So Christian has just left for lunch because he needs to clear his head after a crazy morning of e-mailing Ana and doing fuck-all at his actual job. But he’s an important business doer — he can’t just take the whole day off, you guys. He works so much actually:
Perhaps I should take the rest of the day off? But I can’t. I have a meeting with the mayor this afternoon. It’s irritating—I’m seeing him tomorrow at the Chamber of Commerce gala.
Suddenly I have an idea, and with a renewed sense of purpose I head toward a small store I know.
I’ll go ahead and spoil it for you: he buys diamonds for Ana so he can take his scruffy little Eliza Doolittle to the gala. The gala he doesn’t want to go to. And diamonds, which are typically mined in unethical ways in the countries that Christian pretends to be so desperate about helping. And, you know, he just HATES all of the fancy shit he’s forced to contend with because his life is so fancy. Weep for him, for he must attend meetings with mayors and galas, and he must — must — buy diamonds for women whom he wants to coerce into sexual encounters that they’re not totally comfortable with. Tragedy.
Christian heads home after his meeting with the mayor — the actual mayor! Wow, Christian is so important — and then asks Gail, his housekeeper who’s still processing a traumatic event, to put the satin sheets on his bed in the playroom so he can fuck Ana in there later.
“Yes, Mr. Grey,” she says, her tone a little surprised. She turns back to whatever she’s conjuring in the kitchen, leaving me a little baffled by her behavior.
Maybe Gail doesn’t approve, but it’s what I want from Ana.
Or maybe she’s wondering why you’re making plans to kink-fuck your clearly unwilling girlfriend while your ex is still missing. Or maybe she’s wondering how many things she’s going to have to clean once you’re done, and wondering why she ever took this job, and thinking that maybe she should just go and see her sister on the East Coast and move out there for a while. Sure, it might be hard to find a job for a bit, but it probably won’t involve cleaning butt plugs and washing cum-stained satin sheets for a sociopath. Maybe she could open a little flower shop and meet a nice guy who doesn’t make her polish his sex canes.
Run free, Gail.
But Gail doesn’t run free, and Christian heads to his study to look at his box of diamonds:
In my study I take the Cartier box from its bag. It’s a present for Ana, which I’ll give to her tomorrow in time for the gala: a pair of earrings. Simple. Elegant. Beautiful. Just like her. I smile; even in her chucks and jeans she has a certain gamine charm.
Just as a random example. No reason for picking Kristen Stewart in particular or anything.
Simple, elegant, and dressed-down — that’s Ana in a nutshell. Which is why he bought her expensive diamond earrings. Because he loves that she’s so casual — he loves it so much that he’s going to spend the entire series trying to change that about her. Aww.
Christian first muses that he hopes she accepts his gift, but then admits that if she was a proper submissive she’d be forced to accept his gifts — and it’s annoying that she won’t just sign the contract. But he loves how she keeps him guessing! Or he hates it. He can’t decide.
Back to the business that Christian does, Barney has some new solar-powered tablet designs for Africa. Christian is excited because he loves helping Africans... but is still totally fine about buying blood diamonds. Consistency!
Eventually, Welch calls Christian to say that Leila’s husband thinks Leila is visiting with her parents, but her parents think that she’s with her husband. That Leila — so resourceful and cunning. So long story short, nobody knows where she is, and I’m pretty sure (feel free to correct me) neither Christian nor Welch ever suggest trying to track Leila’s actual phone. Welch will, however, hack into the hospital’s CCTV records. Which isn’t particularly helpful, because while it may show them HOW Leila escaped, it won’t tell them where she’s gone since then. Unless she’s still hiding in the hospital, which she probably isn’t. How is everyone this terrible at their jobs?
At some point, Ana comes into the apartment while he’s in the middle of his important Deep Net call with Welch. Despite his obvious concern for Leila, which none of us could possibly doubt, he somehow manages to push aside his worry to get an instant boner for Ana — whom he wants to punish-fuck ASAP in the playroom. Mostly because she’s wearing a short skirt which drives him wild with lust, but also wild with jealousy because other men might have seen her skirt.
