I have to share this with you guys. Because I’m still undoubtedly suffering the effects of both malaria and Dengue fever, with a side of black death, the auge, and consumption. So, when I die from this disease that is causing epic amounts of snot to clog my head (in a tragically romantic fashion like unto the third act of La Boheme), at least it will be with a smile on my face:
Because seriously, without his brilliant idea to scream at a copy of Twilight for numerous videos, I would not have had the idea to do these recaps.
Reader [put the reader's name here, dummy] left me this link to her hometown newspaper’s interview of E.L. James. She manages to work the word “bemused” into her first answer. But my favorite is this quote, in reply to how she came up with the euphemism “happy trail”:
“I can’t remember. I probably heard it somewhere, who knows. It occurs to you while you’re writing.”
I give her points for not trying to pass “happy trail” off as her own original creation, and I love the acknowledgement that she throws in stuff she probably just heard somewhere, you know? Like, plot points and characters lifted wholesale from another author’s book, that kind of stuff. Song lyrics and shit. Who has time to come up with anything creative these days, am I right?
But it severely pisses me off that they asked her about her sex life. Do people ask male authors about their sex lives when they write sexy books? Not likely, as those are real books, and anything written by a woman is probably about how my wife needs to spice things up for me in the bedroom right after she’s done vacuuming in her pearls, amiright fellas? *Romney-like grin*
Okay, where else am I? Oh, yes, perhaps you should have waited and looked at all that other stuff first, before this link. But it’s too late now, and I’m far too lazy to edit the damn thing. But here is a great link that will make you think and which points out one of the problems with our culture that enables us to live in a world where 50 Shades is an acceptable phenomenon. It’s basically about the old “he only did that because he likes you” saying. Thanks to Bronwyn Green for the link.
And speaking of Bronwyn Green, if you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to have a direct line into my head at all times, well, lucky you, she actually has one of those. It’s called Yahoo messenger, and I frequently annoy her with stream of consciousness musings that pop right out of my melon and directly onto a keyboard I should be using for writing my books. And she gives you a glimpse into her hellish existence as my friend right here.
Okay, onto the recap:
We last left our intrepid band of merry morons playing pool. I actually mistyped that as “playing poop,” but remember, there’s no scat allowed in the sex contract. If Ana wins the game, she gets to go back into the playroom, and if Christian wins, he gets to spank her and fuck her over a billiard table. But, it’s not really a billiard table at all. They’re playing pool. Billiards tables are different. The rails are different, the nap of the baize is different, and it’s substantially longer than a pool table. But I digress, because let’s be honest, if E.L. can’t be bovvered to put in correct details about a sexual lifestyle that is easily researchable on the internet and which makes up the bulk of the conflict in her novel, she’s not going to give a shit about different types of games played with balls and sticks. I’m seriously surprised that she didn’t suggest they could also play baseball on the damned thing.
He doesn’t look like a CEO – he looks like a bad boy from the wrong side of town. Holy cow, he’s so fucking sexy.
Eegods! Great honk! He’s so fucking sexy.
“Depends on how hard you spank me,” I whisper, holding onto my cue for support.
Okay, so here’s the thing. That line? It could have been a pun. Sore loser, spanking, get it? But when she’s whispering it and holding onto an object for support, it becomes more “battered woman” than “playful sex partner.” And Christian does not help that impression with his next lines:
“Well, let’s count your misdemeanors, Miss Steele.” He counts on his long fingers. “One, making me jealous of my own staff. Two, arguing with me about working. and three, waving your delectable derriere at me for the last twenty minutes.”
“Delectable derriere?” Who the fuck is writing this?
I stand paralyzed like a complete zombie, my heart pounding, my blood pumping, not actually able to move a muscle.
So much here is wrong. Let’s just do it in list format:
- Zombies can move. It’s part of what makes them scary.
- Zombies probably don’t have heart beats.
- If your heart is pounding, then you’re moving at least one muscle, also known as your heart.
- Thanks for thinking we’re all too stupid to understand what “paralyzed” means. It’s a big word and I’m sure we all really needed the help.
In my mind, all I can think is – this is for him - the thought repeating like a mantra over and over again.
So, here we see our heroine psyching herself up to endure the spanking she’s about to get. The same heroine who just said that if she won, she would opt to engage in some heavier BDSM. So, either way, Christian was going to be the winner in this scenario, and Ana has given up all pretense of sexual agency because he needs it more.
