Content warnings for this chapter: Emotional abuse (which is almost continuous in this chapter), child/adolescent sexual abuse. You know, light fluffy romance stuff.
His grin widens, and leaning down, he undoes the tie. The woven pattern has made an indented pattern around my wrists. It’s… sexy.What is this, a burlap necktie?
I’d like you to meet my mother. Get dressed. I’ll just go and calm her down.” His mouth presses into a hard line. “I will expect you in that room in five minutes, otherwise I’ll come and drag you out of here myself in whatever you’re wearing."Okay, buddy, it's going to be a lot more embarrassing for you than her if she's naked and struggling with you the first time your mom sees her.
“Mother, this is Anastasia Steele. Anastasia, this is Grace Trevelyan-Grey.”In the first draft, she was Lady Plinkington Symthe-Twombly-Blythe-on-Thames, so this is actually an improvement.
[Ana gets a phone call.] “Dios mio! Ana!” Holy crap, it’s José. He sounds desperate. “Where are you? I’ve been trying to contact you. I need to see you, to apologize for my behavior on Friday. Why haven’t you returned my calls?”Jose really isn't any creepier than Bog ClankDraft, but because he's Latino Stereotype instead of Marble Adonis, he doesn't get cut the same slack.
This is plenty creepy, though. Badgering someone to let you apologize to them is... not how apologies are supposed to work. "I was going to commit to respecting your wishes, but I can't because you're not doing what I want!"
[back to Bear SlamBark] “This is the contract. Read it, and we’ll discuss it next weekend. May I suggest you do some research, so you know what’s involved.” He pauses. “That’s if you agree, and I really hope you do.” He adds, his tone softer, anxious. “Research?”
“You’ll be amazed what you can find on the Internet,” he murmurs. Internet! I don’t have access to a computer, only Kate’s laptop, and I couldn’t use Clayton’s, not for this sort of ‘research’ surely?She doesn't have access to a computer? It's 2011, she just graduated college with (I think) a degree in English, and her background seems pretty middle-class. I'm not sure what's up with this. Is it yet another way to say "she basically didn't exist before she met Steak RoughKnob?"
And may I suggest that if you're trying to get someone in a particular sort of relationship with you, the very least you could do is explain to them in person what kind of relationship you want? "You're going to be my submissive. So you better go Google it." Cripes.
“I’ll just make a call,” I murmur. I just want to hear Kate’s voice. He frowns. “The photographer?” His jaw clenches, and his eyes burn. I blink at him. “I don’t like to share, Miss Steele. Remember that.”Yes, the issue with the guy who assaulted her and now won't leave her alone (I mean, the other one) is that he's on another man's turf. That's the real problem here.
His quiet, chilling tone is a warning, and with one long, cold look at me, he heads back to the bedroom. Holy crap. I just wanted to call Kate, I want to call after him, but his sudden aloofness has left me paralyzed.What happened to the generous, relaxed, smiling man who was making love to me not half an hour ago?When people said this book was about an abusive relationship, they weren't fucking kidding. I thought it would be like "bad implications" abusive, but this shit is not implied. It's right the fuck out there. They're about three hours into the relationship and he's making her feel like shit for wanting to talk to a friend.
This is making all those "waiting for my Christian Grey!" socks and shit on Etsy look dark as fuck.
|Tears of joy, yes.|
“I need to talk to Kate. I’ve so many questions about sex, and you’re too involved. If you want me to do all these things, how do I know–?” I pause, struggling to find the right words. “I just don’t have any terms of reference.” He rolls his eyes at me. “Talk to her if you must.” He sounds exasperated.Oh hooray, he's deigning to allow her to speak to her friend, but not without letting her know how annoying and immature he thinks she is for asking.
“The sooner I have your submission the better, and we can stop all this,” he murmurs. “Stop all what?” “You, defying me.”Yeah, defiantly having friends and rebelliously wanting to know what the fuck is going on.
