For November, I tried a banana milkshake hair mask. Possibly the most bizarre experiment yet.
Hey everybody! I’m buried under deadlines! WHEE!
A Big Damn Buffy Rewatch Post is coming soon, but in the meantime, here are two important things to stick in your head:
- The Boss is now free in all available formats at Smashwords. It should be up and free at retailer soon, but you can download it in whichever format you need here.
- The #EatMe Addams Family Values watch-a-long party starts at 3pm EST on Friday, November 29! Why the middle of the day? So our friends in Europe can play along! You think this is rough, wait until we do one for New Zealand.
Catch you on the flipside!
My daughter, whose first and middle names are Wednesday and Addams (yes, for real), FINALLY let me do this. I’ve been begging for like, two years. Bonus: I sent her to church with her grandparents like this.
Parenting achievement unlocked: Forcibly introduce child to cosplay.
And it turns out, she’s pretty good at it!
So, let me use this post for good just a second. A lot of people felt left out when we did the #UtterlyAlone watch-a-long party for Halloween, because their time zone made it impossible to join. Well, to celebrate American Thanksgiving, I thought, why not do another watch-a-long. What’s a good Thanksgiving movie?
That’s right. On the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, November 29th, at 3 p.m. EST, we’ll be watching Addams Family Values. Because if it wasn’t obvious from the rest of the content in this post, I really, really love The Addams Family and there is like, a three minute Thanksgiving sequence in this one, so that means it counts.
So, at 3 p.m., EST, November 29th, start your DVD or whatever (it is not on Netflix streaming, I recommend renting from Amazon Video or just streaming if you’re a Prime member) and join your fellow Troutlanders on the hashtag #EatMe. The Beetlejuice one was awesome, so this should also be a good time!
Last night, I had the opportunity to go to a Pure Romance party, one of those things that are like Tupperware parties, but instead it’s vibrators and different kinds of flavored lube. It’s kind of a strange environment to be in, when you write and blog about sex on the daily; everyone there was having that kind of scandalized fun people have while talking about naughty things when their life, presumably, doesn’t revolve around cocks going into holes 24/7. Meanwhile, I was sitting there wondering if anyone would get weird about it if I raised my hand and asked if the probe-style vibe in the brochure was flexible enough to put in my husband’s butt.
But this story isn’t really about the party. This story is about what happened on the way to the party.
D-Rock drove (because it was at her sister’s house and also I don’t have a driver’s license), and as we left the driveway, I started feeling a little off. There was a little acid reflux creeping up my throat. I thought about asking D-Rock to stop and let me run back to the house and grab some tumbs, but I decided against it. By the time we were less than .3 miles from the house, I knew that had been a bad choice.
“Duuuude, you have to pull over in Prairieville. I have some wicked bad heartburn.”
At the gas station in Prarieville (which is, I believe, the only current retail establishment in Prarieville, so that should give you the size of the town at a glance), I grabbed a Powerade, drank gratefully of it, and got back into the truck.
And when I got in… a little moth flew in, too.
We were pulling away from the gas station, and I was thinking about how my heartburn was bound to be the worst part of my night, and since it was now over I could have fun, when the moth made a bee-line (lol, bees are also bugs) for my face. I didn’t want the moth to fall into my Powerade. That’s all I could focus on in the moment. Please, don’t let this moth fall into your Powerade! If I had known what was going to happen, in those few seconds I tried to wave the moth out of my face and desperately cover up my drink, I would have have made better choices. I would have risked spilling purple Powerade in D-Rock’s truck. If I could turn back time, as Cher would say, I know that no matter what happened, I would not have taken a sharp, full-lunged inhale of surprise with a moth so close to my face.
Because it happened, you guys. The thing you are imagining? It happened.
The moth. Went up. My nose.
That should be the worst part of the story, right? Sucking a moth up your nose? Oh no, gentle reader. No, no. You see, when I snorted the moth up my nose, quite against both of our wills, I kind of gag/choked/coughed, a maneuver that dragged the helpless little beast from deep within my nose, down the back of my throat, where upon I swallowed it.
But it wasn’t dead.
I could distinctly feel the wings of the moth trying desperately to flutter. The epic death throes of this insect were taking place just below my gag reflex. I wretched and coughed and wheezed, tears streaming from my eyes. At one point, it seemed my throat was being forced open by some mechanical error I was powerless to correct. I couldn’t hack up the moth. I wasn’t sure I wanted to. What if it burst from my throat or worse, out my nose, and flew away? I would have to live with that experience forever and ever. And at this time, the moth had yet to be in my actual mouth. Just imagining this moth flying from my open mouth gave me enough incentive to keep chugging my drink, hoping I could drown the little fucker or, at the very least, wash him down to my stomach, where he would suffocate. I presume. I don’t actually know if insects breath or not. I never really thought about it until one was stuck in my larynx.
During all of this, D-Rock just kept driving, totally calm. At one point she said, kinda slow and disinterested, “Yeah, that’s a bummer, man.” I believe this was in response to my desperate shriek of, “IT’S CRAWLING AROUND IN MY THROAT!” Later, she maintained that she was being helpful and calm in an emergency. But I think it was probably that she didn’t want to hear me carry on anymore.
