So after a brief hiatus I’m back with more soul-crushing trash for you to feast on. If you recall from the last post, Christian is contemplative and thoughtful about Ana and poor people and Africa — but mostly Ana.
It’s after one in the morning when I go to bed. Staring at the ceiling, I’m tired, relaxed, but also excited, anticipating what the week will bring. I hope to have a new project: Miss Anastasia Steele.
Which is handy, because you seem to have a lot of free time in-between racist, condescending, and vague charitable work; and that company you own but never spend any time working at.
On that note, because he’s a billionaire CEO with so much free time, he goes for a morning run where the “sun’s rays are shimmering through the high-rise buildings” because Byron Grey is back to romance you with his poetical observations.
The sidewalk trees are newly green with spring leaves;
I’m going to be insanely picky here and say that — even though EL James has clearly gone to painstaking and unnecessary lengths to map out Seattle’s technical geography — it’s her failure to understand basic things about the Pacific North West that drives me slightly nuts.
By May 23rd, when this chapter takes place, the trees would not be “newly green” with leaves — they would have been “newly green” at least a month earlier. I know that this doesn’t matter to the story, but if you’re going to add in random and unnecessary descriptions of your surroundings, you should probably aim for a modicum of accuracy.
I still don’t understand why she didn’t just uproot this series to England because she gets absolutely nothing right about this region, and the location itself doesn’t matter to the story anyway — apart from reminding you that this was once Twilight fanfiction.
Anyway, Byron Grey was busy describing the many hedgerows and tea shops and classic pubs of Seattle, so let’s get back to it:
the air is clean, the traffic quiet. I’ve slept well. “O Fortuna” from Orff’s Carmina Burana is blaring in my ears.
Of course it is.
Christian finishes his run and returns to his hotel room where EL James makes me look quite the fool by having Christian go through all of his important CEO business for the day:
By 7:45am I’m in front of my laptop, having showered and ordered breakfast.
All details we needed to know.
I e-mail Andrea to let her know I’ll be working from Portland for the week and to ask her to reschedule any meetings so that they can take place by phone or videoconference.
Back at the office, Andrea presumably pours all of the milk down the sink in celebration.
I e-mail Gail to let her know I won’t be home until Thursday evening at the earliest.
Back at his apartment, Gail presumably pours all of the milk down the sink in celebration.
Then I work through my inbox and find among other things a proposal for a joint venture with a shipyard in Taiwan. I forward it to Ros to add to the agenda of items we need to discuss.
Why are we having to listen to any of this? None of it will ever be relevant to the story and it all just reads as EL James going, “See? He works.” I don’t care. This insanely dull paragraph could’ve been summed up in a single short sentence, and none of it convinces me that he’s capable of holding down a part-time job at the mall, let alone running a multinational corporation.
Then Christian e-mails Elena, whom the book doesn’t bother to contextualize for its readers, so I will. Just in case you forgot which horrible non-Ana woman this is, Elena is Christian’s Mother’s close friend who introduced him to hard-core BDSM when he was 15 in order to help cure his temper and penchant for schoolyard brawling. And she seems to have done a bang-up job.
Elena wants to have dinner — the tramp — and Christian wonders what she’d think of Ana. That’s pretty much it for now. But we had to hear about it.
Then Christian gets an e-mail from Ana which is exactly the same e-mail that we read in the original book where she confirms that she received the laptop and calls him “Sir.”
“Sir” with a capital S; the girl has been reading, and possibly researching.
Why are you separating those two concepts?
And she’s still talking to me.
Half the time, Christian Grey acts like he invented BDSM and that — even though he claims he’s had extensive experience in the community at large — he’s floored that anyone else might be into it. Someone needs to sit him down and explain that he’s not the world’s most special nipple-clamped snowflake.
