Last chapter we left Ana and Grey with Grey confessing, naked, wet, and shivering*, that he did, in fact, love Ana. He even used his words like a big boy (after she asks him point-blank) and even says that dirty l-word**.
I cannot contain my jubilation. My subconscious gapes at me open-mouthed—in stunned silence—and I wear a face-splitting grin as I gaze longingly up into Christian’s wide, tortured eyes.
This seems like a reasonable way to behave in the face of someone traumatized.
It’s such a liberating realization as if a crushing millstone has been tossed aside. This beautiful, fucked-up man, whom I once thought of as my romantic hero—strong, solitary, mysterious—possesses all these traits, but he’s also fragile and alienated and full of self-loathing.
SHOW DON'T TELL MOTHERFUCKER!
And I know in this moment that my heart is big enough for both of us. I hope it’s big enough for both of us.
BITCH DO YOU KNOW OR DO YOU JUST HOPE?! Also, how the hell is one heart going to pump blood for two people?
So Grey figures now it's time to bone. You know those people who always cry? My Mom and her side of the family are like that. They're happy, they cry. Sad? Cry. Hungry? Still crying. I think Grey's like that, but instead of crying, he gets horny. Upset over his ex being missing? Has sex with his girlfriend. Angry at his girlfriend for having boundaries? Has sex with her. Just had a lovely romantic evening out? Sex. Huge confession and pushing of his own boundaries? Sex. Funeral? Probably still sex. (WW: I've heard that post-funeral sex is pretty normal. Erika clarified that she meant sex AT the funeral. This seems plausible for Grey.)
However despite the fact that they totally want each other Grey stops to towel Ana off and wrap a towel around her hair because this is a reasonable and sexy thing?
Grabbing a towel, he wraps it around his waist, then takes a smaller one and begins to gently dry my hair. When he’s satisfied, he swathes the towel around my head so that in the large mirror over the sink I look like I’m wearing a veil.
Is this all just so we can have some weird creepy "almost like a wedding" thing? Or was that just the best way EL James could describe a towel wrapped around Ana's head? So Ana returns the favor and dries Grey off, and we get more boundary pushing.
I wipe his back beneath the faint lipstick line, which is still visible. I hadn’t gotten round to washing his back.
WHAT THE FUCK HOW DO YOU THINK LIPSTICK WORKS? (WW: Lipstain? Henna? Osmotic contact poison?)
“Whole back,” he says quietly, “with the towel.” He takes a sharp breath and screws his eyes closed as I briskly dry him, careful to touch him only with the towel.
Okay, seriously? Again with this? Can we not get a break from all the boundary pushing? I get it. He loves and trusts Ana and wants to let her in (even though it's only been like, a month?). Now give us a break from bashing us over the head with it.
Ana then decides, since he's taking all these big steps, she gets to push and (using his hands) dries his chest off.
His face darkens, but I ignore his reaction and put my arms around him.
And this is why I'm saying Grey needs to be consistent with his boundaries for a while. Ana was starting to understand, and he went and changed them, without really communicating what he was doing, and now she's pushing. This? This is not cool Ana. Oh, right, but it's totally okay since he doesn't shove her off, right?
I reach for his hand, which he willingly entrusts to me, and guide it up to his chest to dry it, sweeping the towel slowly, awkwardly across his body. Once, twice—then again. He’s completely immobilized, rigid with tension, except for his eyes, which follow my hand clasped around his.
Know what this reminds me of? A girl who doesn't want to have sex yet, but doesn't want to tell her boyfriend "no" after doing so so many times and thinks having been on board with oral sex means she should really just be okay with the whole kit and caboodle. Ana is affected by his reactions but she doesn't stop. This is getting into assault territory. Just because a woman is the one doing it does not make it any more okay, and does not make it romantic.
My subconscious looks on with approval, her normally pursed mouth smiling, and I am the supreme puppet master.
Your subconscious is cool with your boyfriend being epically uncomfortable because it means you get to seize some power? Awesome.
His anxiety ripples off his back in waves, but he maintains eye contact, though his eyes are darker, more deadly. Showing their secrets maybe.
Is this a place I want to go? Do I want to confront his demons?
If they are only held back by him being soggy, I think you would have already.
“I need you, Anastasia,” he whispers.
“I need you, too.” And as I say the words, I am struck how true they are. I cannot imagine being without Christian, ever.
More and more my theory about indoctrination ala Mass Effect seems reasonable.
