Aaaand we’re back. I don’t think I have any 50 Shades links or anything to share this time around (and if I do, I’m sure they’ll keep), so let’s get right into the recap, because I have a date with a 40 vol. bleaching kit I’d like to keep.
Ana has a dream that she’s a moth and she’s burning to death, and when she wakes up, it’s all been a metaphor for the fact that Christian Grey is one of those close sleeper guys:
I open my eyes, and I’m draped in Christian Grey. He’s wrapped around me like a victory flag. He’s fast asleep with his head on my chest, his arm over me, holding me close, one of his legs thrown over and hooked around both of mine. He’s suffocating me with his body heat, and he’s heavy.
I used to get drunk and pass out next to a friend of mine, and I would always wake up like this, in the iron grip of dude with a mountain of abandonment issues. Ana has to “process” Christian still being there, and she decides she’s going to use the opportunity to touch him. She barely puts her fingers on him, and he wakes up immediately. So, don’t try to steal Christan Grey’s wallet while he’s sleeping, okay?
Christian frowns when he finds himself all twined around her, and says, “‘Jesus, even in my sleep I’m drawn to you.’” I would argue that it’s the only time he appears to be drawn to her, because we’ve heard all about his cool, impersonal distance for the entire book so far. But whatever. He has morning wood, and Ana, who has been sleeping with him, who has discussed what anal activities she’s up for, is all wide-eyed and embarrassed by his erection.
I flush, but then I feel seven shades of scarlet from his heat.
Seven shades of scarlet, fifty shades of grey, are we sure Ana wasn’t an art major instead of an English major? Christian realizes that he’s overslept for the meeting he needs to be at in Portland. He blames Ana, of course, but he grins when he does it, so it’s a joke, I guess? He gets out of bed and puts on his jacket to leave. So, you’re gonna just roll into that meeting in sweaty, slept-in clothes, is that how you’re gonna play it? Okay, you’re the billionaire. He reminds her that she’s not allowed to drive her car, and that he expects her at his house on Sunday. He’s going to email her a time, because Ana is the only twenty-one year old who doesn’t text. Ana is all smug because Christian stayed over:
Oh my, Christian Grey spent the night with me, and I feel rested. And there was no sex, only cuddling. He told me he never slept with anyone – but he’s slept three times with me.
Pardon me if I don’t immediately laud him for his commitment to you, Ana. The first time, you were drunk and unconscious, so he shouldn’t have been in a bed with you in the first place. The second time, you’d just lost your virginity to him, so the least he could have done on the post-sex politeness scale was let you stay over. This time you were sobbing uncontrollably before he even considered staying. Of course, Ana is feeling a lot better now, so she decides to write Christian an email. Remember, in the last chapter he asked her to talk about their relationship via email, because she expresses herself better there.
You wanted to know why I felt confused after you – which euphemism should we apply – spanked, punished, beat, assaulted me. Well during the whole alarming process I felt demeaned, debased and abused. And much to my mortification, you’re right, I was aroused, and that was unexpected. As you are well aware, all things sexual are new to me – I only wish I was more experienced and therefore more prepared. I was shocked to feel aroused.
Please note, she’s still using some pretty loaded language to describe the spanking. Beat. Assaulted. And she felt some pretty negative emotions. Now, some people really like feeling those emotions during sex. But consensual BDSM should fulfill the needs of both partners.
I was happy that you were happy. I felt relieved that it wasn’t as painful as I thought it would be. And when I was lying in your arms, I felt sated. But I feel very uncomfortable, guilty even, feeling that way.
That sounds fulfilling, doesn’t it? Oh, shit, no it doesn’t. Being happy that someone else is happy because you did something you found unpleasant isn’t the same thing as taking genuine happiness away from the experience. Discomfort and guilt aren’t hallmarks of fulfillment.
Despite the fact that he’s supposed to be running late for a meeting, Christian responds, telling Ana that it wasn’t assault, it was spanking.
So you felt demeaned, abused & assaulted – how very Tess Durbeyfield of you. I believe it was you who decided on the debasement if I remember correctly. Do you really feel like this or do you think you ought to feel like this? Two very different things. If that is how you feel, do you think you could just try and embrace these feelings, deal with them, for me? That’s what a submissive would do.
In other words, “I didn’t make you feel bad, you made yourself feel bad. It’s your fault, and you’d better fix it to make me happy. The other women would.”
I am grateful for your inexperience. I value it, and I’m only beginning to understand what it means. Simply put… it means that you are mine in every way.
