You’re getting a bonus post today, because I’m incapable of counting. I thought, “I’ll write the recaps one a day, keeping a day ahead, and working in this fashion the last recap will post on the first day of my vacation, and I will be done!” Except math. So, here’s a post to catch me back up to my brilliant plan.
Christian stands in a steel-barred cage. Wearing his soft, ripped jeans, his chest and feet are mouthwateringly naked, and he’s staring at me. His private-joke smile etched on his beautiful face and his eyes a molten grey. In his hands he holds a bowl of strawberries.
Because an apple would be too obvious.
He ambles with athletic grace to the front of the cage, gazing intently at me. Holding up a plump ripe strawberry, he extends his hand through the bars.
“Eat,” he says, his tongue caressing the front of his palate as he enunciates the ‘t’.
Jeez, even in her dreams he’s obsessed with her eating. She wants to go to him and eat the damn strawberry, but something holds her back, and he keeps telling her to eat, because that’s just how things work with him, and then the real Christian is waking her up.
It is literally the middle of the night, and Christian is all dressed in black. He tells Ana he wants to “chase the dawn” with her, which sounds like drug talk if I ever heard it. Ana asks if she can take a shower before they go out. Of course she can’t!
“If you have a shower, I’ll want one with you, and you and I know what will happen then – the day will just go. Come.”
Or, and here is an novel thought, you could control your own desires for a second and let Ana take a damn shower, since she’s been bleeding all over herself and the hotel sheets all night long. Christian has laid out a fresh pair of his own Ralph Lauren underpants for Ana:
I shake my head at his lar-gesse, and I frown as a scene from Tess crosses my mind: the strawberry scene. It evokes my dream. To hell with Dr. Flynn – Freud would have a field day – and then he’d probably expire trying to deal with Fifty Shades.
Freud and I have that in common. Don’t you just love it when an author not only weaves a particular motif though a book, but also makes the text scream in your face, “THIS IS A REFERENCE TO A LITERARY CLASSIC LOOK HOW SMART I AM!” when you read it? I particularly enjoy that.
When Ana is done doing her bathroom things, she comes out to find Christian eating breakfast. And of course, he wants her to eat, too:
“Eat,” he says.
Holy Moses… my dream. I gape at him, thinking about his tongue on his palate. Hmm, his expert tongue.
I don’t think we can attribute him telling her to eat specifically to her dream. More likely, we can attribute dream-Chedward telling her to eat to real-Chedward constantly doing so whenever they’re in the presence of any kind of food.
It really is too early for me. How to handle this?
“I’m not hungry because it’s too early in the morning.” That should work, right? Oh, wait, no, it won’t work, because your boyfriend is a sociopath.
“I’ll have some tea. Can I take a croissant for later?” He eyes me suspiciously, and I smile very sweetly.
“Don’t rain on my parade, Anastasia,” he warns softly.
Ana teases him about spanking, and then she gets all swoony because Christian has Twinings Breakfast Tea on the table, which means he really cares. Would pointing out that Twinings is a popular brand for hotels to carry destroy the romantic fantasy here? After non-breakfast, Christian takes Ana outside, where a valet is waiting with a soft-top convertible, and Christian says, “‘You know, sometimes it’s great being me.'”
This guy. This fucking guy.
In the car, they listen to some La Traviata, but Ana doesn’t want to listen to music about a “‘doomed courtesan,'” so Christian invites her to scroll through his iPod to find something she likes better. Every time they talk about music, Christian makes me think that he’s one of those people who doesn’t actually listen to what he likes, but what he thinks will make people find him smart or cool. Now, I’m not saying no young people like opera. I love opera, and did even before I reached the Anastasia Steele benchmark for geriatric hopelessness, otherwise known as “thirty.” However, Christian always smirks when he’s discussing music, and it’s always some song that echoes what’s going on in their relationship. Or it’s a piece that Ana isn’t familiar with, so she has to ask him about it, and he gets to look super smart. “Oh, you’ve never heard Thomas Tallis? He’s only the greatest Tudor-era composer. I can’t believe you’ve never heard him.”
He turns the music down a little more, and inside I am hugging myself. My inner goddess is standing on the podium awaiting her gold medal. He turned the music down.
You probably could have just turned the music down, yourself. There’s a little knob on the car stereo that does that. If it was too difficult to pull off, you could have just asked.
“I didn’t put that song on my iPod,” he says casually, and puts his foot down so that I am thrown back into my seat as the car accelerates along the freeway.
