I apologize for the delay. I had two unexpected volunteer projects come up, both very time-intensive, and I worked so long on then each day that I ended up injured on Thursday. On Wednesday, a needle was driven through my fingernail and out the other side of my finger, but on Thursday, my back ended up so strained that I literally couldn’t get up off the floor, and had to call my husband home from work to help me. Thank goodness my daughter was home. She had to get the phone for me. I couldn’t.
So now let’s get this shitshow back on the road.
When we last left off, uh…I don’t remember. It was a bunch of filler. Lunch with a president, blah blah nitrates. I think no-name hot dogs have more meat to them than last chapter.
Aside from being nervous about his “first date” with Ana (someone needs to tell him that this is a “business” meeting, not a date), he has had a fairly normal day. He sat through meetings, bought a business, and fired a few people. Two of those things really aren’t business as usual. I think he gets a thrill off of firing people. Also buying a business isn’t like buying a car in cash.
Ana arrives in that purple dress she borrowed from Kate so often that she finally “forgot” to return it. Grey approves of her in a dress. Access, you know.
She orders wine, and here is another place where James knows jack about how things go here. If you look under 26, you’re getting carded. The OLCC (Oregon Liquor Control Commission), which issues licenses to dispense alcohol, which is required if there’s even a remote chance you’ll sell a bottle of beer (a friend of mine worked at the coffee bar at Whole Foods, which has beer, and she had to get licensed) is STRICT. They might run the official webpage on Blogspot, but they’s a government division you don’t want to cross. Many places card if you look 35 and under, and some places card everyone, even if you’re clearly in your senior years. Penalties for selling alcohol to people under the age of 21 run the gamut from major fines to jail time to a business being closed. Since Ana’s supposed to be so tiny that she can be mistaken as a child, she’d be carded. Grey’s wealth wouldn’t impress a server enough to ignore the law for her.
The waiter has no problem serving Miss Lightweight some Liquid Courage.
She asks him something important.
“She purses her lips to stifle her smile. “You know this contract is legally unenforceable.”
“I am fully aware of that, Miss Steele.”
“Were you going to tell me that at any point?”
What? I didn’t think I’d have to…and you’ve worked it out for yourself. “You’d think I’d coerce you into something you don’t want to do, and then pretend that I have a legal hold over you?”
Wow. Why didn’t he think he should tell her? He knows how ignorant she is about the world, to the point of never having touched herself, and he knows she doesn’t know hot to use the internet. The answer to why he didn’t think he should tell her is he was hoping she wouldn’t find out.
But bigger WOW is that she admits she thinks he’d force her to do what she doesn’t want. He already has raped her. So. She knows he would.
“Anastasia, it doesn’t matter if it’s legal or not. It represents an arrangement that I would like to make with you—what I would like from you and what you can expect from me. If you don’t like it, then don’t sign. If you do sign and then decide you don’t like it, there are enough get-out clauses so you can walk away. Even if it were legally binding, do you think I’d drag you through the courts if you did decide to run?”
What does she take me for?
I’ll take “What is a rapist, for $2000, Alex.
Alex Trebek still looks wrong without his ‘stashe. I don’t even care that it’s years since he cut it off.
And also the only “get-out clause” she needs is to say NO.
What I need her to understand is that this contract isn’t about the law, it’s about trust.
HAHAHA! No. You don’t get to say that a slave contract, which he’s using instead of a submissive contract, is about trust when it not only is actually about making sure boundaries are crystal clear and in writing for future reference, but right after you’re caught lying about the contract to her (lying by omission is still lying when you should know the other person won’t likely know the omitted info) and right after you’re tried that crap about “get-out clauses,” which would only be needed for something legally binding.
“As she takes a sip of her wine I rush on, endeavoring to explain. “Relationships like this are built on honesty and trust. If you don’t trust me—trust me to know how I’m affecting you, how far I can go with you, how far I can take you—if you can’t be honest with me, then we really can’t do this.”
She has no reason to trust him. He won’t take NO, LEAVE ME ALONE, for an answer. He can’t be trusted.
“So it’s quite simple, Anastasia. Do you trust me or not?”
And if she thinks so little of me, then we shouldn’t do this at all.
DING DING DING!!! This shouldn’t be happening! He’s trying to railroad her, and a moment’s hesitation means something’s wrong with her.
