You know what's good about this book? Nothing. Except that I am three chapters away from finishing it.
Chapter 21 opens with Ana waking up alone in Christian's bed. She goes looking for him and finds him in his study, on the phone, brusquely saying a bunch of businessy sounding words so we will know he is a busy and important man. When he gets off the phone he fucks her on his desk. Wait, scratch that. When he gets off the phone they have a ridiculous conversation that is meant to be coy but isn't, and then he DRAMATICALLY SWEEPS ALL THE PAPERS OFF HIS DESK ONTO THE FLOOR and then fucks her on the desk. HE IS SO DASHING AND IMPULSIVE OH MY GOD. I'm pretty sure this exact scene is in every romance novel written ever, but without the stupefyingly florid language: "Pushing me higher, higher to the castle in the air."/"...as I touch the sun and burn, falling around him, falling down, to a breathless, bright summit on Earth." I don't even kn....WHAT? Everyone is all happy until he asks her if she really needs to go to Georgia, and when she says she does he turns all cold and pissy. IT'S NOT COOL IF YOU VISIT YOUR MOM WITHOUT ME. IT GIVES ME AN ANGRY. I feel like I should put the list of signs a person is being abused up here and cite all the examples of Christian exhibiting those signs, but we'd be here all fucking day, and this is only five pages into the three chapters I plan to cover today.
After she showers, they have breakfast and argue about how she's going to get to Georgia. She says she can buy a plane ticket, on her own, because she's sick of him buying her crap. He says, out loud, "I have a jet." I say, out loud, "I have a migraine." They also argue about her not telling him which publishing houses she's planning on interviewing with that day. I have no idea how this is even a plot point. I get that she wants to achieve something on her own, but he has magical cell phone tracking/future shopping/super stalker powers, it's not like he can't easily find this out and I find it highly unlikely given everything else he's pulled so far that he hasn't done it already. They end the conversation by playing schmoopie and promising to miss each other terribly while she is away. I already know where this is going and so do you. I'm setting the over/under on when he will show up in Georgia at 2.5 days.
Ana has two interviews today: one with a large conglomerate in which she fears she will be just one of many in a sea of editorial assistants, next to which I write "Welcome to real life", the other at a small boutique firm she is much more excited about. She goes into enormous detail about the second interview. She is interviewed by two people: a woman called Elizabeth who has what Ana describes as "pre-Raphaelite hair" as if the audience for this book were the same as the audience for classical paintings (I was just barely able to restrain myself from immediately getting up and shaving my head) and a man called Jack who is way hip, which you can tell because he has a ponytail and earrings and he doesn't even wear a tie! She spends much more time describing Jack than she does Elizabeth and feels unsettled after the interview despite it seeming to have gone well. I have several theories:
- He is going to heart her and be creepy like almost every other man she knows.
- He is going to not be creepy and turn out to be a good boss and mentor, but Christian is going to ruin everything with irrational jealousy.
- Christian has already gotten to him and he feels like he has to hire her OR ELSE.
Ana heads to her room to email Christian and then sits there staring at the screen waiting for him to reply. That's not me being sarcastic, that is actually in the book: "I sit and glare at the screen. Christian's responses are usually instantaneous. I wait...and wait, and finally I hear the welcome ping from my inbox." She sat there and did nothing but stare at her inbox for 14 fucking minutes. I'm not sure what's more idiotic, that, or that fact that usually Christian is doing the exact same thing yet we are expected to believe that he is a very busy and important man. INSTANT. MESSENGER. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.
That evening, Kate drops her off at the airport, where she discovers that once again Christian can't help himself from meddling in her affairs and has upgraded her to first class. And I realize that that is a very nice thing to do on the surface, but the way I'm seeing it is that she is constantly telling him that those sorts of behaviors make her uncomfortable, and he is repeatedly ignoring her wishes. Therefore, this isn't a nice thing to do, it's just another way he's attempting to control her entire life and another reason why he doesn't deserve any of the trust she's given him. Also, this is more of the stalking: she never told him what flight she was on. He's got to be either hacking her email or tracking keystrokes, right? Because otherwise he's hacked into the booking systems of every airline that flies out of Seattle and I don't even want to think about that.
In Chapter 22, Ana gets a manicure and a massage in the first class lounge, which makes me wonder why she's at the airport so fucking early, and that is saying something because I am pretty insane about making sure I get to the airport early. She's also drinking a shit ton of champagne again, causing her "to forgive Christian and his intervention" or make excuses for him to justify his behavior, depending on how you look at it. She then gets on her magical FutureBook "hoping to test the theory that it works anywhere on the planet." Holy fuck, Ana, let me help you with that. It DOESN'T work anywhere on the planet. It works anywhere that has WI-FI. Places such as FUCKING AIRPORTS. Even my boss understands this and without going into too much detail, the man is NOT GOOD with computers and the internet (OK, one example: "Do you know how to get a Facebook?"). She emails him about her first class lounge activities and gets an immediate reply. See if you can guess which one of these lines was in his response:
- I'm glad you are enjoying yourself.