Oooh, he’s all mad because you found his secret, decidedly unhipster Britney cache! Are you new here, Chedward? Just say you only put it on there “ironically” or to test people who use your iPod. That will show her for making you feel uncool.
What? He knows what he’s doing, the bastard. Who did? And I have to listen to Britney going on and on. Who… who?
Is there some reason you can’t change the song, Ana? Seriously, for two people in their twenties, they’re acting like middle schoolers. The next song that comes on is Damien Rice, so we know that we’ve downshifted into serious time.
“It was Leila,” he answers my unspoken thoughts. How does he do that?
“An ex, who put the song on my iPod.”
Here is another thing that bothers me about this book. Needless dialogue. If Ana already knows the question in her head, why does she ask, “‘Leila?'” like she has no idea what he’s referring to? Save the reader some damn time. All of us, Ana, Christian, the reader, we all know that he’s saying Leila put the song on his iPod.
As it turns out, Leila was a former submissive who wanted more from Christian, so he broke up with her. He tells Ana that he’s never wanted more with a sub, except for her, and then Ana’s inner goddess does more spastic shit. Ana asks what happened to the rest of his subs, and he tells her that he’s only been in four long-term relationships, not counting Mrs. Robinson, whose real name is Elena.
Elena! Holy Fuck. The evil one has a name and its all-foreign sounding. A vision of a glorious, pale skinned vamp with raven hair and ruby-red lips comes to mind, and I know that she’s beautiful. I must not dwell. I must not dwell.
How is that working for you, Ana? I love that she thinks “Elena” is a foreign name. Ana is so bizarrely xenophobic. At dinner with Christian’s parents, she uses “European” as an insulting way to describe their housekeeper. Now she’s thinking “Elena” sounds foreign. Elena doesn’t sound blonde, though, thank God. I wonder if this isn’t a little bit of the stereotypical “I’m not a part of Europe!” attitude you hear from some British people leaking into the text. I mean, Ana even shoots down the idea of going to Paris because she would rather go to London. The pieces are suddenly falling into place here. The funny thing is, people in the United States don’t think of England as a piece separate from Europe, we think of it as a European country, so that attitude is all wrong on an American heroine. Unless she’s one of those obnoxious Anglophiles who prances around with a fake accent and talks about how they only watch British television.
Okay, I have a little of that, but it extends only to Top Gear, and that’s because our version of Top Gear is balls awful.
They talk a little bit more about his past girlfriends, and Ana brings up that someday she wants kids, which doesn’t sit great with Christian. They are driving to an airfield, where Christian wants to show her his second favorite pastime, gliding. They get to the airfield, and Taylor is there, and so is the tow pilot, who Ana can tell is British from his accent. If you’re South African, Australian, Irish, Kiwi, or Scottish, you are probably laughing your ass off right now, because you know that most Americans default to “British” upon hearing any kind of even remotely similar accent.
I’m going to skip most of the scene with the gliding, because it reads like a procedural straight from How To Go on a Glider. Basically, Christian likes strapping Ana into her parachute, and then into her seat harness (because he’s into BDSM, get it?!), and then they get up in the air.
The light is extraordinary, diffuse and warm in hue, and I remember Jose rambling on about ‘magic hour’, a time of day that photographers adore – this is it… just after dawn, and I’m in it, with Christian.
Abruptly, I’m reminded of Jose’s show. Hmm. I need to tell Christian.
I think you should definitely do that while he’s piloting an engineless light aircraft that could easily have some kind of accident. Tell him right now.
The plane banks and turns as the wing dips, and we spiral toward the sun. Icarus. This is it. I am flying close to the sun, but he’s with me, leading me. I gasp at the realization.
First of all, Ana:
“Was it more?” he asks, his voice tinged with hope.
“Much more,” I breathe, and he grins.
But it wasn’t, was it? It wasn’t emotional trust or true intimacy. It was piloting a glider.
After their gliding adventure, they go to IHOP. Yes. International House of Pancakes. And proximity to greasy, overpriced menu items gets both of them all hot.
Oh, I want to run my hands through that hair. I pick up a menu and examine it. I realize I’m starving.
“I know what I want,” he breathes, his voice low and husky.
I glance up at him, and he’s staring at me in that way that tightens all the muscles in my belly and takes my breath away, his eyes dark and smoldering. Holy shit. I gaze at him, my blood singing in my veins answering his call.
“I want what you want,” I whisper.
He inhales sharply.
“Here?” he asks suggestively, raising an eyebrow at me, smiling wickedly, his teeth trapping the tip of his tongue.
