Guys, I want you to know how much I love you. I love you so much that I am spending my last few hours as a 24 year old (and first few as a 25 year old) working on this post and spending time with this book. I AM DOING THIS ON MY BIRTHDAY!!! FOR YOU!!! And Pi day. Happy Pi day. *ahem* onto the post.
I'm trying something a little different this week. There's a lot of filler and boring in the last few chapters, so I'm basically going to give a quick recap and then pick apart the interesting bits. It should make the posts shorter and less rambling. Maybe.
Alright, so what happens in this chapter? Ana and Grey sail around some more, come back to shore, grab dinner, drive back to his apartment where she finally gets the tour, and then they play pool where Ana makes a wager with Grey over it. More about the wager later.
There's a lot of "ILOVEYOUANDNEVERWANTTOLEAVEYOUARETHEBESTESTEVER" in this chapter. It remains as tedious as ever but I'm sure it's to underscore when they inevitably break up again at some point in this book. Ana also keeps going on about how Grey is such an awesome lay, but there's actually some evidence given this time.
He is an exceptional lover, I’m sure—though, of course, I have no comparison. But Kate would have raved more if it was always like this; it’s not like her to hold back on details.
I appreciate the effort to explain this one, but does he really need to be both objectively beautiful and and objectively good lover? Sex is different for different people, and awesome that you found a good fit, but not everyone would fit with Grey. Can we please see "different strokes for different folks" somewhere in this book? Anywhere? For a book that's supposed to be all about BDSM there is shockingly little acknowledgment that there is no such thing as objectively good sex.
We also finally get to learn a little bit more about Taylor!
Like that he sleeps and has a first name.
“Does that poor man ever sleep?”
“He sleeps.” Christian quirks an eyebrow at me, puzzled. “He’s just doing his job, Anastasia, which he’s very good at. Jason is a real find.”
This is a book and a half into the series. The cast is rather small, and we probably see/hear more about Taylor than many of the other characters. It has taken that long to confirm that yes, he sleeps, and his first name is Jason despite probably being more front and center than Kate. We know tons about Kate! Taylor however is the help. He's invisible. I've noticed walking the halls of my own place of work, when I'm in uniform, people just look through me. They brush past me, they drop doors behind them in my face, they just... don't realize I exists*. Leaving work, in my own clothes, people smile and nod, they hold doors, they actually acknowledge I exists. Why? Classicism and privilege would be my best guesses. In uniform, they think I'm lower class than them. Out of it? I could be their co-worker! Hell, they probably assume I am. I feel Taylor is falling into the same trap I do. When he's working, he isn't a human being with wants, needs, thoughts, and feelings. He's the hired help. He is an object to be used as the owner desires. We are supposed to see Ana's warmness to him as benevolent. That said, Ana will pick a random trait, decide a person reminds her of someone else, and therefore she likes them (which she has done at least twice now) so not sure how much stock I should put in that.
I remember when I thought Taylor was his first name.
A whole five minutes ago.
Jason. It suits him—solid, reliable. For some reason it makes me smile.
“You’re fond of Taylor,” Christian says, eyeing me with speculation.
“I suppose I am.” His question derails me. He frowns. “I’m not attracted to him, if that’s why you’re frowning. Stop.”
Christian is almost pouting—sulky.
Jeez, he’s such a child sometimes.
This is not being a child, this is being a jealous controlling jackass. When it was every man ever eyeing up his woman, it was obnoxious, but there was some tangible reason for Grey to be getting so huffy. This is consistent, but terrifying. Ana simply liking a person is enough to merit Grey's wrath. Is Taylor going to go missing in the next chapter? Ana will go onto tell Grey that she likes Taylor because he takes good care of Grey. However Taylor and Ana will banter a little bit later which will merit both of them getting chewed out by Grey. Taylor's telling-off is off page, but I suspect Grey ripped off his shirt and just screeched for a while. I don't see Grey just making Taylor vanish, which is almost a surprise. I suppose because Grey has some very real control over Taylor he doesn't feel the need to banish him straight-away (and Taylor, having been endlessly useful, is given a chance to keep his job despite Ana taking a liking to him on that merit alone).
I also want to talk about Ana and Taylor's banter. She makes a crack that she was "Mrs. Taylor" earlier. The conversation is joking around with that. On one hand, I think it's innocent enough, on the other, telling someone you enjoyed pretending to be their wife? Yeah that's flirty, and she is well aware of how little it takes to piss off Grey. I'm not saying Ana should have to police herself, but her surprise at Grey's reaction is frustrating.