Either way, Christian is annoyed that Ana won’t accept the computer and instead asks that he consider it a loan. Remember now — he really wants to make sure she’s not a gold-digger, even though he does everything in his power to impress her with his wealth. The wealth that he hopes she doesn’t want.
While Christian waits for Ana to reply to his e-mail, which amounts to “shut up and take it,” he does even MORE business. Normally I wouldn’t bore you again so soon with another round of important Africa business, but this is so tremendously silly that I think you’ll enjoy it anyway:
I resume reading my e-mail as a distraction while I wait for her reply. There’s an executive summary from Fred, the head of my telecom division, about the development of our solar-powered tablet — one of my pet projects. It’s ambitious but few of my business ventures matter more than this one and I’m excited about it. Bringing affordable first world technology to the third world is something I’m determined to do.
Holy shit, you guys. A solar-powered tablet.
A solar-powered tablet.
He’s not developing, say, a solar-powered battery or a solar-powered docking station where people would be able to charge multiple units at once or power their homes or workplaces. No, no — he’s ensuring that people in the “third world” will — at last — have mobile internet access. Which will be affordable... somehow. Because it doesn’t seem like he’s giving these tablets away for free.
And how big are these fucking tablets going to be if he needs to strap a solar panel to each of them? More importantly, is Christian Grey aware of the fact that Smartphones and Cell Phones are already ubiquitous in many of the “third world”?
This absolute moron is going to spend months developing something these people don’t need because he (but really EL James) can’t spend five seconds doing a cursory Google search?
Jesus fucking Christ. This book will really kill me.
A solar-powered tablet.
Anyway, this insane bullshit was just a distraction until EL James could recycle another one of her horrible flirtatious e-mails from the original book where Ana confirms she’s doing research and calls him Sir again. He’s pleased — but also PISSED:
The tone of her e-mail makes me smile, but it seems she’s off to work, so this might be the last one for a while.
Why didn’t you buy her a Smartphone, then? Oh, that’s right — you’re not aware that they exist.
Her reluctance to accept the damned computer is annoying. But I suppose it shows she’s not acquisitive. She’s no gold-digger—rare among the women I’ve known...yet Leila was the same.
Ah, yes — rare among the women you’ve known, and yet not rare at all among the women you’ve known. Makes sense.
We get another unnecessary flashback where Leila refuses to accept a fancy dress because EL James doesn’t trust you to understand what not being a gold-digger means. Christian forces her to accept it anyway, though, just in case you thought he would let a woman get away with not being interested in his money. Even though he hates it when women are interested in his money. Like all women, and yet no women.
Christian then think-informs the reader that Leila became “too attached,” so he had to cut her loose. She got married and is fine now, by the way, so she definitely won’t come up later. Even though we already know she’ll come up later. In this book. But fine. She’s fine, and I’m glad we know that. So later we can be really surprised when she turns up and isn’t fine. Which she clearly is.
Christian switches back to thinking about Ana’s e-mail and how she chastised him for not working which, despite being true, makes him angry.
I’m starting to think that maybe Grey Enterprises Holdings is all some mass Truman Show delusion that his family has organized where they’ve hired a bunch of actors to pretend to be workers and business people so that Christian has something to do all day, but in a way where his out-of-touch insanity can’t really affect anyone or anything important.
That’s the only way I can buy a board full of people going, “Yeah, Christian — we’ll definitely send that cargo to ‘Darfur.’ And that solar-powered tablet is almost ready, buddy, don’t you worry.” And then someone Photoshops an image of boxes being parachuted into “Darfur,” sends it to his Yahoo e-mail account, and he sits back feeling pleased with himself.
That must be what’s going on here.
And if you aren’t convinced, then consider this:
The sassy wench is implying I don’t do any work.
Well to hell with that!
I spy Fred’s rather dry summary report open on my desktop and decide to set the record straight with Ana.
I see actual work that I need to do, and then — instead of doing it — I write an e-mail to my girlfriend who just accused me of not working. To tell her that I need to work because of how busy I am at work.
