! Because I say so!”

Well, that’s not how it works. Nothing really happens in the bulk of this chapter, apart from Ana showing up at this party and impressing everyone (making a huge bid, having a huge sum of money bid on her), and then having little side conversations with people who reassure her that she’s the best thing that ever happened to Christian. Even Mrs. Robinson, who does it in a jealous way, is moved to threaten physical harm should Ana ever bar access to her magic hootchie and its healing powers from Christian Grey. That’s the entire point of this chapter, in fact, to clumsily show the reader the magical power of the love between Chedward and Anabella without actually doing the super hard work of building their personalities and forging their relationship in an organic way.

What’s even more enraging is that once the dance ends and Christian comes back to claim Ana, this happens:

“I think my dad likes you,” Christian mutters as he watches his dad mingle with the crowd.

“What’s not to like?” I peek coquettishly up at him through my lashes.

“Good point well made, Miss Steele.” He pulls me into an embrace as the band starts to play “It Had to Be You.”

Just in case you missed it, reader, Ana is amazing. She charms or threatens everyone she meets, by virtue of being super duper awesome. And in case you’re still not getting it, she’s going to pretend false modesty in the vein of, “Aw, shucks, I know nobody really likes me, so it’s okay if I say they do,” and then a song about how fucking perfect she is starts playing.

This woman. This fucking woman.

I also want to take this opportunity to point out that before she dances with his father, Christian tells Ana the fireworks are going to be in five minutes. Then she dances an entire song (“Come Fly With Me”) with Carrick, and she’s now going to dance to another song and then start walking toward the firework display after the paragraph break. So, it seems like that would all take longer than five minutes. Nit. Picked.

Everyone takes off their masks to watch the fireworks by the dock, and Ana spots the security team:

Christian has his arm around me, but I’m aware that Taylor and Sawyer are close by, probably because we’re in a crowd now. They are looking anywhere but at the dockside where two technicians dressed in black are making their final preparations.

That’s right. Look everywhere BUT at the guys with tons of explosives. They seem legit.

Unfortunately, no one is hit with a stray firework, and it’s the most glittering and amazing fireworks display ever, obviously. The MC tells the crowd that the benefit has raised $1,853,000, and then Christian and Ana are ready to leave, to get home to more sexy times, probably.

He glances up again, and Taylor is close, the crowd dispersing around us. They don’t speak but something passes between them.

 Just heads up, I’m never going to get tired of using the telepathic conversation pictures. NEVER.

Taylor makes them wait until the crowd disperses, because he’s like, on high alert or something:

“I think that fireworks display probably aged him a hundred years,” he adds.

“Doesn’t he like fireworks?”

Christian gazes down at me fondly and shakes his head but doesn’t elaborate.

 OMG. You guys, Taylor is really coming together. I bet he was a Navy SEAL or something. OMG.

Oh, this is a good time to clear something up:

“You were quite overcome, Miss Steele. A most satisfactory outcome, if I recall.” He smiles salaciously. “Incidentally, where are they?”

“The silver balls? In my bag.”

Okay, so here’s the thing. Last recap, everyone was like, “What did she do with the balls?!” And I feared it would turn out like the panties thing, where I didn’t remind everyone in the one chapter that Christian still had Ana’s panties, and people were all, “How did her panties magically reappear?” I never mentioned it, because 1) I can’t reproduce every line of these books, that would strain the boundaries of fair use. So please, don’t use these recaps to find continuity errors. If there is a continuity error, I will probably point it out, unless I miss it, but unless you’ve read the books and found it that way, don’t be all, “She had these silver balls and they just disappeared!” Because then some anonymous commenter comes in (as they did with the panties) and claims that I’m purposely not excerpting bits of this book in an attempt to make it look worse than it is. Which is not the case. Actually, leaving out huge chunks of text makes the book more readable. And 2) I usually will only excerpt things that are problematic or move the story along. Ana putting the Ben Wa balls in her purse didn’t fulfill either requirement, so I didn’t mention it. So, you know. Just so we’re all on the same page here.

Mia wants Ana and Christian to stay for the after party, but Christian says they can’t, because they have a big day the next day. Ana doesn’t know what he’s talking about, but she goes along with it. Then Mia invites Ana to go to the mall, and Ana graciously accepts:

“Sure, Mia.” I grin, though in the back of my mind I’m wondering how since I have to work for a living.

I have to work for a living, too, Ana, but I can still grin. Seriously, how shitty is it to respond to an invitation with that thought? Way to belittle Mia, who is just trying to be friendly, by immediately thinking she’s lazy and too rich.

We can’t leave the party without one more reassurance that Ana is OMGSAVINGCHRISTIAN’SLIFE! and that OMGEVERYONEWITHAVAGINAISSUPERJEALOUS!:

“I like seeing you happy,” she says sweetly and kisses him on the cheek. “Bye. You guys have fun.” She skips off toward her waiting friends – among them Lily, who looks even more sour-faced without her mask.

 Lily was giving her the “You’re dead to me” look.
I’m going to include this next part, so you can play “Is It A Plot Point, Or An Entirely Useless Sentence” as we go along:

I wonder idly where Sean is.

Christian and Ana say goodbye to his parents, but not his grandparents, who, Ana must remind you, she does not care for:

Fortunately, Grace’s parents have retired for the evening, so at least I am spared their enthusiasm.

Ugh, I know. It’s so fucking terrible when people like you and behave in a way that makes you feel welcome. Guh.

As they walk to the car, Ana asks Christian what he means by “big day tomorrow,” and his answer (and her response to it) should probably turn you into a quaking ball of rage:

“Dr. Greene is coming to sort you out. Plus, I have a surprise for you.”

“Dr. Green!” I halt.

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“Because I hate condoms,” he says quietly. His eyes glint in the soft light from the paper lanterns, gauging my reaction.

No matter how romantic the soft fucking light from the paper fucking lanterns is, I’m sorry, E.L., but you cannot make forced birth control sexy. I feel like I’m rapidly approaching that line between hating the book and hating the author as a person for all the terrible shit she’s feeding to women everywhere. How romantic, ladies! The hero of your dreams refers to going to the gynecologist as having a “big day” and thinks you need to be “sorted out” because your pesky fertility is interfering with his sexual pleasure. I’m so wet. Oh, that’s because I started drinking at about seven-o-clock last night and didn’t stop for breakfast because I’m in a state of alcoholic despair about the way women in the western world clamor to be treated like fucking livestock and we as a culture throw handfuls of money at the stupid jerk asses who feel that this is the romantic ideal, so I missed my mouth when I tried for that last swig of cheap wine.

Lucky for me, before I can have a moral quandary about crossing that book/author line, E.L. does me a solid and pushes me right the fuck over it:

“It’s my body,” I mutter, annoyed that he hasn’t asked me.

“It’s mine, too,” he whispers.

Oh, shit is that a rich white guy telling a woman he has ownership over her body? I would call Chedward a Republican Conservative, except he seems to like feeding poor people, so maybe he’s a Libertarian?

I gaze up at him as various guests pass by, ignoring us. He looks so earnest. Yes, my body is his… he knows it better than I do.

BECAUSE YOU’VE KEPT YOURSELF PURPOSELY IGNORANT! There are tons of resources out there for women to learn about their bodies, but you’re one of the women who apparently has no hinderance like a strict religious upbringing or prior sexual abuse or any of the other horrible circumstances that keep women ignorant of their bodies who simply CHOOSES TO BE FUCKING STUPID ABOUT YOUR BODY! BECAUSE YOU WERE WAITING FOR A MAN TO TELL YOU WHAT IS UP!

This book. This fucking book.
Oh, by the by? That’s it. That’s her decision. Immediately followed by Ana untying his bow tie and saying:

“You look hot like this,” I whisper. Actually he looks hot all the time, but really hot like this.

IT’S OKAY THAT HE WAS GOING TO FORCE ME ONTO HORMONAL BIRTH CONTROL GUYS, BECAUSE HE’S REALLY HOT ALL THE TIME.

They go to the car, and Sawyer gives Ana an envelope. Guess who it’s from? You know who. It’s from Mrs. Robinson:

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

She even signs the note “Mrs. Robinson,” meaning Christian told her all about his conversations with Ana. That’s probably healthy. But maybe I’m “misjudging” a grown woman who would fuck a child. I need the blanks filled in. Someone call that number, I’m dying to know if it’s a real phone number, but I don’t have the balls to call it myself, lest it be some kind of high-frequency mind control noise that will trick me into liking this book.

In case you were wondering if Ana really sees Mrs. Robinson as a rapist or competition, when Christian says he’ll deal with her on Monday, Ana thinks:

And though I’m ashamed to admit it, a very small part of me is pleased. My subconscious nods sagely. Elena is pissing him off, and this can only be good – surely.

Ana falls asleep in the car, and Christian wakes her up when they pull up to his building. Due to yet another grammatical error, Ana has a little conversation with Sawyer. Emphasis mine:

As we stand in the elevator, I lean against him, putting my head against his shoulder. Sawyer stands in front of us, shifting uncomfortably.