But carry on I did! I told no less than sixteen people my tale of terror, whether they wanted me to stop or not. And now I’ve told it to you. Because you need to be aware that horrible shit like this can just happen to you, and you are powerless to stop it. Also, you need to know the backstory so that my obituary will make sense when 1,000,000 moth larvae erupt from my brain and kill me later this week.
If you are a Whovian and have not watched The Night of The Doctor, go watch it right now, before clicking the link or proceeding with the rest of this post.
I just realized that I can just go ahead and post this, since I don’t have to make print cover version! HUZZAH! HUZZAH! HUZZAH FOREVER!
Can you tell I really, really hate making print covers?
So, The Hook-Up is the free short story I’m giving readers of The Boss and The Girlfriend for Christmas this year. It’s a sexy night between Neil and Emir, with Sophie’s permission, but without Sophie. Chronologically, the story fits in somewhere around chapter eleven of The Bride, which will be out in March, 2014, but there are no serious spoilers in it. Just teensy tiny ones. It’s kind of like a short story/preview/missing scene. But if you’re afraid of having anything at all spoiled for you, don’t panic; I’ll be including The Hook-Up as bonus material at the end of The Bride.
Oh, did I mention it’s written from Neil’s POV? So you get to be inside Neil Elwood’s head? Yeah, it’s dirty in there.
Here’s the cover and blurb:
After cancer put a year of his life on hold, Neil Elwood is finally back where he thought he belonged, at the head of his media empire. But when the job takes him to London and away from his girlfriend, Sophie, he begins to reevaluate his priorities.
Neil isn’t sure what to expect when Sophie suggests a one-on-one night between him and their lover, Emir. When the two men have dinner together, sparks fly, and Neil recognizes a rare opportunity to give sexual submission another try.
Though taking charge is all he knows, Neil is willing to obey, at least for one night. Under Emir’s command, Neil discovers a whole new side of his sexuality, and he learns that sometimes, surrendering control can feel so, so good…
The Hook-Up will be available for free on Smashwords in December, but I don’t have a hard release date for it just yet. When it’s available, you’ll find out here first!
If you come here just for my amazing recaps, you might not be aware that I’m a beauty blogger on the side. I try out DIY beauty remedies for Collective310, and this month YOU get to decide what I slather all over a random body part. If you’d like to vote, you can do so here.
*Rolls up sleeves*
We last left Ana in the hospital, about to eat breakfast. Not hospital issue poor people food, of course. Ana starts eating her oatmeal and realizes that hey, the baby she’s growing could be a girl.
“You know,” I mutter between mouthfuls, “Blip might be a girl.”
Christian runs his hand through his hair. “Two women, eh?” Alarm flashes across his face, and his dark look vanishes.
Oh crap. “Do you have a preference?”
What are you going to do if he does, Ana? Worry yourself to death until you get the sonogram? Wait, right, that’s exactly what you’ll do. And pardon me while I’m incredibly grossed out at the thought of how Christian Grey would treat a daughter, and how funny Ana would find it when the poor woman was still locked in a steel-and-glass-and-sandstone-and-steel-and-glass tower when she’s twenty-five, with no friends and a “proscribed list” of people she can never have contact with.
Social workers, for example.
Christian tells Ana he just wants a healthy baby, and then he tells her to keep eating, because we can’t go a page without Christian having some kind of control over a bodily function of Ana’s.
Christian starts reading The Seattle Times:
“You made the papers again, Mrs. Grey.” His tone is bitter.
“The hacks are just rehashing yesterday’s story, but it seems factually accurate. You want to read it?”
I wonder how it is that Christian feels journalism with accurate facts is somehow hackish. Also, as this series has gone on, Christian has had nothing but contempt for all forms of press, even going so far as to force Ana to sign a non-disclosure agreement in the first book… so why did he grant an interview to Kate? I know, he donates huge amounts of money to the university… but why does he do that? He didn’t go to college there. So, the only reason Chedward agreed to Kate’s interview in the first book was so Ana could meet him and the book could happen at all. Ah, character consistency.
Ana asks Christian to read the article to her:
He smirks and proceeds to read the article aloud. It’s a report on Jack and Elizabeth, depicting them as a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde. It briefly covers Mia’s kidnapping, my involvement in Mia’s rescue, and the fact that both Jack and I are in the same hospital. How does the press get all this information? I must ask Kate.
They ask, Ana. Asking is like, the biggest part of journalism. You roomed with a journalism student through college and you don’t know that?
Here’s something interesting: this is one of the very few times that it makes sense for Ana to be in the press. They’re always talking about paparazzi following her around and stuff, and it’s never made any sense to me. It makes sense that they would have had their engagement and wedding announcements in a lot of different magazines and newspapers, but Christian isn’t Richard Branson. He’s very private. He’s not out there trying to be the rock star billionaire. So why would people care about him? I mean, if we want to do a comparison of famous and successful business people here…without googling, what’s Mark Zuckerberg’s wife’s name?