Other men — with other dicks.
My gaze rakes down her body to her naked legs. I’ve never seen her in such a short skirt, with so much of her flesh on display, and I’m not sure I approve. She’s for my eyes only.
We knowwwwwwww. We know. Trust me, we know. He’s an abuser who isolates his girlfriend from friends, family, and all other men. This possessiveness is meant to be sexy and attractive rather than awful. And it is awful, but James has already narrated this exact sentiment from Christian’s perspective SO many fucking times. He wants to own her like he owns planes and cars because of his sad moldy cheese childhood. He wants to rebuild his Mommy so he can hit her and fuck her. We know.
And let’s not overlook the fact that he wants to punish-fuck her in the playroom partly because she is wearing such a “short skirt.” Which is straight-up rape culture mentality. So thanks again for your endless contributions to feminism, EL James.
“I want you now. Here...fast, hard,” I murmur, as my hand runs up her naked thigh beneath her skirt. “Are you still bleeding?”
They spend a lot of time getting ready to have sex near a running shower:
We’re in a cloud of steam from the shower, and my shirt and pants are sticking to my body, but I don’t care.
Then why mention it? Or is this like when you ignore something by describing it?
Christian — mid-sexing, I guess — asks Ana how her return trip was. She says it was nice, and that First Class is truly the only way to travel! I like how unabashedly the consumerist greed is blended with all of the sex in these books. Because the only thing that gets Christian harder than Ana’s short, short skirts are iPads and a First Class plane tickets. I can’t believe that these two never just fully go for it and fuck on a pile of money while charging poor people to watch. You know they’ve thought about it.
Also mid-sexing, Ana tells Christian that she got a job with a publishing house. And instead of immediately wondering what portal she fell through into Neverland that allowed her to get a paid assistant job at a publishing house straight out of university with no prior experience or internships in the year 2011, he instead thinks:
Of course she’s found a job. Pride swells in my chest.
In the year 2011. At a publishing house. Straight out of university. With no prior experience.
Christian asks Ana if she’ll finally tell him which publishing house it is. She tells him. He promises he definitely won’t stalk the company. Spoiler — he does. He buys the company. You’re not surprised, I’m not surprised:
“Oh, the small one, good. Well done.” It’s the company that Ros identified as ripe for takeover. This will be easy.
I kiss Ana’s forehead. “Clever girl.”
“When do you start?”
“That soon, eh? I’d better take advantage of you while I still can. Turn around.”
Does he have a rule about not sleeping with women who have jobs, or?
Christian and Ana are still engaged in the world’s longest foreplay, and so Ana shyly tells Christian that Jose’s photography show is coming up. You remember Jose — the scary brown man that Christian rescued Ana from? The guy who definitely isn’t just a Latino Jacob? That guy. He has a photography show that Ana wants to attend with Christian, who last saw Jose when he was shoving him away from Ana and accusing him of being a rapist.
But Christian feels that attending the photography show will prove to Ana that he wants “more,” whatever the fuck that is, and so he agrees. Then he notes that Ana seemed really worried about telling him, and he can’t figure out why.
“Well, you just seem to be, um...on the jealous side.”
Yes. I’m jealous. The thought of Ana with anyone else is...unsettling. Very unsettling. “Yes, I am. And you’d do well to remember that. But thank you for asking. We’ll take Charlie Tango.”
Why did she seem nervous about telling me? Oh, is it because I’m jealous and possessive and I explode when other men talk to her? Oh, that. Yeah, that’s true. And she should remember it — or I’ll beat her! Haha. Anyway, I better make sure to fly into a student art show in my helicopter because that’s appropriate and definitely not a massive over-compensation for my fragile ego.
This guy! He’s so crazy! What’s not to love?
Ana asks if she can touch Christian. He says no, then asks her to turn over so he can fuck her from behind.
She’s still wet from earlier—from me, from her—I don’t know.