- I hope you have a safe flight.
- I bet your nails look as lovely as the rest of your beautiful hands.
- Who was massaging your back?
Arriving in Georgia, she meets her mother at the airport and predictably bursts into tears again. Here the author throws in a paragraph that has nothing to do with anything else about whether Ana should invite Christian to Jose's art show the following week (hint: NO). She has not brought this up again through the rest of the chapter and a half I've finished so far. I want to club a baby seal. Ana and her mother go to the beach, where her mom asks her what's up with this guy who has her so upset. Ana is amazed by this insightful question: "How can she tell?" Who knows, Ana? It could be maternal intuition...or it could be the fact that you are CONSTANTLY FUCKING CRYING OVER HIM. Her mother's advice, which for some reason isn't RUN THE FUCK AWAY, is that men are "simple, literal creatures." E. L. James does not appear to think much more of men as a gender than she does of women. Ana finds this to be sound advice: "She is on her fourth marriage. Maybe she does know something about men after all." I can't figure out a way to spin this observation in any way that would make it seem sensible, even to someone as crushingly illogical as Ana.
Ana gets back to her iMpossible to find an extremely long email from Christian, highlighting the intended dynamics of a D/s relationship, which would make absolute sense if not for the fact that Christian is the one saying it and he is constantly violating every single tenet he mentions. The email makes her realize how much she loves him and misses him. They have been apart for less than 24 hours. She emails him back some fucking nonsense while she gets dressed to have dinner with her parents. It takes him two whole minutes to respond to it, and the conversation devolves into frighteningly juvenile cybersex before her mother calls her because they are leaving for dinner. When she gets back, they continue this idiotic exchange until he sends her a final email for the night: "I am having dinner with an old friend now so I will be driving."
On reading that, Ana immediately FREAKS THE FUCK OUT because the only friend he has that she's aware of is the woman who was his Domme, and not only is Ana rabidly jealous of her for no legitimate reason, she is wholly convinced that she is nothing but a predatory child molester who preyed on his horrific early childhood in order to manipulate him and ruin his entire life. I won't debate the appropriateness of seducing a 15 year old, but I would like to point out that this relationship went on for six years, meaning that for half of it he was a legal and consenting adult, and that when it ended he was the exact same age that Ana is now. In a rage she starts googling him looking for photos of him with this woman, which she doesn't find because there aren't any, because nothing sinister is going on here at all - they are FRIENDS. After paging through eighteen pages of search results (who is the crazy stalker now?) she emails him the extremely loaded question of who was he having dinner with and then goes to sleep in despair.
After spending the next day shopping and whatnot with her mother, they decide to go for cocktails. They are drowning themselves in Cosmopolitans. Christian has uncharacteristically not replied to her email all day. When her mother goes to the bathroom, she checks and finds the email she's been dreading, confirming that he did have dinner with THAT EVIL WOMAN and also pointing out (again) that they are just friends. Ana shits a canary. ALL HER FEARS ARE COMING TRUE. She went away for two days and he immediately "runs off to that evil bitch." She unleashes the crazy in a frantic email: "She's not just an old friend. Has she found another adolescent boy to sink her teeth into? Did you get too old for her? Is that the reason your relationship finished?"(Which, by the way, if that were the reason, I can't figure out what she's afraid of - it's not like he's going to suddenly age backwards and become acceptably barely legal to her again.) Seeing as she's so unbelievably upset, she does the reasonable thing and orders another Cosmo. When she gets his reply I find it half reasonable, half terrifying, and 100% what I predicted earlier. Reasonable: I'm not having this conversation with you in an email. Terrifying: BTW, how many cocktails do you plan to have you fucking lush? Wait, can he see her? Holy shit, y'all, THE CALL IS COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE. Predictable: GUESS WHO THE FUCK IS IN GEORGIA AT PRECISELY THE BAR SHE AND HER MOTHER HAVE GONE TO FOR DRINKS?
He walks over to them to start the next chapter, and she temporarily forgets how angry she was five seconds ago. She is now ecstatic because he came to Georgia for her. She introduces him to her mother. Now, I don't have any children, but if I did, and my impossibly naive daughter's boyfriend who makes her cry ALL THE FUCKING TIME decided to STALK HER ALL THE WAY ACROSS THE CONTINENT, at the very least I would be pointedly polishing my gun and staring at him, assuming I didn't just immediately stab him in the throat by way of introduction. Not Ana's mother, though. Carla is at first speechless, due to his being so breathtakingly handsome, and when she recovers from her awe over the existence of such a beautiful creature, she invites him to sit down for a drink, and then later invites him to have dinner with them the following evening. She then excuses herself so they can have some privacy.