But this is really one of the only times it makes sense for Ana to be in the press. She’s been involved in a dramatic kidnapping. If that happened to Bill Gates’s wife, whose name I also don’t know off the top of my head but which I sort of murkily recall as being similar to “Mindy,” we’d hear about it.
When Christian finishes, I say, “Please read something else. I like listening to you.”
So he gets out a copy of Twilight.
It’s actually Breaking Dawn.
Just kidding again. He reads to her from the papers while she eats breakfast and thinks about Little Blip and how scary parenting is going to be for Christian. Oh, um, her, as well, but obviously her main concern is how it will affect Christian, because have you been reading these books at all?
What puzzles me is that he hasn’t lacked for positive role models as parents. Both Grace and Carrick are exemplary parents, or so they seem.
What we know of Grace and Kerrick’s Parenting:
- They adopted a severely traumatized child and apparently ignored or weren’t overly concerned by his emotional issues, because they think he’s just fine at the beginning of the series.
- They’re relieved that an outside influence (Ana) came in and fixed the son that they don’t admit was broken until like, the third book.
- When his mom found out that he’d been molested by one of her friends, she blamed him.
- His mom snoops other people’s private information– so we know where Christian gets it from.
What Ana doesn’t understand is that having money, giving your kids a fancy house and gifts and elegant table manners? That’s not parenting. That’s just a lifestyle. Parenting is, you know, just a for example, shaping a young mind so that it understands that imprisoning another human being with guards and proscribed lists and spying and manipulation isn’t great.
Maybe it was the Bitch Troll’s interference that damaged him so badly. I’d like to think so. But in truth I think it goes back to his birth mom, though I’m sure Mrs. Robinson didn’t help.
Yet again, we’re treated to the theme of “child molesters are better than negligent addict mothers.” Can we just do a comparison here? I think we need to.
The Crack Whore vs. The Bitch Troll
Let’s get ready to be illlllllllllogicaaaaaaaaaaal
The Crack Whore
- Was addicted to drugs
- Was impoverished
- Did not stop her abuser from abusing her son
- Prostituted herself for survival and the survival of her child due to hardships the reader is not privy to
The Bitch Troll
- Was sexually attracted to her best friend’s minor child
- Knew Christian’s history of abuse and subsequent mental and emotional issues
- Used this history of abuse and abandonment issues to manipulate minor child into a sexual relationship lasting years
- Put the minor child in danger from her violent husband’s wrath pending discovery
- Selected Christian’s sexual partners when their relationship ended
No, you’re right, Ana. It’s probably all to do with his mother. She had no business being a prostitute addicted to crack! That’s a choice she made! Hellooooo? She lived in Detroit. In the 80′s. She could have gotten a job and pulled herself up by her bootstraps, in a thriving economic boomtown like early 1980′s Detroit! Instead, she liked drugs and getting hit so much, she moved herself straight into that shitty apartment where she died and she did it all because she clearly hated her son. Just because Elena sexually manipulated Christian throughout his teen years and early adulthood, causing damage that has resulted in Christian being unable to trust or love another human being, she probably has nothing to do with it compared to Christian’s skeevy slut of a mom.
Ana is thinking about all of this stuff when there’s a knock at the door.
Detective Clark makes an apologetic entry into the room. He’s right to be apologetic– my heart sinks when I see him.
Yeah, he should apologize to you for doing his job and trying to keep you safe from the guy who tried to rape you more than once, who kidnapped your sister-in-law and tried to kidnap you, who set fire to your husband’s business, invaded your home, extorted a ransom from you, and beat you so bad you were hospitalized. Like, I’m really sure Detective Clark is thrilled that he’s staring in Law & Order: Grey Family Crimes Unit.
“Mr. Grey, Mrs. Grey. Am I interrupting?”
“Yes,” snaps Christian.
Clark ignores him. “Glad to see you’re awake, Mrs. Grey. I need to ask you a few questions about Thursday afternoon. Just routine. Is now a convenient time?”
“Sure,” I mumble, but I do not want to relive Thursday’s events.
“My wife should be resting,” Christian bristles.
Remember how every other time Christian has met with this detective, he’s been surly and uncooperative? At some point, wouldn’t Detective Clark start thinking, “Why is this guy so hostile and constantly trying to get rid of me without anyone giving me any information?” Well, of course Detective Clark won’t, because he’s in 50 Shades of Grey. But I guarantee Olivia Benson would have picked up on this shit, if she weren’t on a different spin-off. The difference is that this time, Christian is negatively impacting Ana, not himself. Ana just withdrew five million dollars from the bank, then shot somebody. Yeah, on the surface it’s going to look like a kidnapping/ransom thing that went wrong, but with Christian wanting to constantly chase away any police involvement, maybe Detective Clark is going to wonder if that five million was being extorted to cover something seriously up.
Don’t worry, that doesn’t happen here.
There’s a section break where we thankfully don’t have to hear all the details of the most improbable ransom drop in history being repeated again, and Detective Clark tells Ana she would have done “womankind” a service if she’d killed Jack Hyde. He also tells them that he’s pretty sure Jack won’t make bail this time. Excuse me, but how the hell did he make bail the last time? Christian wants to know who posted bail for Jack, but it’s confidential. Ana suspects Christian has someone in mind, but obviously he’s not going to tell her because communication is the anti-sexy.