Something that I’ve noticed happening a lot in this series is, when they’re about to have sex, they take a really, really long time getting down to business. There has to be some witty banter here, a dash of dysfunction there, but they can’t just be like, “Let’s have sex!” “Okay!” about it. For example, here:
“Clothes, Anastasia. You appear to still be wearing them. Take them off – or I will do it for you.”
“You do it.” I finally find my voice, and it sounds low and heated. Christian grins.
“Oh, Miss Steele. It’s a dirty job, but I think I can rise to the challenge.”
“You normally rise to most challenges, Mr. Grey.” I raise an eyebrow at him, and he smirks.
“Why, Miss Steele, whatever do you mean?”
Are they trying to avoid having sex? Going for a world record for “most cliches in a single pre-sex conversation?” What is the point here, besides an author patting herself on the back for making her characters so amazingly clever and coy? And if any man ever said that undressing me was a “dirty” job, I’d be giving him the side eye so fucking hard. Dirty? Excuse me? Besides, Ana showers more than any human being I’ve ever read about, and I once read a nonfiction book about clinically germ phobic people.
Chedward undresses her while she thinks about how much she luuuuurves him, and then there is some truly SCANDALOUS language, dear readers, so have some pearls nearby in the event that you need something to clutch:
Oh my. He kisses me… there.
FETCH MY SMELLING SALTS AND A FAINTING COUCH! I FEAR MY FRAGILE FEMALE VAGINA MIGHT TURN ITSELF FAIRLY INSIDE OUT AT SUCH EXPLICIT DETAIL!
“Safeword?” I murmur.
“No, no safeword, just tell me to stop, and I’ll stop. Understand?”
That sounds totally safe and reasonable. After all, when you’ve asked him to stop doing things in the past, he’s totally respected your wishes, right? You were all, “Stop giving me expensive gifts,” and he totally did, and then you were like, “Stop stalking me,” and he definitely didn’t fly all the way to Georgia and watch you while you spent the day with your mother, right? You even said, “I don’t want to do this whole pain thing anymore,” and he totally… I’m not sure I’m accurately conveying the depths of my sarcasm here. But I’m using a Mariana Trench worth of it, I assure you.
Christian makes her promise to tell him to stop, with this epic gem of shitworthiness stuffed into the conversation:
“We’re lovers, Anastasia. Lovers don’t need safewords.”
Is this one of those, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry,” lines that people completely fall for, but if they took a goddamned minute to think about what they just heard, they’d be like, “Oh, no, that’s total bull shit, isn’t it?” Even Ana seems to know that it’s total bullshit:
“I guess not,’ I murmur. How do I know?
Chedward picks up a pool cue, and Ana thinks:
Oh fuck, what’s he going to do with that?
Which is really only a feeling one should have when watching scenes from Game of Thrones which involve two prostitutes and King Joffrey.
“You play well, Miss Steele. I must say I’m surprised. Why don’t you sink the black?”
First of all, it’s the eight ball. People in America call it the eight ball. And second, how is she supposed to sink it? You just won the game, meaning that the eight ball is already done sunk. Seriously, could she not even visit the wikipedia page for “pool”?
I position the white ball.
The cue ball. It’s called a fucking cue ball. E.L. James has never played a game of pool in her life. And I went back through and tried to find the part where Christian took the eight or “black” ball back out of the pocket and dropped it on the table. He never does. Is E.L. James under the impression that there is more than one eight ball in a game of pool?
I don’t know why this is bugging me more than the “love means never having to safeword” nonsense, but damnit, it does. They keep calling the eight ball, in dialogue and in Ana’s narrative, “The black.” I keep thinking they’re talking about the fucking Night’s Watch.
Christian has an ulterior motive for this whole, “sink the black,” thing he’s got going on:
“I don’t care if you hit or miss, baby. I just wanted to see you like this – partially dressed, stretched out on my billiard table. Do you have any idea how hot you look at this moment?”
Do you have any idea, reader, how many times we’ve read some variation of “Do you have any idea how sexy/hot/perfect/beautiful/alluring/etc.” in this book? Why does he keep asking her this?
I flush, and my inner goddess grabs a rose between her teeth and starts to tango.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: that bitch can do anything.
So, Ana misses the shot. Which is actually described as “the white” hitting “the black” and I begin to wonder if there is some coded Aryan message in all of this. But that might be the influence of my new haircut. And if you don’t get that because you come here and just read the recaps and not the rest of the stuff I post, then you don’t deserve that amazing callback I just did because for shame. But back to the point, once again. Not “the white.” Cue ball. Not “the black.” Eight ball.
