The first half of chapter 7 saw Grey taking Ana to a lavish charity ball hosted by his family where disgusting amounts of money are spent so they can sneak off to bone. They were in the middle of dancing and being "cute" where I left off.
Now, there's something that I haven't really touched on before* that I want to get into now. Money. Ana is just out of school, and apparently has enough money that she can fly out to visit her Mother on a whim, and has yet to worry about paying rent, or for food, or about her debt. The way her parents are written, I don't think either of them were rolling in it, so this leads me to believe that Ana is actually very good with her money. She managed to find a work/living arrangement (she cooked in exchange for less rent was my understanding) and worked a fair bit all through school. I think both her Mother and Ray helped her out, but Ana has, as far as I can gleam, been managing her own money very well on her own for the last 4 years. We then have Grey who sees money as no object- he has lots, and will always have lots, so it doesn't matter, he couldn't live outside his means if he tried. I find how the fantasy of money around Grey is presented to be tacky and garrish, but in the name of trying to understand it better, perhaps I should consider Ana (the reader insert character done so wrong) here. She's supposed to be a responsible every woman, and so Grey doesn't actually present security (well, not just security) but the ability to step out of her own budget and do things she always wanted to but couldn't afford to. Like go gliding or go to fancy charity balls where she gets to be a Disney princess. This whole chapter, I think, it supposed to be about selling that part of the fantasy, not just LOL GREY'S RICH DID YOU GUYS NOTICE THAT HE'S RICH? I will finish this rant with I still think it comes off as Grey flaunting his money like a dick.
Alright, into this chapter we go! Ana and Grey keeps dancing for a while before Ana wanders off on her own. It's an innocent enough thing, and when she goes to grab her drink (why she wandered off) there's a woman hanging around.
Her mask is unique. It covers her face to her nose but also covers her hair. It’s stunning with elaborate gold filigree.
Hmmm, I wonder if her mask covering her hair has any significance? I mean, it's not like there are any people with "trade mark" hair like Mrs. Robinson running around!
“I’m so glad you’re on your own,” she says softly. “I’ve been wanting to talk to you all evening.”
“I’m sorry, I don’t know who you are.”
She pulls the mask from her face and releases her hair.
Shit! It’s Mrs. Robinson.
Oh I didn't see that coming! Wait, yes I did. I want to know what's so special about Mrs. R's hair, though. I mean, almost every woman in the book is blond (Ana, the black receptionist where she works, and Mia are the ONLY brunettes we've met). What makes Elena's hair so special? Does she have a mohawk? What ever could Mrs. R want? Well, she saves Ana (and the reader) some time by telling her she'll be quick (and yes, she knows Ana hates her).
“It must be obvious to you that Christian is in love with you. I have never seen him like this, ever.” She emphasizes the last word.
What? Loves me? No. Why is she telling me? To reassure me? I don’t understand.
“He won’t tell you because he probably doesn’t realize it himself, notwithstanding what I’ve said to him, but that’s Christian. He’s not very attuned to any positive feelings and emotions he may have. He dwells far too much on the negative. But then you’ve probably worked that out for yourself. He doesn’t think he’s worthy.”
WHAT THE FUCKING HELL HOW DOES THIS SEEM LIKE A GOOD IDEA OR EVEN REMOTELY APPROPRIATE?! MRS. R I GET THAT YOU'RE PROTECTIVE OF GREY AND PROBABLY THE ONLY PERSON REALLY AWARE OF JUST HOW EMOTIONALLY CONSTIPATED HE IS BUT NONE OF THE PARTIES INVOLVED ARE TEENAGERS, AND EVEN IF YOU ALL WERE THIS WOULD STILL BE A TOTALLY OUT OF LINE THING FOR YOU TO SAY TO YOUR FRIEND'S NEW GIRLFRIEND WHO YOU'VE NEVER FORMALLY MET!!! IT'S ONE THING WHEN AFTER BONDING WITH THEM IF THEY ASK TO MAYBE LET SOMETHING SLIP BUT THIS IS JUST OBSCENE AT BEST! AREN'T YOU SUPPOSED TO BE THE OLDER WOMAN?!
