Hello again dear readers! Are you ready for chapter 21? I have a drink in hand, so I am! This chapter opens with Ana once again waking up in Grey's bed without him, and idly watches the clouds pass by.
Life in the clouds sure feels unreal. A fantasy – a castle in the air, adrift from the ground, safe from the realities of life – far away from neglect, hunger, and crack-whore mothers.
That is pretty much her first thought upon waking up. Not "Motherfucker my ass is sore" or "Were those tentacle monsters always hanging out at the foot of the bed?" but CHRISTIAN GREY HAS LED SUCH A HARD LIFE!
I shudder to think what he went through as a small child, and I understand why he lives here, isolated, surrounded by beautiful, precious works of art – so far removed from where he started… mission statement indeed. I frown because it still doesn’t explain why I can’t touch him.
So. Much. Wrong. Okay, for starters, I want to repeat that Christian Grey was four years old when he was adopted. Four.Yes, you can be traumatized by things that happen to you at that age, but he has spent many of his adult years in therapy, and with a doctor for a mother I imagine he spent a lot of his childhood in therapy, too. You know, being adopted in a loving, secure, wealthy household at such a young age wouldn't have helped ease any of that trauma or help him cope or anything. Nope. The only thing that could help him with that will be Ana's magical muff! The part that really irks me is the way Ana is obsessing over his past. These are practically her waking thoughts! She latches onto each new bit of information he gives her fervently to continue building this tragic picture of him in her head, one that proves only she really knows him! No one else understands this pitiful, wealthy, sexy, healthy* man! I am so bored about her not being able to touch him. I GET IT ALREADY!
Also, I've lived in apartments in high rises. I remember when I got up stupid early for work, I'd walk into my living room which was filled with the mornings first rays of sun, and a fog so dense that I saw nothing outside. It was eerie and beautiful and haunting. In those moments with everyone else still in bed and the whole building was quiet and still I really did feel like I was alone in the world. They were always very poetic moments, but that wasn't why I lived there. I lived there because I needed to be in that part of town and the price made sense. I imagine Grey is living there because he likes the apartment and the location, not, you know, living in his lonely tower of loneliness because he's just SO GOD DAMNED TRAGIC! If I'm wrong and that is why he lives there then I may need to buy a physical copy of the book so I can burn it.
Ana then laments that she is living a fantasy! In a fantasy house with her fantasy life and fantasy boyfriend! I still think Ana is not listening to what Grey says, and that makes me angry because if the narrator can't be bothered to listen to the twit why should I? We also see see-saw metaphor again. I bet when EL James first wrote it she had a moment of saying "Ah HA! That's brilliant! I'm so talented!"**. Ana then tells us that she goes to the bathroom before going to find Grey. Ana, I didn't need to know that, honest.
In her quest, however, she does not find Grey, but instead finds.... ANOTHER WOMAN!
He’s not in the art gallery, but an elegant middle-aged woman is cleaning in the kitchen area. The sight of her stops me in my tracks. She has short blonde hair and clear blue eyes; she wears a plain white tailored shirt and a navy blue pencil skirt. She smiles broadly when she sees me.
Seriously, so far Ana and Mia are the ONLY women who aren't blonds in this book. Every other woman, from waitresses to secretaries to parents have all been blond. This is EL James' best shot at Othering Ana. Hair color. I have a sad now, you guys. This woman is Grey's house keeper, Mrs. Jones, and other then to make Ana feel a little more insecure I don't see why she's here.
Why does Christian only have attractive blondes working for him? And a nasty thought comes involuntarily into my mind – Are they all ex-subs? I refuse to entertain that hideous idea.
See? Ana can't deal with women around Grey who aren't related to him! Every other woman wants to have sex with him! Many already have! And they all want to again! Ana, calm the fuck down. What I really want to poke at is what Mrs. Jones is wearing, though. She's wearing a pencil skirt. I've played house-keeper before. Trust me when I say a pencil skirt is low on the list of things I would wear to do it in. Seriously, imagine scrubbing a toilet in a restrictive skirt. Booty shorts would be a better option. A long flowy skirt I could ALMOST understand, but, a pencil skirt? And white? Really?