“Did you have similar discussions with, um…the fifteen?”
“No.” Why is she going off on this tangent?
“Why not?” she asks.
“Because they were all established submissives. They knew what they wanted out of a relationship with me and generally what I expected. With them, it was just a question of fine-tuning the soft limits, details like that.”
She asked a fair question. It’s troubling that they were established, yet he’s expecting Ana to fall in line with the experienced women, especially when she has noticeable hesitations.
I’m skipping the next page of him internally whining about Ana’s lack of appreciation for Elena. I’ll pick back up with him realizing she hasn’t eaten much that day.
“You have to eat, Anastasia. We can eat down here or in my suite. Which would you prefer?”
She’ll never go for this.
“I think we should stay in public, on neutral ground.”
As predicted—sensible, Miss Steele.
“Do you think that would stop me?” My voice is husky.
She swallows. “I hope so.”
Put the girl out of her misery, Grey.
“Come, I have a private dining room booked. No public.”
Why ask her what she wanted if it didn’t matter anyway?
But this part:
“Do you think that would stop me?” My voice is husky.
She swallows. “I hope so.”
That’s fear. Intimidation on her part, fear on hers. In no way does he respect her. My heart aches for her right now. She’s trying to stay safe because part of her knows there’s danger. He notes her swallowing. He doesn’t care.
Grey orders, ORDERS, her to get her wine and follow him. He gets pissy when the other patrons stare at Ana with “admiration”, and “one handsome, athletic guy” openly ogles her.
If we’re supposed to believe the tripe about how Ana’s a meek, average-looking girl who is beautiful to Grey because he luuuuuuves her (mentally add teenage-girl-handwriting hearts around that word), don’t have a woman he so drop-dead gorgeous that strangers who don’t know her literally stop to stare in awe. The waiter who helps them to the mezzanine (private room…?) ogles her too. No one who wants to keep their job will openly drool over a patron.
…she takes a large gulp of wine and her cheeks color. She must be looking for courage. I’ll have to watch how much she’s drinking, because she’s driving.
She could always spend the night here…then I could peel her out of that enticing dress.
Freaking fantastic. He knows she’s trying to lower her inhibitions for courage, and he thinks, “Hm, I could keep her here and fuck this drunk chick.”
“Your next point I mentioned earlier. You can walk away anytime, Anastasia. I won’t stop you. If you go, however—that’s it. Just so you know.”
No. Second. Chances. Ever.
“Okay,” she replies, though she doesn’t sound certain.
Uh… So what does he call it when he thought she walked, and he raped her?
We both fall silent as the waiter enters with our appetizers. For a moment I wonder if I should have held this meeting at my office, then dismiss the thought as ridiculous. Only fools mix business with pleasure.
Grey gets horny over oysters, then tells us Ana asked why he chose them.
James? Hey. You. JAMES. Listen, lady. SHOW, don’t tell, when the dialog is happening while we’re reading. Don’t have Grey tell us. Show us by having Ana ask.
Moving on. Grey tells us, rather than Ana, that the reason he expects her to obey him in all things, without question, is for her own safety. The safest thing for her to do is run. We know the truth. He is an abusive asshole who wants his sex toy ready when he beckons. It has nothing to do with her safety.
When they get to the issue she has of the contract term being three months when she wants one, he bitches about how one month isn’t enough time to train her. In ten days from this meeting, he full-out beats her. In just twenty four days, they’ll be engaged. So if he thinks a month isn’t enough time to train her in the ways of BDSM…well, it’s not. It’s also not enough time to be together before getting engaged. Time stands still in these books, I guess. It drags, like like the time it takes reading them.
“And please, let’s try it for three months. If it’s not for you, then you can walk away anytime.”
“Three months,” she says. Is she agreeing? I’ll take it as a “yes.”
NO “NO” IS NOT A YES!!!
He gives a speech about how he will do with her what he wants, when he wants, and her wants really don’t matter. He will beat her, because she will fail. But she has to go into this willingly, even though she’s being railroaded. Then he asks if she wants more wine. Yeah, lube those inhibitions even more.
Drunk consent isn’t consent.
Thankfully, she wants water instead. She doesn’t speak much. Grey can tell she’s overwhelmed.