Of course, Ana realizes how creepy this sentiment is and immediately fires off an email telling him that she doesn’t belong to anyone. Ha, just kidding. His email goes on to explain that he’s not just happy, he’s “ecstatic” and that the spanking he gave her was “about as hard as it gets” because it was meant as a punishment. He doesn’t want her to “waste your energy on guilt, feelings of wrongdoing etc.” Of course he doesn’t. If she did, she might realize that he’s the one who should feel guilty, because while he states that they’re consenting adults, he obtained her “consent” through dubious means. If she examined their relationship, even a little bit, she might realize this. She emails back that she will try to embrace her feelings of shame, and says that if she wanted out, she’d have run to Alaska by now. Then he emails her back, lines upon lines of totally not creepy stuff:
For the record – you stood beside me knowing what I was going to do.
You didn’t at any time ask me to stop – you didn’t use either safe word.
You are an adult – you have choices.
Quite frankly, I’m looking forward to the next time my palm is ringing with pain.
You’re obviously not listening to the right part of your body.
Alaska is very cold and no place to run. I would find you.
I can track your cell phone – remember.
Remember that Enrique Iglesias song, “Escape”? Where he was like, “You can run, you can hide, but you can’t escape my incredibly shrill falsetto?” I’m pretty sure that’s how the lyrics went. Anyway, there was a part of that song, near the end, where instead of saying, “You can run, you can hide, but you can’t escape my love,” I’m pretty sure he’s saying, “You can run, you can die, but you can’t escape my love.” Which makes me think he’s going to find this now-deceased woman and fuck her corpse. I don’t know what it is about that email from Christian that reminded me of that. No clue. None at all.
The Audi is a joy to drive. It has power steering. Wanda, my Beetle, has no power in it at all – anywhere, so my daily workout, which was driving my Beetle, will cease.
Time for a patented Jen Car Nitpick. Vintage Beetles didn’t have power steering, it’s true, but they didn’t need power steering. Beetles were purposely made light weight. Plus, vintage Beetles were rear-engine cars, meaning the bulk of the weight was in the back, so when you turn the wheel, you’re not trying to fight with your unwieldy, laden down front-end. Sure, steering is going to be more challenging at low speeds, but it’s not like, say, driving a much heavier modern front engine car with broken power steering. It’s not going to be a “work out”.
Ana thinks some more about their morning emails, and how of course it’s her choice whether or not to be with him. She’s not sure she can just lie back and accept her feelings. She doesn’t want BDSM, but she does want Christian.
It’s Ana’s last day at the hardware store, and at lunch time, a courier on a motorcycle shows up with yet another gift from Christian. Think about the last time you got a surprise gift from a loved one, and how you felt. Now compare that with Ana’s reaction:
My heart sinks. What has Christian sent me now? I sign for the small package and open it straight away. It’s a BlackBerry. My heart sinks further. I switch it on.
Isn’t it weird how you put a piece of technology in your book, and then in a while it’s outdated? I do that shit all the time, and it always bites me in the ass. I’ve got characters in Blood Ties who are running around with shitty little flip phones. In two years, mark me, someone is going to read this book and go, “What, he didn’t just send her an implantable mind-link device? Hah, this book is so OLD.”
Christian has already emailed her to explain the present:
I need to be able to contact you at all times, and since this is your most honest form of communication, I figured you needed a BlackBerry.
Hey Ana, do you ever notice that any gift Christian gives you fulfills a need for him? Anyway, Ana is pissed off by the gift, so they email each other about it. I’ve bitched all along about how Ana is unbelievable as a college student because she doesn’t have a computer or an email address, but she picks up that BlackBerry straight out of the box and starts emailing. That’s vivid realism there, because you have to be under twenty-five to understand smart phones.
At four, Mr. and Mrs. Clayton gather all the other employees int he shop, and during a hair-curlingly embarrassing speech, present me with a check for three hundred dollars.
In that moment, three weeks of – exams, graduation, intense, fucked up billionares, deflowering, hard & soft limits, playrooms with no consoles, helicopter rides – and the fact that I will move tomorrow, all well up inside me. Amazingly, I hold myself together. My subconscious is in awe. I hug the Claytons hard. They have been kind and generous employers, and I will miss them.
