NOTE: The formatting of excerpts in this post is 50 Shades of Blogger, so just keep that in mind and don’t blame E.L. James.
There is light everywhere. Bright, warm, piercing light, and I endeavor to keep it at bay for a few more precious minutes.
No, don’t get your hopes up. This is not the chapter where Ana dies. She’s waking up to a “glorious Seattle morning,” or,
– sunshine pouring through the full-height windows and flooding the room with too-bright light.
If there is one weather feature Seattle is known for, friends, it is the amount of sun they get.
Ana gets why Christian likes to live “in the clouds”. I really hate to point out that the Escala building is not tall enough to reach the clouds, and besides, I thought it was sunny, Ana?
Ironically, I feel the same up here in his lofty tower. I’m adrift from reality.
I have been saying that for pretty much the entire book so far. It has nothing to do with the building.
I’m in this fantasy apartment, having fantasy sex with my fantasy boyfriend. When the grim reality is he wants a special arrangement, though he’s said he’ll try more. What does that actually mean? This is what I need to clarify between us to see if we are still at opposite ends on the see-saw or if we are inching closer together.
He’s not in the art gallery, but an elegant middle-aged woman is cleaning in the kitchen area. The sight of her stops me in my tracks. She has short blonde hair and clear blue eyes; she wears a plain white tailored shirt and a navy blue pencil skirt. She smiles broadly when she sees me.
Ana is embarrassed because she’s only wearing a t-shirt, but this is Christian Grey’s housekeeper here. I’m sure she sees all manner of undressed women. She probably cleans the jizz off the waterproof mattress in the red room when they’re all done. The housekeeper offers to get Ana some breakfast, but Ana is too busy figuring out just when and how Christian has fucked this evil blonde:
I scuttle of toward the study, mortified. Why does Christian only have attractive blondes working for him? And a nasty thought comes involuntarily into my mind – Are they all ex-subs? I refuse to entertain that hideous idea.
You entertain that idea any time you see a woman with lighter hair than yours, Ana. Seriously, from the way she describes all the blondes in this book, I think they must all be the hot Nazi from Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade.
“Unless that company’s P&L improves, I’m not interested, Ros. We’re not carrying dead weight… I don’t need any more lame excuses… Have Marco call me, it’s shit or bust time…
I think when it’s actually “shit or bust time,” someone’s going to end up shitting, either way. And I’m super impressed that he can speak an ampersand. The good new is, Christian is working. He hardly ever works in this book, I’m wondering how he made his enormous fortune.
He waits, staring out of the window, master of his universe, staring down at the little people below from his castle in the sky.
How very Ayn Rand of you, E.L. But you know how I love it when the title of something is in the something. If you were unaware, Master of The Universe was the original title of 50 Shades, back before it was 50 Shades and when it was full of names like Bella and Edward.
Glancing up, he notices me at the door. A slow, sexy smile spreads across is beautiful face, and I’m rendered speechless as my insides melt. He is without a doubt the most beautiful man on the planet, too beautiful for the little people below, too beautiful for me.
Oh my gosh, we GET IT, ANA. You’re fucking hideous in the way that only slender, attractive brunettes can be fucking hideous, and that is, NOT AT ALL. Seriously, is this a case of an author trying to foster good will for an intolerable character by inserting imagined flaws, or is this just straight up Mary Sueism? I can’t even tell anymore.
Despite the fact that Ana is officially the Hunchback of The Escala, Chedward clears his morning schedule, and asks his assistant (who is probably evil and blond and also blonde, did we mention blonde?) to get him an extra ticket for an event on Saturday. But the conversation goes like this:
“When will you be back from Georgia?” he asks.
He resumes his phone conversation.
Wait, wait. Since when is Ana going to Georgia? She hadn’t even made up her mind in the last chapter. She told her mom she wasn’t sure about visiting. Does she have plane tickets? Has she packed? Seriously, since when has this plan been cemented to such a point that she can say with confidence when she’s leaving and when she’s returning? I guess since this is a detail that doesn’t involve things going into or coming out of Ana’s vagina, the reader isn’t supposed to care.
