Because this is yet another unbearably long chapter (thirty-three pages, according my Kindle app), I’m dicing this one up. For my reading challenge, I’m reading Anne by Constance Fenimore-Woolson, and the chapters in that are also very, very long. The reason for this is that it was a serial in Harper’s Bazar, and serial installments back in the day were long-ish. Grey is not a serial, and therefore that is absofuckinglutely no need for these chapters to be this long.
I don’t know what I have against long chapters, I honestly don’t. It’s not just this particular book. And it’s not like I don’t write them, either. But as a reader, I absolutely loathe them. Maybe I like that sense of completion you get from reaching a natural stopping point. I don’t know.
In Fifty Shades Darker movie news, the internet was positively abuzz with casting announcements. Bella Heathcote came on board as Leila, and Eric Johnson as Jack Hyde. But perhaps the most exciting casting news came when it was announced that Tyler Hoechlin would portray the unforgettable character Boyce Fox. (warning: autoplay video on that link)
Turns out Boyce Fox, a character that even I could not remember, is the author Ana signs to her publishing house. He’s mentioned briefly in the third book, if I remember correctly. They’re “expanding” Boyce’s role in the films, so I assume he’ll be yet another handsome man who can’t resist Ana. Okay, I know that I can’t resist Dakota Johnson, either, but this isn’t about me. This is about the fact that the last two movies are apparently being written by E.L. James’s husband, so let’s not kid ourselves. E.L. probably wants the role expanded so her onscreen avatar can be lusted after by even more hot guys.
Also, Hugh Dancy has joined the cast as Dr. Finn, since being in one show about a shitty psychiatrist wasn’t enough for him. He’s dead to me now.
With all of that out of the way, let’s recap.
This day in history: The composer, director, and serial rapist Joesph Brooks died by suicide.
When we left off, Chedward had just told Ana that he really enjoyed the vanilla sex they had the night before. Because what better way to compliment a woman than to act surprised that you enjoyed sex with her.
So, now he and Ana are in the bathroom together, filling up the tub and getting nekkid.
Normally, I would expect any woman I was about to bathe with to have her eyes cast down in modesty.
But not Ana.
She doesn’t drop her gaze, and her eyes glow with anticipation and curiosity. But she has her arms wrapped around herself; she’s shy.
No. It’s confusing. You’re turned on because she’s not modest, you’re turned on because she’s shy, which one is it? I mean, I get it, it’s flattering that she’s so into your glorious semi-nakedness (remember, Christian is a Never Nude for the first book and Donald Ducks it through a lot of the sex scenes). Maybe it’s just the way it’s written, though I don’t know what I would do to fix it.
Full disclosure, I’m pretty high right now.
So, he takes his t-shirt off, reminding me that, despite what the movie’s lies have told you, the first time Christian and Ana have sex, he’s straight up Pooh Bear sticking it to her honey pot. I honestly cannot think of anything I find less attractive than a man wearing nothing but a t-shirt, a full-on rager poking out beneath the hem of it. I suppose that’s why they left that bit out of the movie.
And to think she’s never bathed with a man.
I can claim another first.
I bet he’s scrapbooking all of her milestones. He probably saves the tampon from the tampon scene later and pastes it in there.
“I know that lip is delicious, I can attest to that, but will you stop biting it? Your chewing it makes me want to fuck you, and you’re sore, okay?”
“Can you stop doing this thing you’re doing unconsciously that makes you solely responsible for my behavior k thnx by”
Chedward mentions something about his iPod an water not mixing, and you know, yeah, it dates the book to have the iPod mentioned in there, but I’ve never understood that whole, “Don’t date your book by putting brand names, etc. in it.” In ten years, any mention of anything is going to be dated, because things move that fast, technologically. And in a hundred years, is it really going to matter? Do we look at Jane Austen’s books and go, “Gosh, Jane, you really dated your work with all this carriage talk”?
Immediately she hangs her head when I step back to admire her.
“Hey.” My voice is gentle and encourages her to peek up at me. “Anastasia, you’re a very beautiful woman, the whole package. Don’t hang your head like you’re ashamed. You have nothing to be ashamed of, and it’s a real joy to stand here and look at you.”