Ignoring the insanely fucked-up grammar in that passage (is that an ampersand?!), check out the very telling dichotomy drawn by her acceptance of the money from the Claytons and her reaction to the BlackBerry. She can accept the gift from her employers because they have been kind and generous without asking anything else of her. She knows that their check comes without strings, because that is the kind of people they are. The BlackBerry isn’t a selfless gift. It was given to her expressly to facilitate communication at all times with Christian. But of course, that isn’t covered in the text.
Ana gets home in her new car (given to Ana to assuage Christian’s worry), just in time for Kate to see her driving it. Kate is still not convinced by Christian’s “Mr. Wonderful” act, but she suggests they finish packing. She must have given up trying to save Ana. Of course, before Ana can do anything, she has to check her email, and of course, Christian has emailed her. He tells her to be at his place at one on Sunday, and the doctor will see her at one-thirty. At this point, I was just praying we wouldn’t have to go through her entire gynecological visit, with Christian looming over the doctor’s shoulder, scowling possessively the whole time. Ana doesn’t email him back, and goes instead to pack. Taylor the bodyguard shows up for her Beetle, which has nothing but a flashlight in it. I call bullshit. How long has she had this car, and there’s no other personal items in it? No books, no sweatshirts, shoes, sunglasses, coffee cups, just a flashlight? I can’t buy it.
Taylor tells Ana that Christian is a “good man,” but Ana isn’t sure she can believe him. Which bodes well for this relationship, right? If you can’t tell if the person you’re dating is a good person or not? After they’re finished packing, Jose shows up with take out, and alcohol. Because Ana can’t go a day without biting her lip or pounding back booze.
The atmosphere between Jose and I has returned to normal, the attempted kiss forgotten. Well, it’s been swept under the rug that my inner goddess is lying on, eating grapes and tapping her fingers, waiting not so patiently for Sunday. There’s a knock at the door, and my heart leaps into my throat. Is it?
Is it what? Is it Sunday? I don’t live on the west coast, so I don’t know how time announces itself there. Here, it just barges right in. As for this thing with Jose, really? He acted pretty rapetacular toward you, and you’ve just forgotten it because your inner goddess is horny. Okay, fine. Whatever. I give up at this point.
Kate answers the door and is nearly knocked off her feet by Elliot. He seizes her in a Hollywood-style clinch that moves quickly into a European art house embrace. Honestly… get a room. Jose and I stare at each other. I’m appalled at their lack of modesty.
Says the kettle whose boyfriend strolled half-naked into the kitchen to get refreshments while she was tied up, naked, in bed. I would like Ana a whole lot more if sex wasn’t this thing that was only okay for her to do with her one true cock. The amount of slut-shaming in this book is amazing. “Oh, yeah, my boyfriend totally ties me up and seriously asked if he could jam his fist up my asshole, but ew, gross, are you for real making out right in front of me? Unacceptable. Only whoores do that.”
Because they are just so disgusted by the sight of two adults kissing, Jose and Ana are going to go to the bar. That’s a good idea, because nothing weird happened between them down there last time.
As we stroll down to the bar, I put my arm through Jose’s. God, he’s so uncomplicated – I hadn’t really appreciated that before.
Oh yeah, he’s uncomplicated NOW, but when he starts turning into a werewolf, that’s when things get complicated.
After a brief, not-at-all-awkward-thank-goodness hug, Jose has gone. I don’t know when I’ll see him again, probably at his photographic show, and once again, I’m blown away that he finally has an exhibition. I shall miss him and his boy-ish charm. I couldn’t bring myself to tell him about the Beetle, I know he’ll freak when he finds out, and I can only deal with one man at a time freaking out at me.
Ana is in luck, because a man does freak out at her. Christian, via email, writes:
Are you still at work or have you packed your phone, BlackBerry and MacBook?
Call me, or I may be forced to call Elliot.
And Elliot will answer like Brad Pitt in Fight Club, with one elbow length yellow rubber glove on. Which, unfortunately, I could not find a picture of. But you know what scene I’m talking about.
Crap… Jose… shit.
I grab my phone. Five missed calls and one voice message. Tentatively, I listen to the message. It’s Christian.
‘I think you need to learn to manage my expectations. I am not a patient man. If you say you are going to contact me when you finish work, then you should have the decency to do so. Otherwise, I worry, and it’s not an emotion I’m familiar with, and I don’t tolerate it very well. Call me.’
Double crap. Will he ever give me a break? I scowl at the phone. He is suffocating me. With a deep dread uncurling in my stomach, I scroll down to his number and press dial. My heart is in my mouth as I wait for him to answer. He’d probably like to beat seven shades of shit out of me.