After another section break, Ana is being discharged from the hospital:
I nod, trying to contain my delight at going home.
The staff of the entire hospital are probably struggling to do the same thing.
As Dr Singh leaves, Christian asks her for a quick word in the corridor. He keeps the door ajar as he asks her a question She smiles.
“Yes, Mr. Grey, that’s fine.”
He grins and returns to the room a happier man.
“What was that all about?”
“Sex,” he says, flashing a wicked grin.
You know what? Let’s have an imagination time.
Let’s imagine, shall we, what that conversation with Dr Singh would have been like in a real world, not a 50 Shades of Improbability world:
Christian: “Dr. Singh, when can my wife have sex again?”
Dr. Singh: “Mr. Grey, your wife has been through a very traumatic experience. Not only does her head injury still pose the risk of possible lasting side effects, the emotional toll of being taken hostage, beaten, and extorted cannot be taken lightly. I would advise Mrs. Grey to bring up the topic of sexual intimacy with whichever mental health professional she engages for therapy. She can get a referral from her family doctor, whom she should see within the next few days.”
Obviously, there will always be medical professionals who still act like women are property who should start spreading again as soon as possible after surgery or birth or hospitalization, but seriously? Dr. Singh thinks it’s funny that Ana has been the victim of a violent crime– a violent crime at the hands of a man who’d already threatened to rape her on multiple occasions– and her husband wants to start banging her right away? Fuck you, Dr. Singh. You suck so much balls.
Ana’s reaction to all of this is to crack a joke about her head injury:
“I have a headache,” I smirk right back.
“I know. You’ll be off limits for a while. I was just checking.”
If you weren’t going to have sex with her, then why did you need to know? Well, dear reader, here is why he needed to know: because Christian Grey manipulates Ana with sex, and he needs to know if his manipulation tool can feasibly be put back into use. See, what he’s done here is plant the seed of the possibility of sex in Ana’s mind. For the rest of the chapter, she’s drooling and panting like Pavlov’s dog at a handbell choir concert, because Christian brought it up. And for the rest of the chapter, Christian makes it a point to remind her that he’s going to deny her sex, for her own safety. He’s just protecting her.
Isn’t it funny how often Christian’s protection of Ana looks like deeply calculated psychological manipulation?
Before they leave the hospital, Ana wants to go see Ray. Jesus, is that guy still there? It feels like he’s been in there for fucking ever, but it’s only been like five or six days at this point, right? So really wrap your head around what an average week for Ana Steele is. In one week:
- Her father nearly dies.
- She finds out she’s pregnant.
- Her husband explodes in a rage over the pregnancy and goes to his ex lover.
- Her sister-in-law gets kidnapped.
- She gets beaten unconscious during a ransom drop.
- She shoots a man.
- She spends some time in a coma.
Seriously, every week seems to be like this for these people. There’s always some kind of bullshit drama happening. I’m starting to imagine Christian and Ana becoming aged before their time by the stress of just getting through a full calendar month without anybody dying.
Christian tells Ana that he hasn’t told Ray or Carla about the baby:
“Thank you.” I smile, grateful that he hasn’t stolen my thunder.
Or, you know. Disclosed personal information about you without consulting you. THAT TOO.
Christian warns Ana that Ray is mad at her:
“I should warn you, he’s mad as hell. Said I should spank you.”
What? Christian laughs at my appalled expression. “I told him I’d be only too willing to oblige.”
Christian tells Ana that Taylor brought her some clothes– because even after everything they’ve been through, Christian apparently can’t do anything to take care of Ana that involves him doing literally any other action than giving another person orders to do it for him– and then there’s a section break and we get:
As Christian predicted, Ray is furious. I don’t ever remember him being this mad. Christian has wisely decided to leave us alone. For such a taciturn man, Ray fills his hospital room with his invective, berating me for my irresponsible behavior.
Keep in mind, my friends, that the sole reason Ana went on this ransom drop was to save the life of another human being. She was trying to save Mia. But nobody cares about that. It seems like every character in this book would have been totally fine with Mia getting murdered.
“And poor Christian! I’ve never seen him like that. He’s aged. We’ve both aged over the last couple of days.”
I’m sorry, but I’m pretty sure if anything is aging Christian, it’s the heroic amounts of alcohol and stress he and his wife consume like life giving oxygen in this fucking series. At least Ray didn’t say he died a thousand deaths, though.
In the car on the way home, Ana calls her mom, but it’s not as long a scene as the one with Ray, because the only thing that really matters in this narrative is how many male characters are concerned over Ana’s safety and continued existence. This is made even more clear when, after three whole sentences glossing over Ana’s conversation with her mother, she notices that Christian is concerned about something:
“What’s wrong?” I ask when I’m finally free from my mother.
Finally free. She just woke up from a coma. She’s speaking to her mother for the first time since cheating death, and it’s this big imposition, but we’re also supposed to believe she’s got a good relationship with her mom? Verily, I calleth bullshit.