“It’s been a long day, eh, Anastasia?” 

I nod.

“Tired?”

I nod.

“You’re not very talkative.”

I nod and he grins.

“Come. I’ll put you to bed.” He takes my hand as we exist the elevator, but we stop in the foyer when Sawyer holds up his hand.

So, there you see some pronoun confusion. Sawyer is the last male character with an action before the dialogue, so it looks like Sawyer is the one speaking. But then we find out after the fact that it was Christian, and good thing, because I’m betting if Sawyer said he was going to put Ana to bed, Christian would have him killed. Probably by Taylor.

Ana and Christian find out that the tires on Ana’s Audi have been slashed, and someone threw paint all over it. Obviously, Leila did it, and now they’re concerned she’s gotten into the apartment. Well, everyone except Christian, who says, “She can’t get into the apartment.” Which is not true, because she did it before, when he was in Georgia. But whatever. The chapter ends with Ana standing in the hallway while security guards (their names are, I shit you not, “Ryan” and “Reynolds”) check the apartment for intruders.

The Funniest Porn I Have Ever Seen

Another from the “Jen’s True Stories” file: I saw the funniest porno, ever.

You know how when you make an order from Adam & Eve and they send you free videos? Don’t act all high and mighty, you and I both know that you are well aware of the free videos. But if you insist on keeping up this charade, when you buy something from Adam & Eve, they’ll usually send you a compilation DVD of little clips pulled from different full-length porno movies.

On one such disk, there was what appeared to be a three way with two girls and a guy in the great outdoors. There is also an outside observer, a man looking out a window and pleasuring himself as he watches the action on the lawn. It’s high concept, I know. But stick with me.

The action is pretty tame, kissing, fondling, blow jobbing, etc., and suddenly, one of the girls has this huge strap on. Except, she doesn’t use it on the other girl. She uses it on the dude. It’s a straight up, out of nowhere, hardcore pegging scene, and the dude in the house? He’s having none of it. He gets this disgusted face – I wish I could plug a camera into my mind and show you, because for the rest of my life I will never forget this guy’s face – and silently mouths (because of the glass, you dig?), “What the fuck?!”

To this day, I will never understand why that scene was included in the porno. It makes no sense. If you were a person who was into pegging, you’d be all, “Oh, yeah, it’s on!” as the scene starts, and then suddenly there’s Studly McJackoff, totally disgusted at your fetish. It’s so weird and judgmental. Unless that’s a really, really specific fetish, getting shamed for liking pegging by actors in pornos.

Still, as I’m sitting here, laughing with my husband over that hilarious porn, I’m so glad they included the scene. It’s become a part of the culture of our marriage. We’ll be laughing about that when we’re seventy. It will be a special memory, shared only by me, Joe, and the window guy.

And all of you, who also got that DVD, because you totally know about the free DVDs.

50 Shades Darker Chapter 6 recap, or “Party Poopers”

After a brain-meltingly drunk week on Bourbon street, you would think I would be coming into this recap refreshed and renewed for the task ahead of me. Instead, I’m bone weary and looking at the page count of this thing in despair.

I know this is the spot where the links go, but since I’ve received such a slew of them over the week and I’ve had no time to investigate them all, you’ll have to forgive me for putting them off until the next recap. The good news is, the funny stuff will still be funny, and the news stuff will still probably be infuriating, if not timely.

One thing I would like to share with you, by the by, is that this week wasn’t just total debauchery. I was actually working. I do that, sometimes, but don’t let that get around. I have a reputation to maintain. Anyway, I’ve been at the Authors After Dark conference, a reader-oriented event for fans of the romance genre. On one of the days, I was on an erotic romance panel. And because I should never talk about anything, anywhere, in public, I said the following things:

  • About reading other erotic romance after reading 50 Shades: “It’s the only drug where your second hit will be more powerful than your first.”
  • About the term “mommy porn”: “Can we just fucking stop calling it mommy porn? Just because I have kids doesn’t mean I stop having any sexual desire or curiosity.”
  • About “down there”: “It’s not a fucking down there. I don’t have a down there. I have a pussy. I have a cunt.”
So, you know, I looked real professional, angrily shouting “cunt” in a room full of like, forty people. But the general consensus seemed to be that people who were already readers of erotic romance fucking hate these books, and people who started out reading 50 Shades and then moved on to other erotic romance realized how badly the book was written (while holding some fond nostalgic feelings for it). This leads me to the entirely unscientific conclusion that anyone who read this book and absolutely loves it has not bothered to read literally anything else since reading 50 Shades, and probably not before, either.

And, one last, really, really important thing: I have written an essay for a book titled 50 Writers on 50 Shades of Grey, which, you know. Does what it says on the tin, basically. Agent and publisher Lori Perkins rounded up fifty different opinions on the series and put us all in one book, which will be released by Smart Pop books in November. The good news for you is, it’s available for pre-order right now.

Okay, here we go.
When we last left our “hero” and our “heroine,” they were about to do it:

Boy, I want him inside me now.

Willikers! They have sex, it’s exactly like every sex scene they’ve had so far, with one caveat:

He groans loudly, closing his eyes again, tipping his head back. Seeing Christian undone is enough to seal my fate, and I come audibly, exhaustingly, spinning down and around, collapsing on top of him.

Wait, she had an orgasm without him verbally commanding her to do so? I’m actually excited about this. It’s like a lunar eclipse, it doesn’t happen very often in these books.

Afterward, Christian has some condescending things to say about Ana’s other potential suitors:

“All those boys pursuing you – that isn’t enough of a clue?”

“Boys? What boys?”

“You want the list?” Christian frowns. “The photographer, he’s crazy about you, that boy in the hardware store, your roommate’s older brother. Your boss,” he adds bitterly.

“Oh, Christian, that’s just not true.”

“Trust me, they want you. They want what’s mine.”

Okay, a couple things here. First of all, gross. Second, Ana, you know that Jose has a thing for you. You expressly told us that in the first chapters of the first book. You friendzoned him, that doesn’t mean he stops having a crush on you. Plus, Miss Won’t Take A Hint, besides him professing his love for you while he drunkenly groped you outside of the bar in the first book, he also made you the focus of his very first gallery exhibition. I think you can drop the “aw, shucks, no one would be interested in me,” routine when literally everything with a penis in this book wants to climb on you despite the fact that you have the most horrible personality ever recorded in fiction.

Also, I hate the way Christian, who is all of twenty-fucking-six years old calls men who are his age or just a few years younger, “boys.” In fact, he included Jack Hyde in that category… if it hasn’t been stated outright, it is somewhat implied that Jack Hyde is older than both Ana and Christian. So what is up with this “boy” thing? It’s juvenile and pretentious, so I guess it shouldn’t really surprise me that he’s doing it.

Finally, does it seem weird to anyone else (and I know that it does, otherwise you wouldn’t be here reading this) that Christian isn’t like, “They want you because you’re a great person,” but instead, “They want you because you’re mine,” as  if that’s the lure of Ana? Just belonging to Christian somehow makes her something for other men to covet? That doesn’t make sense, because these men all liked her before Christian was a blip on their radar.

Since he still has the lipstick marks on his body, Ana wants to touch him, but first, he has to throw the used condom on the floor. Because he is a gentleman.

“I hate those things. I’ve a mind to call Dr. Greene around to give you a shot.”

I probably don’t have to tell you what’s wrong with a man saying he’s going to have a woman injected with hormonal birth control without asking her opinion on the idea first. But a lot. A lot is wrong with that. Ana, however, is just skeptical that a doctor as highly respected as Dr. Greene will come-a-runnin’, so the short discussion ends up focused on how much power Christian Grey has in Seattle.

Christian is still very uncomfortable being touched, but to his credit he is game to try. This isn’t enough for Ana, though, who immediately brings up Mrs. Robinson. When Christian says he doesn’t want to talk about his past, this is what he tells Ana:

“No, you can’t, Ana. You see red Whenever I mention her. My past is my past. It’s a fact. I can’t change it. I’m lucky that you don’t have one, because it would drive me crazy if you did.”

So, basically, “It’s okay for me to have a past and you just have to deal with it, but if you had a past, I would be even more unbearably possessive than I am now.”

I actually just finished reading a great paranormal romance novel by Shanna Abe, The Smoke Thief. Near the end of the book, the hero tells the heroine that he knows she has a past, and he has a past, too, but he’s not going to hold her past against her and expects the same courtesy from her, so that they can forge ahead in a loving relationship. I almost jumped up and threw my fist in the air in like, a frozen movie moment, I was so excited to read that. It’s a fantastic book and I absolutely recommend it.

Since Christian has no refractory period, Ana just touching his stomach gets him hard and ready again, and there is a section break as they start to have sex again.

Now, onto a word-use nit-pick! Huzzah!

I stand beneath the shower, absentmindedly washing myself, careful not to wet my tied-back hair, contemplating the last couple of hours.

How do you do something both absentmindedly and carefully? Answer? You don’t. Those things are near opposites. “Careful” implies some degree of concentration, while “absentmindedly” implies a lack of thought. Words are hard, guys.