From... from both? Because you had sex? Because that’s how vaginas work?
But is he asking if she’s wet because her vagina is wet, or because she still has his semen inside of her? Why is he wondering that? Why would anyone narrate him wondering that? Oh, wait — let me keep reading:
In the moment I give a silent word of thanks to Dr. Greene: no more condoms. I ease into Ana and slowly, deliberately make her mine again.
You don’t thank Ana, of course, because she didn’t really have a choice. No, you thank the Dial-a-Gyno that you got to come to your apartment at a moment’s notice to inject your girlfriend full of hormones she’s never had to contend with before just so you don’t have to wear condoms and so you can really, truly feel like you own Ana’s body. And then later wonder if you can still feel your semen inside of her.
Ana and Christian towel off and go to have something to eat. Gail’s made Pasta alle Vongole! Christian loves Pasta alle Vongole! Nothing’s happening!
Delicious. Pasta alle Vongole, one of my favorites.
Haha! Sweet! Thanks for narrating it!
“Ten minutes?” I ask.
“Twelve,” she says.
What is happening.
Why is this scene in here.
What does EL James not understand about the function of dialog?
Will Leila pop out of the pasta at some point? Is this an important moment of foreshadowing? Has Gail poisoned the food (please God).
How does this book go from awful to dull in the space of a few sentences? Why is there no in-between?
She gives me a look as I head into my study. I ignore it. She’s seen me in less than my bathrobe before—what the hell is her problem?
She’s seen him in less than a bathrobe before? So... naked, then? Do you think she occasionally has had to come in and dust while he’s in the middle of a scene? Like the schedules just overlap and if she doesn’t clean all of his ben wa balls now, she’ll never find the time?
Anyway, she’s really smiling because she’s Mrs. Potts and Belle has come to save the Beast from his dark soul and the spell will be broken and she can stop being a teapot soon. I’m being only mildly facetious.
I check through some e-mails and my phone to see if there’s any news about Leila. Nothing—but since Ana’s arrival, I don’t feel as hopeless as I did earlier.
Proud of you, chief — you’re getting through someone else’s crisis like a real hero.
Twelve minutes later, just like Gail said!, Christian and Ana sit down to eat. Will this be relevant to anything?
“Sit.” I point to one of the barstools. Ana’s anxious eyes pass from me to Mrs. Jones.
Baby, I have staff. Get over it.
Don’t worry, Christian, eventually Ana will spread her wings and soar by learning to treat anyone who isn’t a billionaire like garbage. Just like you. You’re perfect for each other.
Christian asks Ana to tell him about Jose. This should go well:
“Well, we met the first day of college. He’s an engineering major, but his passion is photography.”
“That’s it.” Her evasive answers are irritating.
Her answers aren’t evasive — she told you about him. Which was your actual question. It’s not that she’s being evasive, it’s that what you really want to ask is: “Tell me, Ana — even though I know you were a virgin when we first slept together, did you maybe, like, suck Jose’s dick one time or something?”
Ana, who doesn’t get what Christian is really asking, adds that her step-dad, Ray, knows Jose’s dad, Jose (yes, really), because this definitely isn’t a rip-off of Twilight.
Christian drops the subject because Ana’s robe shifts and he can almost see her boob. It makes his dick hard. He asks if they can go have more sex, but Ana wants to know about the reason that Christian dramatically left Georgia first. That reason being that he left because his ex tried to kill herself in his apartment — the apartment Ana is currently sitting in — and said ex is presently missing, injured, and dealing with a mental health concern. Let’s see if he tells Ana about it, after chastising her for being “evasive”:
Leila. Shit. This I do not want to discuss. “Out of hand. But nothing for you to worry about, Anastasia. I have plans for you this evening.”
But I thought he was really, really worried about Ana’s safety all the time. Because that’s how he defends his need to stalk her in every part of this series. Just so concerned about her safety. All the time.
