50 Shades of Grey, E. L. James; Chapter Fifteen
Christian is standing over me grasping a plaited leather riding crop. He’s wearing old, faded, ripped Levis and that is all.
Whoa nelly. One moment it’s emails this and passive-aggression that and I don’t think I’ll ever see him again angst from Ana, and now we get riding crops? Did the editor, like, miss a huge chunk of missing book? Did E. L. James get bored actually writing this and just skip to the kink?
He flicks the crop slowly into his palm as he gazes down at me. He’s smiling, triumphant. I cannot move. I am naked and shackled, spread-eagled on a large four-poster bed. Reaching forward, he trails the tip of the crop from my forehead down the length of my nose so I can smell the leather, and over my parted, panting lips. He pushes the tip into my mouth so I can taste the smooth, rich leather.
In lieu of getting too much description about clothing and décor, we’re now getting adjectives thrown around like they’re how-to-vote cards about sex toys. (I swear, I am this close to making up a game where I write ridiculous descriptions and take excerpts from this book and then muddle them all up and people are invited to guess which ones are from the book and which ones are from my twisted imagination.)
“Suck,” he commands, his voice soft. My mouth closes over the tip as I obey.
“Enough,” he snaps.
Yeah. Surely that’s not particularly hygienic.
I’m panting once more as he tugs the crop out of my mouth, trails it down and under my chin, on down my neck to the hollow at the base of my throat. He swirls it slowly there and then continues to drag the tip down my body, along my sternum, between my breasts, over my torso, down to my navel. I’m panting, squirming, pulling against my restraints that are biting into my wrists and my ankles. He swirls the tip around my navel then continues to trail the leather tip south, through my pubic hair to my clitoris.
Reading this makes me realise what people mean when they say they’re padding the wordcount for their NaNoWriMo creation with a sex scene or two.
Also, I’m amazed that Ana knows what her clitoris is. Given that she didn’t know how to get herself off only a few chapters ago and seems to have pretty much zilch in the way of sex ed beyond classic novels, fuck knows how she figured that one out.
He flicks the crop and it hits my sweet spot with a sharp slap, and I come, gloriously shouting my release.
Whoa. What. The. Everloving. Sweet. Fuckery. Was. That?
He hit her in the ladyparts with a wet riding crop, people.
Seriously, E. L. what the hell? I don’t know about readers’ mileage or experience, but I guess you aren’t like the friend and I who had an epic battle of epic with riding crops in a sex shop: those things sting. Combine that with the sting of getting hit with something wet, and, well, ow. Add a third dimension to the equation: Ever had something really stingy and painful—say, a urinary tract infection—in your nether regions, too? I can only imagine that getting hit with a wet riding crop in one’s “sweet spot” would be enough to make anyone scream… bloody murder. (Unless they were a serious masochist, I suppose.)
Turns out that the whole thing is just a dream sequence, so the fact that it was kind of dodgy and not especially sexy is okay.
I put my head in my hands. I didn’t know I could dream sex.
Oh, wow. People can dream about things that they haven’t done—flying, for example. Killing people. Robot mutant apocalypse. If the human brain can come up with these things… surely sex isn’t that weird. Or are Ana’s dreams as bland as her waking life?
Even Kate notices something’s up with Ana and comments that she looks odd, and asks if Ana’s wearing Grey’s jacket. (Well duh. No… she spent the night in a Salvation Army donation bin and grabbed something random to wear. I suppose she does look kinda odd, though I thought Kate was a trifle less oblivious.) Then again, maybe Ana is blissfully smiling and since she seems to hate everything ever, I can imagine seeing her look blissed out is a rare thing, so maybe Kate’s picked up on that.
“How was dinner?”
And so it begins.
What begins? Kate asking what I’d consider a polite, fairly typical question that you’d ask your girlfriend who you loaned a dress to go out to a dinner date in? I think this is meant to be the Kate Kavanagh Interrogation, which, like everything else about this book, is far more hyped up than the reality.
Ana talks about the food, which isn’t what Kate wants to know about, so then she says that Christian is very attentive.
For a student of the English language, Ana is fucking clueless. “Attentive” and “seriously fucking creepy” are not synonymous. Or is this just huge amounts of denial from Ana?