Ana thinks about how much Christian has revealed to her in the past day:

It’s staggering, trying to assimilate all the information and to reflect on what I’ve learned: his salary details – whoa, he’s stinking rich, and for someone so young, it’s just extraordinary-

I would have said “totally unbelievable,” but whatevs.

and the dossiers he has on me and on all his brunette submissives. I wonder if they are all in that filing cabinet.

My subconscious purses her lips at me and shakes her head – don’t even go there. I frown. Just a quick peek?

The grown-up, not frosted side of me says that she should respect his privacy if she expects him to respect hers, but the frosted kid in me says to crack that shit open, because we all know he’s not going to really respect her privacy.

Pictured: my moral dilemma. In some kind of cereal equivalent of a swimming pool or hot tub. Circle jerk may follow.


And there’s Leila – with a gun, potentially, somewhere – and her crap taste in music still on his iPod.

Yeah, but you listened to it, didn’t you, Ana? You scrolled past all the Thomas Tallis to get that Beyonce, so let’s not go pointing proud, proud fingers here.

But even worse, Mrs. Pedo Robinson; I cannot wrap my head around her, and I don’t want to. I don’t want her to be a shimmering-haired specter in our relationship.

Please use in the event of needlessly poetic language.
Ana thinks that it’s probably better for her not to worry about Mrs. Robinson, because Christian thinks it makes her crazy and it actually does. And then, something absolutely shocking happens. SHOCKING.

But who wouldn’t go off the deep end? What normal, sane person would do that to a fifteen-year-old boy? How much has she contributed to his fucked-upness? I don’t understand her.  And worse still, she says she helped him. How?

How indeed, Ana? Oh, I’m sorry, I was addressing a different question, which was, “how can this incredibly good point be made and maintained in a book that gets everything else so completely wrong?” But still, and here is the SHOCKING part, I really like that this is in here. At this point, I was so afraid that the author would normalize statutory rape with dumb justifications, that I was really, really pleased with this paragraph.

He’s said such loving things to me today.

Like what, Ana? What has he said that has been loving? Was it the part where he said men want you because you belong to him? Or the part where he was going to force birth control on you without asking you if you wanted it, because he doesn’t like condoms? Was it when he got angry with you for complimenting his mother and snapped at you about picking out a dress to wear tonight? Help me out, Ana, because I don’t remember a lot of “loving things” Christian has said or done in this or the last chapter.

Perhaps we can make this work. But how long will he want to do this without wanting to beat the crap out of me because I cross some arbitrary line?

Ah, romance.

Ana goes into her room and looks at the clothes that Christian had bought her before their breakup, and of course they’re all expensive and this makes Ana uncomfortable. Christian comes in to watch Ana get dressed, and they have one of their “cute” conversations about how much they want to fuck, but they can’t because they have to go somewhere. They actually have to go to his parents’ house for a charity dinner (if you’ve forgotten), so of course, that’s the appropriate time for her to wear the Ben Wa balls. No, seriously. He wants her to go to dinner with his parents like that. What is it with him and his parents and wanting to do sexual stuff to his girlfriend in close proximity to them? That’s a really, really specific fetish.

He puts the balls in and then gives her a pair of “second-chance” diamond earrings from Cartier (yes, as in, “you gave me a second chance, allow me to buy you some fancy shit since I can’t express emotion any other way), and then Ana admires herself in her fancy new dress.

My hair falls in soft waves around my face, spilling over my shoulders to my breasts. I tuck one side behind my ear, revealing my second-chance earrings. I have kept my makeup to a minimum, a natural look. Eyeliner, mascara, a little pink blush, and pale pink lipstick.

I don’t really need the blush. I am a little flushed from the constant movement of the silver balls.

“The blush is for contouring, you ignorant bitch.”
Since when is Ana not flushed? She flushes more than a Port Authority toilet. And I love the description of the minimal makeup, because it takes me back to a time when I used to read Laurell K. Hamilton, and Anita Blake was constantly described as wearing very little makeup, specifically, not needing “base” because her skin is so flawless. 
So, she goes into the hall and Christian is there with his bodyguards, and of course the bodyguards ogle her, and she ogles Christian, and everyone is very beautiful and young and rich.

“Security team?” I ask.

“Close protection. They’re under Taylor’s control. He’s trained in that, too.” Christian hands me a champagne flute. 

Taylor is trained in controlling people, too? Did he and Christian go to the same school for that? And I’m about to start a drinking game where you just drink every time the characters drink, but again, everyone would die.

“Here, you’re going to need this.” He hands me a large velvet pouch that was resting on the kitchen island. “Open it,” he says between sips of champagne. Intrigued, I reach into the bag and pull out an intricate silver masquerade mask with cobalt blue feathers in a plume crowning the top.

I love it when the cover is described in the book. This is my favorite.

“It’s a masked ball,” he states matter-of-factly.

No, it’s just a mask, Christian. Oh. Oh, no, I see, I get it. The thing that you’re going to… never mind.

“Are you wearing one?”

Wait, can’t you tell, Ana? You’re standing right next – Oh. Right, I got it, is he wearing one to the… never mind.

“Come. I want to show you something.” Holding out his hand, he leads me out into the hallway and to a door beside the stairs. He opens it, revealing a large room roughly the same size as his playroom, which must be directly above us. This one is filled with books. Wow, a library, every wall crammed floor to ceiling. In the center is a full-sized billiard table illuminated by a long, triangular-prism-shaped Tiffany lamp.

“You have a library!” I squeak in awe, overwhelmed with excitement.

Yes, Belle, he has a library. You’re excited now, but wait until later when you realize he didn’t go out and buy you those first editions of Tess of The D’Urbervilles, he just pulled them off the shelf. Then you won’t be as impressed.

“Yes, the balls room, as Elliot calls it. The apartment is quite spacious. I realized today, when you mentioned exploring, that I’ve never given you a tour. We don’t have time now, but I thought I’d show you this room, maybe challenge you to a game of billiards in the not-too-distant future.”

Sorry, chap, I have plans for the “not-too-distant future” and they involve being trapped on a Satellite of Love with robot friends I made all by myself, even though I’m just a janitor. Holy shit, I just realized that MST3K is the sequel to Good Will Hunting.

Seriously, though, Christian “forgot” to give Ana a tour because E.L. James was in the middle of writing Masters of The Universe when Disney’s Beauty and The Beast released on DVD and she was all, “Damnit! Why didn’t I think to give him a sexy, sexy library?!” I would bet money on that.

“Bring it on.” I secretly hug myself with glee. Jose and I bonded over pool.

You should mention that to Chedward. I bet he won’t be jealous at all.

Next scene, they’re in the back of the Audi, headed to the party:

I am beginning to feel a dull, pleasurable ache deep in my belly, caused by the balls. I wonder how long I will be able to manage without some, um… relief? I cross my legs. As I do, something that’s been gnawing at me in the back of my mind suddenly surfaces.

“Where did you get the lipstick?” I ask Christian quietly.

Okay, why is this gnawing at Ana? You and I both know, reader (and specifically YOU, not the other people reading this blog, I’m talking to YOU personally), that Ana is wondering if it’s Mrs. Robinson’s lipstick. But why would it have to be? The guy is rich, and he’s had some girlfriends. Either he bought it at CVS (they don’t make you declare your gender before you buy stuff), or one of his girlfriends could have left it behind. I honestly don’t see why this would be “gnawing” at her, except for the part where she’s ridiculously insecure. But then, the most wonderful thing happens:

He smirks at me and points toward the front. “Taylor,” he mouths.

MOST. INTERESTING. I’m so invested in Taylor at this point, that I’m now dying to know where he got the lipstick. Because I know he didn’t just pick it up at CVS. He’s got that lipstick because he’s a stone cold ladies man. Why can’t this book be about Taylor?

 When I open my eyes again, Christian is regarding me closely, a dark prince. It must be the dinner jacket and bow tie, but he looks older, sophisticated, a devastatingly handsome roue with licentious intent. He simply takes my breath away. I’m in his sexual thrall, and if I’m to believe him, he’s in mine.

Oh my god, Christian Grey is Dracula. It’s all so clear now!

Also, reading the description, especially the bit about the bow tie, I thought, “This is exactly what the 11th Doctor thinks he looks like.”

 “Bow ties are cool. Christian Grey is not.”
Christian tells Ana what the party will be like – dinner, dancing, charity auction and raffle, the usual rich people stuff – as they pull up the driveway. 

Long, pale pink paper lanters hang over the drive, and as we inch closer in the Audi, I can see they are everywhere. In the early evening light they look magical, as if we’re entering an enchanted kingdom. I glance at Christian. How suitable for my prince – and my childish excitement blooms, eclipsing all other feelings.

And that, right there, is the crux of Ana’s problem. She lets childish excitement and romantic expectations formed from fairytales and gothic novels eclipse the very real warning signs she’s acknowledged, then chosen to conveniently ignore, throughout the entire first book.