Okay, but read that last part again, but imagine this prickhole saying it:
You can hear it, can’t you? Oh, you can’t? Just switch out “Anastasia” for “my daughter, Ivanka.”
She sits down with indecent haste and winces as her sore body hits the water.
Indecent haste? Every time I think we’ve hit the pinnacle of clumsy, weird wording, we’re forced higher yet up the summit of Mt. Word Garbage. Also, did Ana have sex, or a baby? I get that because Fifty Shades Of Grey is a rip-off of Twilight, Ana must be injured by sex in some way (as Bella was in Breaking Dawn). But how dry and unaroused was she that he tore her whole downstairs deal up that badly?
I could get into this whole thing about why women so enjoy reading depictions of first time sex as inevitably painful to the point of total genital obliteration, but I don’t have that kind of time. I don’t mind reading a depiction of first time sex in which the heroine experiences some level of discomfort. I think many people with vaginas have had at least some feeling of unpleasantness during first time intercourse, ranging from “Holy shit, ow!” to “This doesn’t hurt, but it feels fucking disgusting.” It’s not even a big deal for a heroine to be sore. But the whole, “It’s so super painful, his powerful cock just tore my entire business to pieces,” thing being not just common in a defloration scene, but expected by readers perplexes me.
She asks Edward to join her (oh my god, I legitimately forgot it was Christian, not Edward, for a minute), and he gets in the tub and starts washing her and grinding on her, etc.
I wash her arms and her underarms, then reach my first goal: her breasts.
He gets out of the bath and runs to the other room to check “breasts” off on his to-do list for the week (not really), and we get to hear more about Ana’s spectacular body, which continues to annoy me not because Christian finds Ana attractive, but because Ana doesn’t believe she is attractive, and this book takes the “You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful” trope to such an irritating summit that I doubt even the most seasoned sherpa could reach. We get it. Ana lights up your world like nobody else. The way that she flips her hair gets you overwhelmed. And as she smiles at the ground it’s not hard to tell she don’t know, oh oh, she don’t know she’s beautiful.
And yes, I like One Direction, but that song is as disgusting and horrifying as a trash barge capsizing and somehow Grey is even worse.
I still sing along with that fucking song when it comes on, though.
She’s aroused. My body responds in kind, growing beneath her.
He’s secretly one of those little capsules you dissolve in water and it becomes a foam dinosaur or something.
Christian sexily washes Ana’s undercarriage with a washcloth all lathered up with body wash.
She starts to pant and her hips move in synchronization with my hand.
She’s trying to get away from your hand, because you’re scrubbing soap directly into her urethra.
“Feel it baby.” I run my teeth along her earlobe. “Feel it for me.”
If you want to feel it, just squish your pee hole open and rub it hard with some soapy terrycloth.
So, he gets Ana really close to orgasm and stops, and he’s all, I have other plans for you, and then he tells her to wash him. In the process, Ana makes a new acquaintance and learns an important lesson about being a good friend.
Lifting my hips, I grab my cock. “I want you to become well-acquainted, on first-name terms, if you will, with my favorite and most cherished part of my body. I’m very attached to this.”
When I first recapped these books, we had a contest to name Chedward’s penis. The winning entry was “Buster Hymen.” But all I can think about now is the fact that on Sex And The City, Charlotte’s weirdo Dune husband called his penis his “John Thomas” and spoke about it as though it were another person.
Her mouth drops open as she looks from my penis to my face…and back again. I can’t help my wicked grin. Her face is a picture of maidenly outrage.
Why would she be outraged?
But as she stares, her expression changes. First thoughtful, then assessing, and when her eyes meet mine, the challenge in them is clear.
I think James is trying to convey that Ana is surprised by how impressive Buster Hymen is, but that she becomes comically determined. But she chose the most sinister possible way of wording it.
Christian teaches Ana how to jack him off with body wash lube.
What is it about her inexperience that is so arousing? Is it that I’m enjoying all her firsts?
This is what I have been asking, Chedward. I bet you post “FIRST!!!!” in the comments sections of articles about horrific tragedies whenever you get the chance.