Christian asks Ana to get up in the ol’ Playroom because he wants to find a way to balance her needs with his — and he has an idea. An idea he won’t share with her, because this compromise he’s dreamed up will still be up to him. Because that’s how compromise works. This is also how compromise works:
“You can get ready in your room. Incidentally, the walk-in closet is now full of clothes for you. I don’t want any arguments about them.”
NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Not free clothes! Stop you monster!
Her mouth sets in a surprised o. And I give her a stern look, daring her to argue with me. Remarkably, she says nothing, and I head off to my study to send a quick e-mail to Ros telling her to start the process to acquire SIP as soon as possible.
SIP is the publishing house Ana just got hired at. He bought it literally minutes after she told him she was hired there, and minutes after he promised he definitely wouldn’t interfere with her job. And later, when Christian “gets better” — according to the book’s fans — he doesn’t actually sell the company or relinquish control. Instead, he renames it to Grey Publishing and makes Ana the CEO.
That’s how Christian “gets better” and learns to compromise. Just so we’re clear.
Christian scans his e-mail again to see if there are any updates about Leila. There aren’t. He’s free to fuck Ana some more and not worry about it. But God he’s so worried! He really is.
In my closet I remove my robe and slip on my favorite jeans.
The DJs, y’all.
As I do, images of Ana in my bathroom come to mind—her flawless back, then her hands pressed against the tiles while I fucked her.
Boy, the girl has stamina.
Let’s see how much.
There’s nothing more erotic than talking about your sexual partner like you’re her little league coach and you’re real proud of the effort she put in this afternoon.
Later, in the playroom, Ana raises her eyebrow at Christian when he reminds her of their safe words (it’s Yellow for ‘I’m at my limit’ and Red for ‘Please stop’).
She raises an eyebrow in obvious scorn, and is about to say something.
Oh no. Not in my playroom.
It’s always good to introduce your safe words by discouraging your partner from speaking.
“Don’t start with your smart mouth in here, Miss Steele. Or I will fuck it with you on your knees. Do you understand?”
As pleasing as that thought is, her obedience is what I want right now.
She swallows her chagrin.
“Yes, sir,” she says quickly.
“Good girl. My intention is not that you should use the safe word because you’re in pain. What I intend to do to you will be intense. Very intense, and you have to guide me. Do you understand?”
Uh, no? Because that makes no sense. I don’t know anything about BDSM, but then... neither does Ana. And before you ask, no — he doesn’t then go on to explain when she should use the safe words. So “because you’re in pain” is not an acceptable reason, but then what the fuck is?
Her face remains impassive, giving nothing away.
“This is about touch, Anastasia. You will not be able to see me or hear me. But you’ll be able to feel me.” Ignoring her confused look, I turn to the audio player above the chest and switch it to auxiliary mode.
I just want everyone to stop and acknowledge that he literally states that he knows she’s confused, and goes ahead and ignores that because — one last time — it’s all about him. She can’t safe word if she’s in pain because he knows all about BDSM and would never push her past her limit. What’s her limit? He’ll decide, not her.
This all seems kosher and safe and pleasant for everyone.
Christian then blindfolds her and pulls out an iPod with a transmitter so that they can both listen to the music at the same time.
What? Me, neither.
Let Christian explain:
“This sends what’s playing on the iPod to the system in the room. I can hear what you’re hearing, and I have a remote control unit for it.”
So Ana’s wearing headphones and a blindfold for one of her first major scenes, which means that she literally won’t have any clue what he’s about to do to her. She’s been told that she can’t safeword if she’s in pain, and that he knows it’ll be intense, but trust him — she can take it. Anyone with first-hand experience in BDSM want to rip this apart for me?
And also he seems to think that being able to listen to something on a stereo and headphones at the same time is magic alien space technology. And that a “remote control unit” is a phrase that anyone under the age of 86 would ever use.
Christian straps Ana to the bed, and thinks this not-creepy thought:
Has she ever looked this hot?
She’s totally and willingly at my mercy. The knowledge is intoxicating, and I stand for a moment to marvel at her generosity and courage.