Realising she doesn’t want to talk about the sex contract stuff with Kate, Ana tells her that he doesn’t approve of her car. Kate is dismissive and asks why Ana is being so coy. Ana manages to evade that by making tea and Kate asks if she wants to hear Kate’s graduation speech. Apparently Kate is the valedictorian of the class and they get to give speeches in graduations: not having been to a graduation ceremony myself, I don’t know how accurate that is, but hey, it happened in Legally Blonde, so why the fuck not?
Ana starts thinking about the dream again and for a change, about Christian.
I am so confused. Christian’s idea of a relationship is more like a job offer. It has set hours, a job description, and a rather harsh grievance procedure.
Which would violate every law known to man about workplace sexual harassment, I strongly suspect. But anyway, it’s all just to get her in the right mindset, remember? *rolls eyes*
It’s not how I envisioned my first romance—but of course, Christian doesn’t do romance. If I tell him I want more, he may say no… and I could jeopardise what he has offered. And this is what concerns me most because I don’t want to lose him.
My inner social worker is waving around pamphlets about recognising the early signs of abusive relationships. In spite of the fact that Grey has been a complete fuckwit and treated Ana like dirt, guilt tripped her, manipulated her, threatened her and ignored her boundaries, the only thing that’s important to her is not losing him. Jesus fucking Christ. This is not making me feel the love.
But I’m not sure I have the stomach to be his submissive—deep down, it’s the canes and whips that put me off. I’m a physical coward, and I will go a long way to avoid pain.
Ana, you do not need to justify your gut feelings about not wanting to do this. And guess what? I’ve got a pretty high pain threshold, and I wouldn’t have the stomach to have any kind of a relationship with Grey, either. There is nothing wrong with sensible gut instincts. Ana’s acting like she’s just being a big wuss about pain: could it be that she can’t verbalise the fact that Grey is being a fucking creepy would-be rapist and she’s actually got issues with that?
She thinks about the dream where he whacked her clitoris with a wet riding crop and
My inner goddess jumps up and down with cheerleading pom poms shouting yes at me.
I think Ana’s inner goddess has more accessories, outfits, and stylistic changes than Barbie. Also, I think Ana’s inner goddess is a douchecanoe.
Anyway, Kate comes back and Ana gets to hear her speech.
Next up, we get Ray coming over. Ray’s the guy Ana refers to as “Dad,” even though he’s her stepfather, and the one thing Ray has going for him is that he’s the only guy ever who doesn’t want to sleep with Ana. Also, he barely says anything, which is not enough to register on my “annoying” scale.
Ana is critical of Ray from the get-go, and notes his ill-fitting suit (sweetie, you’re wearing a dress on loan from a girl who has a completely different body type to you: you can’t talk about ill-fitting), and his weirdness about physical affection. (We do get another description of what Ana is wearing though.)
They have a fairly non-descript greeting, Ana makes Ray some tea, and then we cut to the next scene where they’re at the graduation.
“Good luck Annie. You seem awfully nervous. Do you have to do anything?”
Holy crap… why has Ray picked today to be observant?
Wow: Ana, you’re sounding like a pissy thirteen year old who is at that stage where everything her parents do is made of fail in her eyes. He asked you a fucking question. He was trying to be nice. Shit.
Ana, it turns out, isn’t so much as nervous about the fact that she’s, you know, graduating, but nervous because she’s seeing Christian again.
I think this is another point where I want to throw the book across the room and scream obscenities at it: seriously: Ana’s been at university for, what, probably between three and five years? Prior to that she’s been through, what, thirteen years of schooling? And finally, it comes to this: something which costs some serious moolah in the States unless you’re on a scholarship (and I doubt Ana is), something which PLENTY of people in America won’t get to do not because of worthiness or ability but financial circumstances, and probably one of the biggest achievements remotely available to the average person, and here you are, Ana, pretty much dismissing that because you’re going to see a crazy, nasty control-freak who wants to hit you with stuff and call you property.
Also, your stepfather (who isn’t exactly young from the sounds of it) who isn’t even your mother’s husband any more, has driven from interstate to see you, and you really don’t give a shit. The entitlement here burns.