Suddenly she draws me into her mouth, sucking hard, her tongue torturing me.
I know she’s inexperienced and maidenly and virtuous and all that, but it seems like she would know enough, from common sense alone, to wash the soap off his cock before a blow job.
So, of course Ana is a natural at giving head. She has no gag reflex her first time out of the gate, she instinctively knows to cover her teeth, she’s a pro.
Except the way it’s described, he basically just uses her mouth like a vagina, then she bites him:
I thrust into her again and again, watching my cock disappear and reappear from her mouth. It’s beyond erotic. I’m so close. Suddenly she bares her teeth, gently squeezing me, and I’m undone, ejaculating into the back of her throat, crying out my pleasure.
This is yet another area of the book where the sex is so bland that it destroys the image of Christian Grey, sexual adventurer and connoisseur of all things naughty. Blow jobs require more than just an open mouth. You need tongue action. Ball fondling. Use of hands in conjunction with licking and sucking. But this insert-tab-a-into-slot-b beej is mind blowing to Christian Grey. He makes a huge deal about how great it was, then thinks:
Wait, that was so good, perhaps she has some experience after all. “Have you done that before?” I ask, and I’m not sure I want to know.
“No,” she says with obvious pride.
“Good.” I hope my relief is not too obvious. “Yet another first, Miss Steele. Well, you get an A in oral skills. Come, let’s go to bed, I owe you an orgasm.”
Christian can’t even recognized a polished, practiced oral technique, but I’m supposed to believe he’s a sexual dynamo?
They get out of the bath tub.
I hold her against me, kissing her, really kissing her.
Sorry, they got out of the bath tub, really got out of the bath tub.
Staring down into bemused eyes, I implore her. “Say yes.”
“To what?” she whispers.
“Yes to our arrangement. To being mine. Please, Ana.” And it’s the closest I’ve come to begging in a long time. I kiss her again, pouring my fervor into my kiss. When I take her hand, she looks dazed.
Dazzle her further, Grey.
He uses his tie to bind her wrists.
Gently I tug both her braids. “you look so young with these.” But they’re not going to stop me.
He tells her not to touch him, and she’s like, I won’t, but then of course she does try to touch him, and she also moves which is also not allowed, and he kisses her all over, erotic, erotic, erotic, intercourse, orgasms, etc. I’m not going to read the whole sex scene. It’s going to be the same one, over and over, for the entire book, and probably the next two books she rewrites as she waits for Stephenie Meyer to write something else she can rip off.
Oh, except for two things:
Once she’s prostrate, I lie down beside her, grab her fists, and raise them above her head.
Ana’s hands are tied in front of her. If her wrists are tied behind her back and he raised them above her head, he would probably break her shoulders, possibly her clavicles. Best case scenario, he blows every tendon her arms. So, Ana can’t be lying prostrate. Certainly that’s a one-time mistake, right?
Yet despite their missionary position sex:
Ana is still prostrate on the bed.
And there’s no mention of flipping her over or anything.
They hear that Christian’s mom has come over unexpectedly, and he tells Ana to get dressed:
“Come on, we need to get dressed–that’s if you want to meet my mother.” I smile at Ana as I pull on my jeans. She looks adorable.
“Christian–I can’t move,” she protests, but she’s grinning, too.
Never a mixed signal with this guy. I don’t want to be your boyfriend, Ana! Now come meet my mother!
Ana doesn’t want to meet his mother, though, since she doesn’t have any clean clothes and she doesn’t want to wear the we-just-banged uniform of his clothes.
“Anastasia, you could be wearing a sack and you’d look lovely. Please don’t worry. I’d like you to meet my mother. Get dressed. I’ll just go and calm her down. I’ll expect you out of that room in five minutes, otherwise I’ll come and drag you out of here myself in whatever you’re wearing. My T-shirts are in this drawer. My shirts are in the closet. Help yourself.”
Her eyes widen.
Yes. I’m serious, baby.
This is a lot like what I imagine dating a producer of Project Runway would be like. “With only the contents of this room, you’ll put together an appropriate ‘meet the parents’ outfit. You have five minutes.”