This has nothing to do with Mrs. R though. This has to do with EL James literally having no idea of how to get Grey to come out and say "I'm in love with you" to Ana in a way that she would understand. Even Mrs. R saying it bluntly is leaving her confused. However this whole monolog is just painful to read. "He doesn't think he's worthy"? Really EL James? So Ana reels around a bit in her head wondering if all of Grey's insanity is actually love or just... insanity. She apparently decides to agree with Mrs. R.
And hearing it from this woman, having her confirm it for me is, frankly, unwelcome. I’d rather hear it from him.
And this, Mrs. R, is why you don't go around telling people that others are in love with them. Reminds me a bit of when I was single right after college. I was out with a bunch of people, and one of them was a girl I sort of knew. Being the only women there we at one point ended up on our own, and she starts asking me about my intentions of the guys in the circle. I tell her I'm not looking to date at all, and she goes on to say "Because So-and-So is practically in love with you" I had not known he was into me at all because romance did not exist in my head at that point in time. Hearing he was into me was unwelcome, and doubly so from someone who was not him. He was one of my best friends, how do you go about dealing with the fact that one of your best friends is apparently in love with you when they've never said a word to you but everyone else? Now, Ana is in a better situation than I was, what, with being in love with Grey herself, but news of love is never better second hand. There's also this "I CAN TELL YOU'RE SUPER INTO HIM IN A DEEP MEANINGFUL WAY!" thing Mrs. R is spouting here. She has seen Ana storm out on Grey earlier that day in the salon, and seen them dance and be cutesy. That is not necessarily love, that is being into someone and swept away with the atmosphere. Or Mrs. R is psychic. I'm willing to accept that as canon. Now, where's that "but"?
But what I wanted to say is if you hurt him again, I will find you, lady, and it won’t be pleasant when I do.”
She stares at me, ice-cold blue eyes boring into my skull, trying to get under my mask. Her threat is so astonishing, so off the wall that an involuntary, disbelieving giggle escapes me. Of all the things she could say to me, this is the least expected.
I'd have laughed in her face, too. And then skipped off to report this to my boyfriend and the police. So Ana promptly tells her off, and skips off. It's one of those magical back bone things.
“I’m laughing at your audacity, Mrs. Lincoln. Christian and I have nothing to do with you. And if I do leave him and you come looking for me, I’ll be waiting—don’t doubt it. And maybe I’ll give you a taste of your own medicine on behalf of the fifteen-year-old child you molested and probably fucked-up even more than he already was.”
Her mouth falls open.
“Now if you’ll excuse me, I have better things to do than waste my time with you.”
And flounce, stage left. I almost didn't include this bit, as at first glance it's nothing more than a casual "and fuck you very much". I realize now that isn't quite right. I've commenting on the awkward handling of Grey being friends with the woman who molested him as a child. Ana will get upset, but whenever Ana gets upset she is treated both by Grey and herself as being totally unreasonable. I've been confused on if I'm supposed to side with Grey (Yes I was young but I consented and feel it was a positive experience) or Ana (The age of consent is there for a reason, and she took advantage of a young, vulnerable boy. That is monstrous). The way the book has been presenting it, Grey's calm, evenly present stance as to Ana's shrill frantic one, made me think the author intended me to side with Grey on it. Which made me hella uncomfortable. This however makes it much more clear that no, no, you're supposed to be with Ana that this woman is clearly totes evil. Her actions are that of the stereotypical romance best friend ("hurt them and so help me"**) in the scene we've just seen, but I think the reader is supposed to see her as a villain, just one who means well.
I like humanizing villains. My favorite stories are the ones where the antagonists aren't evil or bad, they just have a very different set of goals and morals than the good guys. So on one hand I WANT to like EL James' attempts so far to soften her big bad, on the other, she's just so over the top with the "she does x,y, and z that are good, but q,t, and r that are bad. So it all balances out." that I'm just going to peg her onto the (well meaning) bad guy board. The text treating this like an epic tell off is telling of what the reader is supposed to feel about the woman.
Ana bounces, and since Grey has security flunkies everywhere, he was warned that his ex was chatting up his new squeeze and turns up to catch Ana on her way out. Confused as to why his girlfriend is seething with rage, he asks what's up.