Ana joins the mass of other graduating students and wonders where Christian is and if Kate’s interrogating him (which probably means Kate politely asking how he is) and waves to Ray in the parents’ area. The speech givers (academic staff, chancellors, Kate and Christian, etc) appear on the stage and we get another Christian outfit description. Notably, he’s wearing that tie. Oh, and Ana’s sitting between a couple of chatty girls from another department who are friends.
“Look at him,” one of the girls beside me hisses enthusiastically to her friend.
I stiffen. I’m sure they’re not talking about Professor Collins.
Okay, why not? Brains can be sexy. Confidence can be sexy. Maturity can be sexy.
“Must be Christian Grey.”
Obviously these girls missed the student newspaper or they’d have seen his photograph and known about that.
“Is he single?”
I bristle. “I don’t think so,” I murmur.
“Oh?” Both girls look at me in surprise.
“I think he’s gay,” I mutter.
“What a shame,” one of the girls groans.
OMFG. Can we say “insecurity,” much, ladies and gentlemen? Fuck. You. Honestly, that’s just being childish and pathetic now, Ana, and on a technical point: the women were talking about him being single, not his sexual orientation. If he’s gay, his single status doesn’t matter, ladies, because he’s not wanting to jump in bed with any of you.
Also, the whole conversation is cringeworthy. You don’t need to use that many words for “said” to close together.
And finally: all these other times I’ve pointed to “this really is meant to be female fantasy material, isn’t it?” applies here, too: I think as well as having everyone looking at you because you’re in an awesome car with a hot guy, being The One Special One for a thoughtless playboy, and finding unwrinkled clothes on the floor, this is meant to be one of those magical female moments of awesome.
I must admit, I remember in Year Nine, I think it was, we had a school social with a neighbouring boys’ Catholic school and a couple of the other girls’ schools. (So the girls vastly outnumbered the boys.) Anyway, I was one of those outsidery, non-in-crowd kids who generally spent her lunchtimes hiding from said in-crowd who seemed to have little else to do beyond smoke cheap cigarettes, start rumours about one another and look for the non-socially elite to pick on. I was a frequent target and I credit those arseholes with helping to influence my decision to drop out of school when I was 14.
Anyway: this school social. Funnily enough, said in-crowd girls had given me shit about my shoes on the way in, even, and I’d been avoiding them since. Somehow, and I honestly forget how—I’d managed to hook up with probably the only decent-looking bloke at the social (no, seriously, he looked like a younger Alex Pettyfer). Anyway, at one point, stuff was happening between us, (nothing too explicit, I was fourteen and this was a supervised-by-teachers, alcohol-free event) and I remember catching a glimpse of three of the in-crowd ringleaders staring at me, mouths open, looking completely horrified and thoroughly murderous. It was like something out of a movie. It was pretty much my only crowning moment of awesome throughout my teenage years.
So I get the “other girls are jealous of me and it’s awesome” thing to some degree. Like, if you’re fourteen and insecure and a bit of an underdog and suddenly it completely fucks around the regular order of events for awhile. By the time you’re 21, one would hope that you’re grown-up enough to just avoid people who make you feel like shit and that you have moved beyond giving a fuck what other people think. I don’t get adults who still want other people to be jealous of them (but to be fair I also don’t get designer label clothing or reading trendy books, either).
Anyway, Ana’s living the dream being the subject of female envy, except that she isn’t and she’s staring at Christian Grey like a complete creeper. (Honestly, there are times when Ana comes across as nearly as creepy as Grey in some instances, and the disturbing levels of attachment fostered so early and the desperation to “keep” him and the staring is part of this.) But he stares back at Ana, smiles slightly, then avoids her gaze.
Ana seems weirded out by this, as though she signed the non-disclosure agreement just for shits and giggles and that that piece of paper (which I didn’t bother to research, though I thought NDAs were about privileged company information, so you can’t work somewhere and sell company secrets to an outside party… though I imagine when celebrities hire nannies and stuff they get them to sign NDAs too, so this one might be less dubious than the sex contract…) was all for theatrical stuffs. No, sweetie, if he tells you not to talk about the relationship with anyone, I’m strongly suspecting that he’s not going to be publicly flirting with you in front of a crowd of thousands when he’s actually there to you know, look professional and give a speech and stuff.
Why won’t he look at me? Perhaps he’s changed his mind. A wave on unease washes over me. Perhaps me walking out on him was the end for him, too.