Moving on. Ana finds Grey in his study and we're treated to some more generic business jargon since he's on the phone being important and stuff. I hate these scenes. I hate them in almost any book. It's meant to establish Grey is important and busy but still making time for Ana, but I already knew that. There is nothing about this scene we haven't seen before (like when people kept calling him when he drove Ana home earlier in the book) and there is nothing new or interesting about it. If Grey was all "Listen, I said I wanted to build a giant ballpit in the main lobby for people waiting, so we're building a God damned ball pit. No, it'll help with moral, damn it!" then I might feel differently, but it's all so generic.
The closest thing to being telling is Grey confirms when Ana will come back from Georgia and gets an extra ticket to an event we're not told about, because he wants to take her to what ever it is. I imagine this will be the typical "Heroin gets all dressed up to go to formal event and she and Hero have a Moment" and if we're real lucky we'll meet Mrs. Robinson! Seriously, we're half way through the book with no antagonist! FIX IT.
So they start making out, because that's my first thought when I get up in the morning. Not "CURSE YOU DAY STAR!" or "jhgfpiahsgsnuggles" but "make out times. Definitely make out times."
“I suggest you go and have your shower, or I shall lay you across my desk, now.”
“I choose the desk,” I whisper recklessly as desire sweeps like adrenaline through my system, waking everything in its path.
And then Grey tells Ana she's getting to be insatiable. The exchange is meant to be playful and underscore Ana coming to be comfortable with her own sexuality (which is an awesome thing and one I look forward to seeing more of. I like assertive Ana) but there's something about it that irks me. I've had a few of my female friends, all in what they tell me are happy, fulfilling monogamous relationships, that they are not having enough sex. Not only are they not having enough sex, when they try to initiate it, they are told "No" and made to feel guilty and ashamed about it. They want it too much. It's not normal. I want to scream when ever I hear this because THERE IS NOTHING WRONG OR WEIRD OR SHAMEFUL ABOUT SEX AND WANTING IT! THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A "normal" SEX DRIVE! THEY ARE ALL DIFFERENT AND UNIQUE AND WE SHOULD ACCEPT THAT! But more importantly I want to scream because I'm seeing someone I care about questioning if they ARE being strange and wrong about it. So seeing in EROTIC FICTION the main hero telling his girlfriend she's starting to want sex too much... I hate it. I hate it because more and more I'm starting to think that this is an actual problem. Women aren't supposed to want sex. We're supposed to be frigid and chaste or some bull shit?
“Damn right, only me,” he growls, and suddenly with one fluid movement, he clears all the plans and papers off his desk so that they scatter on the floor, sweeps me up in his arms, and lays me down across the short end of his desk so that my head is almost off the edge.
“You want it, you got it, baby,” he mutters, producing a foil packet from his pants pocket while he unzips his pants.
At least Grey is quick to oblige. Seriously. Just a "FUCK YOU THINGS ON MY DESK THAT ARE LIKELY IMPORTANT WORK THINGS!" God I hope he didn't have a gold fish or something on the desk. Some sort of glass paper wheight that some one gave him... Also he just... Has a condom in his pocket at all times? I'd have expected it in the desk, but, in his pocket? Really? Oh, well, you know what this means, right guys? Unintentionally hilarious sex scene time!
“I sure hope you’re ready,” he breathes, a salacious smile across his face. And in a moment, he’s filling me, holding my wrists tightly by my side, and thrusting into me deeply.
"Because the author is bored with writing foreplay!"
“Christ, Ana. You’re so ready,” he whispers in veneration.
Oh, don't pretend like that isn't from your black magic glamor, Grey. We all know.
He starts to move, really move. This is not making love, this is fucking – and I love it.
He's actually doing a jig.
I revel in his possession, his lust slaking mine.
What the hell does slaking mean? I DO NOT WANT MY EROTICA TO SEND ME TO THE DICTIONARY EL JAMES! Alright, let's take a side trip to google.
Oh my God. You guys! I swear to you this was the first hit I got.
Slaking are large, bulky, ape-like Pokémon.