He strolls to the end of the table, sets up the black ball again, then runs the white ball back down to me. He looks so carnal, dark-eyed with a lascivious smile. How could I ever resist him? I catch the ball and line it up, ready to strike.
That is how fingers get pinched, friends, by rolling pool balls back and forth on a pool table. Heads up.
She keeps trying to make the shot while he keeps spanking her every time she misses. And he spanks her with a ruler. Because he’s a grown man and he left his ruler laying around in the rec room.
I marvel once more at how I have managed – and yes, enjoyed – what he’s done to me up to this point. It’s so dark but so him.
It’s not that dark to get spanked and fucked on a pool table. That’s actually the kind of funny sex more people probably wish they had. But let’s concentrate on this whole “I’m trying to talk myself into liking my boyfriend’s sexual fetish” thing you’ve got going on there, Ana.
I hear the telltale rip of foil, then he’s standing behind me, between my legs, pushing them wider.
Has anyone else noticed that a “rip of foil” or “he produces a foil packet” etc. have become shorthand for “We are going to have intercourse now?” It’s in every single scene. It never says, “he put on a condom,” or “he sheathed himself,” (my personal favorite, by the way, I think I tend to use it a lot), but it’s always something about the foil, to clue us in that they’re just about to go full P in V.
“Your cheek is pink from the baize,” he murmurs, rubbing my face tenderly.
Let’s do an experiment here, shall we?
So, there. In my data sample of 1, that’s the answer we’re going with. Normal 25 – 35 year olds do not know that it’s called “baize.” “I would have to go out on a limb,” says Joe, “that most people don’t know that it’s called baize.”
Which also handily moves us on to my next point: Christian Grey is not people.
“You never fail, Ana. You are beautiful, bright, challenging, fun, sexy, and I thank Divine Providence every day that it was you who came to interview me and not Katherine Kavanagh.”
OMG. LOL. Seriously? If you ran Ana headfirst through a combination Mary Sue-O-Meter/woodchipper, this is where the damn thing would get clogged. I refuse to believe this was written by an adult female. It reads like it was written by a mousy thirteen-year-old who is so going to show those popular girls someday. And I should fucking know because that’s primarily what fueled my early writing. But you know what? I grew the fuck up and grew out of needing people to tell me that they hate every other girl who isn’t me because my self-esteem is so damaged that it’s the only way I can like myself. I can now coexist peacefully with all manner of vagina-bearing people without feeling like the only way I can be happy with the relationship I am in is if my boyfriend makes it good and clear that he thinks I’m prettier and worth more than my roommate.
Christian is massaging my feet, one at a time.
How would he massage both at the same time? I suppose it’s possible. But super awkward.
Ana asks if Sawyer can just drop her off at work, instead of coming in with her, and Christian is okay with that, provided she never, ever leaves the building. Which is probably going to be really easy to pull off since she’s someone’s assistant. Those jobs never require leaving the building to do some menial task the boss would rather not get out of his chair for.
I stretch out in bed, so tired. It’s only ten thirty, but it feels like three in the morning. This has to be one of the most exhausting weekends of my life.
No shit. You’ve eaten out twice, had sex three times, went sailing, bought a car, played pool, bathed twice, got into a few conversations where your relationship hung in the balance… and that was just today. Yesterday, you went to a gala fundraiser and almost got murdered by your boyfriend’s ex, resulting in a late-night flight to a hotel you had to drive obscenely out of the way to get to. No wonder you’re exhausted.
The alarm goes off at 6:30 AM, and Ana thinks:
“It’s set so early.”
I’m sure you’ll be weeping tears of blood for poor Ana, having to get up at the inhumane hour of 6:30 next time your alarms go off at 6:30 and earlier.
Christian and Ana grab some breakfast courtesy of Mrs. Jones. Like, real breakfast, bacon, pancakes, etc. So, of course Ana is super appreciative of it:
“Oh, thank you. Good morning,” I mumble. Jeez – I could get used to this.
JUST SHUT UP AND BE HAPPY YOU’RE EATING PANCAKES, BITCH. I really want pancakes, and I don’t have any. I’ve also got pork chops in the crock pot actively thwarting any chance of me getting pancakes tonight, too, so shut up and enjoy every damn bite.
Hey, wait a minute. Mrs. Robinson. Mrs. Jones. I sense a theme.
Oh, and before we go on, I want to let you know that at the start of the scene, Ana takes another shower. Even though she took a bath right before bed the night before. Her skin must be super dry, yo.
