In the rough draft of my book, chapter 13 was the one where things went to hell. This was totally unintentional and incredibly appropriate and I'm a little sad that once the editing is done it will almost definitely no longer be chapter 13. I half suspect that there was so much time spent on the boat because EL James wanted this chapter to be chapter 13. It is however a blissfully short chapter!
So we open with Leila hanging out with her gun and Ana, rather than running the fuck away, trying to talk to her. Admittedly Ana does read as someone who is scared and thinks immediately of Ethan (her questions are tying to figure out if he is in the apartment or not) and comments that Leila looks a lot like her.
I've mentioned playing Call of Cthulhu before, a Lovecraftian table top game set in the 1920s. It's not uncommon to run into people who have gone absolutely insane because of Eldritch horrors. Looking into the fabric of the universe and/or watching someone get turned to beef jerky will do that to a person. I'm going to be honest with you guys: Ana's conversation with Leila is reminding me of one I've had with NPCs in that game. She doesn't quite make sense and she gets derailed by little things. I don't mind the portrayal of the mentally ill like this in a game like Call of Cthulhu because there are over the top mind breaking dramatic things pushing the person to it. Leila has been through a lot but she reads like what a movie would expect the "creepy mentally ill" person to look like, not someone who actually is sick. Leila was able to get a gun, able to break into Grey's home (unnoticed) and watch Ana sleep before escaping again. Yet it looks like she has been a great deal of time without a shower and is malnourished. I feel that she probably would have collapsed and either died or been shipped off to a hospital by now. Ana and Grey are being shown to be soft and benevolent by trying to be kind to her (Ana tries to calm her down and get her to set the gun down, Grey has refused to involve the police even though that would be best) and it all just makes my skin crawl.
So, we get Leila lamenting "alone" a whole bunch, Ana panicking/offering to make tea, Leila not talking in full sentences (she sounds like a very young kid) and her body language being described as "inhuman". THANKS EL JAMES BECAUSE THERE ISN'T ENOUGH STIGMA AROUND MENTAL ILLNESS ALREADY! Oh, and Leila tells us that she plans to "join her love" and we're not sure if she's talking about her lover who died in an accident or if she's planning a murder-suicide, but there are a few things I just need to put up here.
“Why does Master like us like this? It makes me think something . . . something . . . Master is dark . . . Master is a dark man, but I love him.”
No, no, he’s not. I bristle internally. He’s not dark. He’s a good man, and he’s not in the dark. He’s joined me in the light. And now she’s here, trying to drag him back with some warped idea that she loves him.
Yes, because it is all about how Ana is rescuing Grey from the dark, not the fact that there is someone with a gun in the room who wants to shoot herself and probably Grey as well. Also being "dark" in this instance means "troubled" and I don't know what being troubled has to do with being "a good man". I guess it's fine so long as he's been redeemed by Ana's magic healing snatch though! SO MUCH RAGE.
I realize I’m holding my breath. What will she do? What will he do? But they just continue to stare at each other. Christian’s expression is raw, full of some unnamed emotion. It could be pity, fear, affection . . . or is it love? No, please, not love!
SWEET JESUS FUCKING SHIT ANA I HOPE LEILA SHOOTS YOU
It's all okay though because Grey uses his warlock powers and Leila drops to her knees and the gun goes skittering away! He is in Dom mode! So Ana agonizes over the two of them staring at each other for a bit before he orders her to her knees (which works?) and then boots Ana out of her own apartment. Ana is, reasonably, still confused and flustered and not so okay with this, and her first question is to ask about Ethan, but...
“For the love of God, Anastasia, will you do as you’re told for once in your life and go!” Christian’s eyes lock with mine as he glowers at me, his voice a blistering cold shard of ice. The anger beneath the quiet, deliberate delivery of his words is palpable.
Angry at me? Surely not. Please—No! I feel like he’s slapped me hard. Why does he want to stay with her?
He's been trying to hunt her down so he could "talk" to her since the last book, this is his chance. He isn't going to fuck her on your kitchen island. I mean, he'll probably dump you for a few chapters so he can "save" her but don't worry it's all to protect you! And you'll have Ethan to snog for a bit before you get back together!
I glance down at Leila and notice a very small smile cross her lips, but otherwise she remains truly impassive. A complete submissive. Fuck! My heart chills.
This is what he needs. This is what he likes. No! I want to wail.
“Miss Steele. Ana.” Taylor holds his hand out to me, imploring me to come. I am immobilized by the horrific spectacle before me. It confirms my worst fears and plays on all my insecurities: Christian and Leila together—the Dom and his sub.