I don't even want to know what the word actually means anymore. As far as I'm concerned, this is just what Grey looks like during sex.
Oh my. I close my eyes, feeling the build up – that delicious, slow, step climbing build. Pushing me higher, higher to the castle in the air.
You leave castles in the sky alone, James.
“Come on, baby, give it up for me,”
He actually just wants her to give up her eggo, but she'll never leggo her eggo.
I cry out a wordless, passionate plea as I touch the sun and burn, falling around him, falling down, back to a breathless, bright summit on Earth.
Wait, so if I fuck an evil wizard I can have sex in euclidean geometries? Damn, that's tempting.
“What the hell are you doing to me?” he breathes as he nuzzles my neck. “You completely beguile me, Ana. You weave some powerful magic.”
Says the evil warlock. STOP TRYING TO BLAME THIS ON ANA GREY! Also who the fuck says beguile in casual conversation? Was "endear, delight, charm, bewitch, enchant, make me fear for my life" all not fancy enough for Christian Grey?
“You. Are. Mine,” he says, each word a staccato. “Do you understand?”
He’s so earnest, so impassioned – a zealot. The force of his plea is so unexpected and disarming. I wonder why he’s feeling like this.
“Yes, yours,” I whisper, derailed by his fervor.
“Are you sure you have to go to Georgia?”
I nod slowly. And in that brief moment, I can see his expression change and the shutters coming down.
I think I would only want to interact with my boyfriend if his dick was in me if he acted like this the second it was out. Grey's emotional unavailability and his inability to communicate are supposed to be plot points. However they just make him entirely unattractive to me. I struggle to find any reason why someone would actually fall in love with him.
He then tells Ana that he likes it when she's sore because it reminds him of where he's been. ... What? You want your girlfriend to be in pain and discomfort because it strokes your ego?
“Always prepared,” I murmur.
He looks at me confused as he redoes his fly. I hold up the empty packet.
“A man can hope, Anastasia, dream even, and sometimes his dreams come true.”
He sounds so odd, his eyes burning. I just don’t understand. My post coital glow is fading fast. What is his problem?
I like Ana this chapter so far. She's not endeared by this, she's not swooning, she's wondering what the fuck is going on with him. She's been open about her own desires and initiated sex instead of just waiting for him to. These are good things!
“So, on your desk, that’s been a dream?” I ask dryly, trying humor to lighten the atmosphere between us.
He smiles an enigmatic smile that doesn’t reach his eyes, and I know immediately this is not the first time he’s had sex on his desk. The thought is unwelcome. I squirm uncomfortably as my post coital glow evaporates.
There goes the good will. We are repeatedly told that Ana is so smart and caring and never cries and is totes emotionally balanced. If this is the case why is she so jealous, jealous to the point that the realization that- SHOCK- she isn't his first, sends her sulking into jealousy? It isn't cute or endearing, it's sad. I get that Ana's first IS Grey, and so it makes sense for her to be anxious or bothered by the level in emotional and life experience his exes represent. THAT I could understand and by sympathetic about. I don't think that's how Ana feels. Ana is upset that he has had sex with other women.
So the two talk some more and Grey, to me, just reads as typical Grey. Ana insists he's being weird and we're supposed to think he is, too, but not know why. Ana then goes about angsting about how emotionally unavailable and complicated and hard to read Grey is! I agree. I also finding reading him difficult because it makes me want to kick things.
So then Grey demands Ana eats and orders bacon, eggs, and pancakes from Mrs. Jones. He however has something else, and this irks me. I know she's paid to be there, but in an industrial kitchen, this stuff is ready to go. Your veggies are prepped, your bacon half cooked, your pancake batter made. It's just a matter of throwing it on the fire and cooking it. That is not the case here, as it's a person's home. It just seems really... Douchy, to me. I know it's more meant to be "LOOK THEY LIVE IN A FAIRY TALE LAND WHERE THEY NEVER HAVE TO COOK AND CAN ALWAYS HAVE WHAT THEY WANT!" but to me it reads as "Entitled assholes who've never had to take care of themselves". When I'm at work and people make weird demands of their food, I just do it. One, because that's my job, but two, because I'm set up to. If I was working in someones home, for the sake of not making them wait an hour or two for each meal (specially if I'm playing short order cook) I'd give them menu options ahead of time so that way I could have prep done and- WHY DO PEOPLE NOT UNDERSTAND HOW COOKING WORKS RAAAGE.