And then — I’m not kidding you — this is the next thing he thinks:
I find it impossible to concentrate on my work, waiting for the telltale ping to announce a new e-mail from Ana.
This guy does not have a real job. This is a trust fund version of The Game and everyone knows it but him.
Anyway, Christian gets an e-mail from Elena — his former lover-cum-rapist — and he wonders if he should tell her about Ana. He doesn’t, but we had to hear about the pointless e-mail anyway.
He does more important business e-mailing that involves plenty of technical abbreviations and vague references to charitable endeavors, I fall asleep, he thinks more about his fantastic idea for a solar-powered tablet, and then his butler/driver/manservant/random worker Taylor interrupts him to drop off some clothes.
None of this is important. All of it is presented in excruciating detail.
But this whole thing has really been a set-up to show Christian being a NICE GUY to a male employee again. He tells Taylor to take the week off and visit his daughter (whose schooling Christian pays for because he’s SO NICE even though she’s a future woman), but it’s a no-go because Taylor’s ex-wife is being a total bitch. Because all women in this series, apart from Ana, are horrible, nasty, incompetent, unfunny, slutty, conniving, irritating, frustrating, and — above all else — insatiably horny for Christian Grey.
I’m half surprised that Christian doesn’t let the reader know that Taylor had to get divorced because his wife was too wet for Christian and that Christian feels almost guilty for tearing apart their marriage with his handsome face and giant whale dick.
Instead, he thinks about Ana and all of the sexy things she’s probably doing at work:
I wonder how her day at Clayton’s has been, pricing cable ties and measuring out lengths of rope. I hope one day I’ll get to use them on her.
Before putting her into the trunk of my car and driving to a particularly deep lake.
At some point, Ana comes home from work and they resume the EXACT SAME fucking e-mail conversation from the first book. The exact same. Sometimes with no interjections from Christian.
After I scroll for a bit, Ana asks the iconic “What do I put into a search engine” question because she is an 80 year old woman and not a recent college graduate in the 21st century who has a degree in English literature.
Christian, instead of wondering how the fuck Ana researched, wrote, or submitted any papers for the last 4 years, can’t believe how stupid he was to set her the project of “researching BDSM” without giving her a place to start. Which is... true.
Shit! Why didn’t I think about this? I could have given her some books. Numerous websites spring to mind—but I don’t want to frighten her off.
Perhaps she should start witht he most vanilla...
And he recommends — you guys aren’t ready for this — Wikipedia.
Then Christian — the very busy and important businessman who’s just spent an entire day e-mail flirting with his girlfriend and telling his assistants that he’s not going to be in Seattle — goes for yet another run. And listens to the Foo Fighters because EL James’s culture awareness seems to have stopped dead sometime around 1998.
While he runs, he hopes that she’ll have e-mailed him so he has something to look forward to when he returns to his hotel room. Even though he must own a Smartphone that would receive e-mail. That he would probably bring with him on a run because he’s a CEO and needs to be contactable at all times.
But he doesn’t. So then we have to read about him going back to his hotel room because EL James couldn’t be bothered to think up anything for Christian Grey to do that wasn’t in the original book. So she just has him jog or do business and then answer the same fucking e-mails we were forced to read the first time. Once back at the hotel room, he receives Ana’s joke e-mail that tells him she’s done her research, she’s no longer interested, and that it’s been nice knowing him:
She thought it was more than nice when her head was thrown back as she came.
Don’t be so hasty, Grey.
Maybe it’s a joke?
He’s gone full Gollum.
Smeagol considers responding via e-mail like a normal human being, but Gollum knows that simply won’t do:
How could she dismiss me so easily?
Her first fuck.
Get it together, Grey. What are your options?
Maybe I could pay her a visit, just to make sure it’s a “no.” Maybe I can persuade her otherwise.
Maybe she needs to have a little “accident” so she’ll learn, eh, Christian? Maybe that?