Ana’s obsession with him not being interested in her is ridiculous. The last thing he did when she saw him was implied that he was going to buy her a car. Before, you know, giving her his jacket. Yet she’s still worried that things are over.
Kate delivers her speech, and because there is absolutely no subtext ever between her and Ana, Kate’s speech and dazzling stage appearance actually manages to distract Ana away from her favourite topic to think about. (See? This is EPIC. National disaster couldn’t stop Ana from thinking about Grey, yet Kate has.) Ana is proud of Kate.
Christian is watching Kate, his eyebrows raised— in surprise, I think. Yes, it could have been Kate who went to interview him. And it could have been Kate who he was now making indecent proposals to. Beautiful Kate and beautiful Christian together. I could be like the two girls beside me, admiring him from afar.
And if that had been the case, we wouldn’t be reading this, we’d be reading about Kate instead, though I have to admit, she’s a nicer character than Ana so maybe the book would be better. Or funnier, at least.
I know Kate wouldn’t have given him the time of day. What did she call him the other day? Creepy.
Hmm, I wonder why.
Kate finishes her speech and Christian is introduced.
Holy shit, Christian’s going to give a speech.
Whoda thunk it?
Anyway, Christian dazzles everyone and starts his speech, which is about how awesome the environmental science department at the university is because they’re helping him make his dream about feeding the world come true.
Hang on: environmental science? I thought Ana was doing a English Lit degree? Is this the entire university graduating here, or just departments… and even if it IS just departments (which I thought was the standard way of doing things) um, Arts and Science… are two completely different faculties. Or am I overthinking this again?
Anyway, he continues a bit, and then drops a bombshell:
“[…] I have known what it’s like to be profoundly hungry. This is a very personal journey for me.”
My jaw falls to the floor. What? Christian was hungry once. Holy crap. Well, that explains a great deal.
No it doesn’t. Christian having been hungry before does not account for his controlling, abusive, downright mean behaviour.
I desperately rack my brains to remember what Kate had written in her article. Adopted at age four, I think. I can’t imagine that Grace starved him, so it must have been before then, as a little boy. I swallow, my heart constricting at the thought of a hungry, grey-eyed toddler. Oh no. What kind of life did he have before the Greys got hold of him and rescued him?
Oh dear. I was really hoping that his food issues would not get explained with such simplistic, melodramatic bullshit, but apparently I was hoping for far too much. Also, a random question: how many people remember their lives prior to four years old? I have a few snippets, but I don’t remember major details. And I can hardly think of Grey at that age fully comprehending the situation.
Also, Grace is hardly what I’d call an amazing mother. She has a friend who was sexually abusing and terrifying her own kid when he was a teenager. She had no idea. While I don’t agree with the idea that parents should know every last detail about their childrens’ lives, I think important relationships with people—especially when they’re minors—is a thing you should know about. If, in four years time, my eldest starts spending a lot of time around a middle-aged woman, I would be at least suspicious. And gawd help if I have reason to be. (Seriously, I thought that was one part of being a parent: protecting your kids from bad people who want to hurt them.)
I’m seized by a sense of raw outrage. Poor, fucked-up, kinky, philanthropic Christian—though I’m sure he wouldn’t see himself this way and would repel any thoughts of sympathy or pity.
Um, are we still blaming this for his issues, Ana? Sheesh.
He’s doing all these good works, running a huge company, and chasing me at the same time. It’s overwhelming. I remember the brief snippets of conversation he’s had about Darfur… it all falls into place. Food.
Not really, and I wouldn’t could Grey’s treatment of Ana as any of his good works, but hey, what the fuck would I know?
The rest of the graduation is kind of dull and Ana seems about as enthralled as the readers are, so I’ll do you the favour and skim through. I’ll just leave you with this: Ana gets a personal, hold-up-the-line, in-front-of-the-attendees-and-graduates discussion with Grey on stage as she collects her degree. I’m pretty sure those girls either side of her realise what’s going down now between them, especially when he asks why she’s ignoring his emails. And I’m lost, because I thought no one was supposed to know about the relationship. Oh… wait. This is like the relationship where only one half of it has to abide by the rules: Grey can tell whoever the hell he wants about them. Ana can’t. Either that or E. L. James has been hit with her typical incontinuity issues.