Real Talk: outside friendships are more important for someone who's actively in a submissive relationship. Having a more experienced submissive to ask questions and compare notes with is great, but even a vanilla friend can keep you grounded and remind you there's life outside the relationship. Above all else, you need someone to bounce "this isn't okay, right? it's not just me, right?" off of.
So I can see why he wouldn't want Ana to have that.
“Hungry?” he asks. Not for food. “Not particularly.” His mouth tightens into that hard line. “You must eat, Anastasia,” he chides. “I know a great place near Olympia. We’ll stop there.”What is WITH the food thing? Is it sexy that he's secretly a Jewish grandmother?
Digression: my personal great place near Olympia is the cafeteria at Cabela's. You wouldn't think an outdoor-goods store cafe would have notable food, but oh my gosh the bison burgers. Every time I've driven past Olympia I've made an excuse to go get a Cabela's burger.
“Two glasses of the Pinot Grigio,” Christian says with a voice of authority. I purse my lips, exasperated. “What?” he snaps. “I wanted a Diet Coke,” I whisper. His gray eyes narrow, and he shakes his head. “The Pinot Grigio here’s a decent wine, it will go well with the meal, whatever we get.” He says patiently.I'm going to have to start skipping abusive incidents just for time. I mean, if we count every single time in this chapter he ignores the fact that she still hasn't consented to submit to him, I'll be typing the whole damn thing out.
Also, going into yet another petty snit because she whispered that she wants a soda is the least "patiently" anything ever.
“I’ve never slept with anyone, never had sex in my bed, never flown a girl in Charlie Tango, never introduced a woman to my mother. What are you doing to me?”Yeah, sure, uh huh. I think the "you're the special one who might change me" speech is Chapter Eight in most pickup-artist manuals.
...Never had sex in his bed? I can't put my finger on it, but there's something kind of assholish about having play partners you fuck but don't let in your bed. It stinks of the "if I don't treat you with open disdain you'll probably turn all clingy" game.
He frowns for a moment and seems to be engaged in some kind of internal struggle. Then he glances up, a decision made. “One of my mother’s friends seduced me when I was fifteen.” “Oh.” Holy shit that’s young! “She had very particular tastes. I was her submissive for six years.” He shrugs.So, this. I'm reading this stuff cold, so I don't know what exactly this is going to lead to, but I'm thinking the answer is "nothing good." Ana does acknowledge that this is abuse.
My guess for how this turns out: he's kinky because he was abused, and when he's Healed By Love it'll fix all his survivor issues (oh man do I wish that part worked in real life) and then he won't be kinky any more. But that's just my guess. I'll have to wait and see to find out exactly how badly James handles this.
So... is kink fun and sexy, or is it part of the cycle of abuse and something a person needs to be healed from? Because although I think the latter is wrong, "both" is much, much worse.
I stare at him. This man – sexually abused as an adolescent – his tone is so threatening.That's sort of an unsettling sentence. I mean, people who were sexually abused as adolescents go on to do all sorts of things. "This man - sexually abused as an adolescent - he's playing hacky-sack in rainbow toe socks" is an equally possible statement, and makes about as much sense.
I can understand it in the sense of "Ana can't get the disclosure out of her mind; it keeps coming up unbidden when she looks at him" but I don't trust that James means it that way. I suspect it's an "abuse survivors--so edgy and dangerous!" thing.
“Is this what our err… relationship will be like?” I whisper. “You, ordering me around?” I can’t quite bring myself to look at him. “Yes,” he murmurs. “I see.” “And what’s more, you’ll want me to,” he adds, his voice low. I sincerely doubt that.Wait, WHAT? So why is she doing this? I thought the whole point was that she wanted to submit to him! If she doesn't want him to order her around, then why the hell is she entering into an ordering-around relationship with him?
“Thank you for this weekend, Anastasia. It’s been… the best. Wednesday? I’ll pick you up from work, from wherever?” he says softly. “Wednesday,” I whisper. He kisses my hand again and places it back in my lap. He climbs out, comes round to my side, and opens the passenger door. Why do I feel suddenly bereft? A lump forms in my throat. I must not let him see me like this.Oh for fuck's sake, Ana. You can survive two whole days without Stud ManChunk. You'll make it through somehow.