I certainly don’t know what to say to this e-mail. Perhaps she’s looked at some particularly hardcore sites. Why didn’t I give her a few books?
Because you wanted her to be under-informed. And you wanted her to feel like it would be HER fault because it was up to HER to research YOUR lifestyle. And you gave her an expensive computer so she would feel indebted to you and compelled to agree to something she didn’t fully understand.
Stop pretending to be oblivious to your very obvious intentions.
I don’t believe this. She needs to look me in the eye and say no.
Actual serial killer.
This deal isn’t done yet. From my messenger bag I take some condoms and slide them into the back pocket of my pants, then grab my jacket and a bottle of wine from the minibar. Damn, it’s a chardonnay—but it will have to do.
Oh, Christian, do tell — which wine pairs best with coercive sex? Is it more of a pinot grigio kind of thing? Is rape a little too gamey for chardonnay?
Fuck this dude. Fuck this terrifying, horrible dude.
As I pull up in the R8 outside the apartment she shares with Kavanagh, I wonder if this is a wise move.
As I adjust my Rolex, I wonder if I should take responsibility for my actions and consider their effect on other people. But then I think about my cock, encased in the finest organic cotton from Calvin Klein, and realize that no — a man with more than one Aramani suit doesn’t need to worry about anything.
Opening the door of the car and climbing out, I’m uneasy; it’s reckless and too presumptuous of me to come here.
Good. Then leave.
Then again, I’ve already been here twice, though for only a few minutes. If she does agree, I’ll have to manage her expectations. This won’t happen again.
In case it’s not clear, he’s worried that she’ll be so happy and excited that he showed up to her apartment to rape-convince her that they should be together that he’s going to need to “manage her expectations” later, because she can’t expect a treat like this every day.
Christian walks up and actually knocks on the door, which is a surprise because I was pretty sure he was just going to smash a window and then club Kate over the head with the bottle of wine. Instead, for God knows what reason, Kate answers the door and isn’t remotely suspicious about him just showing up out of the blue unannounced, and then invites him to walk right into Ana’s bedroom.
EL James takes a page to describe Christian walking to Ana’s bedroom which is apparently 30 acres away from the front door. When he finally reaches her bedroom, he stands in the doorway like an actual serial killer until she notices him:
Ana suddenly jumps, startled by my presence.
Yes. I’m here because of your e-mail.
She pulls out her earbuds and the sound of tinny music fills the silence between us.
“Good evening, Anastasia.”
She stares at me dumbfounded, her eyes widening.
This reads like the slow build of a horror movie. Like he’s about to brandish a knife and make a coy “shush” face before she runs for the door and screams for help.
“I felt that your e-mail warranted a reply in person.” I try to keep my voice neutral. Her mouth opens and closes, but she remains mute.
Miss Steele is speechless. This I like. “May I sit?”
She nods, continuing to stare in disbelief as I perch on her bed.
Little does she know, Kate’s body is slowly bleeding out in the kitchen.
Not really. Instead, Christian talks about how peaceful Ana’s bedroom seems, which doesn’t sound creepy at all.
She scans her room as if seeing it for the first time.
Or as if trying to look for escape routes and/or weapons.
Then — even though earlier Christian literally admits how crazy and inappropriate this whole thing is — this happens:
“Would you like a drink?” she squeaks.
“No thank you, Anastasia.” Good. She’s found her manners.
Anyway, as you already know, they discuss the “nice” e-mail, she seems scared, then she subconsciously bites her lip, which he pretends was a deliberate action on her part to arouse him even though she’s said several times — out loud — that she never does it consciously. But yeah, buddy, she really wants to fuck.
“I wasn’t aware I was biting my lip,” she whispers, her face pale.
We gaze at each other.
And the air almost crackles between us.
I really, really doubt that. Instead, I think you get off on fear and manipulation and intimidation because you are SO fucking awful.