“Why don’t you ask your ex?” I hiss acidly.
His mouth twists and his eyes frost. “I’m asking you,” he says, his voice soft but with an undertone of something far more menacing.
This strikes me as really weird. I mean, I get that he's annoyed that she's telling him to go talk to his ex, but he knows what he's told Mrs. R. He should have some vague glimmer that she just spilled some beans to Ana, and rather then get snippy at her be thinking that she feels like her privacy has been ignored, and that is valid. I think it's important to have people you can talk to your relationship about, but they have to be people who will either never meet your partner, or who will keep that shit on lock down if they ever do. Mrs. R is not the second type, apparently thinking it's okay to go out of her way to break Grey's confidence (which he should suspect and be angry about). Grey should be mad about that not at Ana being flippant. Then again, it is Grey who must be respected and in control all of the time. Apparently being lippy is a bigger indiscretion then ratting out his secrets.
Ana realizes that if she doesn't talk to him shit will turn into a fight, so she opens up.
“She’s threatening to come after me if I hurt you again—probably with a whip,” I snap at him.
Relief flashes across his face, his mouth softening with humor. “Surely the irony of that isn’t lost on you?” he says, and I can tell he’s trying hard to stifle his amusement.
“This isn’t funny, Christian!”
“No, you’re right. I’ll talk to her.” He adopts his serious face, though he’s still suppressing his amusement.
GREY YOU ARE THE BIGGEST ASSHOLE TO EVER WIPE SHIT ON OUR SOCIETY! I wish Ana would just haul off and slap him here. Grey has flown to defend her honor when Jose and her boss (who hasn't appeared in like 100 pages, so I forget his name) so much as looked at her. He was willing to get a man fired if he crossed a single boundary with Ana. However, when it's women (Mrs. R and Leila. HIS ex-girlfriends, specifically) she's given a pat on the head and a promise to "talk to them". Leila showed up outside her place of work, and has since gone out and gotten a gun (we think). Grey's more concerned about finding her to help her then finding her to make sure he, and his loved ones, are safe. Mrs. R shits all over his confidence and he thinks it's funny and Ana is just being mad for nothing. She's missing the irony you guys! I am also pretty sure that irony is the wrong word to use here. Just sayin'.
Ana nearly tells him "I want you to stop talking to her" but questions if she can get away with asking that. I like this, actually. I've had dude-friends end up loosing most of their lady friends when they got a girlfriend, so I appreciate that she's trying to respect that he is allowed to have his friends and it really isn't her place to interfere. She would, however, be well within her right to tell him "Don't talk to her about me anymore" but she's still processing so I'll let that go.
“Please don’t be mad. I didn’t know she was here. She said she wasn’t coming.” His tone is placating as if he’s talking to a child. Reaching up he runs his thumb along my pouting bottom lip.
Remember what I said before about "It's hard for me to be sure if I'm supposed to side with Ana because she's always portrayed as a kid throwing a tantrum?" because I just want to underline this.
Ana is actually being fairly reasonable here. She's well within her rights to be pissed. She was threatened, and her boyfriend thinks that it's funny. Hell, even if he didn't, she would still be within her right to be pissed. She's also still considering that "Maybe it's not fair game for me to dictate that he shouldn't hang out with people" even though Grey is policing who she hangs out with already (Remember how he acted around Jose?). This brings me to a chance to link to an awesome article from The Gloss on the stigma of men and women's upset. When men get upset, it's just how people talk, when women get upset, she's getting hysterical. When men get upset they're more likely to scream, hit things, and be generally aggressive. These are things that are apparently all fair game, but if a woman starts to get weepy, or enthused, she's being "emotional" which makes her irrational. I should own up to my own bad. Earlier this post I mentioned that I wasn't sure of the author intend on who I should side with because of how Ana was portrayed (a lot of pouting and childish language she uses to describe herself) as to Grey staying mostly calm on the surface (other then all those rage flashes). I took this to mean I was supposed to see his arguments as more valid, or at least potentially more valid. So while I often accuse EL James of being misogynistic, I do have to give points here, and an authentic selling point to women. She's showing us a woman getting emotional- and still being right. I suppose I shouldn't give points yet, the story has still yet to take Ana seriously, so we'll see if it starts to or not, but I think it will.