Ahem. Sorry about that. Right, so, Grey is, once again, forcing Ana to eat. Despite having wanted her on a restricted diet (something she declared a deal breaker) he isn't ordering her an omelet and some fruit like he does himself, he's ordering her fatty and greasy breakfasts. It's meant to show him being considerate, "This is what you ate last time so I know you like it" but it just strikes me as really strange and inconsistent for the character. He has dictated what Ana would eat before now with no idea about her likes and dislikes, why the sudden interest?
“I have a jet. It’s not scheduled to be used for three days, it’s at your disposal.”
I gape at him. Of course he has a jet, and I have to resist my body’s natural inclination to roll my eyes at him. I want to laugh. But I don’t, as I can’t read his mood.
“We’ve already made serious misuse of your company’s aviation fleet. I wouldn’t want to do it again.”
“It’s my company, it’s my jet.” He sounds almost wounded. Oh, boys and their toys!
Got privileged? Cause Grey does! So he's going to go visit her in Georgia and meet her Mother, right? That's going to happen. What bugs me is Grey sulking, and Ana's incredibly dismissive and condescending thought. "Oh those silly boys!" it just... It feels like she just doesn't see him as a person at all.
“I am fully aware of that, Mr. Grey. Are you going to track my phone?” I ask innocently.
“Actually, I’ll be quite busy this afternoon, so I’ll have to get someone else to do it.” He smirks.
Is he joking?
Ana legitimately isn't sure if he would stalk her. I just need to point this out. She at least perceives that he thinks that little of her privacy. That just makes me really sad. So they eat, and then Mrs. Jones boogies out to let them talk about SRS stuff.
“You know, you never did tell me why you don’t like to be touched.”
He blanches, and his reaction makes me feel guilty for asking.
“I’ve told you more than I’ve ever told anybody.” His voice is quiet as he gazes at me impassively.
And it’s clear to me that he’s never confided in anyone. Doesn’t he have any close friends? Perhaps he told Mrs. Robinson? I want to ask him, but I can’t – I can’t pry that invasively. I shake my head at the realization. He really is an island.
More sads. I'm unsure of how Grey was able to grow up so closed off to the world considering how his family is. Surely he has confided about something to someone before, even if it wasn't something so huge? I also like how Ana, after repeatedly badgering him about why she can't touch him, draws the line at asking if he's told anyone, specifically, Mrs. R. If you wanted to respect what you should and shouldn't pry into, maybe you should, you know, stop asking the same thing over and over again because he clearly isn't comfortable talking about it?
So then they say they'll miss each other when she's gone (gag) and we're onto Ana's interview! Oh, this is going to hurt me, isn't it?
This is my second interview today, and the one I’m most anxious about. My first interview went well, but it was for a larger conglomerate with offices based throughout the US, and I would be one of many editorial assistants there. I can imagine being swallowed up and spat out pretty quickly in such a corporate machine. SIP is where I want to be. It’s small and unconventional, championing local authors, and has an interesting and quirky roster of clients.
The "I'M SO INDIE I BLEED OBSCURE MUSIC!" hurts. How does a publisher "champion" an author anyways? And how does she know they have a roster of "interesting and quirky" clients? I get wanting to work somewhere smaller, but I have no idea how Ana knows some things. Did she have a friend who worked there? I don't think she really has friends, so I've no idea. Maybe she really aggressively bought into a recruiters pitch?
The receptionist is a young African-American woman with large silver earrings and long straightened hair. She has a bohemian look about her, the sort of woman I could be friendly with. The thought is comforting.
Okay, this is the second not blond character in the book, and once again, Ana feels a quick bond. She is the second black character we've seen among all the extras, and I just want to point this out. On the whole I feel this whole book is really white-washed.