Anyway, Christian is concerned because Welch has uncovered some information about Jack Hyde in Detroit, and he didn’t want to share it on the phone. Ana and Christian get back to their building, and being in a familiar environment reminds Ana that, hey, some pretty fucking horrible shit just happened to her. Christian is all like, don’t worry, because you’re home now and you’re safe, but haven’t they had like, two home invasions in the past, what, like a month or three months or some shit? It seems like statistically speaking, the least safe place for Ana to be would be in their apartment.
When the doors of the elevator slide open, Christian picks me up like a child and carries me into the foyer.
I’m noticing a theme here. When Ana’s father is scolding her at the hospital, she thinks she feels like she’s twelve again. Her dad tells Christian to spank her. She’s being carried like a child. She isn’t terribly close to her mother or even her “best friend” Kate, two women who treat her like an adult woman. In fact, Ana seems to have a lot of contempt for anyone who does treat her like an adult woman, and she reveres the two men who treat her like a child.
I have a theory. I thought that somehow, some way, Ana developed this hole in her, this longing for male attention. I thought it was due to her discomfort with sexuality, because of her tendency to refer to herself as childlike or her childlike thoughts during sex scenes. But I’m starting to get a different sense here. It’s not that Ana is uncomfortable with sex, and therefore reverts to these childish tendencies. Ana is uncomfortable with autonomy. She was perfectly happy living with Kate during college, when they were both crazy kids having fun. But they graduate, and Kate is getting into a serious relationship with a guy, and suddenly Ana is completely grossed out by this (despite being in a relationship herself). Kate is moving into adulthood, while Ana clings to a man who wants to treat her like a child. Her mother makes the mistake of referring to her as a woman during a few scattered conversations, and suddenly a mother’s love is a burden Ana needs to be freed from. Now the only thing I can’t figure out is if this is a symptom of Grey’s abuse, or a character trait that has enabled him to abuse her without her recognizing it. Either way, his abuse is allowing her to stay in a static state in which she will never have to actually become a self-sufficient human being if she doesn’t want to. Is this really a fantasy that women are looking for? A man to come sweep them off their feet and psychologically abuse them until they don’t have to live their own lives?
Christian takes Ana into the bathroom, because his solution to like, every problem a woman could possibly have is to get her wet, in either physical sense.
“Bath?” he asks.
I shake my head. No… no… not like Leila.
“Shower?” His voice is choked with concern.
I’m sure Leila has probably taken showers before, too.
“Hey,” Christian croons. Kneeling in front of me, he pulls my hands away from my tearstained cheeks and cups my face in his hands. I gaze at him, blinking away my tears.
“You’re safe. You both are,” he whispers.
Blip and me. My eyes brim with tears again.
“Stop, now. I can’t bear it when you cry.” His voice is hoarse. His thumbs wipe my cheeks, but my tears still flow.
“I’m sorry, Christian. Just sorry for everything. For making you worry, for risking everything– for the things I said.”
I wish I would have kept a running tally of the times Ana has apologized to Christian, compared to the times Christian has apologized to Ana. She just went through an insanely traumatic event trying to save his sister’s life. She risked her life for his benefit and for the benefit of his family. And he’s not even allowing her to cry, because it’s an inconvenience to him. Then she apologizes for saving his sister! She apologizes to him, for the things she said… okay, but didn’t she say them the day after he became violently enraged over the fact that she got pregnant? And then he went to his ex-lover? And yet Ana still risked her life and the life of her wanted fetus because she didn’t want him to feel the emotional pain of losing his sister. And she’s apologizing.
At least this time, Christian steps up and takes responsibility for his own misdeeds:
“Hush, baby, please.” He kisses my forehead. “I’m sorry. It takes two to tango, Ana.” He gives me a crooked smile. “Well, that’s what my mom always says. I said things and did things I’m not proud of.”
Wait, what?! “It takes two to tango?” What the shit is that? Ana didn’t do anything wrong! In fact, for the first time in the entire series, she FINALLY did something that wasn’t selfish! How was she tangoing? And he’s not sorry he hurt her, he’s sorry he did things he’s not proud of. His only regret is that he can’t be proud of himself?
This guy. This fucking guy.
To feel his skin against my cheek… this man I love, this self-doubting, beautiful man, the man I could have lost through my own recklessness.
Dear reader. The only reason, and I mean the ONLY reason I am still doing these recaps is because I promised I would do them. And because I don’t want this book to defeat me. But I’m going to have to talk to my therapist for a WHILE after I’m done with these things. I feel like I’ll continually wake up from nightmares that I’m still reading these books.
Ana decides that if she’s going to hang on to Christian, she can’t be so needy about stuff like wanting to know why he’s treating her like absolute garbage:
He has some explaining to do, but right now I want to revel in the feel of his comforting, protective arms around me. And in that moment it occurs to me; any explanations on his part have to come from him. I can’t force him– he’s got to want to tell me. I won’t be cast as the nagging wife, constantly trying to wheedle information out of her husband. It’s just exhausting. I know he loves me. I know he loves me more than he’s ever loved anyone, and for now, that’s enough. The realization is liberating.