Ana pops off for a second, so she can calm down and Grey is given a chance to call Elena, even though Ana asked him NOT to talk to her about this (though really, I don't think she expected him not to) and she catches the gist of it as she walks back. The reader had to be certain that Grey is blameless (he really didn't know she would be there) and that he has already told Elena to leave Ana alone.
“She cares about you,” I mutter.
“Yes, and I her . . . as a friend.”
“I think it’s more than a friendship to her.”
His brow furrows. “Anastasia, Elena and I . . . it’s complicated. We have a shared history. But it is just that, history. As I’ve said to you time and time again, she’s a good friend. That’s all. Please, forget about her.”
Mrs. R is a weird mish-mash of tropes. She's supposed to be the best friend, the ex who's still in love with him and wants to steal him away, AND she's the ex who "ruined" him. It's a strange writing choice, but EL James seems to like the more over the top set ups, so to her it was probably the only way to make the woman a "real" threat. She couldn't just be the best friend who's intentions are unclear, or the ex still hung up on him, because that's not scary enough? What I find strange is Grey begging Ana to just forget about her repeatedly. He has no other move, no other solution, only tells her to ignore the issue. This seems to be an ongoing theme. There's a problem, Grey doesn't want to deal with it, so they fight until Ana drops it.
Back to the dance we go where Grey's Dad whisks Ana off to "thank" her for her donation. Ana tells us he's actually asking if she can afford it, which she tells him she can (she didn't want the money anyways, so in the case of having money that made her uncomfortable donating it to charity seems reasonable) and Ana then starts plying him for information about Grey's Dark Tragic Past! TM Shockingly, it works and the man starts to spill all of the beans. Grey's Mother was the doctor on duty when Grey was brought in ("all skin and bones") and he didn't speak for two years. Just played piano sadly. If only he'd have stayed like that... Joking aside, doesn't it seem more likely that he would have developed and eating disorder rather than become a mute? He was left alone and unfed, and he has this very complicated relationship with food, but not an eating disorder...
... But between you and me, Anastasia, it’s seeing him like he is this evening—carefree, acting his age—that’s the real thrill for his mother and me. We were both commenting on it today. I believe we have you to thank for that.”
Carric then goes on to say how much they like seeing Grey and Ana together and she should keep doing whatever she is because he is soo happy. He then realizes that's a fucking bizarre thing to say and apologizes.
This scene is so bizarre. I mean, I'm not surprised Ana starts fishing for information to further flesh out the picture of Grey's Dark Tragic Past TM but I am that Carric gave it up. Also how many people are going to tell Ana how in love with her Grey is? I have never seen anyone do this ever. I've seen "You two seem really happy together" "You guys are really cute" and in cases of particularly awful people "I'm so glad that he finally brought home a NICE girl" but this all feels so fucking weird. Further proof that EL James is an alien and this is some report back to her home world on Earthlings?
So they go and watch some fireworks, and Ana out of no where thinks about Leila and a lot of narrative detail is given to the security guards all around them in this crowd.
“Stay with me a moment. Taylor wants us to wait while the crowd disperses.”
“I think that firework display probably aged him a hundred years,” he adds.
“Doesn’t he like fireworks?”
Christian gazes down at me fondly and shakes his head but doesn’t elaborate.
BECAUSE HE WOULDN'T BE ABLE TO HEAR THE GUNSHOT GET IT GUYS?!
So Ana decides to call it a night and they start heading home, but Mia catches up to them and it's pointed out that she can touch Grey in the no-go zones. Thankfully Ana is just surprised at him not reacting and doesn't get seethy that his sister can touchy him and she can't. Grey's boundaries. They make no sense. If he was that traumatized, I would expect it to be a consistent thing, and just a fact within his family. Grey doesn't like being touched anywhere on the torso. That's the type of thing that they would have all grown up with, so it wouldn't be so strange, unless the no-go area is from Mrs. R or some other as-of-yet unmentioned trauma.