“I’d love to stay, baby, but my sister is back from Paris. It’s a compulsory family dinner tonight.”
“Can you come by after?” Kate asks tentatively, all soft and un-Katelike.
I stand and make my way over to the kitchen area on the pretense o unpacking one of the crates. They are going to get icky.
God, why can’t they just discuss anal fisting and sign contracts like normal couples?
Elliot is adorable and so different from Christian. He’s warm, open, physical, very physical, too physical, with Kate. They can barely keep their hands off each other – to be honest it’s embarrassing – and I am pea-green with envy.
At least Ana is self-aware enough to acknowledge the fact that she’s jealous of the normalcy of Kate and Elliot’s relationship. Although I find it laughable that Elliot is “too physical” with Kate, while Christian has a room devoted to the many ways he likes to beat women.
Kate brings back pizza (what, no vino?) and they enjoy their super expensive apartment that looks out on Pike Place Market. Then the door buzzes, and it’s a delivery boy with a bottle of champagne (there it is!) and a balloon shaped like a helicopter.
“Christian flew me to Seattle in his helicopter.” I shrug.
Kate stares at me open mouthed. I have to say – I love these occasions – Katherine Kavanagh, silent and floored, they are so rare. I take a brief and luxurious moment to enjoy it.
“Yep, he has a helicopter, which he flew himself,” I state proudly.
“My boyfriend has a helicopter and yours doesn’t. Neener neener!” Notice how Christian can’t just send her the champagne, he has to make it about him, somehow? “Hey, I got you this moving in present. Remember how I have a helicopter? I have a helicopter.” He’s like a hyperactive four-year-old shouting, “Look what I can do!” over and over. Kate expresses concern over the delivery, because Ana didn’t give Christian their new address. Christian emails Ana with the codes to get into his building, and the next day she’s headed over there. She wears the plum-colored dress, make up and heels, because dressing down for your first gynecological appointment is so gauche.
Christian is seated on his living room couch reading the Sunday papers. He glances up as Taylor directs me into the living area. The room is exactly as I remember it – it’s been a whole week since I’ve been here – but it feels so much longer. Christian looks cool and calm – actually, he looks heavenly. He’s in a loose white linen shirt and jeans, no shoes or socks. His hair is tousled and unkempt, and his gray eyes twinkle wickedly at me. He is jaw-droppingly handsome.
I imagine that Ana looks like this every time she sees Christian:
Just an FYI for those reading along at home, I’ve stopped commenting on the number of times Ana flushes in this chapter, because it’s really a lot. An intrusive amount, most readers would agree. There is a picture of the two of them in the newspaper, taken at Ana’s graduation. She’s basically like, “that’s nice, let’s fuck,” but Christian reminds her that the good doctor will be there to get her all chemically neutered in just a little bit. Ana has forgotten about the doctor visit, but Christian has this shit all handled. He’s even gotten a real OB/GYN and everything.
Christian frowns suddenly as if recalling something unpleasant.
“Anastasia, my mother would like you to come to dinner this evening. I believe Elliot is asking Kate too. I don’t know how you feel about that. It will be odd for me to introduce you to my family.”
Because you’re so clumsy, you might wound yourself and then one of his siblings will try to eat you? That’s just off the top of my head. They get into a little tiff, and I’m not sure whose side I’m on. Ana has been crushingly embarrassed of Christian every single time he’s been introduced to one of her friends or family members, but she can’t understand why it would be weird for Christian to be in the same situation? And Christian’s mom walked in on them in bed together. You know, I met my mother-in-law in the exact same way, and the second meeting is crazy uncomfortable. I get why Christian doesn’t want to live through that. However, he’s perfectly fine insinuating himself into every facet of Ana’s life, so tit-for-tat, Christian.
The doctor arrives, after what is arguably the shortest half-hour ever written about in the history of books.
“You’re not going to come as well are you?” I gasp, shocked.
“I’d pay very good money to watch, believe me, Anastasia, but I don’t think the good doctor would approve.”
Um, ew? I’m suddenly not believing his “hard limit” about not being into gynecological instruments.
I take his hand, and he pulls me up into his arms and kisses me deeply. I clutch on to his arms, taken by surprise. His hand is in my hair holding my head, and he pulls me against him, his forehead against mine.
Oh, come on. She’s getting a pap smear, not getting into the last lifeboat off the Titanic. And Ana thinks Kate and Elliot are too mushy?
Christian tells Ana that he can’t wait to get her naked (wait your turn!) and the chapter ends without advancing the plot at all.