I know E.L. misuses a lot of words, but Christ, you’d think she’d know what “liberating” means. HINT: it’s the exact opposite of surrendering total autonomy without question. Note that in Ana’s mind, the problem here isn’t that Christian is secretive and manipulative, but that she simply wants to know more than she’s entitled to know about situations that directly concern her.
This is the take away, ladies: If you want a true and perfect love, you’ll stop worrying your pretty little head off about things that are better left to the menfolk. As long as he says he loves you and showers you with expensive things, you don’t need to worry about shit like respect and your inalienable human rights. He never has to actually display any kind of tender feeling toward you that can’t immediately be reflected back onto him in a way that makes him feel good about himself. It’s enough that he says the words and you convince yourself to believe them.
Goddamn these books are fucking stupid.
So, after they’re done crying in the shower, Christian washes Ana and makes a big deal about her bruises and how he wanted to kill Hyde, because apparently the only person allowed to put bruises on Ana without her consent is him.
I love how we hear all the time about how Christian would have totally kicked this guy’s ass, or this dude should be glad that Christian wasn’t around, but the only time we’ve seen anyone actually defend Ana from the advances of a creepo have been when Taylor beat up Hyde and Ana decked that guy on the dance floor. But ooooh, if Christian had been around, because he’s such a tough guy…
No, wait, he was “around” both of those times. He just didn’t do anything.
Ana tries to get sexy with Christian, but he’s not having it, because she needs to “get clean.” You know they routinely bathe you in the hospital, right Christian? After they get out, he makes a crack about her “enjoying the view” and of course she’s embarrassed to be caught looking at him naked because gasp and double crap, he’s her husband:
“How do you know?” I ask, trying to ignore that I’ve been caught staring at my own husband.
Would it have been better if you’d been caught staring at somebody else’s husband?
Ana isn’t asking how Christian knew she was looking at him, but how he knew Elizabeth was involved in the thing with Hyde. As it turns out, Hyde kept blackmail video of all his PAs, because he slept with all his PAs and was apparently trying to amass some kind of army made out of women he’d fucked and then fucked over? At what point did he think, “That could never collapse and destroy me?”
“Exactly. Blackmail material. He likes it rough.” Christian frowns, and I watch confusion followed by disgust cross his face. He pales as his disgust turns to self-loathing. Of course– Christian likes it rough, too.
“Don’t.” THe word is out of my mouth before I can stop it.
His frown deepens. “Don’t what?” He stills and regards me with apprehension.
“You aren’t anything like him.”
What do you mean? They both get off on overt, non-consensual violence.
Sometimes I run into spots in these chapters where two or three lines are just like, so, so wrong, and I struggle to figure out the order in which to pick this shit apart. Let’s start on this thing about blackmail. This is the second time in this series that it becomes obvious that the author, editors, and readers of these books have no idea what blackmail is or how it works. The first time was when Christian decided to keep photos of all of his subs in sexual situations so that he could use them for blackmail if they ever told on him for his kinky ways. Which makes no sense, because the photos would only confirm the allegations, allegations that are being made by a woman who’s already admitting to having kinking sex with him. So she’s got nothing to lose. This time, the way the “blackmail” was supposed to work is apparently, “If you ever accuse me of anything, I’m going to hand over proof to Santa and everybody that I not only had sex with an employee, but I was into some shit people might find really sick and overreact to if they saw it, thus branding me as a pervert and revealing all the ways I victimized you as your employer.” Yeah. That’ll sure show ‘em, Jack. Good thinking.
Now, let’s move on to how fucked up it is that Christian is grossed out by the fact that Hyde likes rough sex. I get it, he’s supposed to be thinking, “My god, is that how I’ve been treating Ana? I’m such a fool! Tender and quiet lovemaking with a minimum of bodily contact from now on!” But it’s so, so stupid. The thing that makes Jack Hyde evil isn’t that he likes rough sex. It’s that he likes rough sex specifically to humiliate and manipulate women into doing what he wants them to do for him, without caring about obtaining enthusiastic consent, and that’s nothing like what Christian…
Ohhhhhhh, now I see it.
Ana tells Christian that she could hear some conversations when she was in the coma, and he mentions Kate had stopped by. And of course, Ana didn’t know that, or it would have made her coma sooooo much worse.
“Kate was there?”
“Briefly, yes. She’s mad at you, too.”
I turn in his lap. “Stop with the everyone is mad at Ana crap, okay?”
FUCKING THANK YOU! Ana finally points out that, hey, Dickfart McGee, your sister was in danger, but of course, that isn’t good enough for Christian:
“Thank you,” he says, surprising me. “But no more recklessness. Because next time, I will spank the living shit out of you.”
You know, if it SURPRISES you when your husband thanks you for risking your own life to save a member of his family, as in, you didn’t expect him to THANK YOU for doing so? Then you shouldn’t be with that person. Ditto if your husband threatens to spank you as a punishment, when you’ve repeatedly objected to punishment spankings in the past, irregardless of your D/s relationship.