Also, Christian is serious. If Ana isn’t dressed, he’s going to drag her out to meet his mother in whatever she has on. The threat implied here is that he’s going to drag her naked out of the room in front of his mother. What kind of fucked up mommy issues does this guy have that he’d involve his mother in his sex life?
Oh, shit. Right. My bad.
Christian goes out to see his mother talking with Taylor, and Chedward is all, “I’ll deal with her,” because romantic heroes should speak that way to their mothers who have never done anything but lavish them with gifts and praise and opportunity, but that’s neither here nor there. At least she calls him on it.
“Deal with me?” she says in rebuke. “I was shopping downtown and I thought I might pop in for coffee.” She stops. “If I’d known you weren’t alone…” She shrugs in an awkward, girlish way.
She has often stopped by for coffee and there was a woman here…she just never knew.
“What is ‘something a murderer would say’.”
Grace is surprised when Christian uses “she” pronouns to refer to Ana, because remember, everyone thinks Christian Grey is gay and it’s hilarious because obviously a glorious specimen in his virile prime like Christian Grey could never, ever, be gay in the fucked up heteronormative world of the Shadesverse. Which is the unofficial name for the series canon. I believe it’s really called Hell, because that’s where you are when you’re reading it.
So, Grace came over for coffee.
“Would you like some coffee?”
“No. Thank you, darling.”
Okay, sure. Why not.
“I’ll meet your…friend and then I’ll go. I don’t want to interrupt you. I had a feeling that you’d be slaving away in your study. You work too hard, darling. I thought I might drag you away.”
What is all this hard work he does? He does literally nothing but drive around to stalk a girl and occasionally bark orders into his phone.
Christian asks Grace why she didn’t go to church.
“Carrick had to work, so we thought we’d go to an evening Mass. I suppose it’s too much to hope that you’ll come with us.”
They’re Catholic? Did this detail ever once come up during the first series?
Of course, Christian isn’t Catholic.
I raise an eyebrow in cynical contempt. “Mother, you know that’s not for me.”
God and I turned our backs on each other a long time ago.
This sounds like something an anti-hero would say in a comic book movie, just before he started plowing through zombies with a chainsaw.
Ana comes out and meets Grace Trevelyan-Grey, who I will continue to refer to as Chevalier Grey for the rest of the book. So, Ana has done what Christian wanted, what Christian expressly asked her to do.
“What a pleasure to meet you,” Grace says with a little too much enthusiasm for my liking.
“Dr. Trevelyan-Grey,” Ana says politely.
“Call me Grace,” she says, all at once amiable and informal.
So, Christian has gotten what he wanted, and now he doesn’t want it anymore. At least his spoiled brat contradictions are getting more predictable.
Ana gets a phone call, and excuses herself to take it. Christian ignores his mother while she talks to him so he can focus on eavesdropping on Ana.
Who is it?
“Look, José, now’s not a good time,” I hear her say.
That fucking photographer. What does he want?
“I left a message for Elliot, then found out he was in Portland. I haven’t seen him since last week,” Grace is saying.
Ana hangs up.
Grace continues as Ana approaches us again, “…and Elliot called to say you were around. I haven’t seen you for two weeks, darling.”
“Did he now?” I remark.
What does the photographer want?
His obsession is super scary. His mother is sitting in front of him and he’s ignoring her, so consumed by the idea of another man calling Ana–a girl he’s just met, who’s slept over one night, and who he has explicitly stated he has no intention of dating–that he can’t even bother to be polite.
Grace has to leave, and as she does:
“Of course, darling.” Grace turns her bright–and if I’m not mistaken, grateful–smile on Ana.
Again, he’s gotten what he wants, and now that he’s gotten it, he’s not happy with it.
My mother’s always thought I was gay. But as she’s always respected my boundaries, she’s never asked me.
Well, now she knows.
And again with the “I assure you, Christian Grey is not gay.”
Which, you know, we don’t need that kind of proof, do we? He expresses a sexual attraction only toward women throughout all the books. His only sexual partners have been women. Why does James feel the reader needs desperately to know that he’s straight?
Oh, homophobia. That’s right. Carry on.
You know what else Grace thinks about her son? That he’s darling. You know how I know that? Because she refers to him as “darling” three times in her very short appearance. Twice in one bit of dialogue.