As Ana sits in the waiting room, waiting for an interview for her dream job, she is naturally thinking about Grey. Not, you know, the job, or the interview, but her boyfriend. She gets a lady-boner and keeps insisting to the reader that Grey is likeable. Agree to disagree, shall we Ana?
So the woman who is interviewing Ana introduces herself, and, again, not a blond! Clearly Ana belongs here! She is also described as "Bohemian" which is strange in a publishing house to me. I understand that we're supposed to see that they are laid back and easy going and it's such a small tight knit group! Buuuut.... Could EL James really not do any better then bohemian? She couldn't have anyone be hip or artsy or trendy? For some reason the woman leads Ana into the office of the CEO who is apparently interviewing her himself. LOL!
At the head of the Maplewood conference table sits a young man with red hair tied in a ponytail. Small, silver, hooped earrings glint in both his ears. He wears a pale blue shirt, no tie, and grey flannel trousers. As I approach him, he stands and gazes at me with fathomless dark blue eyes.
Ooooooh. He's going to be another love rival, isn't he? Right. Gotcha.
“You have a very impressive GPA. What extra-curricular activities did you indulge in at WSU?”
NO ONE CARES ABOUT GPAS IN REAL LIFE! NO ONE! I have seen people MOCK resumes that put their GPA on it! Openly and cruelly!
I launch into details of my librarianship at the campus central library, and my one experience of interviewing an obscenely rich despot for the student magazine. I gloss over the part that I didn’t actually write the article. I mention the two literary societies that I belonged to and conclude with working at Clayton’s and all the useless knowledge I now possess about hardware and DIY. They both laugh, which is the response I’d hoped for. Slowly, I relax and begin to enjoy myself.
Really? You're enjoying a job interview? I'm putting this here because I feel it's an important bit of character building. So Ana starts to skim the interview a bit "Jack asks smart questions but I keep up!" EL James heard the rule of "show don't tell" but she just laughed in the face of whoever told her.
“And where do you see yourself in five years’ time?” he asks.
With Christian Grey, the thought comes involuntarily into my head. My errant mind makes me frown.
So Ana goes home to Kate who starts asking lots of random questions and Ana asks her to stop riling Grey. She defends her actions but agrees since it's what Ana wants her to do, and then does something super decent.
“You’re just, I don’t know… different. I hope you’re okay, and whatever issues you’re having with Mr. Moneybags, you can talk to me. And I will try not to wind him up, though frankly it’s like shooting fish in a barrel with him. Look, Ana, if something’s wrong, you will tell me, I won’t judge. I’ll try to understand.”
YES! KATE AT THE MOMENT I DON'T HATE YOU! This is a good thing to say! She ruins it by badgering Ana about confessing her love ASAP and then tells her that if the fucking is good then that's half the battle for a good relationship! Arg.
So Ana then goes and ZOMG THERE ARE NO MESSAGES OR EMAILS FROM GREY! So she sends him one saying the interview went well, and then sits there sulking that she's not getting an instant response. He said earlier he was too busy to stalk her with work, and he obviously took the morning off to spend time with her, which probably made his day more busy. Naturally none of this occurs to Ana. When he finally responds...
Dear Miss Steele
Everything you do interests me, you are the most fascinating woman I know.
I’m glad your interviews went well.
My morning was beyond all expectations.
My afternoon was very dull in comparison.
ANA IS THE BEST EVER GUYS! So she asks him if he used to fuck his cleaning lady.
Mrs. Jones is a valued employee. I have never had any relationship with her beyond our professional one. I do not employ anyone I’ve had any sexual relations with. I am shocked that you would think so.
Really? Because didn't you repeatedly offer a job to Ana? Oh, wait, he points that she'd be the exception because she's soooo special! Siiigh. More obnoxious banter and then Kate gets home and then Ana runs off to eat food and then we skip forward to Ana at the airport. She finds out that her ticket was upgraded to first class! Oh! The poor dear!
And that brings us to the end of chapter 21! It was... Pretty boring. The characters had moments of not sucking, but over all? Arg. Till next week dear readers! As always, comments make me write faster, as do good drinks!
**I won't pretend I have never done that. However I've yet to drag those moments back out on you guys even though you tend to point them out as awesome, too.