For a guy who claims he has literally never had vanilla sex before, he really does seem to think that BDSM is the scariest, craziest, most wildest form of the sex in the whole wide world — and that it’s something that Ana needs “courage” to get through. Has he considered that he’s been fucking wrong this whole time and that maybe his partners should be eager, rather than terrified? Because I feel like sex shouldn’t be equated with terror. And it definitely shouldn’t be described as something that someone is “generously” offering to his or her partner.
Fuck this guy.
They have some terrifying kink sex (not really, he touches her nipples a bunch or something):
She cries out, I think in surprise, but she doesn’t safe-word.
Because you purposefully gave her no idea of what constitutes an appropriate use of the safe word, but sure — let’s pretend this absolves you of all responsibility.
She pulls at her shackles and calls out once more, a garbled cry—but it’s not the safe word. I lash the flogger over her breasts, and she tilts her head back and lets out a soundless cry, her mouth slack as she writhes on the red satin.
Still no safe word. Ana is embracing her inner freak.
I do want to be clear: I know that Ana does eventually grow to like this sex, provided Christian doesn’t use it against her (as he does later on) or hurt her too much (as he does later on). But I feel like this is EL James blatantly trying to salvage a questionable scene from the original series by having Christian say over and over, “Look — she so isn’t safe-wording, so I’m in the clear.”
Fine, but I’ll say it again: she was given no indication of when to safe-word, and was told that “pain” did not constitute a good reason to do so. That’s a TERRIBLE introduction to this lifestyle.
Anyway, like four thousand years later, Ana comes and RoboCheese feels the feels that he doesn’t know how to feel about because he’s never truly feeled before or whatever:
And finally she explodes around me, shouting out her release and pushing me into an intense, draining climax where I lose all sense of self. I collapse on top of her as my world shifts and realigns, leaving that unfamiliar emotion swirling in my chest, consuming me.
Just use the fucking word you over-dramatic child.
The swirling demon emotion trinkling down your love rod is love.
Just say it.
Please just say it.
I shake my head, trying to chase away the ominous and confusion feeling.
JUST SAY IT.
JUST SAY THE WORDS.
I can’t handle these bullshit vagueries. He knows what it is. He hasn’t literally lost his capacity for language when it comes to emotion. That’s not a real thing.
The music definitely contributed to what was almost a religious experience. I frown, attempting but failing to get a handle on my feelings.
...Okay, I’m back.
“Well done, you.” My voice is filled with pride.
She did it. She took it. She took it all.
This is so close to being a “That’ll do, Pig” meme that I can’t even use the Babe gif. It’s too on-the-nose. He cannot talk to a sexual partner like a little league coach. It’s so weird. It’s so, so weird.
Ana asks Christian what the music he beamed into her space headphones was. He says it was a Thomas Tallis four-part motet and that he’s always wanted to fuck to it. What a fancy motherfucker.
Literally. Because he wants to fuck his mother.
Please don’t forget that.
Speaking of not forgetting things, Ana asks — again — for Christian to tell her what she said in her sleep. He refuses again, because he needs to hold onto that information so he can manipulate her later. Stay tuned for that!
Christian and Ana have some inane pillow talk that you should be glad I’m not bothering to type out, and then Christian drifts off to sleep. But something — something is invading his very heart’s chamber! WHAT COULD IT BE??!?!?!?!?!?!
I close my eyes, fighting the disquieting sensation that surges and fills my chest once more. It’s like homesickness and a homecoming rolled into one...and it’s terrifying.
YOU GUYS WHAT IS IT I CAN’T FIGURE IT OUT WHAT COULD IT BE WHAT IS FEELS WHAT FEEL CHRISTIAN ROBOT MAN. HE KNOW ONLY BUSINESS BUT NOW VIRGIN MAKE HIM FEEL CHEST FEELS WHAT IS CHEST FEELS.
Feel free to write your predictions in the comments. Personally, I hope it’s the first sign of a stroke.