Once she's gone, Ana resumes her anger and she and Christian have a heated conversation about this woman. She insists to him that this woman molested him, abused him, and forced him into a BDSM lifestyle he didn't actually want. Because she knows absolutely everything since she was THERE and SHE SAW IT ALL and he just DOESN'T UNDERSTAND how horrible it was for him. Christian has a different opinion: the relationship was entirely consensual from the beginning. She was never abusive to him in any way - in fact, she saved him from the destructive path he was headed down. She has never been anything but good and kind to him and that is why despite having no sexual relationship any longer, they are still close friends and business partners. Ana's not having any of it. And not only is she unable to accept that this woman isn't a depraved sexual predator, but she's worried there might be an even bigger problem: "Did you love her?" Because, she tells us, if he ever loved her at some point in the distant past BEFORE ANA EVER FUCKING MET HIM, then EVERYTHING WILL BE RUINED. HOW DARE HE HAVE HAD A LIFE AND HAVE FELT FEELINGS BEFORE SHE CAME ALONG? THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE.
He doesn't get a chance to answer this before her mother comes back. When she does, he heads back to his room. Her mother is completely fucking smitten with him. Mother of the fucking year Carla encourages Ana to go to him - he is obviously in love with her if he flew all the way there for her on his private plane. All will be well. They just need to talk it out. And, you know, if she needs to spend the night with him, it's all cool. But, you know, let's finish our Cosmos first because that will be excellent for your judgement.
WHAT IN THE ZEBRA RAPING FUCK?
Ana goes to Christian's room, where he is stupid enough to be surprised to see her, and is also on the phone saying more buzzwords because he is super important. When he gets off the phone she is all set to have this out with him, but she can't because he is so overwhelmingly sexy she has to bang him right now. Oh by the way, she mentions a few pages earlier that she's started her period. I find it interesting that the same author who absolutely cannot use the word vagina in a sentence is completely comfortable writing two different scenes of period sex. I am also shocked to find out that Ana uses tampons and not pads, since that would involve putting her hands down there which I would have imagined she would find terrifying. (Oh, side note, I was talking to H-Town today and we've decided that every time she uses the phrase "down there" we are going to replace it in our heads with the phrase "special purpose" from The Jerk.) In between the two sex scenes, Ana realizes FINALLY that if the scars on his chest AREN'T chicken pox...it must mean that someone was probably using him as an ashtray at some point. Her immediate reaction is to assume that the person who did this was the woman who was his consensual lover for six years rather than the much more likely candidate of his crack whore birth mother (who by the way, has not been mentioned or wondered about since the GO TO SLEEP part, which is absolutely fucking insane. She did not outline this story before she wrote the book. There's no way. This makes no fucking sense). She is also upset because she thinks if he hadn't met this woman he would totes be "normal" and not a freak: "I just wonder what you would be like if you hadn't met her. If she hadn't introduced you to your...um, lifestyle." Now, I don't have any scientific studies to back this up, but my personal opinion born of my own experience and of other people I know in real life is that he probably wouldn't be any different sexually. He may have come to it later in life, or he may have gotten into a relationship with someone who wasn't compatible in that way and it would have remained just a fantasy forever (many, many people are in exactly this situation), but nevertheless, the interest in bondage and domination was probably always lurking there somewhere. I don't know, maybe I'm wrong and most people get into this lifestyle by first being dragged kicking and screaming by someone else. But somehow I doubt it, and if they could talk, so would all of my Barbie dolls who used to get tied up when I was young. I really can't stress this enough: BDSM sex is something people gravitate toward because they like it, not because someone fucked them up. Anyway, he does his best to disabuse her of the notion that his former lover is the cause of his overall fucked upedness. She was a grounding influence that kept him from becoming a person just like his birth mother and she most certainly did not put out cigarettes on his chest. She is a trusted friend he goes to for advice when he can't talk to anyone else. Ana still can't (and I suspect never will) accept this, and continues referring to her as "Mrs. Pedo" until Christian forces her to drop it. He instead goes for a much lighter subject: all those times when he was still learning the ropes when he paid for sex. She is predictably judgmental about it and idiotically upset that she can't say or do anything that would shock him in a similar way, because the goal of every healthy relationship is to constantly one up each other about things the other person finds appalling. But wait! As it turns out she's wrong! She's done plenty of things that shocked him to the core! Why, she wore his underwear once when hers was in the wash OH EM GEE! And she calls him by his first name like she's some kind of equal! Once she even went to dinner at his parents house without wearing any panties! GOOD LORD THIS WOMAN IS OUT OF FUCKING CONTROL HOW WILL HE EVER KEEP UP? This abomination of a chapter ends with them going to sleep together once again, and despite the fact that basically everything he's said to her the entire night is upsetting and the exact opposite of the traits she appears to be looking for in a mate SHE HAS NEVER BEEN SO FUCKING HAPPY.
Three more chapters, you guys. Just three chapters left for me to get through without committing murder or permanently destroying my vision with some sort of sharp implement. I better get a fucking medal for this.