Before they get out of the car, they put on their masks, and we get some really weird emphasis:

 All I can see of his face is his beautiful mouth and strong jaw.

Now, since I’ve been quoting, I’ve been converting all the text into italics, using plain text to represent italics, because I am, apparently, the editor of People magazine. Anyway, the “jaw” at the end of the sentence is in italics in the book, for some reason. I don’t know why. It’s totally bizarre, and probably the most puzzling thing in all three books.

Coming into the party, there are photographers, and they call out to Christian:

Christian nods in acknowledgement and pulls me close as we pose quickly for a photo. How do they know it’s him?

He’s famous. That’s how they know who it is.

Oh, my picture in the press again. Leila briefly enters my mind. This is how she found me, posing with Christian. The thought is unsettling, though it’s comforting that I am unrecognizable beneath my mask.

Um, Ana, I hate to ruin your moment of calm here, but Leila already knows you’re dating Christian. It doesn’t matter if your picture is in the paper, she already knows who you are and where you work.

Christian gives Ana another glass of champagne, and then it’s time for the needlessly detailed description!

We approach a large white pergola hung with smaller versions of the paper lanterns. Beneath it shines a black-and-white checkered dance floor surrounded by a low fence with entrances on three sides. Standing at each entrance are two elaborate ice sculptures of swans. The fourth side of the pergola is occupied by a stage where a string quartet is playing softly, a haunting, ethereal piece I don’t recognize. The stage looks set for a big band but as there’s no sign of the musicians, I figure this must be for later.

I complained about the description in these books to a friend recently, and she defended it by saying, “Well, it is fanfic, and there was a lot of needless description in Twilight.” That doesn’t make it okay. Seriously, in no universe am I ever going to need to know the number of exits from the dance floor, or that there isn’t a big band now, but there might be later. Just move the damn story along!

A young woman appears out of the throng and throws her arms around his neck, and immediately I know she’s Mia.

Because you’ve met her before. If I see my friend Jill on the street, I don’t think to myself, “A woman in a Beatles t-shirt and red converse sneakers, and immediately I know she’s Jill,” I think to myself, “I see Jill.”

Mia is super excited to see Ana, and wants to take her to meet her friends, because none of them can believe Christian has a girlfriend. The implication is that no one can believe a notorious playboy can commit, but I’m going to assume they can’t believe he has a girlfriend because he’s so fucking difficult, no one wants to date him.

I shoot a quick, panicked glance at Christian, who shrugs in a resigned, I-know-she’s-impossible-I-had-to-live-with-her-for-years way, and let Mia lead me over to a group of four young women, all expensively attired and impeccably groomed.

Yeah, the nerve of that bitch, wanting to introduce you to people at a party! How inappropriate.

Mia makes hasty introductions. Three of them are sweet and kind, but Lily, I think her name is, regards me sourly from beneath her red mask.

“Of course, we all thought Christian was gay,” she says snidely, concealing her rancor with a large, fake smile.

Conceal your Rancor!
What is it with the gay thing? Seriously, in the first book, Ana is embarrassed to ask Christian if he’s gay, and it comes up over and over and over again, how she’s soooooo mortified by the fact that she asked. Then, she tells some girls who are giggling about how hot Christian is that he’s gay, because that will stop them appreciating the good looks of her boyfriend, damnit! Now, someone says, “Oh, I thought Christian was gay,” in a way that is supposed to be perceived as an insult. It’s immature, homophobic, and just plain stupid.

“Lily, behave yourself. It’s obvious he has excellent taste in women. He was just waiting for the right one to come along, and it wasn’t you!”

Thanks, Mia, for defending your brother from such horrific allegations of gayness. This book doesn’t reek of homophobia now AT ALL.

Lily blushes the same color as her mask, as do I. Could this be any more uncomfortable?

As if summoned by those very words, who appears but Christian “The Dark Prince” Grey himself, to drag Ana away from Mia’s friends and introduce her to his. Ana is getting tipsy, and then dinner is served. They go to the big tent where the dinner is being held, and Ana gets to meet more of Christian’s family:

“Mother,” Christian greets her stiffly and kisses her on both cheeks.

“Oh, Christian, so formal!” she scolds him teasingly.

Have they not met?

Christian’s grandparents also show up, and Ana thinks they seem “exuberant and youthful,” but she can’t tell because of their masks. Here’s a hint to their age, Ana: they have a twenty-seven year old grandson. Trust me, they’re probably old.

“Grandmother, Grandfather, may I introduce Anastasia Steele?”

Mrs. Trevelyan is all over me like a rash. “Oh, he’s finally found someone, how wonderful, and so pretty! Well, I do hope you make an honest man of him,” she gushes, shaking my hand.

All over her like a rash? How fucking charming. Tell me again why everyone is so taken with the beautiful, kind, Ana? She’s saying this about someone’s grandmother.

Mia has brought a date, so Christian has to try and intimidate him:

Christian shakes Sean’s hand as he regards him shrewdly. Don’t tell me that poor Mia suffers from her overbearing brother, too.

No, he only has a pathological need for total control in one area of his life.

Christian’s father opens the party with a short welcome speech, then joins them at their table:

Carrick joins us, kissing me on both cheeks, surprising me.

And then Christian punches him out. No, totally kidding, that doesn’t happen. But in my mind, it did.

The MC gives each table some instructions for a game they’re playing:

“In the center of the table you will find an envelope,” the MC continues. “Would everyone find, beg, borrow, or steal a bill of the highest denomination you can manage, write your name on it, and place it inside the envelope? Table heads, please guard these envelopes carefully. We will need them later.”

Oh, and they will be full of money. That’s a good reason to guard them carefully, too.

Then, there’s some more needless description, this time of Christian’s fountain pen:

I sign my name using his fountain pen – it’s black, with a white flower motif on the cap – and Mia passes the envelope around.

I bet you have been dying since page one of the first book, thinking, “If only I knew what Christian Grey’s fountain pen looks like. I can’t fully immerse myself in the details of this erotic fantasy until I know this.” Breathe easy now, friend. Your moment has arrived.

There’s a menu on the table, and there’s a different wine served with each course, so Ana should really be in her element here. Then the waiters come to serve the first course:

“Hungry?” Christian murmurs so only I can hear. I know he’s not referring to the food, and the muscles deep in my belly respond.

“Very,” I whisper, boldly meeting his gaze, and Christian’s lips respond.

Do you get it? She’s hungry, but not for food. What she’s saying is, she wants to have sex, but she’s saying it in such a way that suggests she’s talking about dinner. I’m not sure if you get it, and I want to make it very clear for you, because it’s a subtle motif that has been woven throughout the book and I feel like if you’re not fully grasping the double meaning of “hungry” every single time it is used in this context, you’re really missing out on something special.

Ana wishes Kate were at the party, but I’m really glad she’s not, because listening to Ana bitch about yet another female would be just too much for me to take in this chapter. And besides, she’s too busy bitching about Christian’s grandmother, aka The Rash:

Christian’s grandmother is the most vocal. She, too, has a biting sense of humor, usually at the expense of her husband. I begin to feel a little sorry for Mr. Trevelyan.

If a woman in this novel is not Ana, then they are bitches. It’s how this works.

There is some boring stuff about Christian’s business and this wind-up cell phone they’re developing, and people stop by the table to meet him.

He introduces me to some but not other. I’m intrigued to know how and why he makes the distinction.

My money is on jealous insecurity.

Dessert rolls around, and Ana is done with the Ben Wa balls, she has to go take them out.

Before I can excuse myself, the master of ceremonies appears at our table, and with him – if I’m not mistaken – is Miss European Pigtails.

What’s her name? Hansel, Gretel… Gretchen.

She’s masked, of course, but I know it’s her when her gaze doesn’t move beyond Christian. She blushes, and selfishly I’m beyond pleased that Christian doesn’t acknowledge her at all.

Why is she there? As far as I can tell, she’s there because there aren’t enough females for Ana to dislike at this party.

When Ana gets up to go to the bathroom, she’s kind of hoping Christian will go with her so they can fuck at his parent’s house again. Apparently, they both get off on the idea of doing it around his parents, so this is a match made in heaven. But Mia offers to take Ana to the bathroom instead, and Christian sulks, so it’s not going to be totally obvious to everyone what the plan was. Good thinking, Chedward. When she comes back, he’s in a better mood:

Phew… he’s no longer mad at a missed opportunity, though maybe I am.

Why would he be mad? Oh, that’s right, because he’s a child who demands what he wants, when he wants it, and if he doesn’t get it he throws a fit at the nearest available person he can blame. I really need to take better notes here.

There is a list of items up for auction, rich people stuff like oil paintings and landscaping design and driving an Aston-Martin DB7 (because at least SOMEONE in this book drives a rich people car, damn!), and a weekend stay at a property in Colorado that is donated by one Mr. C. Grey. Ana had no idea that Christian owned property in Aspen, and he’s annoyed when she mentions it, so I guess that’s where his super secret vampire lair is located? I’m not sure. She asks him if he owns any property anywhere else:

“I’ll tell you later,” Christian says quietly. “I wanted to come with you,” he adds rather sulkily.