“My first time was horrid,” [Kate] continues, making a sad comedy face.Leave for the plot, stay away for the writing!
My subconscious glares at me, wagging her long skinny finger, then morphs into the scales of justice to remind me he could sue if I disclose too much. Ha… what’s he going to do – take all my money? I must remember to Google ‘penalties for breaching a non-disclosure agreement’ while I’m doing the rest of my ‘research’.I would like to see Stud McMuffin try to get that enforced in court. I really would.
The penalty for breaching an NDA is whatever's written in the NDA; it's a contract, not a law. Did Ana not even get a copy of what she signed?
"José has been calling every hour on the hour. He sounded desperate.” “I’ll call him,” I mutter evasively. If I tell Kate about José, she’ll have him for breakfast.Sounds good to me. Scrambled or over easy?
“Hey, I have interviews! The week after next, in Seattle, for intern placements!” “For which publishing house?” “For both of them!” “I told you your GPA would open doors, Ana.”So she's going into publishing, and she doesn't have a computer? How does she figure that's going to work?
I bet you twenty Inner Goddesses that it turns out Buff SteakTips secretly pulled strings to get Ana those interviews, and this will be presented as a wonderful and caring thing, instead of yet another way he puts her in debt to him and takes over her life.
“Ana, you’re back!” José shouts his relief at me. [...] “Can I see you? I’m sorry about Friday night. I was drunk… and you… well. Ana – please forgive me.” “Of course, I forgive you José. Just don’t do it again. You know I don’t feel like that about you.” [...] “José, I love you dearly, you mean so much to me. You’re like the brother I never had. That’s not going to change. You know that.” [...]
“So you’re with him now?” His tone is full of disdain. “José, I’m not with anybody.” “But you spent the night with him.” “That’s none of your business!” “Is it the money?” “José! How dare you!” I shout, staggered by his audacity. “Ana,” he whines and apologizes simultaneously. I cannot deal with his petty jealousy now. I know he’s hurt, but my plate is overflowing dealing with Christian Grey. “Maybe we can have a coffee or something tomorrow. I’ll call you.” I am conciliatory.At least Jose is supposed to be an asshole. (And hey, he got through an entire conversation without any "did I mention I am Latino today" Spanglish!) But I really feel bad for Ana here. She spends the entire "Jose called to apologize" conversation apologizing to him and talking him down and worrying about his needs. It rings truer than anything else in this book so far.
I honestly don't know what E.L. James thinks is going on here--if she thinks "this is the conversation where they both apologize because they both screwed up, and we realize Jose isn't such a bad guy." She might.
Kate opens a bottle of wine, and we sit amongst the boxes eating, quaffing cheap red wine, and watching crap TV. This is normality. It’s so grounding and welcome after the last forty-eight hours of… madness. I eat my first unhurried, no nagging, peaceful meal in that time.That sounds nice. I'd stick with it if I were you.
My mind drifts to last night, and this morning… and the incredible, sensual sexuality I’ve experienced. Do I want to say goodbye to that? No! Screams my subconscious… my inner goddess nods in silent zen-like agreement with her.Oh no, there's two of those little fuckers inside her? I thought "subconscious" and "inner goddess" were synonyms. I didn't realize they were having goddamn conversations in there.
Anyway, the only incredible sensual sexuality she really experienced was some intercourse and some oral and a tie around her wrists. Somebody please get on the phone with this girl and let her know she can get that from lots of people who will not continuously belittle her.
I sit on my bed and gingerly extract the manila envelope from the bag, turning it over and over in my hands. Do I really want to know the extent of PorkLoin’s depravity? It’s so daunting. I take a deep breath, and with my heart in my throat, I rip open the envelope.What's in there is a D/s contract, and that contract is fifteen goddamn pages long. Next time, on "As the Perv Turns," we're going to delve into the nitty-gritty of Thud ManRock's pseudo-legalese fetish. You'll want hip waders.