Mrs. Jones offers to pack a lunch for Ana, and she’s able to muster up at least a little gratitude for the housekeeper’s efforts this time:
“Please, Mrs. Jones, call me Ana.”
“Ana.” She smiles and turns to make me tea.
Wow… this is so cool.
I turn and cock my head at Christian, challenging him – go on accuse me of flirting with Mrs. Jones.
Right?! I rarely get a chance to say this (because this book is horrible), but point for Ana!
“I have to go, baby. Taylor will come back and drop you at work with Sawyer.”
Are you sure she’s not going to go sex crazy and fuck them on the drive over? Will they be wearing their chastity belts?
Ana makes it clear that the bodyguards are only to accompany her to the door of her building, and Christian agrees, but you and I both know he’s lying about that and he’s going to have her stalked like the stalkingest stalker to ever stalk somebody. Christian says “Laters, baby,” and a bunch of suburban moms run to their cars to rub one out before their kids’ dance recitals are over, because OMG LATERS BABY.
Once Christian is gone, Ana makes small talk with the housekeeper while Mrs. Jones packs her a lunch:
“You know, I can do that,” I mutter, embarrassed that she should be doing this for me.
“You eat your breakfast, Ana. This is what I do. I enjoy it. It’s nice to look after someone other than Mr. Taylor and Mr. Grey.” She smiles very sweetly at me.
Yeah, and in her head, she’s thinking, “Oh, yeah. Sure, go ahead and make your own lunch. You could clean the apartment, too, and I’ll just go sit outside and wait for the unemployment checks after you make my job entirely unnecessary. Maybe you could try to kill yourself in front of me, too, because that’s another aspect of my job I really enjoy.”
Ana takes her sack lunch and goes to the car, where Taylor is waiting:
“Taylor, I’m sorry about yesterday and my inappropriate remarks. I hope I didn’t get you into trouble.”
Taylor frowns in bemusement at me from the rearview mirror as he pulls out into the Seattle traffic.
“Miss Steele, I’m rarely in trouble,” he says reassuringly.
And then she climbs over the seat and they just go to town on each other.
Obviously not, because then this book would be readable. No, instead they go to Ana’s work, where she makes chitchat with her boss, then gets down to business.
I nod and sit down at my computer. It seems like years since I was at work.
Yeah, no shit. It’s felt like years for me, too.
I switch on my computer and fire up my e-mail program – and of course there’s an email from Christian.
Of course there is. If he can’t keep you on a physical leash, he’ll settle for an electronic one. Christian tells her via email that he had a great weekend and he hopes she’ll never leave, and that the news about SIP being purchased by his company is embargoed, so she should delete his email immediately. Or, maybe he shouldn’t have mentioned the embargo in an email at all, since it’s monitored and he knows that. But all of this flies right over Ana’s head, because when Christian tells her he hopes she’ll never leave, this is how she interprets it:
Hope I never leave? Does he want me to move in?
Okay, okay, in fairness to Ana, she also thinks:
Holy Moses… I barely know the man. I press delete.
So, at least she acknowledges that it’s stupid for him to want her to move in when they’ve only known each other for five weeks and have really only been officially dating for a few days.
Ana’s boss comes out and tells her that she is going to have to go with him to a conference in New York. You know, that kind of shit actually does happen in the publishing world. People take their assistants all kinds of places. They also take friends who they claim are their assistants all kinds of places, because if you say “friend” companies balk at paying their fees, but if you say, “My personal assistant, Jill,” they will usually shell out some dinero. Right, Jill?
Where was I? Oh, yeah. So, Ana is going to have to go to New York for her job:
“Yes. We’ll need to go Wednesday and stay overnight. I think you’ll find it a very educational experience.” His eyes darken as he says this, but his smile is polite.
E.L. didn’t write it into the story line, but I have it on good authority he also twiddled his oily handlebar mustache when he said this.
Crap. I wander back to my desk. This is not going to go down well with Fifty – but the fact is, I want to go. It sounds like a real opportunity, and I’m sure I can keep Jack at arm’s length if that’s his ulterior motive.
So, Ana wants to go to this thing, but she thinks Christian is going to be pissed. And then she gets an email response from Christian saying explicitly that he wants her to move in with him.
He does want me to move in. Oh, Christian – it’s too soon. I put my head in my hands to try and recover my wits. This is all I need after my extraordinary weekend. I haven’t had a moment to myself to think through and understand all that I have experienced and discovered these last two days.
That’s the plan, Ana. If Christian can keep you constantly unhinged by simply speeding through the relationship, you’ll never have a chance to hit pause and decide if you’re doing what you want to do, or what he wants you to do.