When he gets off the phone, Ana fully tongue kisses him, and she hasn’t even used his toothbrush yet. So, of course they’re going to have sex. Christian flings everything off his desk, because billionaires don’t have to work or anything, and then, with no foreplay what so ever, this happens:
“You want it, you got it, baby,” he mutters, producing a foil packet from his pants pocket while he unzips his pants. Oh Mr. Boy Scout. He rolls the condom over his erection and gazes down at me. “I sure hope you’re ready,” he breathes, a salacious smile across his face.
Okay, of course she’s ready. Ana is Action Vagina Woman, able to hump tall erections in a single bound. But what I like about that paragraph is that Chedward was in his home office, working, and he had a condom on him. Just in case someone wandered in and fucked him. And Ana, having seen Hot Hilda Housefrau out there, she doesn’t go, “Maybe he had that condom on him because of her.” No, obviously that condom was meant for Ana. It’s stuff like cleaning the kitchen and offering to make breakfast that creates suspicion.
Anyway, back at Christian’s desk:
Wrapping my legs around his waist, I hold him the only way I can as he stays standing, staring down at me, gray eyes glowing, passionate and possessive. He starts to move, really move. This is not making love, this is fucking – and I love it.
Until I read this book, I didn’t realize that I was making love wrong. Thank god for this sexual intervention, because when my husband and I make love, we move. Like, we really move. All this time, I thought we were physically expressing our romantic feelings for each other, and we were just fucking. Next time, we’ll stay as still as possible.
“Come on, baby, give it up for me,” he cajoles through gritted teeth – and the fervent need in his voice – the strain – sends me over the edge.
Look at those em dashes. That sentence is like a fucking Russian doll, something inside of something inside of something.
I cry out a wordless, passionate plea as I touch the sun and burn, falling around him, falling down, back to a breathless, bright summit on Earth. He slams into me and stops abruptly as he reaches his climax, pulling at my wrists, and sinking gracefully and wordlessly onto me.Wow… that was unexpected. I slowly materialize back on Earth.
“What the hell are you doing to me?” he breathes as he nuzzles my neck. “You completely beguile me, Ana. You weave some powerful magic.” He releases my wrists, and I run my fingers through his hair, coming down from my high. I tighten my legs around him.“I’m the one beguiled,” I whisper.
I’m the one nauseated, in case anyone is keeping score at home. How is Ana “beguiling”? Everything Christian has seemed to like about Ana so far has been that he thinks she’s easy to control and she’ll be a good sub. There is no connection between these characters. There is no reason for them to like each other, or be attracted to each other. All through the entire story, they’re like a Barbie and Ken doll being smashed together by a sexually precocious child. Sorry, no, I guess Ana would be Theresa, Barbie’s hideous brunette friend.
“Are you sore?” he asks, leaning over me.“A little,” I confess.“I like you sore.” His eyes smolder. “Reminds you where I’ve been, and only me.”
Hey, Christian? Zebra Historical Romance circa 1987 called. They need you back there, ASAP.
Ana realizes that Christian has probably had sex on his desk before, and that makes her… not real thrilled. She goes to have a shower, but first, she has to agonize over inane details:
“I’ve got a couple more calls to make. I’ll join you for breakfast once you’re out of the shower. I think Mrs. Jones has laundered your clothes from yesterday. They’re in the closet.”What? When the hell did she do that? Jeez, could she hear us? I flush.
I like how Ana finds it totally absurd that a housekeeper would do the laundry. Yes, Ana. She did it because she could hear you. Or, here’s a thought, she did it because Christian was up before you and asked her to when she came in to do her job which specifically includes menial chores like laundry.
Because nary a scene can go by without angst, Ana decides Christian is acting “weirder than usual.” How can she tell? The guy is fully time weirdo. I never saw Master of The Universe on fanfiction.net, because I’m not into Twilight fandom, but I can guarantee the summary had the words “angst” and “hurt/comfort” in it. I would bet money. Actual money.
Ana is stunned to find that the housekeeper is still there (that bitch), and she’s super embarrassed, so she hauls ass into the shower, where she thinks about… really, the only thing Ana ever thinks about:
In the shower, I try to figure out what’s up with Christian. He is the most complicated person I know, and I cannot understand his ever-changing moods. He seemed fine when I went into his study. We had sex… and then he wasn’t. No, I don’t get it. I look to my subconscious. She’s whistling with her hands behind her back and looking anywhere but at me. She hasn’t got a clue, and my inner goddess is still basking in remnant of post-coital glow. No – we’re all clueless.