When the ceremony ends, Kate dashes out after she’s lead off to tell Ana that Christian wants to talk to her, and those two girls who were ogling Grey gape at her, because yes, female fantasy time, making other women jealous and stuff. Ana disappears off with her though she says she can’t leave Ray too long by himself, and Grey excuses himself from a talk with the chancellors to talk to Ana.
He comes towards me and smiles briefly at Kate.
“Thankyou,” he says, and before she can reply, he takes my elbow and steers me into what looks like a men’s locker room.
Bring on the smell of mildew and stale sweat. Romantic mood set.
He checks to see if it’s empty, and then he locks the door.
Um, what? Can we say false imprisonment, ladies and gentlemen? Is this still meant to be romantic and not really fucking creepy?
Holy shit, what does he have in mind?
Is this a “holy shit” as in “OMFG, I’m about to get raped” or as in “holy shit, I’m about to come”? I’m not sure any more, and because I’m one of those creative types who finds multiple situations to use various expletives in, I honestly don’t know, because there ain’t much other context cluing me in.
“Why haven’t you emailed me? Or texted me back?” He glares. I’m nonplussed.
“I haven’t looked at my computer today, or my phone.” Crap, has he been trying to call?
Crap, he hasn’t realised that she’s graduating and this is like, one of the most important days of her life? Seriously, Grey, you’re a douche. She saw you last night. And she’s been busy since then. Also, can someone else please explain to me why he thinks he has to lock her in a changeroom to ask her these questions?
He then says he’s been worried about Ana, which is the classic bully tactic: to express concern for the victim after doing something grossly inappropriate. And why is he worried about Ana? Because her car is apparently a death trap (or embarrassing to him as a dom).
Ana tells him that the car isn’t a death trap, and that Jose regularly services it (Jose fixes cars now? Or, wait: Jacob in Twilight was into cars, wasn’t he?) and then Grey goes full creeper mode.
“Jose the photographer?” Christian’s eyes narrow, his face frosting. Oh crap.
Apparently no one else is allowed to lay a hand on Ana, and by extension, her car.
Ana explains: the car used to belong to his mother. Not that she needs to do that, but hey.
“I’ve been driving it for over three years. I’m sorry you were worried. Why didn’t you call?”
Good question. But, like every other time Ana’s been sensible, it gets ignored and shunted out of the way by Grey making unreasonable demands.
“Anastasia, I need an answer from you. This waiting around is driving me crazy.”
“Christian, I… look, I’ve left my stepdad on his own.”
“Tomorrow. I want an answer then.”
Not at all demanding, is he? Not at all creepy. Locking someone in a room and demanding an answer out of them is crossing another one of those scary fucking lines.
Ana doesn’t think so because she promises him an answer tomorrow.
“Are you staying for drinks?” he asks.
“I don’t know what Ray wants to do.”
“Your stepfather? I’d like to meet him.”
Oh no… why?
“I’m not sure that’s a good idea.”
Christian unlocks the door, his mouth in a grim line.
“Are you ashamed of me?”
What. The. Fuck. Seriously, maybe Ray’s one of those parents who is going to assume that any sort of relationship is going to mean True Forever Love. Maybe Ray will ask awkward questions about Grey’s intentions with her daughter. Or maybe Ray is otherwise not to be trusted around the date material. Point is: Ana doesn’t need to do the introductions if she doesn’t want to. Nor does she have to justify it.
“No!” It’s my turn to sound exasperated. “Introduce you to my dad as what? ‘This is the man who deflowered me and wants us to start a BDSM relationship’? You’re not wearing running shoes.”
Grey suggests she introduce him as a friend (which he won’t be if Ana doesn’t agree to his stupid relationship conditions, remember?), and opens the door for Ana, letting her out to find Ray.
Ana asks Ray if he wants to get a drink, and Ray is nothing but sweet-natured and accommodating. He even takes a picture of Ana, and she then wants to take off the cap and gown because “I look kind of dorky.”
I never graduated from uni. And I kind of have a bit of a chip on my shoulder about privileged little shits pissing and moaning about minor university things, especially stuff like looking like a dork in grad robes.
They head over to the marquee, and run into Kate’s brother. Introductions ensue. The Kate turns up with Grey and things take a bit of a nosedive.