Ana emails him back and mentions the conference. She doesn’t ask if she can go, she says:
I’ve been asked to go to a conference in New York on Thursday.
It means an overnight stay on Wednesday.
Just thought you should know.
She also mentions that she wants to talk about this whole moving in thing. But right now, there are more important things, like the fact that Ana wants to go three steps away from Christian’s side and he’s just not having it. In an email with the subject line “WHAT?” he says:
Yes. Let’s talk this evening.
Are you going on your own?
Ana writes an email with the subject line “No Bold Shouty Capitals on a Monday Morning!” which is the title of a musical I am writing and now I have no idea what to call it. She asks if they can talk about it later, and he replies, in an email with the subject, “You Haven’t Seen Shouty Yet.” which is the title of this other musical I am writing and boy, am I ever in a real pickle now:
If it’s with the sleazeball you work with, then the answer is no, over my dead body.
Keeping in mind, she never asked for permission. He’s telling her no, in answer to a question he’s just presuming that she asked. Ana emails him back that yes, she’s going with Jack, it’s a good career opportunity, and Christian sends another email stating that his answer is an emphatic “NO.” So, Ana sends him the following:
You need to get a grip.
I am NOT going to sleep with Jack – not for all the tea in China.
I LOVE you. That’s what happens when people love each other.
That’s kind of weird phrasing, isn’t it? When people love each other, they don’t sleep with Jack? That’s a pretty fucking specific definition of love.
They TRUST each other.
Ohhh, I see. You flipped the cause and the effect around. Continue.
I don’t think you are going to SLEEP WITH, SPANK, FUCK, or WHIP anyone else. I have FAITH and TRUST in you.
Please extend the same COURTESY to me.
Because Ana had a spine on rental for a few hours, she sends her email and immediately books her flight to New York. Then she gets another email. This time, it’s from Mrs. Robinson, saying that she thinks they “got off on the wrong foot” and would like to try again. Unless she has a time machine and can go back and not molest Christian, I think she is severely over-estimating the power of her other foot.
Holy crap – not Mrs. Robinson! How the hell did she find out my e-mail address?
Yeah, it’s not like you guys have anyone in common. Like, anyone who would have done something like share your emails with her while discussing you.
Then the phone rings, and it’s Christian:
An achingly familiar voice snarls at me, “Will you please delete the last email you sent me and try to be a little more circumspect in the language you use in your work e-mail? I told you, the system is monitored. I will endeavor to do some damage limitation from here.” He hangs up.
Isn’t the system monitored on his end, though? Like, isn’t it his company monitoring the emails? Not that it matters. Just deleting an item from your inbox isn’t going to make it vanish into some netherworld where it can never be retrieved. If the email accounts are being monitored, they’re probably already going to have a copy of the email. And by the by, if he’s so paranoid about the emails being monitored, why did he call Ana’s boss a sleazebag? Isn’t that the sort of thing that might, you know, fuck up her job a little? OH SNAP. Could it be that Christian doesn’t want Ana to work so that she will be dependent upon him and his wealth?
I open my emails and delete the one I sent him. It’s not that bad. I just mention spanking and well, whipping. If he’s so ashamed of it, he damn well shouldn’t do it.
Bingo. And it’s not like he’s the only CEO in the history of American finance to use his money on some really weird sexual shit, right? I mean, if tomorrow the New York Times revealed that Bill Gates liked to be rectally stimulated with a cattle prod, it wouldn’t be on the front page. No one would think, “Gosh, that’s news, that rich people get up to some strange sexual stuff.” Christian’s fetish is actually quite tame. I recently watched a documentary where a rich businessman liked having cigarettes stubbed out on his tongue by a dominatrix. Whips and chains are just scratching the surface of sexual depravity in our deranged 1%. God love ‘em.
Jack comes out of his office and tells Ana not to book her flight. Turns out, some strange and mystifying order from “the top” has just been issued putting a lock down on SIP’s coffers, and all expenses must be pre-approved. He’s going to check with “old Roach,” which briefly makes me imagine all the characters in this book as Mrs. Brisby-type animal characters. Jack is a weasel, in my version.
Ana immediately knows what’s up. She writes an email to Christian asking him not to interfere in her work. He responds:
I am just protecting what is mine.
He tells her that all their emails have been wiped from the servers.
How does he do this? Who does he know that can stealthily delve into the depths of SIP’s servers and remove emails?