Once Grace leaves, it’s time to deal with Ana’s pesky outside social life.
Ana is worrying her bottom lip, radiating anxiety…as she should be.
“So the photographer called?” I sound gruff.
“What did he want?”
“Just to apologize, you know–for Friday.”
“I see.” Maybe he wants another shot at her. The thought is displeasing.
I feel so repetitive pointing this stuff out, because every thought in his head is like, “Ana is an object that belongs to me. Not a person. Unless that person is a child. Now I am mad at her, now she is perfect and her body is perfect, but also she’s like a child,” on a constant, gross loop.
So, Taylor comes in and tells Christian that the Darfur shipment has hit a snag. And finally we get to see Christian Grey’s job in action.
“Ros, what’s the issue?”
“Christian, hi. The report back from Darfur is not good. They can’t guarantee the safety of the shipments or road crew, and the State Department isn’t willing to sanction the relief without the NGO’s backing.”
Two things: While I know that “sanction” here is being used to mean that they condone the relief, when used in this context it’s very easy for a reader to believe that they want the State Department to impose a sanction on the relief effort. This is just a case where someone should have noticed the word choice and gone, “Wait, this can be taken a different way in this context,” but for whatever reason it slipped through the cracks. I’m only really pointing it out here to a) be pedantic and hypocritical, like I don’t make those types of mistakes all the time, and b) because it’s a really good example of why careful word choice is essential in some situations.
The other thing is, “without the NGO’s backing.” Okay. That sounds very business-ish and important, but which NGO? That acronym stands for Non-Governmental Organization. This is another word choice issue. Even though Chedward and Ros presumably know which NGO they’re both talking about, using the acronym as though it was the name of an actual organization looks like a mistake.
“I’m not having either crew put at risk.” Ros knows this.
“We could try and pull in mercenaries,” she says.
“But the cost,” she protests.
“We’ll air-drop instead.”
Okay, so…does Christian Grey run an NGO? The reason I ask is, he’s sending a relief shipment directly into a war zone, with what sounds like multiple teams of peace keepers that he directly employs. They know there’s an option to hire a company like Blackwater, and they’re going to stage an air-drop without support from an NGO and without permission from the United States.
Am I the only one who’s thinking, “Yeah, uh, for-profit corporations don’t really handle those types of projects”? It would make sense for Christian’s company to help fund a special interest NGO, give them products and stuff that would help relief efforts. It doesn’t make a lot of sense for one man to undertake a relief effort entirely on his own.
More support from the State Department would be helpful. I resolve to call Blandino to discuss this further.
My attention reverts to Miss Steele, who’s standing in my living room, regarding me warily. I need to get us back on track.
This super important business call has just happened about this super important thing, and Chedward is like, “hold on, I have to tend to my sexual garden.”
Yes. The contract. That’s the next step in our negotiation.
In my study, I gather the papers that are on my desk and stuff them into a manila envelope.
Ana’s not moved from where I left her in the living room. Perhaps she’s been thinking about the photographer…my mood takes a nosedive.
I’m just imagining Ana standing frozen in the middle of the room, unable to move and think at the same time.
Chedward gives Ana the contract and tells her to research BDSM on the internet. Which she can’t do, because:
“I don’t have a computer. I usually use the computers at school. I’ll see if I can use Kate’s laptop.”
No computer? How can a student not have a computer? Is she that broke? I hand her the envelope. “I’m sure I can, um–lend you one. Get your things, we’ll drive back to Portland and grab some lunch on the way. I need to dress.”
Christian echoes what we all thought when we read Fifty Shades of Grey. But again, here goes Christian, in the middle of a giant business crisis, stopping everything he’s doing to drive Ana back to Portland and have lunch with her on the way. He has a driver, and he could easily send her back home with said driver and handle this huge problem. But nope, Mr. Busy McBusiness Man has time to spare.
Sorry, starving people in war-torn Darfur. Chedward is horny. You’ll just have to wait.
“I’ll just make a call,” she says, her voice soft and hesitant.
“The photographer?” I snap. She looks guilty.