“Hello Ray.” Kate kisses Ray on both cheeks, making him blush. “Have you met Ana’s boyfriend? Christian Grey.”
So much for Ana getting to make her own decisions about things. I suppose Kate’s figured that since pretty much Ana’s entire life purpose seems to revolve around Grey, then it’s only natural that Ray would know about him already.
“Mr. Steele, it’s a pleasure to meet you,” Christian says smoothly, warmly, completely unflustered by Kate’s introduction. He holds out his hand, which Ray, all credit to him, takes, not showing a hint of the drop-dead surprise he’s just had thrust on him.
Unless, of course, Ray has already seen the line back up because Ana was talking to Grey while he was meant to be shaking people’s hands as they were graduating, and he’s put two and two together and really isn’t that surprised, which is more likely.
Thankyou very much, Katherine Kavanagh, I fume. I think my subconscious has fainted.
Oh dear god. On the upside, if her subconscious has fainted, maybe we won’t be hearing about it every third paragraph, and this can only improve the book.
“Mr. Grey,” Ray murmurs, his expression indecipherable except perhaps for a slight widening of his big brown eyes. They slide over to my face with a when-were-you-going-to-give-me-this-news look. I bite my lip.
Um, hang on: if his expression is indecipherable, then how come she’s able to oh-so-specifically describe it? Also, it seems that Ray is as dippy as the rest of the people in the book and has somehow managed to not realise that there’s “something special” between Ana and Grey. I dunno, the line holdup would have been a dead giveaway for me.
Kate introduces her brother to Christian, but Ethan is touching Ana, so this earns him a frosty glare from Grey because no one else is to touch Ana but him or something cretinous like that.
Christian holds out his hand to me.
“Ana, baby,” he murmurs and I nearly expire at the endearment.
Okay. What the fuck was that? No, really, everything about this sentence seems completely wrong.
I walk out of Ethan’s grasp while Christian smiles icily at him, and I take my place at his side. Kate grins at me. She knows exactly what she’s doing, the vixen!
Huh? Whatever it is is completely lost on me. Kate drags her brother away, leaving Ray and Grey (and didn’t anyone but me notice that Ana’s stepfather could have been given a name that does not rhyme with the love interest’s?) together .
“So how long have you kids known each another?” Ray looks impassively from Christian to me.
The power of speech has deserted me. I want the ground to swallow me up.
Why? Seriously, one moment it’s the ultimate female fantasy to be seen with Grey, next thing she’s humiliated? Does. Not. Compute.
Apparently Ray is irritated by the fact that Ana is seeing Grey, or that Ana even met Grey, Christ knows why, and he admonishes her with sarcasm about her doing the interview. Ana explains that Kate was sick, and Ray changes the subject by admiring Grey’s speech, and then Grey changes the subject by talking about how Ray’s apparently quite the fisherman.
Ray likes fishing? I don’t remember. Fuck knows how Grey managed to pull his head out of his arse long enough to hear and remember that detail, but he does, and he manages to charm Ray.
I would like to point out that this is another classic abuser trait: they are good at charming friends and family, so when you want to say, “I’m in a really fucked up and hellish relationship,” to them, you don’t because you already know that you won’t be believed because how could such a nice guy be an abuser?
Ana wanders off to find Kate and asks her why the hell she outed them like that, and Kate offers something stupid about wanting to help with Christian’s commitment issues, which is another forty flavours of fucked up, especially since Kate herself thought the guy was creepy.
I scowl. It’s me that won’t commit to him, silly!
HUH? There is so much that is wrong with this that it’s insane, but the obvious thing here is this: how the fuck would Kate know this, especially since Ana “can’t” talk about the stupid sex contract stuff?
Kate assures Ana that all is good and that Grey can’t take his eyes off her (creepy, since he’s conversing with Ray and they’re out of earshot, apparently) and Ana says she has to go rescue Ray or Grey, and offers a forboding warning that “you haven’t heard the last of this, Katherine Kavanagh!”
Ana heads back to them, Ray excuses himself to the little boys’ room (probably to throw up), and Grey and Ana have some rather mundane lovey-dovey conversation.
“You know it’s going to be good, don’t you, baby?” he whispers.