So they bone, off page, and I imagine it's off page because it's gentle tender love making, not kinky fucking, and I am officially confused as to what EL James thinks people reading her book are looking for. I want to see all of the sex, James. All of it. No, instead we get Ana and Grey basking in the afterglow.
We lie together, me on my front hugging my pillow, he on his side, and I am treasuring his tender touch. I know that right now he needs to touch me. I am a balm for him, a source of solace, and how could I deny him that?
Because it's your body and no matter what therapeutic needs you meet that gives him no right, claim, or stake on it?
They banter a bit, talking about how tee hee Grey CAN be gentle! Unlike when he had sex with Ana the first time. There's some strange language in here, Grey refers to it as "stealing her virtue" while Ana presses that no, she fucking wanted to. I'm not totally sure why she is. Is it because we need to be reminded that Grey didn't pressure her into it? Is it because she needs to remind Grey she is there of her own volition? I'm not sure, but it feels awkward that this far in, with Ana constantly telling the reader how much she adores Grey, and Grey how she isn't leaving, why the author would feel the need to underline this.
They then dissolve into talking about how Grey owns Ana. Again. Because people are property! Then it's off to talk about his real Dad!
To spare you all the pain, basically Grey doesn't know who his real Dad, but it wasn't "the crack whore's pimp". He actually calls his birth mother a crack whore. Repeatedly. Ana, realizing that maybe this topic would put him in a foul mood (because she had yet to figure that out), starts asking about her surprise. Ana makes my head hurt. She's so inquisitive and she never waits for things to come up naturally--not that there's anything wrong with broaching a topic, but the girl has no sense of timing.
As we dress, I notice that we move with the synchronization of two people who know each other well, each watchful and acutely aware of the other, exchanging the occasional shy smile and sweet touch.
Really? Because the people who I know well and am comfortable around I don't smile at shyly. I'm pretty blase about them being around me. Person walking by with a pot of boiling water at work? I just scoot closer to the counter. Old room-mate sitting around drinking beer in his underwear? Cool, pass me one bro. The Boy doing naked jumping jacks? Typical Tuesday. This is not how two people who "know each other super well" act, this is how two people still in the early stages of a relationship act. Just--no. No.
And I don’t know if it’s the momentary distraction of his sheer perfect looks or the knowledge that he loves me, but his threat no longer fills me with dread. This is my Fifty Shades; this is the way he is.
.... We just have to recognize each other’s needs and accommodate them. I can do that, surely?
Congratulations! You've figured out how all relationships ever work! (WW: I am still busy being terrified by the phrase "his threat no longer fills me with dread". The threat is still there, she's just not dreading it? Grey has taught her to suppress her self-preservation instincts?)
Christian taps the side of his nose and winks at me conspiratorially, looking like he’s desperately trying to contain his glee. Frankly, it’s very un-Fifty.
Except when he did it when you went gliding. I MEAN I WONDER WHAT THE SURPRISE COULD BE?!
“Do you have any idea how happy you make me feel?” he murmurs.
“Yes . . . I know exactly. Because you do the same for me.”
I think I just threw up a little in my mouth.
We're delayed from finding out because Grey decides he needs to buy Ana a new car RIGHT NOW! Not another Audi (something Ana teases him about) because he wants to get her a different car than what all of his submissives had.
Troy Turniansky, the salesman, is all over Fifty like a cheap suit. He can smell a sale. Weirdly his accent sounds mid-Atlantic, maybe British? It’s difficult to tell.
“A Saab, sir? Pre-owned?” He rubs his hands with glee.
No car salesman acts like this ever. Just, no. This is how you blow a sale. He knows this.
So then there's some bickering about the color of the car.
Christian makes a face—canary yellow is obviously not his thing.
“What color do you want me to have?” I ask as if he’s a small child, which he is in many ways. The thought is unwelcome—sad and sobering at once.
It is not sad and sobering because he is a grown ass man who is acting like a child because his girlfriend didn't magically pick the right color (first no to black because it isn't visible, then no to yellow because it isn't cool enough). Ana is not a firm person, so this sort of compromise doesn't mean much to her (which will probably work well for them long term) but I just find it icky. I get that Grey is supposed to be anal retentive, but come on.
Of course, Christian wants me safe. It’s a religion with him, and like the zealot he is, he listens intently to Troy’s well-honed patter. Fifty really does care.