And why was it a big deal, if he could do that, anyway? This guy is so fucking bad at business. “I own this company, but that knowledge is embargoed. I better email back and forth with my girlfriend on a monitored system and talk about the embargo. Oh my god, what have I done?”
Ana replies that she doesn’t need protecting, and she can reject Jack all by herself when she’s damned good and ready. But that’s not good enough for Christian, not when he can use RAPE BLAME ™, the patented victim shaming technique that holds women accountable for the actions of men! BEHOLD:
I have seen how “effective” you are at fighting off unwanted attention. I remember that’s how I had the pleasure of spending my first night with you. At least the photographer has feelings for you. The sleazeball, on the other hand, does not. He is a serial philanderer, and he will try to seduce you. Ask him what happened to his previous PA and the one before that.
I hate to have to resort to the list format again, but really, it’s so much easier when there is this much bullshit to keep track of:
- Ana is somehow responsible for the fact that a man physically overpowered her.
- Christian is somehow not responsible for the fact that he removed an unconscious woman from a bar and took her back to his hotel room.
- It would have been okay for Ana to get raped by Jose, because Jose has a crush on her.
- Ana is too stupid and too gosh darn rapeable to fight off her boss.
- Because his last two assistants slept with him, she will, too.
#5 really bugs me, because I once worked for a guy who really did sleep with all his secretaries. So much so that his old secretaries would call me while I was working and tell me how he was going to lie to me, how I was going to be helpless to resist, how I should guard my heart because he was going to use it up and throw it away. And no matter how many times I would say, “Um, this guy looks Eugene Levy and The Penguin from Batman Returns had a baby, you really don’t need to worry about me,” they would still insist that I was going to sleep with him. And guess what? Worked there for a while, never slept with him. Never even remotely tempted. The way Ana feels about her boss is pretty clear, and the idea that women are going to just helplessly sleep with their bosses is pretty fucking insulting.
Christian also tells Ana:
If you want to go to New York, I’ll take you. We can go this weekend. I have an apartment there.
Oh, of course he does. But that’s not really the point, is it, Ana?
Oh, Christian! That’s not the point.
No, it’s not. The point is, Ana was asked to fly to New York for her job, which she takes seriously. Christian should be proud to be dating someone who commits to her work and isn’t just some vapid gold digger. I mean, she’s plenty vapid, but she’s not a gold digger.
Trust him to bring up Jose. Will I ever live that down? I was drunk, for heaven’s sake.
Yeah, since when is it the victim’s job to “live down” the assault? Why does Ana have something to be ashamed of?
Ana writes another email to Christian:
While you have been busy interfering in my career and saving your ass from my careless missives, I received the following email from Mrs. Lincoln. I really don’t want to meet with her – even if I did, I’m not allowed to leave this building. How she got ahold of my e-mail address, I don’t know.
Yes, you do. It’s not really that big a leap. Christian says he’ll deal with it, and Ana tells him to stop emailing her because she’s trying to do her job. Jack comes back from visiting The Old Roach under the Hollow Tree and says that upper management won’t approve her going to New York. Que sopresa. Then, Jack asks Ana to go out and get him lunch. Which, you know, she can’t do, because she promised Christian she wouldn’t leave the building, because she doesn’t have the gift of foresight. She goes anyway, figuring he’s not going to find out, because she hasn’t read any other page in this book.
Claire from reception offers me her umbrella since it is still pouring with rain.
What a weird way of phrasing that.
Ana immediately gets freaky, I-am-being-watched feelings on her way to the deli, but chalks it up to garden variety paranoia:
It’s just your imagination, my subconscious snaps. Who the hell would want to shoot you?
Of course, if I moved in with Christian, she would make lunch for me every weekday. The idea is unsettling. I have never had dreams of obscene wealth and all the trappings – only love. To find someone who loves me and doesn’t try to control my every move.
False. You wanted a literary hero. Not a lot of heroes from classic literature just loved their heroines without trying to control them. Aren’t you an English major?
The phone rings, and when Ana answers it, she gets this:
“You assured me you wouldn’t go out,” Christian interrupts me, his voice cold.
My heart sinks for the millionth time this day. Shit. How the hell does he know?
“Jack sent me out for some lunch. I couldn’t say no. Are you having me watched?” My scalp prickles at the notion. No wonder I felt so paranoid – someone was watching me.
Christian doesn’t admit that he had someone follow her, and he is somewhat chastened when she tells him to stop suffocating her.