You know what I think? I think E.L. James doesn’t know that BDSM can exist without punishments. Did anyone watch her when she was interviewed by Barbara Walters this year? Barbara asked her about research, and E.L. like, wouldn’t answer the question. Barbara asked her if she’d done any of the stuff in the book, and she said, “What do you think?” Well, I think no. I think you did zero research, dude. I think you went off stuff you’ve read in other misinformed fanfics (The Office, cough cough) and got a bad idea about what BDSM is, and now you won’t admit that you didn’t know anything about it.
He’s serious. Holy cow. Deadly serious. “I have your stepfather’s permission.” He smirks. He’s teasing me! Or is he?
If you can’t tell whether or not your partner is seriously threatening to use corporal punishment on you when you’ve told him many times that you don’t want him to, and you’re using adverbs like “deadly” to describe his mood/tone? You should not be with this person. This person shouldn’t be with anyone.
Then Christian tenderly caresses her belly and talks about how it’s not just her anymore, and he trails his fingers along the top of her sweatpants in a sexy way, so that when she gets all hot, he can tell her no, he’s not going to have sex with her because he’s so worried about her health and shit. Or whatever. When he’s just threatened to spank her because he has a male relative’s permission. TENDERNESS!
Christian gives Ana some chicken soup, and he tells her she needs to rest. He decides to facilitate this rest by bringing his work into the bedroom, presumably so that he can stare at Ana while she sleeps. I know I do all my best recuperating while being intensely stared at.
So, of course when Ana wakes up:
Christian is sitting in the armchair, watching me, gray eyes luminous in the ambient light.
Christian is obviously traumatized by some news he’s received from Welch. Apparently, Christian and Jack Hyde lived together… wait, like, in college?
“After I was found with the crack whore, before I went to live with Carrick and Grace, I was in the care of Michigan State. [...]“
See, ’round these parts, if a kid is in foster care– as Christian was– we call that being in the care of the state. But you’d say it like, “I was in the care of the State of Michigan,” not “I was in the care of Michigan State,” because Michigan State is a university. Unless Sparty is taking in homeless children.
Christian shows Ana a photo of himself with his foster family– including Jack. And of course, Jack’s evil personality is apparent from a photo of him as a child, because that is how this book works:
I gaze at each of the children: two boys– identical twins, about twelve– both with sandy blond hair, grinning broadly at the camera; there’s another boy, who’s smaller, with reddish blond hair, scowling; and hiding behind him, a copper-haired grey-eyed little boy. Wide-eyed and scared, dressed in mismatched clothes and clutching a child’s dirty blanket.
So, they were in foster care together. That’s the connection. Jack is jealous of Christian because Christian got adopted and he didn’t. That’s the impetus for all of these shenanigans.
No, for real.
Ana is so full of herself that she’s pretty sure Jack only hired her to seduce her to get back at Christian, and he’s all:
“I don’t think so,” Christian mutters, his eyes now open. “The searches he did on my family didn’t start until a week or so after you began your job at SIP. Barney knows the exact dates. And, Ana, he fucked all his assistants and taped them.”
Thanks for the recap, but we already discussed him taping his assistants once in this chapter. You know, back when you didn’t understand how blackmail works, Christian.
Ana thinks about all the contact she’d had with Jack and what could have happened to her:
I knew deep down he was bad news, yet I ignored all my instincts. Christian’s right– I have no regard for my own safety. I remember the fight we had about me going to New York with Jack. Jeez– I could have ended up on some sordid sex tape.
UGH THIS BOOK IS SO FRUSTRATING. Okay, Ana? You thought Jack was a little overly friendly. You didn’t know he was “bad news.” You didn’t seem to know that until he attacked you in the break room. Also? Christian had no idea about any of this, he didn’t know Jack was “bad news.” All he was doing was jealously keeping you home from a business trip that your job may have relied on, because he didn’t want you going somewhere with another man. Not because he was worried about what that man might do, but because he’s terrified that you’re going to just lay down in the airport and invite everyone to take a crack at your v. Possessive and protective are different, and once again we have Ana and the author misunderstanding this and making bullshit retroactive justifications for Christian’s abusive behavior.
And in that moment I recall the photographs Christian kept of his submissives.
Oh shit. “We’re cut from the same cloth.” No, Christian, you’re not, you’re nothing like him.
Right? Jack was keeping tapes of all of his PAs because he wanted to use them to control them on pain of humiliation, while Christian kept pictures of all of his subs because he wanted to use them to control them on pain of humiliation. Totally different.
You know what’s kind of funny? Both of those “blackmail” scenarios assume that all the women who had sex with Christian and Jack would be embarrassed to admit that they had engaged in BDSM. Then you go and watch E.L. James in her Barbara Walters interview, and she can’t admit to ever having done anything in the book, she gets all flustered. E.L. James is uncomfortable with BDSM, and her assumption is that everyone who does it is, as well. Christian and Jack are apparently experienced Doms who don’t realize that literally any photo or video they could possibly take of any activity they’re into has already been photographed or filmed a thousand times and put up on Fetlife by people who realize that, hey, sex isn’t that big a deal, and neither is kink.