Here's the thing, he said no to the yellow car. I remember in highschool listening to some teacher explaining how we'd all get screwed on insurance on our first cars. He said avoid red, black, or grey. They have the highest insurance, but white and yellow have the lowest because they're the most visible. Yellow specifically. If he was that concerned about her safety, he would have never bought her red for her first car (because psychology shows that red is most likely to induce road rage) and would have opted for yellow to start with. He sure as hell wouldn't have said no to yellow when she offered it up.
So he buys her a convertible, because that's what she wanted (she didn't ask, naturally, but Grey magically noticed Ana's reaction when it was mentioned) and off they go for lunch!
Have I ever felt this comfortable in his company before? I don’t know.
You should. You've only been dating him a few months.
I am less nervous of his moods, confident that he won’t punish me, and he seems more comfortable with me, too.
Want to know what the only thing more obnoxious than a couple in the nervous first throes of lust is? A couple just getting out of that into the ZOMG WE'RE SUPER SERIOUS AND IN TRUE LOVE! stage.
Onto the marina we go (are they about to ruin waterfronts and boats for me? Please don't ruin waterfronts and boats for me, EL James. They hold an inexplicable place in my heart, and it's (almost) my birthday. Don't do it!) where they go to a bar in the marina and the guy working there (presumably the owner) knows Grey by name.
Dante gives me a friendly smile. He’s black and beautiful, his dark eyes assessing me and not finding me wanting, it seems. One large diamond stud winks at me from his ear. I like him immediately.
Ana doesn't usually give very deep descriptions, but mulling him down to two words and saying he's checking you out (and then still liking him) seems offensive to me. She reduced her hairdresser to small, silly, and gay (and loved him for that, too). I think Ana just likes people when she can view them as caricatures as to people. Only her precious 50 Shades is allowed to be complicated and have depth. Everyone else has to be an easy to digest cartoon.
Ana also freaks out when Grey lets her order her own drinks and food (she just gets what he does, but the fact that he lets her choose is significant).
We talk through our meal, as we never have before. Christian is relaxed and calm—he looks young, happy, and animated despite all that transpired yesterday. He recounts the history of Grey Enterprises Holdings, and the more he reveals, the more I sense his passion for fixing problem companies, his hopes for the technology he’s developing, and his dreams of making land in the third world more productive.
He also grills her on favorite books/music and her own past, and my only thought is "Isn't this usually first date stuff?" followed by "WHY THE FUCK IS E L JAMES GLOSSING THIS OVER?!" SHOW DON'T TELL MOTHERFUCKERS.
So they finish lunch and frolic off for Grey to show her his massive boat (named after Grace, his Mother). So he has a helicopter, a glider, like thirty cars, and at least one giant ass boat. Does he have a hot air balloon, too?
So he shows her around his boat. It's big. It's fancy. I'm bored.
It has a king-size cabin bed and is all pale blue linen and pale wood like his bedroom at Escala. Christian obviously chooses a theme and sticks to it.
Ugh. She's the first girl he's ever taken on the boat (aside from his family) and he mentions christening the bed (groan) but first: to cast off! He actually makes Ana wear a life-jacket which is making me giggle a little. I mean, they're going to bone on this boat with the captain in the other room, but will he make her keep the life jacket on during? God I hope so.
Once more, I am dazzled by Christian’s expertise. He’s so competent. Is there nothing that this man can’t do?
Cook. Form a meaningful relationship without the help of black magic.
Slowly, Christian eases The Grace out of her berth and toward the marina entrance. Behind us, a small crowd has gathered on the dockside to watch our departure. Small children are waving, and I wave back.
What? What is this I don't even- No. Just no. Fuck you, I'm not even touching this. So more boat stuff, and as someone who grew up on a waterfront and boats (small motor boats, mind) even I'm bored. Besides, small litter laser sail boats are way more fun. You are IN that shit. However you really can't have sex in one of those things.
Yes, you’re a lucky bitch, my subconscious snaps. But you have your work cut out with him. He’s not going to want this vanilla crap forever . . . you’re going to have to compromise.
Yeah, by doing things like letting him tie you up. Things you've liked in the past. Woe is you. So more sailing, then banishing Mac (the captain) to some cove once they've docked in the middle of nowhere. Now Grey has said that Ana is the first girl he's ever taken on the boat, but it was made by his company. It's this big showy thing. Leila has access to the internet. I'm not saying she could accurately predict he'd go fucking sailing, but the fact that there was NO security sweep first, or no questions to the captain if anything seemed strange, seems, well, reckless. I mean, this is obviously the calm before the storm, but: consistency?