“Don’t be friendly with the staff or flirt with them. I don’t like it.”
Oh. Good-bye, carefree Christian. “I’m sorry,” I mutter and stare down at my fingers. He hasn’t made me feel like a child all day. Reaching down he cups my chin, pulling my head up to meet his eyes.
“You know how jealous I am,” he whispers.
“You have no reason to be jealous, Christian. You own me body and soul.”
All of these reactions make me sad. Ana being totally okay with being made to feel like a child? Grey making his jealousy her problem? Ana's response to it being to calmly reassure him that he owns her? Sad now.
Another thing that keeps coming up this chapter is Grey's friendships, or lack there of.
“Is he your friend?”
“Mac? He works for me. Helped build The Grace.”
“Do you have many friends?”
He frowns. “Not really. Doing what I do . . . I don’t cultivate friendships. There’s only—” He stops, his frown deepening, and I know he was going to mention Mrs. Robinson.
He changes the topic, and their next conversation is this:
“Can I ask you something?” I decide on a fact-finding mission.
“Anything, Anastasia. You know that.” He cocks his head to one side, looking delicious.
“You don’t seem to have many friends. Why is that?”
He shrugs and frowns. “I told you, I don’t really have time. I have business associates—though that’s very different from friendships, I suppose. I have my family and that’s it. Apart from Elena.”
I ignore the mention of the bitch-troll. “No male friends your own age that you can go out with and let off steam?”
“You know how I like to let off steam, Anastasia.” Christian’s mouth twists. “And I’ve been working, building up the business.” He looks puzzled. “That’s all I do—except sail and fly occasionally.”
Not even in college. He's just always been so busy working! Here's the thing, in any field, networking is important. I wouldn't have gotten a few of the gigs I've had in the past if not for some connections I had been lucky enough to make when I was younger. When you're fresh meat, no one really wants to bother with you, having someone who's known in your field saying "No, they're worth it." not only gets you in the door, it will be protection against abuse.
I was once hired somewhere based entirely on recommendation, and almost immediately after they had huge budget cuts and I had to be let go. I had left another job to go there. As my boss explained what had happened and apologized, he said he had already put a few calls in for me. He confessed he wouldn't usually do that for someone who had been there a week, but because he had taken me on because of my connection, he felt he had to take care of me. Also remember what I do, I'm a cook/baker (this was when I was exclusively a baker, which is a much harder field to get into, still not that hard). A field where jobs are fairly plentiful and turnover is high. However I've enjoyed a great deal of privileged due to other people stepping up on my behalf. When it comes to something like business? It's all the more vital.
Kitchens will let you get away with a shit ton of terrible behavior so long as you're good at what you do. The people who stepped in for me didn't do it because I was great at what I did, however. I was too green to be, they did it because they liked me. You can be a talented, hard worker, that only gets you so far most of the time. At the end of the day, people won't want to work with you if you're a diva.
So, I find it perplexing and ridiculous that Grey is sitting there saying he was too busy being married to work to have a social life. His social life should have been a part of his work. He should have a few work buddies he goes out with when they're in town from time to time. He should have to jet off to charity golf tournaments being run by so-and-so. He should be taking on interns to win favors down the road. I don't even work in business, yet I understand how that game works. I also find it interesting that he keeps saying "I have no friends except for Elena" and, to prove my point, she was the one who enabled him to start his business to start with.
I'd buy into Grey having no friends if we saw him being super close to his family. We see he loves them, but keeps them at a distance. If he was too busy being friends with his family, that would make sense, but he isn't. No, we see him deliberately keeping people at a distance, but (apparently) he can be incredibly likeable and charismatic with the flip of a switch. Does this sound like a narcissistic sociopath to anyone else? I get that romance authors like to flock to this trope a lot. The loner who only cares about the girl and all that. From a psychological standpoint, Grey not having any friends at all who he hasn't had sex with should be a huge fucking red flag for Ana to run like fuck.
I have to talk to him about his expectations, about his, um . . . needs.
“Anastasia, what’s wrong? Tell me.”
I glance up into his concerned face.
“Tell me,” he says more forcefully, and his concern evolves into what? Fear? Anger?
He knows something is wrong because she's shifting and looking at her hands. Grey, are you awesome at reading people to the point of being psychic, or do you suck at reading people to the point of being socially inept? Your mind. Make it up.
I take a deep breath. “I’m just worried that this isn’t enough for you. You know, to let off steam.”