Ana tells Christian to call his parents, he does, Ana realizes that Christian just told her personal stuff– thus validating her “I shouldn’t ask my romantic partner any questions about any subject” decision– and after a section break they are arriving at Carrick and Grace’s house.
“Ana, Ana, darling Ana,” she whispers. “Saving two of my children. How can I ever thank you?”
Then Mia thanks Ana, but of course since Mia is a female character of child-bearing age, she must do something wrong that Ana can notice while she’s doing it:
Then Mia grabs me, squashing my ribs. I wince and gasp, but she doesn’t notice. “Thank you for saving me from those assholes.”
Remember in the Twilight series, how Alice would hug Bella too enthusiastically? Do you have any idea how hard it was to type that sentence? I don’t remember what anybody’s names actually were in Twilight now.
After a section break, Ana sees Kate, who, you know, is also mad. Because everyone hates Mia.
“What were you thinking, Ana?” she shouts as she confronts me in the kitchen, causing all eyes in the room to turn and stare.
“Kate, please. I’ve had the same lecture from everyone!” I snap back.
Wouldn’t it be funny if, in the movie, Mia is standing in the background and she just looks really hurt and silently mouths, “Everyone?”
She glares at me, and for one minute I think I’m going to be subjected to a Katherine Kavanagh how-not-to-succumb-to-kidnappers lecture, but instead she folds me in her arms.
“Jeez– sometimes you don’t have the brains you were born with, Steele,” she whispers.
You misspelled “weren’t” there, Kate.
Elliot and Kate have set a date for their wedding, but it’s really close to Ana and Christian’s due date, so Ana is worried. In reality, Kate should be worried, because her wedding is going to be overshadowed by Christian climbing astride the bridal party’s table and raising his infant son aloft, just moments after Ana has smeared a fistful of wedding cake over the kids forehead and whispered, “Siiiiiiiiiiiiimba.”
Ana is having a baby, Kate. You don’t ever get to be the center of attention, ever again.
Elliot hands Ana some champagne and uh-oh, nobody knows she’s pregnant, and Christian is unhappy that she’s even holding the damn glass:
“Your meds, Mrs. Grey.” He eyes the glass in my hand.
I narrow my eyes. Damnit. I want a drink. Grace smiles as she joins me in the kitchen, collecting a glass from Elliot on the way.
“A sip will be fine,” she whispers with a conspiratorial wink at me, and lifts her glass to clink mine.
Or she could have just gone along with Christian’s line about being on pills. Even though she didn’t take her pain pills after leaving the hospital, she could have easily just said, “Nope, I’m not drinking because I have a head injury and I’m on medication.” I know that in some parts of the world, drinking during pregnancy isn’t a huge deal, but in America it’s a giant taboo, to the point that when I got pregnant the first time, by accident, my OB shamed me for having had anything to drink ON THE NIGHT OF PROBABLE CONCEPTION. Ana will have grown up in a culture paranoid about fetal alcohol syndrome and that treats pregnant women like livestock. She started out the first book having never had a drink, and now she’s longing for booze not a day out of the hospital for a serious head injury.
What I’m saying is, I think Ana might be developing a substance abuse problem.
Back at home, Ana and Christian get into bed, and they’re talking a little bit about his life in the foster home, including a book his foster mother read him. Guys. It’s Are You My Mother? WHO THE FUCK READS THAT BOOK TO A KID WHOSE MOM JUST DIED RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM?! No fucking wonder Jack Hyde is all messed up. Jesus Christ.
Anyway, somehow this all leads to Christian starting to talk about Mrs. Robinson:
He begins in a soft voice. “Picture this,
an adolescent boy looking to earn some extra money so he can continue his secret drinking habit.”
And then Ana is all like, I can’t believe he’s communicating with me, and the chapter is over.
Well, at Amazon, at least! You can pick up the paperback of The Boss and The Girlfriend for $14.99 and hopefully WAAAAAY less shipping for your locale. They’re also available at Amazon Canada and Amazon UK. If anyone does buy, please let us know in the comments about shipping.
Paperbacks will also be available from other outlets, but from what I’m hearing from other authors, it usually takes a few weeks for them to appear at non-Amazon outlets. I’ll keep you posted!
I’m introducing a new, sex-positive, kink-friendly feature here at the ole Troutnation watering hole. Totally TMI Reviews. Does what it says on the tin. I review sex toys, and you either scroll on past and say, “Toooooo much information, Jenny,” or you go, “Too much information?!” and click the link, and everyone goes home happy. These posts will have real talk about sexy stuff, so don’t click if you oughtn’t.
You guys, I am so excited. The Boss and The Girlfriend have brand new covers!
Both covers have been uploaded through the proper channels, but give it a few days for them to show on retailers’ pages. Paperback versions will also be available starting this week, and I’ll be posting links as they become available.
As for me, I’m exhausted! I just came back from my writing group’s retreat, which was amazing as always, but a whole weekend of rest and relaxation has thoroughly wiped me out. This week, I’ll be hard at work putting finishing touches on my February 2014 release from Entangled Teen, Such Sweet Sorrow, and finishing up the first draft of The Hook-Up. So, just stuff and things going on here, I guess.