I towel-dry my hair, comb it through with Christian’s one and only hair implement, and put my hair up in a bun. Kate’s plum dress hangs laundered and ironed in the closet along with my clean bra and panties. Mrs. Jones is a marvel.
Oh, so when she’s just hanging around Christian’s house, being all slutty and MILFy, doing shit like offering to cook you breakfast, she’s a blonde devil, but when she’s done your laundry, she’s all good. I’ll add that to my running tally of ways to be a good friend to Ana Steele.
So, overdressed in Kate’s outfit, Ana goes out to the kitchen to fight with Christian over whether or not she’ll eat breakfast. He tells Mrs. Jones to make her pancakes and bacon and eggs, and he’s just going to have an omelet with some fruit. Maybe Christian likes his ladies on the hefty side, then?
While Mrs. Jones cooks (hey, wait, Mrs. Jones… wait a minute… did Elsa not die in that crevasse, as we were led to believe by Mr. Spielberg?), Chedward and Ana discuss whether or not she has a plane ticket for Georgia (he actually says “air ticket” but I’m bored of pointing out how British these all-American kids sound), and she doesn’t. She’s just going to buy it on the internet. Because unemployed, fresh-out-of-college kids have enough money to buy a last minute flight cross-country. Happens all the time. It’s cool, though, because Christian, the billionaire who never actually does anything to earn his money, has a jet he’d like to offer her. She turns him down (no one has ever said no to him, remember?) and then he wants to know where she’s interviewing for jobs. She won’t tell him (no one ever says no). They eat and discuss her trip a bit more, and he threatens to track her phone, and then they talk about whether or not they’ll miss each other while she’s away:
How could he mean so much to me in such a short time? He’s got right under my skin… literally.
Figuratively, I believe, is the word you’re trying to use. Unless he gave you scabies. And the reason he means so much to you is because he forced intimacy between the two of you. Oh, and because the author desperately wants the reader to believe there is some sort of blistering connection between the two of them despite them having nothing in common besides physical intimacy. Then, it’s on to a job interview.
It is late afternoon, and I sit nervous and fidgeting in the lobby waiting for Mr. J. Hyde of Seattle Independent Publishing. This is my second interview today, and the one I’m most anxious about. My first interview went well, but it was for a larger conglomerate with offices based throughout the US, and I would be on of the many editorial assistants there. I can imagine being swallowed up and spat out pretty quickly in such a corporate machine.
Gosh, I hope you conveyed that to them during the interview.
The receptionist is a young African-American woman with large silver earrings and long straightened hair. She has a bohemian look about her, the sort of woman I could be friendly with. The thought is comforting. Every few moments, she glances up at me, away from computer and smiles reassuringly. I tentatively return her smile.
Ana, your white guilt is showing. “See, I’m not racist! I imagine that I could be friends with a black person! Look at me! I love black people!” And all the whole time, that poor receptionist is looking up, smiling, thinking, “Why is that girl staring at me? Is she still… she is. She’s still staring at me. God, I hope they don’t hire her, she is creeping me out.”
My flight is booked; my mother is in seventh heaven that I am visiting; I am packed, and Kate has agreed to drive me to the airport. Christian has ordered me to take my BlackBerry and the Mac. I roll my eyes at the memory of his overbearing bossiness, but I realize now that’s just the way he is. He likes control over everything, including me.
Well, if that’s just the way he is, that’s okay then, I suppose? “It’s okay, he just likes controlling every aspect of my life and totally negating any sense of personal agency I might have. It’s cool.” This fucking guy.
Another lady with unblonde hair comes out to get Ana, and she can’t tell her age, because she might be in her late thirties, or possibly her forties, and “It’s so difficult to tell with older women.” Shut the fuck up, Ana. Older women my ass. You’re twenty-two, you shut your mouth before I smack it shut. “older women.” “Forties.” Indeed.
She gives me a polite smile, her cool hazel eyes assessing me. I am wearing one of Kate’s dresses, a black pinafore over a white blouse, and my black pumps. Very interview, I think.
Really? Because the second you say “pinafore” I think “Gothic Lolita.”