Well, you didn’t. I pout and I realize that I’m still querulous, and no doubt, it’s the frustrating effect of the balls. My mood darkens after seeing Mrs. Robinson on the list of generous donors.

I wonder why they don’t get invited to more parties, these wacky, fun loving kids. They’re openly pouting because they didn’t get to fuck in the bathroom. I want them at every wedding, funeral, retirement function, etc.

I glance around the tent to see if I can spot her, but I can’t see her telltale hair. Surely Christian would have warned me if she was invited tonight.

Surely, he would have. Just like he warned you that he was taking you to her salon, where he took all of his exes, and like he was going to warn you about how Leila wants to murder you. Because if there is one thing Christian Grey is, by god, it’s forthcoming.

Christian’s weekend away in Aspen is on the block, and the bidding has climbed to $20k. Since she’s in such a good mood, Ana bids $24k, which, if you recall, is the amount of money Christian just deposited in her bank account without her permission. The chapter ends with Ana winning the weekend, and we can all look forward to the endless argument this will cause in Chapter 7.

My Blog Will And Testament

Since I will be boarding a flying death machine tomorrow – sorry, “commercial airliner” – I thought I should have my affairs in order. So, I approached my husband about my last wishes, to make sure we were both on the same page.

He chewed thoughtfully a moment, because he was eating, and then he said, “You wanted me to chuck you in Lake Superior, right?”
No, Joe. No, I do not want you to “chuck” my decomposing body into the greatest of lakes.
Since my husband can clearly not be trusted to remember my final wishes, I share them with you, readers. Please, someone make sure these are all carried out to the very letter:
  • In the event that my body is all in one piece upon my death, please, no embalming. Make sure I’m good and freaking dead, of course, but no creepy poking around in my cadaver with sharp, suction tools. If there’s going to be an open casket, let me look grim as all fuck. Don’t even super glue my mouth open, just hold it shut with an old-timey tooth-ache bandage and put fifty cent pieces over my eyes.
  • At some point during the visitation, my good friend Cheryl is to lean over my casket and say, “Yup, Jen looks really, really dead.” Since she lives in Hawaii now, you may opt to make this a “destination” funeral and get a really good trip out of it.
  • The funeral should be appropriately sad. Hired mourners would be a plus.
  • Music selections should include Johnny Cash and the Carter Family performing “Peace In The Valley” and Loretta Lynn’s “Old Rugged Cross.” When my casket is carried from the church or waffle house my funeral is held at, I would like the final hymn to be “Another One Bites The Dust” by Queen. Unless I have completed my lifetime goal of being a contestant on tv’s Jeopardy!, in which case I would like the final hymn to be “Weird” Al Yankovic’s “I Lost on Jeopardy.”
  • Since I’m going to be cremated, see if someone can keep my casket. They can’t re-sell them, and it would make a kick-ass Halloween decoration.
  • Upon my cremation, I would like most of my remains to be delivered to my grieving husband and children, with a small portion set aside to be eaten, slowly, in front of my friend Keith, who will be forced to watch. He will be reluctant to participate; it must be made clear that this is my absolute last wish and my spirit shall be restless evermore if he does not watch someone eat a little bit of my cremains. He will also straight up vomit, and this is the purpose of my last wish.
  • My husband shall bring my ashes to Christmas, Michigan, to a pre-determined location, whereupon he will spill my ass out into the Big Lake and I can become one with the beauty, grandeur, and utter kickassitude of Michigan.
  • When my dog dies, probably days after my untimely demise, due to a broken heart, he should also be cremated and thrown into Lake Superior.
  • After an appropriate period of mourning, my husband is allowed to “find love” again, but he must make clear to the husband-stealing skank he hooks up with that if I were still around, she’d be out on her ass in two seconds flat and probably missing big handfuls of hair. Also, my kids must not call her “mommy” because she’s probably an evil stepmother just like in Cinderella.
  • At no point should the words “Fifty” or “Shades” appear in my obituary, upon pain of haunting. The words “underrated” and “genius” are, however, encouraged.
Now, of course I know I will be fine, and no grave robbing hussy is going to move in on my family before my ashes are cold, but just in case that happens, I am counting on you, dear readers, to see that my last wishes are respected.
PS. Everyone dress like Star Wars characters for my funeral, that would be rad.

50 Shades Darker chapter 5 recap or “Everything is unrealistic, because it’s more dramatic that way.”

Before we get into the recap proper, I have to make a PSA about the blog schedule. I try to get two 50 Shades recap posts in during the week. I would do more, except it takes a really long time to write these recaps. Even with a copy of the book chock full of notes and underlines, I spend a few hours working on these. For example, today’s recap clocked in at seven hours. So that’s why they’re not up every day. Well, that and the fact that I have children to care for, a husband to maintain a marriage with, a house that frequently requires at least minimal cleaning, and books of my own to write.

With that in mind, I will be “out of the office” next week, attending the Authors After Dark conference in New Orleans. I will be there speaking on the panels “GLBT Alpha/Beta” and “Erotic Romance,” as well as co-hosting a Steampunk tea party and an epic karaoke blow out. So, I’m gonna be a bit busy. Did I mention the hotel is on Burbon street? Busy.

So, what I’m saying is, next week I’m going to be too busy flashing my tits for cheap beads to do any recapping. I thought I would be able to get a post scheduled ahead of time, but it doesn’t look like it’s in the cards, so if you don’t see anything next week, you know the reason why. I will be back in the saddle on the 12th. I will probably post some short updates from the field, however. And if you’re really, really jonesing to know what’s going on, you can follow me on twitter. @JArmintrout. I post links to the freshest recaps there, and I check in quite often. I’m also quite chatty, so just, you know. Be aware that I’ll be blowing up your feed.

Next up, literally everyone in the world has sent me this link this week: Erica Jong hates 50 Shades  It’s some good reading, you should check it out, then come back here and read this recap.

We last left Ana looking on as Mrs. Robinson put her old, old, impossibly old hands all over Christian.

“Greta, who is Mr. Grey talking to?” My scalp is trying to leave the building.

Greta – who is blonde and therefore a whoore, remember – tells her that Mrs. Robinson is, in fact, Mrs. Lincoln, co-owner of the salon with non-other than Christian Grey. She usually doesn’t work at that location, but she just happens to be there filling in for a technician who got sick. After volunteering all that information, Ana asks Greta what Mrs. Lincoln’s first name is, and this happens:

Greta looks up at me, frowning, and purses her bright pink lips, questioning my curiosity. Shit, perhaps this is a step too far.

Asking what her first name is? Greta just voluntarily spilled all that information and asking her first name is a step too far? Mrs. Lincoln’s first name is Elena, and Ana is glad that her spidey sense was right.

Spidey sense? my subconscious snorts. Pedo sense.

HA! Good one, Ana.

They are still deep in discussion. Christian is talking rapidly to Elena, and she looks worried, nodding, grimacing, and shaking her head. Reaching out, she rubs his arm soothingly while biting her lip.

And then he just bends her over one of those weird chair hair dryers and fucks her in front of everyone. Just kidding. But can you imagine how this conversation is going? “Hey, Elena, this chick I’m with has this weird hang up about statutory rape. I know, I know, she’s so plebeian. If only she were as rich as we are, she could see that love between an old lady and a teenager is perfectly normal, right?”

Elena smiles at Ana, and Ana glares at her, and Elena and Christian continue to have a conversation we don’t know the content of, until he finally comes back to Ana. She asks him why he didn’t want to introduce her, and he’s genuinely shocked that she has a problem with being in the salon he co-owns with his rapist.

“For a bright man, sometimes…” Words fail me. “I’d like to go, please.”

“Why?”

Because you co-own this place with the woman who molested you. Seriously, what part of this is he not getting? Also, why are we laboring under the delusion that Christian is bright? Is this like when people say Ana is bright, and we’re supposed to just believe it because it’s in print? Christian has yet to do a single thing in this series that I would consider “bright.”

Then, we get words that are practically copied out of those domestic violence handouts that I used throughout the last book:

“We won’t need Franco, Greta,” Christian snaps as we head out of the door. I have to suppress the impulse to run. I want to run fast and far away. I have an overwhelming urge to cry.

 “You wish he would go away, you want to cry, and you want to run away from him.” If you are new here, and you haven’t read the recaps of 50 Shades of Grey, consider checking out this post, 50 Shades and Abusive Relationships, which outlines the red flags in Christian and Ana’s relationship. This is a big one. Christian admits he took some of his other subs, including Samara Leila, to that salon, but he thought Elena wouldn’t be there, as she often works at a different location. He tells her that while Mrs. Robinson met all of his subs, they never knew who she was. Which seems incredibly fucked up, to me, but I have no experience being an emotionally crippled billionaire.


At least Ana doesn’t let it go blithely by:

“Can you see how fucked-up this is?” I glare at him, my voice low.

“Yes. I’m sorry.” And he has the grace to look contrite.