What the hell? I don’t like to share, Miss Steele. Remember that.” I storm out of the room before I say anything else.
Is she hung up on him?
Was she just using me to break her in?
Yes, Christian. Anastasia Steele has a thing for José, who clearly has a thing for her, and rather than hooking up with him, she decided that nay nay, she must first have sex with someone else, lest her virginity be lost to someone she cares about.
That all makes perfect sense.
I stuff the tie and two others into a messenger bag along with socks, underwear, and condoms.
What am I doing?
Deep down I know I’m going to stay at The Heathman all next week…to be near her.
Now Mr. Busy Businessman is going to leave the city where his company is headquartered so that he can spend all week in a different city just so he can have the peace of mind that he’s geographically closer to her.
The next section bogs us down with boring details about Elliot bringing back the SUV and how Taylor needs to call Audi because Christian will need the A3 sooner than he thought. Yet another example of how James tries to make Christian seem wealthy and important with the addition of these details about what the reader is meant to assume are expensive and exotic cars. The Audi A3 is a four-door hatchback that retail in the $30,000 neighborhood. I blame this mistake on the fact that Christian also drives an Audi R8, a supercar that costs almost $200,000 dollars. Maybe James assumed that the entire line was so decadently priced.
Christian also calls Barney:
“I’m working on the tablet design. The solar-cell issue is bugging me.”
Wait, isn’t this the same Barney who can get background checks on people? I spent the entire first trilogy assuming Barney was a private investigator. Now he works in tech at Grey Enterprises Holdings Incorporated NGO CPA Realty?
Chedward asks Barney if he has any laptops just sitting around, and he’s like, yeah, we just got two from Apple, so Christian asks him to set up an email for Ana. And Barney asks how she spells her name. And Christian spells it for her. And Barney tells Christian he’ll contact Andrea to set up a delivery. And Christian texts Andrea with the info to make the delivery. And we have to experience every torturous second of it.
Ana fidgets beside me as we wait for the elevator, her teeth on her plump lower lip.
It reminds me of her teeth on my cock.
“What is it, Anastasia?” I ask, as I reach out and pluck her chin. “Stop biting your lip, or I will fuck you in the elevator, and I don’t care who gets in with us,” I growl.
Yes you do. If you didn’t care who knows you’re into kinky shit, you wouldn’t have asked Ana to sign an NDA. And while we all know you go super hard in your darkity dark BDSM, public sex is still pretty fucking kinky.
“I need to talk to Kate. I’ve so many questions about sex, and you’re too involved. If you want me to do all these things, how do I know–” She stops, as if weighing her words. “I just don’t have any terms of reference.”
Not this again. We’ve been over this. I don’t want her talking to anyone. She’s signed an NDA.
See. You do care if people know about your sexual relationship with Ana. But Christian graciously consents to Ana talking about sex with Kate as long as it’s only stuff he and Ana have already done. Which is totally not what Ana just asked for. She wants advice specifically about “all these things” he wants to do to her.
“The sooner I have your submission the better, and we can stop all this.”
“Stop all what?”
“you, defying me.”
She’s defying him by wanting to share personal details of her life with someone she trusts and who can advise her about sexual experiences she hasn’t had yet. And Christian doesn’t want that. No abuser wants that, because they know that if their behavior is exposed to someone they can’t manipulate, there is a risk that the abuse might also be exposed to their victim. And this isn’t accidental, or something they do without thinking. Christian even has the explicit thought that Kate would “have his balls” if she found out his “real intentions.” He knows that Kate will stand between him and his goal of total physical, mental, and emotional control of Ana.
So far, this weekend has been unexpected. But what did I expect? I thought we’d have dinner, discuss the contract, and then what…? Perhaps fucking her was inevitable.
…Yes? Because the whole point of getting her to sign the contract was to make her a sex partner? I don’t…I just…
Christian thinks about how hot the blowey was, and how much he wants to fuck her again. But first they need to get lunch.
“Not particularly,” she responds, subdued.
This is getting old.
No shit. It got old three books ago. At least she didn’t say, “Not for food.” I’ve already got the cyanide capsule tucked into my cheek for when that happens.
Tune in next time when we’re still on the same goddamn chapter.