Can’t you feel this, Ana? This tension. This attraction. My breathing shallows as I watch her pupils dilate.
Then he reaches over and starts untying her pigtails which — if you remember from a previous post — she uses when she’s scared of his oppressive sexuality and wants to seem young and innocent.
But because this is an erotic romp, they start to have the sexy sex that Ana definitely wants. So because Ana has finally given in, Christian needs to make her uncomfortable again.
Grabbing her right foot, I start to undo her sneakers.
“No,” she grumbles with embarrassment, trying to withdraw her foot, and I know it’s because she’s been running and she doesn’t want me to remove her shoes. Does she think perspiration would put me off?
Silly Ana! Thinking thoughts about her own body.
“If you struggle, I’ll tie your feet, too. If you make a noise, Anastasia, I will gag you. Keep quiet. Katherine is probably outside listening right now.”
Or lying face-down in a pool of her own blood.
She stops. And I know that my instincts are right. She’s worried about her feet. When will she understand that none of that stuff bothers me?
It obviously bothers HER, you self-centered lunatic; Why is that NEVER important?
It’s not, though, so Ana lets him lick her sweaty feet while her hands are tied. Then he remembers the alcohol he brought, which should definitely be introduced into an already coercive and uncomfortable situation, so he saunters out into the kitchen to grab it — shirtless.
Kavanagh looks up from where she’s sitting on the sofa, reading, and her eyebrows rise in surprise. Don’t tell me you’ve never seen a shirtless man, Kavanagh, because I won’t believe you.
Mm, no — she’s probably wondering why her roommate’s new boyfriend feels entitled to wander half-naked around her apartment. But who does that skank think she is?
“Kate, where would I find glasses, ice, and a corkscrew?” I ask, ignoring her scandalized expression.
“Um. In the kitchen. I’ll get them for you. Where’s Ana?”
Ah, some concern for her friend. Good.
“She’s a little tied up at the moment, but she wants a drink.” I grab the bottle of chardonnay.
That’s not remotely subtle — Kate knows exactly what you’re doing. Stop telling her roommate about your sex life. And stop wandering around half-naked in HER apartment.
Oh, and remember how it’s really really important for Ana to not tell Kate ANYTHING about Christian’s kinky BDSM lifestyle? Remember how all women who catch wind of it are forced to sign legal documentation that says they’ll never tell a living soul?
He’s the absolute worst.
Now I’m in a weird place, though, because obviously Christian can fuck himself with his attempt to put the blame on Kate for his being able to walk right into Ana’s bedroom, but at the same time... why did she let him just walk straight into her bedroom?
Anyway, Kate starts acting like a real bitch again because she has the nerve to ask Christian if he’s going to help them move since his brother, Elliot, has already agreed to do so. How fucking dare she?!
Shut her down now, Grey.
“No. I can’t.” My voice is clipped, because she’s pissing me off, trying to make me feel guilty. Her lips thin, and I turn around to leave the kitchen, but not before I catch the disapproval in her face.
Fuck off, Kavanagh.
No way am I going to help. Ana and I don’t have that kind of relationship. Besides, I can’t spare the time.
He may have to answer as many as five e-mails that day — get off his back!
He goes back to Ana’s room, having made sure to piss off her one and only friend, and they have crazy bellybutton wine sex where he makes observations like these:
[Her] breasts are pert and vulnerable, just how I like them.
Whining and panting beneath me, she’s tensing but managing to stay still.
“Oh. Please. Christian. Sir. Please,” she begs.
Oh, to hear her use those words.
This is not a “no.”
It’s... her literally begging you to stop torturing her with an almost-orgasm. So not a “no,” technically, sure. Not really what I’d call explicit consent, either. But who has time for consent?
“How nice is this?” I ask, as I wrap my first around my erection.
“I meant it as a joke,” she whimpers.
Thank. The. Lord.
All is not lost.