“I want to get my hair cut, preferably somewhere where you haven’t fucked either the staff or the clientele.”

Picky picky.

He runs a hand through his hair. “I can have Franco come to the apartment, or your place,” he says quietly.

“She’s very attractive.”

Franco? I thought that was a dude’s name.

Oh, wait, they’re talking about Mrs. Robinson again. Ana asks if Elena is still married, and Christian says she got divorced five years ago.

“Why aren’t you with her?”

Jeez, Ana, are you trying to set them up? Christian tells her that it’s over between him and Elena, and then he gets a call, so he has to stand on the sidewalk snapping at whoever called him while Ana waits patiently beside him. Remember that, for later in this chapter. When Christian Grey has a phone call, time better fucking stop for him.

People bustle past us, lost in their Saturday morning chores, no doubt contemplating their own personal drama. I wonder if they include stalk ex-submissives, stunning ex-Dommes, and a man who has no concept of privacy under US law.

No, Ana. Just you. Because you’re so special. We get it.

I absolutely hate it when Christian is on the phone, because he talks like someone pretending to be on the phone. He talks on the phone like he’s in a poorly written play, and the words he says are exposition to the audience:

“Killed in a car crash? When?” Christian interrupts my reverie.

And then a paragraph later:

“That’s twice that bastard’s not been forthcoming. He must know. Does he have no feelings for her whatsoever?” Christian shakes his head in disgust. “This is beginning to make sense… no… explains why, but not where.”

Christian starts looking around all paranoid, then Ana does, too, but she doesn’t see anything.

“She’s here,” Christian continues. “She’s watching us… Yes… No. Two or four, twenty-four seven… I haven’t broached that yet.” Christian looks at me directly.

At this point, I’m adding “paranoid schizophrenia” to my list of possible mental illnesses for Christian, right next to “borderline personality disorder,” and “reactive attachment disorder.” Christian continues to have his exposition-splosion conversation:

“What?” he whispers and pales, his eyes widening. “I see. When?… That recently? But how?… No background checks?… I see. E-mail me the name, address, and photos if you have them…. twenty-four seven, from this afternoon. Establish liaison with Taylor.” Christian hangs up.

Of course, by now this is all so built up and dramatic that Elena who? Christian tells Ana that he was speaking to his security advisor, who has just discovered that Leila the ex-sub ran out on her husband with some guy who recently died in a car accident.

“The asshole shrink should have found that out,” he says angrily. “Grief, that’s what this is. Come.” He holds out his hand, and I automatically place mine in his before I snatch it away again.

Yeah, um, things haven’t changed with Ana since you took your big, dramatic, elaborate distraction phone call, Christian. Also, why would Leila’s psychologist tell you anything about what was going on in her life? I don’t care what kind of money and power you have, no mental health professional (who wants to keep their license) is going to say, “Oh, you’re her ex? Well, allow me to break HIPAA and tell you all these details about Leila’s life.”

I wish I could say that was the most poorly researched and unbelievable detail in this chapter, but just wait. It’s coming.

So, Ana is still mad and not thrown off the subject by Christian’s phone call:

“Wait a minute. We were in the middle of a discussion about ‘us.’ About her, your Mrs. Robinson.”

Yeah, wait a minute, Christian. I know it’s getting kind of confusing in here. After all, there was practically no plot in the last book, and in this one it’s stacking up, but one crisis at a time. Christian tells Ana they can talk about it at his place, and she’s like, no, I want to get my hair cut, so he calls the salon and says to have Franco at his place in an hour. But she still doesn’t want to go, and Christian is worried that Leila will hunt Ana down and do something to her, so she should really come and stay at his apartment:

“Anastasia, Leila is obviously suffering a psychotic break. I don’t know if it’s you or me she’s after, or what lengths she’s prepared to go to. We’ll go to your place, pick up your things, and you can stay with me until we’ve tracked her down.”

Wait, back up. Christian doesn’t know who Leila is after, himself or Ana. So, the obvious thing to do would be to go to his apartment (that Leila already knows the location of and has tried to commit suicide in) so that they’re both there, together, to… make it more convenient for the stalker? If anything, wouldn’t they be safer staying at Ana’s place? Or, I don’t know, filing PPOs against Leila and involving the police somehow? Like, immediately after she tried to kill herself in Christian’s apartment would have been an IDEAL time to get that stuff done.

He glares at me. “You are coming back to my apartment if I have to drag you there by your hair.”

Oh, you charmer, you.

I gape at him…this is beyond belief. Fifty Shades in Glorious Technicolor.

First of all, the entire reason Technicolor existed was so movies weren’t fifty shades of gray. Also, how is this beyond belief? Has he never threatened you with physical violence before, Ana? Haven’t you read the book?

“No,” I state stubbornly. I have to make a stand.

This is Jen, not holding her breath.

Christian threatens to carry her, and she thinks there’s no way he would do that:

Surely he wouldn’t make a scene on Second Avenue?

He tried to finger you at his parents’ dinner table, just inches from his entire family. But you’re right, he probably wouldn’t do anything crazy.

We glare at each other – and abruptly he sweeps down, clasps me around my thighs, and lifts me. Before I know it, I am over his shoulder.

“Put me down!” I scream. Oh, it feels good to scream.

He starts striding along Second Avenue, ignoring me. Clasping his arm firmly around my thighs, he swats my behind with his free hand.

Careful now, Chedward. It’s hard to stride purposefully with a boner. Why is no one stopping this? If I were on the street, and a woman was screaming and being carried off by a man, and it seemed like she was legit angry and not, you know, giggling, I would call the police. Ana sees that people are staring, but I can’t imagine that anyone would see an angry woman screaming “put me down,” to a man carrying her off and not do anything.

Eventually, he does put her down:

What am I going to do? I am so angry, but I’m not even sure what I am angry about – there’s so much.

No, really?

Ana makes a mental list of the reasons she’s mad, which of course leads her to the conclusion that there is something she doesn’t know about the situation:

Realization dawns. Something’s changed. What could that be? I halt, and Christian halts with me. “What’s happened?” I demand.

Of course he can’t tell her right off the bat, there has to be six or seven lines of dialogue in which he evades the question and pretends not to understand what she’s asking, so I’ll skip to the part where he just gives Ana the damned answer:

“She managed to obtain a concealed weapons permit yesterday.”

Wait right there. Let’s check out Christian’s phone call one more time:

“What?” he whispers and pales, his eyes widening. “I see. When?… That recently? But how?… No background checks?… I see. [...]“

Leila got a concealed weapons permit without any background checks? BULL. SHIT.

If you follow me on the twitter or the facebook, you are probably already aware that I’m quite fond of guns, and as such, I am aware that laws vary from state-to-state with regards to open and concealed carry. I decided that this was a big enough plot point that I should do a little research (something E.L. James might have tried, if she wasn’t so busy racing to the next sex scene) and Here is what I found. Background checks are mandatory. From the Washington State Department of Licensing website: “The law enforcement agency will fingerprint you and conduct a background check before you can be issued a license. If you’re a Washington State resident, it may take up to 30 days to complete the background check.”

I didn’t have to dig for it. E.L. James could have just googled “Washington state concealed weapon” and gotten her answer in the first result. Even leaving out the “yesterday” in Christian’s dialogue would have been enough. But no, there is no way Leila got a concealed weapons permit in one day (a Friday, no less) without a background check. That’s not going to happen. Help me out here, British readers, do you all just think we run around willy-nilly, shooting guns into the sky?
Let’s not overlook the fact that Leila was recently hospitalized for a suicide attempt. Now, if Christian had done the non-control freak thing and gotten the police involved immediately after that, he would have a PPO, and Leila would have been ineligible for a concealed weapons permit. Also, if he’d called the police, the fact that she showed up at his house and slit her wrist would be a big red flag to the Sheriff’s office to not issue a concealed carry license. But Christian is so BRIGHT, remember?

Oh shit. I gaze at him, blinking, and feel the blood drain from my face as I absorb this news. I may faint. Suppose she wants to kill him? No!

She would have to get in line behind me.

“That means she can just buy a gun,” I whisper.

No, it means she can carry a handgun concealed on her person, or carry a loaded gun in her car. That’s all it means. She could buy the gun any time she wants. Washington is an open carry state, so she could carry the unloaded gun with her, so long as it’s in an exposed holster. Also, she could buy a rifle at any time and just pop them off from a distance with no paperwork at all, that’s what they should be worrying about in his all-glass apartment.

“Ana,” he says, his voice full of concern. He places his hands on my shoulders, pulling me close to him. “I don’t think she’ll do anything stupid, but  - I just don’t want to take that risk with you.”

“Not me… what about you?” I whisper.

While they stand on the sidewalk arguing over who loves who more, Leila could just come up behind them and kill them both. Christian said she was there, and she was watching them. He knows she has a gun. So, by all means, let’s stand on the sidewalk and continue with this, “No, I would be more shattered if she did something to you.”

They go to Ana’s apartment and she packs her stuff (including the Charlie Tango balloon. No, I’m not kidding) to leave. She off-handedly mentions that Kate’s brother is coming to town on Tuesday.