I launch into details of my librarianship at the campus central library, and my one experience of interviewing an obscenely rich despot for the student magazine. I gloss over the part that I didn’t actually write the article. I mention the two literary societies that I belonged to and conclude with working at Clayton’s and all the useless knowledge I now possess about hardware and DIY.
I know that when I interview for a job, the first thing I do is blindly tell my prospective employers that I find knowledge gained via life experience totally fucking useless. But somehow, Ana kind of aces the interview. She doesn’t like Jack Hyde, the guy who interviews her, because he’s not down with classic literature. I think she’s going to be disappointed by the publishing industry as a whole. I’m not saying that people who work in publishing don’t read or enjoy classic literature, but it’s not like they’re going to make any money off it, so why would they sit around talking about it all the time? Of course they’re going to want to discuss contemporary writers. I sit here, thinking meanly that I would not hire her because she’s a snob.
Ana’s flight doesn’t leave until night time, so she comes home to find Kate looking gorgeous again, unpacking boxes because Ana has been way too busy having sex with her boyfriend to get their new apartment taken care of. They talk about Ana’s interview, but not for long, because they have to move on to the really important stuff, which is now and forever shall be Christian Grey without end, amen:
“I really like the second place. I think I could fit in there. The guy who interviewed me was unnerving though,” I trail off – shit I’m talking to foghorn Kavanagh here. Shut up Ana!
“Oh?” The Katherine Kavanagh radar for an interesting tidbit of information swoops into action – a tidbit that will only resurface at some inopportune and embarrassing moment, which reminds me.“Incidentally – will you please stop winding Christian up? Your comment about Jose at dinner yesterday was out of line. He’s a jealous guy. It doesn’t do any good, you know.”
You know what, Ana? Say what you fucking mean. Say, “If you make him jealous, he will beat me. Not have consensual BDSM fun times with me, he will beat me out of anger, as he has done in the past.” But that can’t happen. Because even though Kate asks if she’s going to Georgia to escape Christian, even though she offers to be non-judgmental if Ana opens up and tells her what is going on, this is what Ana chooses to share, and how Kate responds:
“Oh, Kate.” I hug her. “I think I’ve really fallen for him.”“Ana, anyone can see that. And he’s fallen for you. He’s mad about you. Won’t take his eyes off you.”I laugh uncertainly.“Do you think so?”“Hasn’t he told you?”“Not in so many words.”“Have you told him?”“Not in so many words.” I shrug apologetically.“Ana! Someone has to make the first move, otherwise you’ll never get anywhere.” What… tell him how I feel?
“I’m just afraid I’ll frighten him away.”“And how do you know he’s not feeling the same?”
Hey, friend. I feel like you might be in an abusive relationship. I’m trying really hard to point that out to you that he’s controlling and scary. You know what I think you should do? TELL HIM THAT YOU LOVE HIM, SO HE CAN TELL YOU THAT HE LOVES YOU AND THEN EVERYTHING WILL BE ALL BETTER.
I’m starting to hate Kate as much as Ana does.
Ana tells Kate that she and Christian don’t talk much, and Kate tells her this:
“That’ll be the sexing! If that’s going well, then that’s half the battle Ana.
What? Sex isn’t half the battle here at all. It’s not even part of the battle. The battle is the part where Ana isn’t allowed to visit her family or speak to her friends without first enduring emotional manipulation and finally acquiescing to some demand from her boyfriend. That is the battle. All of it. Not the sex.
Is Christian afraid of his feelings for me? Does he even have feelings for me? He seems very keen, says I’m his – but that’s just part of his I-must-own-and-have-everything-now – control-freak dominant self, surely. I realize that while I’m away, I will have to run through all our conversations again and see if I can pick out telltale signs.
Oh, gosh, I hope we get to read all about that. I’m certainly not tired at all of the constant loop of Christian Grey playing in Ana’s otherwise empty head.
Because he hasn’t emailed her all day, she sends him an email, sparking an exchange that covers whether or not Mrs. Jones the housekeeper is an ex-sub (she isn’t) and whether or not Ana would consider working for Christian’s company (she won’t). There’s also a lot of talk about tea, because they’re super American, and everyone knows that if there is one beverage associated with America and no other country at all, it’s tea.
Ana goes to the airport, where she finds out that she’s been upgraded to first class, which infuriates her, and the chapter ends.