After our wonderful weekend, the reality is hitting home. I have never felt more like running. Running to some quiet retreat so I can think about this man, about how he is, and about how to deal with him. On one level, I know he’s broken – I can see that clearly now – and it’s both heartbreaking and exhausting.
Well, you better move in with him, Ana, because I’m certain it will only get better if you do that.
With a heavy heart, I drag one of the manuscripts Jack wants me to summarize into my lap and continue to read. I can think of no easy solution to Christian’s fucked-up control issues.
Aspiring authors, beware. Your manuscript could end up in the hands of Ana, and she’s not going to be reading it so much as thinking about her boyfriend while staring at your words. But really, that first sentence makes me imagine the poor assistant or copy editor who had to slog through these 50 Shades books.
Ana stays late, but figures she’ll be out around seven-thirty. The office is all deserted except for her and Jack, who immediately turns on the slime:
He leans over me while I retrieve the document, rather close – uncomfortably close. His arm brushes mine. Accidentally? I flinch, but he pretends not to notice. His other arm rests on the back of my chair, touching my back. I sit up so I’m not leaning against the backrest.
“Pages sixteen and twenty-three, and that should be it,” he murmurs, his mouth inches from my ear.
My skin crawls at his proximity, but I choose to ignore it. Opening the document, I shakily start on the changes. he’s still leaning over me, and all my sense are hyperaware. It’s distracting and awkward, and inside I am screaming, Back off!
At this point, I’m wondering if she’s hyperaware because Christian has planted the seed of the idea in her head, or if he’s really trying to get into Ana’s pants. But then this happens:
“I think the least I could do is reward you with a quick drink. You deserve one.” He tucks a strand of my hair that’s come loose from my hair tie behind my ear and gently caresses the lobe.
EW! When you put it like that, like, “gently caresses the lobe,” yeah, he sounds like an oily pervert. Ana begins to think she might be in a bad situation:
Alarm bells sound loudly in my head. I am on my own in the office. I cannot leave. I glance nervously at the clock. Another five minutes before Christian is due.
You know that I absolutely hate to say anything good about this book, but that excerpt there? That is what I’m going to show to my husband to try and explain male privilege. Because he’s actually quite astounded when I bring up things like, “The reason I walk on the outside of the sidewalk is because someone can grab you and pull you into an alley or a doorway.” Because that stuff doesn’t enter into a man’s mind, and it’s not their fault, because for them, the world really is a safe place. A man would probably not feel unsafe being in an office with their male boss after the building is closed.
Jack tries to get Ana to go out for a drink, and she turns him down. Then he asks her if she had a good weekend, and questions her about her boyfriend:
“What does he do?”
Owns your ass… “He’s in business.”
“That’s interesting. What kind of business?”
Okay, hold up. I thought Christian Grey was super well-known. In the third book (spoiler) he’s worried about the paparazzi dogging him and Ana on their honeymoon. So, if he’s famous enough to be followed around the world by paparazzi, why didn’t Jack recognize him when he met him at the bar? In the city that Christian practically owns? You would think that working in Seattle, Jack would have at least seen him in the newspaper or something. Yet when Ana tells him Christian’s name:
Jack’s mouth drops open. “Seattles richest bachelor? That Christian Grey?”
“Yes. The same.” Yes, that Christian Grey, your future boss who will have you for breakfast if you invade my personal space again.
“I thought he looked familiar,” Jack says darkly, and his brow creases again. “Well, he’s a lucky man.”
I’m confused as to how Jack didn’t put the pieces together when Ana introduced him to Christian. I guess there’s a reason Jack is an editor and not a detective.
Jack backs off immediately when he finds out Ana is boning the richest man in the universe.
Well, that problem might be solved. Fifty works his magic again. Just his name is my talisman, and it has this man retreating with his tail between his legs. I allow myself a small victorious smile. You see, Christian? Even your name protects me – you didn’t have to go to all that trouble of clamping down on expenses.
Why are you victorious, Ana? Because you’ve managed the impossible feat of having a man to hide behind? Good for you. And I mean that as sarcastically as possible.
Christian comes to pick her up from work, and when she gets into the car, he tries to get pinkeye:
He raises my hand and lightly grazes my knuckles with soft butterfly kisses.
For those not “in the know,” what he’s doing is putting her hand by his eye and fluttering his eyelashes. That’s what a butterfly kiss is. Not only is it ridiculous, it seems like it would be about 100% more germy than a regular hand kiss, on the kisser’s end.