Christian gazes at me blankly, but I notice the frostiness creep into his eyes.

“Well, it’s good you’ll be staying with me. Give him more room,” he says quietly.

Why don’t you just buy the building and make a “No Ethan Allowed” policy, Christian?

They get her stuff and go out to the car, where they argue about who’s driving. Seriously, Leila is a shitty assassin, she could have killed them twice now, while they stand out in the open talking to each other. She could have done it with an AR from a distance, and not had to bother with all these pesky licenses.

I know I sound like I’m rooting for Leila here, but with these two, can you blame me?

Once they’re safely in the car (Leila, you’re killing me here, you could murder/suicide into them in your own car, and it would tie in so poetically with the death of your boyfriend!) they start talking about how Christian seems to have a thing for brunettes. He says that Mrs. Robinson is who put him off blondes forever, but he’s just kidding.

So, he only likes brunettes, I wonder why? Did Mrs. Extraordinarily Glamorous in Spite of Being Old Robinson really put him off blondes?

Back up once again. “in Spite of Being Old?” In the last chapter, Ana describes Elena as being in her late thirties or early forties. Christian is twenty-seven. So, let’s say Elena is forty, just for the sake of argument and easy math. That means that when Christian was fifteen, when their relationship started, she would have been either the age Christian is now, or a year older. And since we don’t have the specifics, that number could go either up or down. So… how is she old, exactly? She wasn’t old when she molested Christian, and she isn’t old now. How is this happening? Either Ana is one of those people who believes anything over twenty-five is old and E.L. James is brilliantly portraying this detail (which I find doubtful, given the evidence at hand), or E.L. James herself believes that anyone over twenty-five is old and shouldn’t be having sex because it’s gross, in which case she has created a hellish existence for herself with the readership of these books and the universe is restored to some merciful balance in my favor.

Christian explains to Ana that he’s a silent partner in the salon business, he just invested the money in order to repay at $100k loan that Elena gave him when he dropped out of Harvard after two years to go into business for himself. Remember that thing I said about “bright?” He dropped out of the school people would literally, not figuratively, kill to get into. Unsurprisingly, his parents didn’t approve. He also gives Ana some backstory on Elena:

“She was a bored trophy wife, Anastasia. Her husband was wealthy – big in timber.” He gives me a wolfish grin. “He wouldn’t let her work. You know, he was controlling. Some men are like that.” He gives me a quick sideways smile.

 It’s nice that they can joke about how controlling Christian is, without ever actually doing anything about it.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Christian asks Ana if she’s still mad at him. Gee, one of your exes is totally uprooting Ana’s life on the same day you took her to your rapist’s salon to get her hair done? Why would she be hanging on to a trifle like that?

Christian checks in with Taylor, who we learn has a daughter. Taylor is officially the most interesting character in this book, but there’s no time to dawdle, they have to go wait for the hair dresser. Christian goes to make some phone calls, leaving Ana to her own devices. She goes to her room and finally checks out all the clothes in her closet. This will come as a shock to no one, but they’re all needlessly expensive.

This isn’t me. I put my head in my hands and try to process the last few hours. It’s exhausting. Why, oh why, have I fallen for someone who is plain crazy – beautiful, sexy as fuck, richer than Croesus, and crazy with a capital K?

Because you have no self-esteem and believe that if you’re not with Christian Grey, the next step is dying alone? I thought we covered this in the first book. Also, Christian has his problems, and he’s definitely not mentally healthy, but you’ve got one of his exes planning a gun crime, so in this case, “crazy” might be subjective.

Ana decides to call her mom:

“Ana, honey! It’s been so long. How are you, darling?”

So long? She came home from Georgia and broke up with Christian like, a day or two later, right? And it’s been, what, a week since then, so… it hasn’t been that long at all. But okay. They talk about Christian and how things are complicated, and her mom says things are complicated with Bob, too, and then Ana has this staggeringly self-aware thought:

Oh, someone else has problems. I’m not the only one.

I think that pretty much sums up the entire character of Ana.

Christian appears in the doorway. “There you are. I thought you’d run off.” His relief is obvious.

Wait, he was the one who left to go make phone calls. Did he seriously expect her to just stand there and wait in the same spot until he got back?

I hold my hand up to indicate that I’m on the phone. “Sorry, Mom, I have to go. I’ll call again soon.”

Why does she have to go? Oh, right. It’s not like Christian has ever made her wait while he took a call. It certainly didn’t happen right now or just a little bit ago on the street or over and over and over again.

“Why are you hiding in here?” he asks.

“I’m not hiding. I’m despairing.”

And I am LOLing.

Christian and Ana have one of their trademark conversations in which they seem to believe there is some kind of problem with their relationship, but they won’t articulate it, so they just dance around it and try to be witty rather than actually resolving anything:

“I know, I’m trying,” he murmurs.

“You’re very trying.”

“As are you, Miss Steele.”

“Why are you doing this?”

His eyes widen and his wary look returns. “You know why.”

“No, I don’t.”

He runs a hand through his hair. “You are one frustrating female.”

JUST TALK TO EACH OTHER.

But if they did that, there wouldn’t be anything to space out the time between sex scenes, and we’d be left with just blank pages. Christian tells Ana that he likes that she’s not into him for his money, and she gives him “hope.” For what, you ask?

He shrugs. “More.” His voice is low and quiet. “And you’re right. I am used to women doing exactly what I say, when I say, doing exactly what I want. It gets old quickly. There’s something about you, Anastasia, which calls to me on some deep level I don’t understand. It’s a siren’s call. I can’t resist you, and I don’t want to lose you.”

Sirens kill people. Just saying. And how infuriating is it to hear this douche, he of the “sign this sex contract,” complain that it’s boring when women do what he says? He’s the one who makes them sign contracts to do that in the first place! It’s not their fault he’s bored with what he asked for.

He looks so vulnerable… It’s disturbing.

Oh, NOW you’re disturbed. She tells Christian she can be patient, and then the hairdresser shows up:

Franco is small, dark, and gay. I love him.

Of course you do. You seem incapable of liking any person who isn’t a part of some marginalized group.

“Such beautiful hair!” he gushes with an outrageous, probably fake Italian accent. I bet he’s from Baltimore or somewhere, but his enthusiasm is infectious.

Gay people. They’re just so over the top, all the time, amiright? No, I’m not. Because we don’t live in Stereotopia, land where stereotypes are reality.

When they get done with her hair cut, Franco presents her to Christian:

“See! I tell you he like it,” Franco enthuses.

Good news, he talks like the prostitute in Full Metal Jacket for the rest of his scene.

 “Oh, me so stereotypical gay man, me cut your hair long time.”
After Franco leaves, Christian asks Ana if she’s still mad at him. There’s a joke to be made here about shampoo and brainwashing, but I’m honestly too tired to make it. He asks her if they can discuss their problems in bed, because that’s always worked before, right?

“Over lunch, then. I’m hungry, and not just for food,” he gives me a salacious smile.

Oh stop.

“I am not going to let you dazzle me with your sexpertise.”

 US law requires me to use this .gif every time the word “dazzle” is used on my blog. It’s in the constitution. Look it up.
Ana finally gets some balls and tells Christian what the problem is:

“What’s bothering me? Well, there’s your gross invasion of my privacy, the fact that you took me to some place where your ex-mistress works and you used to take all your lovers to have their bits waxed, you manhandled me in the street like I was six years old – and to cap it all, you let your Mrs. Robinson touch you!” My voice has risen to a crescendo.

I think you forgot, “Your ex is trying to kill me, and you weren’t even going to let me know.” Because if Ana hadn’t asked, Chedward wasn’t going to tell her about the CCW.

Christian wants to clarify that Elena isn’t his Mrs. Robinson, and Ana points out that, hey, Elena can touch him, and she can’t. Christian says it’s because Elena knows where she can touch him, and it’s apparently impossible to teach that to another living human being.

“You and I don’t have any rules. I have never had a relationship without rules, and I never know where you’re going to touch me. It makes me nervous. Your touch completely – ” He stops, searching for the words. “It just means more… so much more.”

Wait, they don’t have any rules? Did I black out and start reading a different series? Because they had a whole bunch of rules, a contract, actually. And even though he said the contract has been thrown out, he’s still manipulating her into following those rules.

Ana tries to touch him, and he’s all panicked about it. Ana points out that he would feel pretty bad if he couldn’t touch her, and he agrees.

“You’ll have to tell me why this is a hard limit, one day, please.”

“One day,” he murmurs, and seems to snap out of his vulnerability in a nanosecond.

How can he switch so quickly?

Mental illness?

“So, the rest of your list. Invading your privacy.” His mouth twists as he contemplates this. “Because I know your bank account number?”

“Yes, that’s outrageous.”

“I do background checks on all my submissives. I’ll show you.” He turns and heads for his study.

It doesn’t make it better that he’s done this to other women. It just makes it more shady, because he now has a lot of women’s banking information. There was nothing in the contract allowing him to do such a thing, and he never asked Ana if it was okay to run this check or find this information out.