His jaw tenses and his eyes harden. “Have I given you any indication that this isn’t enough?”
“Then why do you think that?”
“I know what you’re like. What you . . . um . . . need,” I stutter.
He closes his eyes and rubs his forehead with long fingers.
“What do I have to do?” His voice is ominously soft as if he’s angry, and my heart sinks.
“No, you misunderstand—you have been amazing, and I know it’s just been a few days, but I hope I’m not forcing you to be someone you’re not.”
I actually like this. Grey has been trying so hard to be a good guy and be the type of guy she wants to be with, and Ana wants to return the favor. We are seeing Ana trying to be in a give and take situation! And Grey, in his trying so hard not to force her into anything she doesn't want, is missing the point and just getting so frustrated that she still feels she has to do this, rather than seeing it as he wants to. It's a very human and understandable miscommunication- don't misunderstand, Grey's still being a dick here, but he's being a dick in a way that is realistic.
I like Ana saying "Well, he's making all this effort, I want to do something, too." You see the trope of the perfectly devoted and loving boyfriend and the woman who does nothing often enough, I like seeing Ana own up that there's an imbalance at the moment. None the less, I am frustrated by Grey's first response to Ana saying "Let me meet you halfway" is "MEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMETHEWHOLEWORLDREVOLVEDAROUNDMEANDMY50SHADESOFFUCKEDUPNESS" and I think this is important. Grey has this nasty habit of making everything about him. Ana is talking about him, but his response is much more self-centered than it should be. Further proof of being a narcissist? Grey goes on this rant about how he still wants to beat the hell out of her and that will never change, but he's finding it easier than he thought he would not to. We then get this:
“I know.” His lips curl in a reluctant smile. “Neither did I. But let me tell you, Anastasia, this is all new to me and these last few days have been the best in my life. I don’t want to change anything.”
“They’ve been the best in my life, too, without exception,”
Have any of you ever broken up with a significant other, and gotten back together? The first bit is always amazing. All the problems you had before are obviously things you'll work through and things will be different! For the first while, they are, but slowly (or quickly) you go back to being who you were. It's like the newyears resolution of relationships. That is how this reads to me. Ana will go on to reflect that actually, she wants to go back to the playroom but her leaving him after the last time has traumatized Grey into wanting to do it again. I am frustrated. Why can't she be all "how about we just go slow? I kind of liked it and I want to do it again, if you're not too freaked out?" oh, right, because women can't do something like talk about their sexual wants and urges. They have to wait passively until a big strong man figures out magically what they want and like! This is why so many people have bad sex! YOUR WORDS! USE THEM! Also, seriously, I want this approach to sex in my erotica. I want people who can just say what they want- and get it.
“But it hardly seems fair. It can’t be very relaxing for you—to be constantly concerned about how I feel. You’ve made all these changes for me, and I . . . I think I should reciprocate in some way. I don’t know—maybe . . . try . . . some role-playing games,” I stutter, my face as crimson as the walls of the playroom.
Again, holy shit, Ana is being decent. She reflects after this how hard it is to talk about sex at all (which when you're still new to sex is doubly true) and she's still trying really hard to compromise here. Grey's response? Also suspiciously decent.
“Ana, you do reciprocate, more than you know. Please, please don’t feel like this.”
Gone is carefree Christian. His eyes are wider now with alarm, and it’s gut-wrenching. “Baby, it’s only been one weekend,” he continues. “Give us some time. I thought a great deal about us last week when you left. We need time. You need to trust me, and I you. Maybe in time we can indulge, but I like how you are now. I like seeing you this happy, this relaxed and carefree, knowing that I had something to do with it. I have never—” He stops and runs his hand through his hair. “We have to walk before we can run.”
Grey realized he was over using his black magic and toned it down so Ana wouldn't become immune. Or this is one part that EL James wrote decently. Ana and Grey are actually talking to each other. Although there is a certain level of Ana's insecurity screaming here, what with the whole "I MUST do something for you or you'll be unhappy and leave me!" I like that Ana wants to treat Grey as well as (she believes) he is treating her, but at the same time she can't accept he is doing what he is doing simply because he wants to, and no "payment" is needed. This feels kind of like "cookies for the bare minimum of decency".
Who knew he could be so sweet? Did he?
When I glance at him, he, too, looks lost in thought. It strikes me then that he never really had an adolescence—a normal one anyway. I shake my head.