They don’t really talk in the car, which is a shame, because they usually almost end their relationship every fucking time they’re in the car together, and one of these days it’s going to stick, damnit. When they get to the building, Ana asks if Christian has found Leila yet, and I really wish he would just be like, “Leila who? Oh shit, was I supposed to be looking for someone?” because he’s clearly not doing a damn thing to find her. He says someone named “Welch” is looking for Leila. One guy, out of his entire staff, is looking for this girl. Yeah, you’re really trying hard, Christian.
Now, keeping in mind that Christian has exerted stupid levels of control over Ana today, fucked with her job, had her followed, etc., you’d think she’d be pretty pissed off at him, right? No, of course not! She’s overcome with her lust for him when they get into the elevator:
Oh my – the longing, the lust, the electricity. If it were visible, it would be an intense blue aura around and between us; it’s so strong.
Christian hits the emergency stop, because he’s apparently the only important person in the building. During this entire “Love in an Elevator” sequence, I like to imagine there are two paramedics waiting in an upstairs hallway, trying desperately to keep a heart attack victim alive to get him or her to the hospital, but because Christian has stopped the elevator to fuck his girlfriend, the patient dies.
Just like every other time they have sex, Christian gives Ana instructions as to how she should undress. This time, he tells her to take down her hair and unbutton the top buttons of her blouse. Then he says:
“Do you have any idea how alluring you look right now?”
And I finally get the “Do you have any idea” thing. He’s asking, because he wants her to appreciate how sexy he has made her look. Think about it. Every time they have sex, he tells her to undress in a certain way, to pose in a certain way, and then he says, “Do you have any idea,” about the situation. When he says this, he is congratulating himself for making her look the most attractive to him that she can possibly be.
Oh no, that’s not creepy at all.
We get all the usual trappings of a Chedward/Anabella sex scene, including the “foil packet” and he “starts to move, really move,” and of course, simultaneous elevator orgasm. Then they go eat coq au vin (because even their food needs to drink heavily) and Christian tells Ana about his day:
Christian fetches a bottle of white wine from the fridge, and as we sit and eat, he tells me about how much nearer he’s getting to perfecting a solar-powered mobile phone. He’s animated and excited about the whole project, and I know then that he hasn’t had an entirely shitty day.
Well, thank God for that. Because it would really suck if his day was unpleasant, after he spent so much time making yours unpleasant.
Ana tells Christian that he was right about Jack being a sleazeball, and Christian offers once again to have him fired. So Ana tells him:
“You really have to let me fight my own battles. You can’t constantly second-guess me and try to protect me. It’s stifling, Christian. I’ll never flourish with your incessant interference. I need some freedom. I wouldn’t dream of meddling in your affairs.”
Except for when she, you know, asks your therapist to break patient confidentiality and tell her all about your problems. She’ll totally meddle in your affairs then.
Christian reasserts that he’s just protecting her, but Ana sticks to her guns:
“You can’t interfere in my job. It’s wrong. I don’t need you charging in like a white knight to save the day. I know you want to control everything, and I understand why, but you can’t. It’s an impossible goal… you have to learn to let go.” I reach up and stroke his face as he gazes at me, his eyes wide. “And if you can do that – give me that – I’ll move in with you,” I add softly.
Okay, she sticks to her guns for like a millisecond. And then she’s all, “I’ll move in with you,” because as I pointed out before, that’s not going to exacerbate his control freak problems or anything. Ana tells Christian that there’s nothing he can tell her about himself that would make her run away, and I totally believe that. She can rationalize his behavior into anything she wants, and continues to, because as you can see in this next excerpt, he still really does not fucking get it:
“I’m trying, Anastasia. I couldn’t just stand by and let you go to New York with that… sleazeball. He has an alarming reputation. None of his assistants have lasted more than three months, and they’re never retained by the company. I don’t want that for you, baby.” He sighs. “I don’t want anything to happen to you. You being hurt… the thought fills me with dread. I can’t promise not to interfere, not if I think you’ll come to harm.” He pauses and takes a deep breath. “I love you, Anastasia. I will do everything in my power to protect you. I cannot imagine my life without you.”
Now, notice that he doesn’t say, “You’re right, I’ll respect your boundaries and not fuck with your work.” On the contrary, he says pretty explicitly that he’s going to keep interfering if he thinks it’s in her best interest, and she doesn’t get to decide what her best interests are. But Ana doesn’t hear a damned word of this. What does she hear?
Three little words. My world stands still, tilts, then spins on a new axis; and I savor the moment, gazing into his sincere, beautiful gray eyes.
And then Taylor comes in and says that Mrs. Robinson is on her way up. CLIFFHANGA!