From a locked filing cabinet, he pulls a manila folder. Typed on the tab: ANASTASIA ROSE STEELE.

Why is it in a filing cabinet? Surely someone with his finger on the pulse of developing technologies would have, you know, a computerized database for this stuff. It would be more secure than just a locked filing cabinet.

No one in US history has ever broken into a filing cabinet.
Ana looks at the file and has the lightbulb moment she should have had, you know, in chapter three of the first book:

“So, you knew I worked at Clayton’s?”

“Yes.”

“It wasn’t a coincidence. You didn’t just drop by?”

No, Ana. I’ve been trying to tell you this. He did not “just drop by” to pick up his kidnapping supplies, he went there on purpose. EVERYONE WITH HALF A BRAIN KNEW THIS ALREADY IT IS NOT A REVELATION.

Ana tells him that the whole background check thing is fucked up, and he says he doesn’t “see it that way,” so obviously that makes it okay.

“I don’t misuse the information. Anyone can get ahold of it if they have half a mind to, Anastasia. To have control – I need information. It’s how I’ve always operated.”

 The thought of just, you know, NOT CONTROLLING WOMEN has never entered into his mind. Christian Grey is a person who should not be in a relationship, in any relationship, because he has no clue how to respect other people and have boundaries. Keep in mind, somewhere, right now, a woman is schlicking to a fantasy of having this man treat her like garbage. GO FEMINISM! And let’s examine the ways Christian Grey does misuse the information:

  • He goes to Ana’s workplace to “bump into” her.
  • He deposits money into her bank account without her permission.
  • He follows her to her mother’s house in Georgia against her wishes.

I’m sure there are more, but I’m too enraged by this normalization of abuse to remember them. At least Ana calls him on the deposit, but when she does, he asks her how much money she thinks he makes. She says it doesn’t matter, because she doesn’t care, and he says:

“I know. That’s one of the things I love about you.”

I gaze at him, shocked. Love about me?

So, yeah, now she’s going to focus on that to the exclusion of all common sense. Oh, and he tells her his unrealistic salary:

“Anastasia, I earn roughly one hundred thousand dollars an hour.”

Break it down now:

  • $100,000.00 per hour
  • $2,400,000.00 per day
  • $16,800,000.00 per week
  • $67,200,000.00 per month
  • $806,400,000.00 annually
This isn’t entirely unrealistic. There are people in America who make this much money. Bill Gates, for example, only draws a salary of one million per year, but his estimated annual income is closer to Christian Grey. But I do find it unrealistic for someone who dropped out of college, is only twenty-seven years old, and who makes reckless business decisions based on who he’s boning at the moment to have this kind of wealth. Also, let me point out again, he drives an Audi. One of these things is not like the other, friends.
Ana asks Christian how he would feel if someone was just throwing money and nice things at him all the time, and he says he doesn’t know.

This is it, the crux of his Fifty Shades, surely. He can’t put himself in my shoes.

Can’t, or won’t, Ana? He continues to argue that it’s okay for him to lavish gifts upon her, because he wants to. That’s what makes it okay, reader. He wants it, and he’s not willing to stop.

Oh, this is going nowhere.

Ana thought, echoing my own frustration.

They go to have lunch, and since Mrs. Jones has the day off, Ana will cook. Christian informs her that his subs usually cook for him on the weekend, so I guess that’s not like, slavery or anything. Christian goes to his study and leaves Ana to it.

Christian is still in his study, no doubt invading some poor, unsuspecting fool’s privacy and compiling information. The thought is unpleasant and leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

As it should. But not for long, of course, because to cook, Ana must also dance! Facing the fact that Leila might have put more music on Christian’s iPod, she bravely looks through it to find a song:

I scroll through the extensive list. I want something upbeat. Hmm, Beyonce – that doesn’t sound like Christian’s taste. “Crazy in Love.” Oh yes! How apt. I hit the “repeat” button and put it on loud.

I sashay back to the kitchen and find a bowl, open the fridge, and take out the eggs. I crack them open and begin to whisk, dancing the whole time.

In case you’re keeping score at home, this is the second time Ana has whisk-danced in Christian’s kitchen.

No empathy, I muse. Is this unique to Christian? Maybe all men are like this, baffled by women.

No, Ana. All men are not like this. You’re just willing to believe that they are, rather than realize that you are in an abusive, controlling relationship that is only getting worse instead of better.

I wish Kate were home; she would know. She’s been in Barbados far too long. She should be back at the end of the week after her additional vacation with Elliot. I wonder if it’s still lust at first sight with them.

One of the things I love about you.

Notice the juxtaposition there? Kate and Elliot are only in lust, Ana and Christian are in love. That’s not an accident, as all along Ana has looked down on Kate and Elliot for being too sexual and too expressive of their love. They can’t possibly feel what Ana feels for Christian. Also, note that the reason Ana has given for missing Kate is, once again, because Kate could do something for her. First, she missed Kate because she needed someone to nurse her through her breakup, now she misses Kate because she’s not available to work through Ana’s relationship problems.

Christian comes back to the kitchen and asks Ana how long she’s going to stay mad at him for a piddly little thing like invading her privacy. Ana asks him if he put “Crazy In Love” on his iPod (even though she already knows the answer), and asks if Leila was trying to tell him something with the song choice. I’m guessing she was trying to tell him, “I’m going to go crazy and try to kill your next girlfriend if you break up with me.”

Why can’t anyone just use words to communicate their feelings in this series? Why must it always be some cryptic method through music? Oh, that’s right. Because they’re seventh graders.

Because writing something new and original for book two would be difficult, this happens:

He heads over to the iPod dock while I go back to my whisking.

Moments later the heavenly sweet, soulful voice of Nina Simone fills the room. It’s one of Ray’s favorites: “I Put A Spell On You.”

You know how Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2 are basically the same movie, with some minor changes? That. Right down to reminding us that it’s one of Ray’s favorite songs.

I flush, turning to gape at Christian. What is he trying to tell me?

WHY CAN’T YOU JUST SPEAK TO EACH OTHER LIKE NORMAL PEOPLE?!

I watch him, enthralled as slowly, like the predator he is, he stalks me in time to the slow, sultry beat of the music.

It’s way sexier than the way he stalks her the rest of the time. And “like the predator he is?” If the word you’re using to describe the man you date is “predator,” and you are not the heroine of a paranormal romance, maybe you might need to reevaluate your situation.

Christian tries to sex her out of being mad at him, but she rejects his advances. You know, a little.

I don’t want this – I do want this – badly. He’s so frustrating, so hot and desirable. I tear my gaze away from his spellbinding look.

“I want you, Anastasia,” he murmurs. “I love and I hate, and I love arguing with you. It’s very new. I need to know that we’re okay. It’s the only way I know how.”

“To manipulate you into forgetting that I’m a dick,” is how that sentence should have ended.

“I’m not going to touch you until you say yes,” he says softly. “But right now, after a really shitty morning, I want to bury myself in you and just forget everything but us.”

Oh my… Us. A magical combination, a small, potent pronoun that clinches the deal.

Luckily, Taylor comes in and interrupts them making out. You know, for now, because Ana doesn’t have the self-respect required to not have sex with Christian Grey when she’s legitimately angry with him.

Christian and Taylor stare at each other, some unspoken communication passing between them.

Taylor and Christian go into the study, and Ana goes back to making lunch and thinking about what is wrong with Christian and how she can fix it, because if there is one thing women are known for it’s their high success rate with fixing broken men. Christian comes back and they eat. They actually don’t fight about it for once, but Ana does mention that she’s eating despite not being hungry. They talk about how Christian knows French and stuff, and Ana says his parents must be very proud of him, which is apparently not an okay thing to say, because he gets really surly. Christian goes to brief the security team about recent developments, and Ana goes to fire up the google on the old internet machine. No, I’m not kidding, she says this:

I set about transferring Christian’s playlist from my iPad to the Mac, then fire up Google to surf the net.

Ana is one hundred years old.

I’m lying across the bed looking at my Mac as Christian enters.

“What are you doing?” he inquires softly.

I panic briefly, wondering if I should let him see the Web site I’m on – Multiple Personality Disorder: The Symptoms.

Here’s another nit to pick: any up-to-date website would refer to it as “Dissociative Identity Disorder.”

Christian and Ana banter wittily about how fucked up he is, then he suggests that she take a tube of lipstick and draw on his body so that she has a map of where she can touch him:

“I could get a tatto.” His eyes are alight with humor.

Christian Grey with a tat? Marring his lovely body, when it’s marked in so many ways already? No way!

Fuck you, Ana. First of all, don’t say “tat” because it sounds skeezy and like something you get in prison, and second, tattoos don’t “mar” a body, they decorate it.

For a page and a half, Ana draws on Christian with lipstick.

“Finished,” I murmur, and it looks like he’s wearing a bizarre skin-colored vest with harlot red trim.

 Just a vest? You wanna come in and see a real man’s skin wardrobe?

Then Ana literally jumps on him, and the chapter is FINALLY over.