“A joke?” I query, as my fist slides up and down my cock.
“Yes. Please, Christian,” she begs.
“Are you laughing now?”
“No.” Her voice is barely audible, but the little shake of her head tells me all I need to know.
Yeah, she sounds like she’s having a great time.
After he finishes punish-fucking her, she dares to ask him about his sexual background as a submissive which might actually help her to learn more about the lifestyle. When he tells her — for the first time — that he’s still in contact with his former lover/rapist, and able to talk with Elena about anything he likes, Ana seems upset — and he cannot figure out why:
She’s mad? Why? I don’t understand. “So you have someone you can discuss your alternative lifestyle with, but I’m not allowed.” Her tone is petulant, but once again she’s calling me out on my shit.
Yeah, she’s a real bulldog.
He suggests that she could have lunch with the statutory rapist, or one of his ex-subs, and again pretends to be surprised that this makes her feel uncomfortable.
It’s perfectly normal for a submissive to check with exes that their new Dominant knows what he’s doing.
He doesn’t say this aloud, of course. He just acts like she should know it.
She says she’s fine to keep doing research on her own, which is obviously a bad idea. Then he accuses her of being jealous, because he’s a gaslighting motherfucker:
Sweetheart, I had a life before you.
A very active life.
We knowwwwww. You and your whale dick have been pillaging the Puget Sound for many moons. All the women want you. You’re a dynamic businessman who never has to work. We know, Christian. We know.
Ana asks if Christian will stay, he reminds her that — even though they’ve slept together twice now — he never ever sleeps with women. So she asks him to leave (if he’s not going to stay) and he’s confused by this:
“Are you kicking me out?”
This is not how this is supposed to go.
What the hell?
Disarmed again, by Miss Steele. “Well, that’s another first,” I mutter.
Kicked out. I can’t believe it.
If... if you aren’t going to stay, then you have to leave. Or were you going to sleep on the floor? I don’t even know what’s happening anymore.
But because this is a moment where she has made a choice and asked him to do something, he needs to remind her who the controlling, abusive piece of shit in the relationship is:
Her petulance is irritating, and were she truly mine, it would not be tolerated.
“God, I’d like to give you a good hiding. You’d feel a lot better, and so would I,” I tell her.
I’m not convinced that anything he does is for mutual enjoyment.
“You can say things like that. I haven’t signed anything yet.” Her eyes flash with defiance.
Oh, baby, I can say it. I just can’t do it. Not until you let me.
Does she know that? You know she doesn’t.
“A man can dream, Anastasia. Wednesday?” I still want this. Why, though, I don’t know; she’s so difficult. I give her a brief kiss.
Yeah, what a ball-buster. I can’t believe you have to put up with this.
“Please pass me my sweatpants,” she orders, pointing to hem.
Wow. Miss Steele can be a bossy little thing.
She said fucking “please,” you fragile husk.
“Yes, ma’am,” I quip, knowing that she won’t get the reference.
She’s been calling you Sir all day. I think she gets it. But I keep forgetting that you invented BDSM, so pardon me.
But she narrows her eyes. She knows I’m making fun of her, but she says nothing as she slips her pants on.
Because the last time she seemed openly upset, you threatened to beat her. But hey — progress, right? She really knows her place now!
Christian drives home and tries to figure out why — after showing up to her house unannounced, punish-fucking her, threatening her with violence, and then refusing to stay with her — Ana seemed “off” when he left.
His conclusion is that Ana is the following:
Hell! Miss Steele is topping from the bottom, and she doesn’t even know it.
Then HOW is she doing it?
And fool that I am, I’m letting her.
What the fuck are you talking about? You’re threatened to beat her for having a “bad attitude.”
Christian (and I) continues to be confused about why he likes her so much, sends her an e-mail reminding her to send her notes about the contract — which she still hasn’t had time to properly research — and then does some businessy business and calls it a day.
And I cry into a bottle of gin.