He wouldn't have had a normal adolescence simply because of the insane wealth and privileged he grew up with. Just sayin'.
“You are not allowed out of here alone. You understand?” he snaps.
“Okay.” Jeez—keep your hair on. But his attitude makes me smile. I want to hug myself—now this man, all domineering and short with me I know. I marvel that I would have found it so threatening only a week or so ago when he spoke to me this way. But now, I understand him so much better. This is his coping mechanism. He’s stressed about Leila, he loves me, and he wants to protect me.
THIS. Stockholm. Or just buying into the "he hits because he cares"? If someone is doing something that scares you it doesn't matter why they do it. You need to listen to that instinct, and you need to honor it and run. Also, his reasons for being scary? ALSO SCARY!
“Why?” He’s even more amused.
“Because it has the same effect on me as I have on you when I do this.” I bite my lip deliberately.
She was into him when he was all traumatized while she was touching him, and she's into him when he's pouting. Ana is also creepy. Maybe that's why she thinks nothing of him scaring her before, she's been making people uncomfortable before we met her for so long and enjoying that she assumes it's a normal part of daily interaction?
Canonically, this is where they fight about Taylor, but we already went over that. So we'll move onto Ana getting her shit together for work the next day. She realizes that "her" room is totally empty! The closet full of those beautiful clothes! Her iPad! The Blackberry! All gone!
Oh no! Christian has taken me at my word and disposed of the clothes. Shit.
My subconscious glares at me. Well, that will be you and your big mouth.
I'm surprised that Ana has warmed up to the outlandish things he has been doing to feel regret so quickly over seeing them gone. I don't blame her. If I had had time to come to terms with getting a shit ton of awesome clothes I'd be a little heart broken over them vanishing (I like clothes, okay? They're fun. It's one of the few perks of being a lady.) but I am surprised given her previous resistance. She realizes her electronics are gone and wonders if Leila stole them? Obviously not. She has yet to do anything directly to Ana, but I suspect she'd be more likely to trash than steal her shit. She wants to scare Ana right now (I think) and/or Grey. Stealing isn't scary. Leaving it ruined is. Oh, shit, you were here in my space with access to me/my things and have the ability to do violence. Now I feel unsafe here. Vs Where the fuck did I put my iPod? See the difference?
I open the walk-in closet door. My clothes are here—all of them—sharing space with Christian’s clothes. When did this happen? Why does he never warn me before he does things like this?
Yeah, that really is something that he should have given you some warning about. This also seems like a super rapid switch from "I WANT YOU TO HAVE YOUR OWN CORNER" to "I WANT YOU IN MY CORNER AT ALL TIMES!" I think I'm getting whiplash? He will later ask her if she's cool with it, which would be nicer if he asked first instead of doing it and asking as an after thought, but, well, this is the most I can actually expect from Grey. I mean, sure, it's easier to say "no" BEFORE the person has gone and put in a bunch of effort, and force them to do more things to reverse their previous actions, but... He's learning?
He also adds on that he doesn't have nightmares when she sleeps with him. I find this a little odd. I'm more likely to have weird dreams when there's someone else in bed with me because there is another person adding sensory input to my sleeping self. The sound of someone snoring in my dream can make things super weird. That said, sleep, like sex and religion, is one of those things that can vary drastically from person to person.
“I wish I knew where she was. She’s evading all our attempts to find her when she needs help.” He frowns, and my earlier pique vanishes. I put my arms around him. Folding me into his embrace, he kisses my hair.“What will you do when you find her?” I ask.
“Dr. Flynn has a place.”
Grey will point out her husband has washed his hands of her and her family is in a different state so she's ALL ALONE! Here's the thing, if I went missing? Let's pretend that I only have my parents in a different province. If I were to go missing, there would still be a man-hunt. My parents would come to town to look for me** my friends would be looking for me, I imagine my employer would even put in some token effort.
Was Leila an unemployed, anti-social woman who had alienated her entire family? How is there absolutely no one besides Grey looking for her? Seriously, how do the police not know about it? My employer would at least do that much! And even if there is no one but Grey, if I am to believe Ana, he has an absurd amount of power and wealth. How can one normal woman repeatedly avoid being found by a team of elite professionals? How could she be in the apartment and hide so well that no one found her? Is Leila actually a fucking mercenary ninja? OH SHIT LEILA IS TOTALLY A MERCENARY NINJA WHO'S BRAIN IS ADDLED FROM BLACK MAGIC! She really is dangerous!