Christian grabs my hand and practically drags me into his cabin, a man with a mission.
Now he stands before me, exuding his intoxicating sensuality as his deft fingers make quick work of the straps on my lifejacket. He tosses it to one side and gazes intently down at me, eyes dark, dilated.
Awww, he took the jacket off!
“Strip for me,” he whispers, eyes burning.
Oh my. I’m only too happy to comply. Not taking my eyes off his, I slowly undo each button, savoring his scorching gaze. Oh, this is heady stuff.
Oh, golly gee, I am like, so totally aroused.
I want to be sexy for this man. He deserves sexy—he makes me feel sexy.
Okay, it’s new to me, but I’m learning under his expert tutelage.
So, maybe this is just me, but when I was younger and still figuring out sex and my relationship with it, wanting to be sexy for someone never worked that well. I could put on the lingerie, I could slip him my panties, but it always felt awkward and uncomfortable and that shit showed. I was trying to emulate what I had been told was sexy. It wasn't until I wanted to be sexy simply because I wanted to be sexy, for myself, I suppose, that I started to figure it out. I do believe sex and sexuality are intensely personal things that vary drastically from one person to the next. Having said that, I do think it's normal to ease into it, and be awkward and clumsy about sex at first. Ana has waited until she's a little older to have sex, and living in a world where sex is such a big deal and bombarded on us constantly, I'm surprised other than maidenly virtue she has had no hang ups about her own performance. I suppose she's gaining confidence by simply seeing she can turn Grey on? I dunno, but it strikes me as odd, and a little disappointing. If she has to be a super virgin, I really want to see a super virgin. I want to see her handle his dick too roughly. I want to see him have to tell her what he wants. I want to see her trying things she's seen elsewhere because she has some pre-conceived notion of "sexy" that may or may not be at all functional.
I step out of my jeans and stand there for him in the lingerie he’s paid for, but I no longer feel cheap. I feel his.
Through this whole strip tease Ana keeps talking about how she's so comfortable because she knows he loves her. She talks about being "his". I can't relate, to be honest. I have never felt like I belonged to anyone besides myself (because that's the way I've wanted it) but I know that I might be the odd one out this time. Still, I find it interesting that we keep seeing things being drawn back to it. It's almost feels like "sex is okay after marriage" but instead it's "everything is okay if he loves you" which has some very obvious and toxic undertones. I've commented before that some of Grey's behavior, and Ana's mindset, scream "abusive relationship" and I think this is a nice, neatly packaged example.
“You’re getting so bold, Ana, so brave,” he whispers and clasps my face with both hands, bending to kiss me deeply.
She is, actually. I kind of like it. We're being shown a woman who is taking charge of her sexual wants, and (so far) not being punished for it. That is awesome! Yes! Grab him by the balls and make him beg Ana! Go for it!
“Oh, I want you so much, baby,” he breathes, and steps back suddenly to remove his jeans and boxers in one swift, agile move.
I just picture him wearing tear away pants and boxers here.***
“What’s wrong, Ana?” he murmurs and gently strokes my cheek with his knuckles.
“Nothing. Love me, now.”
Love me now? This sounds awkward at best. When I'm being bratty and demanding affection from The Boy I will flop down next to him and demand he love me, to which he sighs and absent mindedly pats my head. I do this because I know it is ridiculous and that's how we roll in this house. Seeing it played straight makes me uncomfortable.
he takes one of my nipples in his mouth and softly suckles.
Suckles? Really? Are you trying to turn me off EL James? Because it's working.
and I glory in the feel of his touch
How do you glory? I don't understand. I DON'T UNDERSTAND
I shift back, taking him in my hands, and I just can’t resist him in all his glory.
Are you glorying, or is he? I AM CONFUSED. ALSO STOP SAYING GLORY.
The feel of him in me . . . stretching . . . filling me—I moan softly—it’s divine.
Stretching? Stretching?! Ow.
I touch him—sticking to the boundaries
And then they both come simultaneously, because that is how sex works always.
*Only one of these things I'm sure isn't true, and even then...
**No, not lesbian, the other L-word. No, not lesbians- augh, never mind Scott.
***In high school there was one guy who actually wore tear-away pants. He and I had a flirtation going, and I remember one day passing him in the halls. I smiled and waved, he smiled and froze mid-way as one of his friends sprinted by, grabbed his pants, and kept going. Rather than turn beet red he held up a finger in a "one moment please" gesture and just took off after the guy.