As they wait for his car to be brought around, Ana asks what he meant about a big day tomorrow.
“Dr. Greene is coming to sort you out. Plus, I have a surprise for you.”
“Dr. Greene!” I halt.
“Because I hate condoms,” he says quietly. His eyes glint in the soft light from the paper lanterns, gauging my reaction.
“It’s my body,” I mutter, annoyed that he hasn’t asked me.
“It’s mine, too,” he whispers.
He wasn't kidding about getting her the shot (which is now discontinued in Canada because it was considered too inconsistent I'm told) while she's already on the pill?! Holy hormone imbalances Batman! Also "It's my body too"?!? What?! All this because he doesn't want to use condoms. He gets to claim ownership of her body, make medical decisions for her, based on what his wang wants. No. You never get to make medical decisions for an adult unless you have been given the legal right to when they are unable! There was a bit in the contract about medical things, but it was that the dom would make sure the sub was taken care of, not make the decisions, and they threw the contract out, which makes this all more cringe inducing. She could safe-word as a sub, she almost seems to have less power now. If he was in that big of a hurry to go bareback why wouldn't he just suggest getting the shot to start with?
What he is arranging to have done to her is dangerous. The shot can have some nasty side effects that will last for three months, and the doctor already put Ana on a very light form of birth control. A decision she, as a medical professional, made with the input of her patient. Grey is claiming ownership of Ana's body, and has said her safety is so important to him that he's willing to do things like buy entire companies to "keep her safe" but he's not willing to listen to a trained medical professional about what would be a good idea? Also another fucking surprise? When doesn't he have one for her? Also what makes this all really terrifying is that Ana agrees, her body is his. I'm just gonna go drink for a while now. Brb.
Okay, back. So they get into the car and there's a mystery note for Ana, from Mrs. Robinson (signed as such) being all "Listen, I think we've both misjudged each other. I approve wholeheartedly of you and if you want me to fill in any blanks you should give me a call, we can do lunch! PS: Hurt him and I will cut you." Grey is reasonably pissed considering that he just told her to stay the fuck out of his relationship like, two pages ago. She's now offering to tell Ana everything. Over lunch.
So they go home and Ana is sleepy and they're heading to bed, but drama!
“Will do, T,” he says and turns to face us. “Mr. Grey, the tires on Ms. Steele’s Audi have been slashed and paint thrown all over it.”
Gasp! I kind of like to think it was Elena as to Leila, as the mental image of her in her flashy mask and formal wear slashing tires is way better then or Leila doing it. Sawyer then goes on to say that she might be in the apartment! ... So it occurred to no one with all of this security to leave someone watching his house? Seriously? Taylor is supposed to be ex-military. This should have occurred to him.
“Listen, I can’t stand here and wait. Sawyer, take care of Miss Steele. Don’t let her in until you have the all clear. I am sure Taylor is overreacting. She can’t get into the apartment.”
What? “No, Christian—you have to stay with me,” I plead.
Christian releases me. “Do as you’re told, Anastasia. Wait here.”
Why can't he stand there and wait, exactly? He tells her to do as she's told and then skips on inside. I really have no idea why he would go in on his own here. He can't wait? Why the hell do you have hired security if you're not going to let them do their job? Is he hoping to find Leila so he can talk to her alone, even though we have progressively more reason to believe her dangerous? Oh, this is all so they can get alone time and she'll somehow convince him to leave Ana for her so that way EL James can introduce the next bit of plot, isn't it?
And that brings us to the end of chapter 7. Finally. Tune in next week to see if Grey gets dismembered by his unbalanced ex who probably has a knife and/or gun! As always comments make this hurt less! Till next week! Unless you're following me on Twitter, @SnappyErika in which case you can delight in my "wit" sooner than that!
*I write these posts as I read the chapter. It gives me a lot of chances for reactionary "WHAT IS THIS- I DON'T EVEN-" but takes away chances to sit down and pick things apart on a whole that I might have otherwise. What do you guys think, I should switch from the current format to reading the chapter and then talking about it as a whole?
**I have said that to dudes dating my friends before. Well, once, but it was "Hurt her again and so help me I will find where you live and leave glitter fucking everywhere"