Ew. The “baby” thing makes him sound like Leisure Suit Larry. Also, that came pretty much out of no where, but I presume he’s annoying her yet again about the contract.
I close my eyes as my insides uncoil and melt.
You don’t want the unfortunate visuals I have now. Thankyou, E. L. James. Not.
Actually, since I’m now thinking of body parts doing things they wouldn’t do under normal circumstances, I probably should share: remember that Chuck Palahniuk short story, Guts? If not, I won’t spoiler you (Google around, you’ll see what I mean), but otherwise, thankyou, E. L. James, I don’t think these sorts of visuals belong in a romance novel.
“But I want more,” I whisper.
“More?” he looks down at me puzzled, his eyes darkening. I nod and swallow. Now he knows.
“More,” he says again softly. Testing the word—a small, simple word, but so full of promise. His thumb traces my lower lip. “You want hearts and flowers.”
You are a fucking jerk, Grey. Way to belittle a girl’s desire to have at least a tiny bit of emotional connection and the balls to say something about it. Then again, Ana is stuck in fantasyland and really does want hearts and flowers—but what Ana’s asked him for is not really that; it’s to be seen as more than a piece of property he can use and discard at will.
“Anastasia.” His voice is soft. “It’s not something I know.”
Newsflash, dipshit, BDSM wasn’t something Ana knew yet it’s okay for you to ask for her total obedience, isn’t it? Double fucking standards, asshole.
He smiles slightly.
“You don’t know much,” he murmurs.
Wow: and then you put her down, you shit.
“You know all the wrong things.”
“Wrong? Not to me.” He shakes his head. He looks so sincere.
Okay, well newsflash, dude: it’s NOT okay to tell a girl that it’s her fault when she gets stalked. It’s also not okay to threaten to rape her in public and then whisk her away to a private booth when she says she wants to remain in public. It’s also not okay to glare at other dudes who touch her in a friendly fashion. Furthermore, it’s not okay to emotionally blackmail a girl because you want to play kinky sex games with her. Have I finished yet? No. But at the risk of making this readthrough even longer, I’ll stop here. But you get my point, right?
“Try it,” he whispers. A challenge, daring me, and he cocks his head to one side and smiles his crooked, dazzling smile.
Basically some more awkward and awful dialogue later, and she says “okay” and he completely ignores what she said about wanting more, and both of them ignore the fact that she told him a few pages ago that she’d decide tomorrow. Remember, kids, if a girl says no, you just keep asking and annoying her like you haven’t heard anything until she says “yes.”
On cue, Ray returns, and suggests that they get some lunch.
What have you done? my subconscious screams at me. My inner goddess is doing backflips in a routine worthy of a Russian Olympic gymnast.
Holy Christ. No, not the whole Ana-being-his-sub thing, which we all knew was going to happen by hell or high water, just that awful description of what’s going on in Ana’s head.
Ray invites Christian, but apparently he now has plans, and they part ways.
“Look after my baby girl.”
“Oh, I fully intend to.”
They shake hands. I feel sick. Ray has no idea how Christian intends to look after me.
Not very well, I’m suspecting, but hey. The whole thing reeks of creepiness, especially since Ray concludes that since he knows his fly-fishing, then obviously he’s a decent bloke. The obliviousness and complete stupidity of everyone in this book is astonishing. Even Kate has dropped a few IQ points since this chapter started with the post-graduation stuff. Seriously: WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE CHARACTERS?
Ana goes home afterwards and says a teary goodbye to Ray and then checks her phone (another couple of messages from Jose) and notices that Grey has already texted her.
And emailed her, again expressing concern about her car.
There are a couple more emails which equate to “I want to see him” from Ana, and Grey deciding to pick her up.
Ana decides to give him the first-edition books back in another act of randomness, and wraps the lot up and scrawls a quote from them on the paper. “I agree to the conditions, Angel; because you know best what my punishment ought to be; only—only—don’t make it more than I can bear!”
And thankfully someone decided to make this punishment bearable because the chapter ends here.
By the way, E. L. I really don’t think Tess is about BDSM or a TPE relationship or whatever else you’re using quotes from it to reference. (This makes me think of that time I started reading Of Human Bondage and got through a few chapters before realising that the book I was thinking it was was actually Venus in Furs.)