How the hell can she honestly be thinking that when she just had a gun pointed at her? How is she so worried about this right now instead of the anything else? So Taylor has to physically grab Ana and carry her out (although not kicking and screaming) and the last thing she sees is Grey stroking Leila's hair. The thing that really pisses me off about all this is she's right- he's totally going back to Leila to "save" her (although not because he needs a sub but because he's such a giving man). Didn't I call this in chapter 3?
So Ana meets Ethan in the lobby (he was running late and not home yet) and he figured getting the obviously upset Ana AWAY from the apartment building where shit is going down is a good idea. Taylor isn't thrilled because he was supposed to take her back to the apartment, but Ana makes a good point in that 1) they are going across the street, and 2) they know where Leila is now so why all the security? Taylor lets that be. So, Ana tells Ethan what she can (because NDA).
“And what’s Christian doing with her now?”
The blood drains from my face and bile rises in my throat. “I don’t know,” I whisper.
Ethan’s eyes widen—at last he’s got it.
This is the crux of my problem. What the fuck are they doing? Talking, I hope. Just talking. Yet all I can see in my mind’s eye is his hand, tenderly stroking her hair.
So they watch the front of the building, Dr. Flynn and someone in scrubs turn up to get Leila (who Grey carries out, wrapped in a blanket) and Taylor drives after them. No one touches in with Ana, and I think Ethan might be my new favorite character in this book (yes, guy with dreadlocks from chapter 1 has a contender!)
Ethan places a large brandy in front of me.
“Come on, Steele. Let’s get drunk.”
Sounds like the best offer I’ve had in a while.
He later walks a drunken Ana back to Grey's and doesn't lay a hand on her. Ana goes up to Grey's where she is greeted with so much anger. Ana is, reasonably, not thrilled with this. Grey had tons of ways of finding out where Ana was (like Taylor, and I'm sure he could have gotten Ethan's phone number in seconds since Ana didn't have her phone on her through his brother) but is freaking out that she wasn't home waiting by the phone for him. Ana is also totally awful about his taking care of Leila.
“Why do you do this to me? This is not about you, Ana. It’s about her.” He takes a sharp breath, running his hand through his hair again. “At the moment she’s a very sick girl.”
And he's right that it isn't about her, but I find it telling that he asks why she does this to him. It isn't about him either, but at the same time, she is his girlfriend who has been stalked and threatened repeatedly because of him/his ex. Ana is confused and hurt and just saw her boyfriend being intimate with another woman in a way she feels she can't be with him. I don't think she's wrong to be upset, but I do think she's approaching it wrong. She is drunkenly telling him that she's no good for him and can't fulfill his needs and is about to ask for some space to think about all the shit that has gone down (so she can talk to him with more coherent thoughts). Grey starts to panic and beg, not letting Ana finish a sentence. She'll get maybe two words in before he cuts her off with "NONONO I LOVE YOU YOU CAN'T LEAVE!"
“No,” he breathes, his eyes wide with panic, and suddenly he drops to his knees in front of me, head bowed, long-fingered hands spread out on his thighs. He takes a deep breath and doesn’t move.
What? “Christian, what are you doing?”
He continues to stare down, not looking at me.
“Christian! What are you doing?” My voice is high-pitched. He doesn’t move. “Christian, look at me!” I command in panic.
His head sweeps up without hesitation, and he regards me passively with his cool gray gaze—he’s almost serene . . . expectant.
Holy Fuck . . . Christian. The submissive.
The many faces of Christain Grey also include: The stalker, the sailor, the creepy guy in a clown costume...
So, this seems like a terrible idea. I mean, BDSM is supposed to have a huge element of "we will discuss what we do first" because consent is important! Throwing Ana, someone who has never expressed a desire or want to be a Dom into that role without her consent seems like a terrible idea. That said, the Dom/Sub dynamic has been a stand in for larger power within the relationship, and so this could also be read as Ana having equal power within the relationship (even if she doesn't around her individual actions).
I also suspect that Elena if/when she hears about this will not be so thrilled to hear Grey was subbing again because they both seemed to recognize that him being a sub wasn't great for him.
And that is chapter 13! If all the chapters were this short I might not hate this book so much! So tune in Sunday for a DOUBLE UPDATE with the FIRST MEETING of the Something Short and Snappy book club where we will discuss chapter 1 of Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle! There will also be the next installment of Will's Ender's Game series! Sound off in the comments on what you think of this mess of a chapter!
Also for those of you worried by the lack of whatnapple, don't worry, I've read the next chapter. He'll be back next week.