Oh please. Stop. I’m not sure if I can take the unbridled eroticism of this moment. Seriously, I cannot wait to see the promotional tie-in for this one. “The Rooty Tooty Fresh n’ Fruity Buttermilk Ben Wa Pancake Stack?” With “Lingering Gaze” ligon berry sauce? You wouldn’t even have to change the name of the stuffed french toast, that already sounds dirty enough. Of course, it’s French, so we’d have to probably change that, or it will steal Ana’s boyfriend.
“I don’t think I’ve changed my mind per se. We just need to re-define our parameters, re-draw our battle lines, if you will. We can make this work, I’m sure. I want you submissive in my playroom. I will punish you if you digress from the rules. Other than that… well, I think it’s all up for discussion. Those are my requirements, Miss Steele. What say you to that?”
We all know what Ana is going to say to that. Their breakfast arrives, and then they have this charming exchange:
“Can I treat you?” I ask Christian.
“Treat me how?”
“Pay for this meal.”
“I don’t think so,” he scoffs.
“Please. I want to.”
He frowns at me.
“Are you trying to completely emasculate me?”
This. Fucking. Guy.
I’m not even going to get into how awful that statement is, because either you recognize what is wrong with it, or you’re a time traveler from the 1950’s who stumbled, confused, upon my blog and are probably wondering why my husband allows me to read.
Christian takes Ana back to her mother’s house – without asking for directions, because he already knows where she lives. I’m not kidding, Ana even says as much:
Of course he doesn’t ask me for my mother’s address. He knows it already, stalker that he is. When he pulls up outside the house, I don’t comment. What’s the point?
That’ right, Ana! You march straight into that relationship in which your feelings don’t matter. At least you’re doing it with somewhat open eyes. Ana asks him to come in. I half expect him to say, “I’ve already been there, while you were sleeping,” but instead he turns her down:
“I need to work, Anastasia, but I’ll be back this evening. What time?” I ignore the unwelcome stab of disappointment. Why do I want to spend every single minute with this controlling sex god? Oh yes, I’ve fallen in love with him, and he can fly.
He can’t really fly, though, can he? He has to use a vehicle.
Perhaps she’s improved since she moved to Savannah with Bob. There was a time I wouldn’t subject anyone to her cooking… even – who do I hate? Oh yes – Mrs. Robinson – Elena. Well, maybe he. Will I ever meet this damned woman?
Back up there, Ana. You’ve known Christian for all of what, three weeks? And you’re impatient because he hasn’t introduced you to his ex-girlfriends? Now who’s a controlling stalker?
Ana emails Christian (because they have been apart maybe ten minutes) and during the exchange he tells her that she talks in her sleep.
Supposing I’ve said I hate him, or worse still, that I love him, in my sleep. Oh, I hope not. I am not ready to tell him that, and I’m sure he’s not ready to hear it, if he ever wants to hear it.
That actually happened to me, once. I was occasionally sleeping with this guy, totally casual, and one night when I stayed over I had a dream that I got to meet Paul McCartney. Apparently I sat up and yelled, “I love you!” and then went back to sleep. That… took some explaining.
Ana goes to the supermarket with her mom, where she gets a phone call from SIP, offering her an assistant’s job to Mr. Jack Hyde.
I need you to be fucking honest with me here, readers. I wasn’t going to read the second book. But I have this feeling there is going to be some kind of sexual tension between her and Jack Hyde, based on her meeting with him in this book. If there is, if you’ve read book two, let me know, and I’ll fucking read it. But if you lie to me, I will find you like the goddamned Repo Man and I will gut you. Also like the Repo Man.
“Congratulations, darling! We have to buy some champagne!” She’s clapping her hands and jumping up and down. Is she forty-two or twelve?
Maybe she’s your inner goddess, Ana.
Ana sees a missed call on her phone from Christian. Ana calls him back, and he tells her that a situation has come up and he has to fly back to Seattle immediately. He won’t be able to have dinner.
Oh no. The last ‘situation’ he had was my virginity. Jeez I hope it’s nothing like that.
Yup, that’s exactly what it is, Ana. Your hymen grew back. Only, something went… wrong. And now it has engulfed all of Seattle.
Later that night, she remembers that Christian had dinner with Elena. I call bullshit, as I’m sure that has been on her mind all damn day. They email back and forth again, he still doesn’t tell her what she said in her sleep (Spoiler alert: it was “I love you, Paul McCartney”) and the chapter ends.