He stares at me with complete incomprehension. “But Leila—she’s out there,” he pauses. “I don’t want you to go to work.”
What? “That’s ridiculous, Christian. I have to go to work.”
“No, you don’t.”
“I have a new job, which I enjoy. Of course I have to go to work.” What does he mean?
“No, you don’t,” he repeats, emphatically.
“Do you think I am going to stay here twiddling my thumbs while you’re off being Master of the Universe?”
“Frankly . . . yes.”
Oh, Fifty, Fifty, Fifty . . . give me strength.
I don't know if I even need to say anything here. He will continue to go on and say that he would have paid for Ana's everything. He get's angry. He gets shouty. And he wondered why Ana was worried when he bought her company? He could have her fired tomorrow and force her to stay home.
What does he mean? He’s going to support me? Oh, this is beyond ridiculous—I’ve known him for what—five weeks?
I want to underline this, FIVE WEEKS. This whole book apparently spans 5 weeks (I assume she's counting from them dating, not actually meeting, so the book would be a bit longer). So they had been dating a month when they split and realized they totally loved each other and wanted to be together forever.
I don't even. I DON'T EVEN.
The compromise they make is that Sawyer, the other security dude, will go to work with Ana. That will be delightfully awkward for the rest of her office, but she really doesn't have a choice.
“Sawyer will come with you.”
“Christian, that’s not necessary. You’re being irrational.”
“Irrational?” he growls. “Either he comes with you, or I will be really irrational and keep you here.”
He wouldn’t, would he? “How, exactly?”
“Oh, I’d find a way, Anastasia. Don’t push me.”
“Okay!” I concede, holding up both my hands, placating him. Holy fuck—Fifty is back with a vengeance.
We stand, scowling at each other.
“Okay—Sawyer can come with me if it makes you feel better.” I concede rolling my eyes. Christian narrows his and takes a menacing step in my direction. I immediately step back.
FUCKING RUN ANA! RUUUUNNN! I don't even have anything to say here, I feel this passage speaks enough for it's self. He advances on her and she shrinks back. That's just- no. No. This shit does not belong in my erotica. I don't care if he's supposed to be so passionate that he struggles to control himself- not okay.
“I didn’t mean to frighten you.”
“You didn’t. I was just getting ready to run,” I quip.
“Run?” Christian eyes widen.
“I’m joking!” Oh jeez.
He leads me out of the closet, and I take a moment to calm down. Adrenaline is still coursing through my body. A fight with Fifty is not to be undertaken lightly.
GET IT BECAUSE SHE BROKE UP WITH HIM AFTER TRYING TO RUN AWAY FROM HIM SO NOW HE'S SCARRED! Also, note how he once again makes it about him. Ana's scared and upset. She's trying to deflect with humor and he gets his back up that quickly. He also ends things by abruptly changing the topic again.
The tour is really an excuse to get them into the "balls room" *snrk* so Ana can try to shark him. They start a game with lots of gentle pool cue stroking and Ana makes a bet with Grey. If she wins, he takes her back to the playroom, if he wins, he gets to name his price. This seems like a win win for Grey to me. So the game is going almost shot for shot (they're both good. Ana because Jose taught her, Grey because he's Grey) until!
“Top left-hand.” I take aim over the black, hit it, but miss. It skirts wide. Damn.
Christian smiles a wicked grin as he leans over the table and makes short work of the two remaining solids. I am practically panting, watching him, his lithe body stretching over the table. He stands and chalks his cue, his eyes burning into me.
“If I win . . .”
“I am going to spank you, then fuck you over this billiard table.”
Holy shit. Every single muscle south of my navel clenches hard.
“Top right,” he murmurs, pointing to the black, and bends to take the shot.
That's the end of the chapter, in an attempt to create a cliff-hanger, but we all know he'll sink it. He will use his evil wizard powers to will the ball into the pocket. As always, comments are loved! And if you can't get enough of me with twice a week posts, you can follow me on Twitter @SnappyErika!
*This is not everyone, there are some people who won't shut up, but I definitely think the whole "dress as cleaning staff/cooks/delivery guys to infiltrate a building has something to it.
**My sister lives in a different country. My Father commented once he was so glad that I had grandparents in town because every now and then when he tries to call and doesn't get me the first time or so (I often don't hear my phone/leave it in my locker while at work) he worries. He can reassure himself that if it went on too long he could call my grandparents to come check up on me. When my sister fled the country, she knew no one, and not having that "in case of emergencies" life line made him anxious.