He monologues about how pain is pleasure, he won’t do more than she can handle, and so on. Sure. In ten days, she walks away because it was too much for her. He again demands her trust, and she says she trusts him right away. Like the braindead idiot he is, he thinks he really has it instead of realizing she may be saying yes because he keeps bugging her about it, and she’s scared of him hurting her, which she is.
Once again he harps on her about food. He doesn’t know her well enough to be making comments on her eating habits. He doesn’t know how much she eats on days they don’t see each other, or even earlier on the days they do. We know she eats little enough that her family and close friends should be concerned. Grey doesn’t know her so well. He really needs to lay off.
It is worth noting that Ana, and Grey’s sister, Mia, have a couple names commonly strung together in eating disorder communities. Ana-Mia is viewed as a friend of sorts to those living with eating disorders. It stands for anorexia and bulimia.
Ana, at least does hold her ground on the food issue, and tells him to trust her on this one issue.
He tells her she’s not allowed to look at him, to touch him, and she’s not allowed to touch herself because he owns her. Briefly, he contemplates forcing himself on her. He admits he booked that room (mezzanines aren’t rooms…) so he could fuck her and see if she could keep quiet.
She’s “squeamish” at this point, and it’s understandable that she has no appetite when told by this guy that he expects her to give over ownership of her body so he can fuck and beat her at his will, and it’s all about him.
“You’ve not eaten very much.”
“I’ve had enough.”
This is getting old. “Three oysters, four bites of cod, and one asparagus stalk, no potatoes, no nuts, no olives, and you’ve not eaten all day. You said I could trust you.”
Her eyes widen.
Yeah. I’ve been keeping count, Ana.
“Christian, please, it’s not every day I sit through conversations like this.”
“I need you fit and healthy, Anastasia.” My tone is adamant.
“And right now, I want to peel you out of that dress.”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” she whispers.
I’m only surprised he “trusted” her as long as two pages to make her own food choices.
He procedes to make his desire to take her right then and there known.
“Christian. You use sex as a weapon. It really isn’t fair.” She looks down at her lap, and her voice is low and a little melancholy.
According to the dictionary, “Melancholy” means:
Naturally, Grey is aroused by this. He spends the next two pages trying to confuse her enough so he can have sex with her in the mezzanine. Ana takes a stalk of asparagus, and starts to simulate a blow job with it, which arouses him into silence. This could be taken as a defensive measure, or an offensive one. I think it’s defensive since she doesn’t want sex right now, and it’s getting him to shut up when he was trying to confuse her. A waiter enters, which stops all shenanigans.
Was Grey really going to risk a waiter walking in on him fucking her in a public place? In Oregon, this is a crime.
“Would you like some dessert?” I ask.
“No thank you. I think I should go,” she says, still staring at her hands.
“Go?” She’s leaving?
You know how he said she could leave whenever she wanted?
“Yes,” Ana says, her voice firm with resolve. She gets to her feet to leave. And automatically I stand, too. “We both have the graduation ceremony tomorrow,” she says.
This is not going according to plan at all.
“I don’t want you to go,” I state, because it’s the truth.
See, HE doesn’t want her to go.
“Please, I have to,” she insists.
Well, not only does she not need a reason, but she already gave one. They’ve got graduation the next day.
“Because you’ve given me so much to consider, and I need some distance.” Her eyes are pleading with me to let her go.
If she was really free to go, she wouldn’t need to plead with him.
But we’ve gotten so far in our negotiation. We’ve made compromises. We can make this work. I have to make this work.
In the end, he made no compromises. Also a nice little switch there from “we” to “I” there. Clearly he matters, and she doesn’t.
“I could make you stay,” I tell her, knowing that I could seduce her right now, in this room.
She’s had a bit to drink, is overwhelmed, and giving off signals of fear and intimidation. There wouldn’t be any legal consent here.
“Yes, you could easily, but I don’t want you to.”
He has no excuse. He knows she wants to go.
“You know, when you fell into my office to interview me, you were all ‘Yes, sir,’ ‘No, sir.’ I thought you were a natural-born submissive. But quite frankly, Anastasia, I’m not sure you have a submissive bone in your delectable body.” I walk the few steps that separate us and look down into eyes that shine with determination.
This is a very intimidating thing to do. He’s causing her adrenaline response to go into overdrive. That’s what happens when you’re scared. Adrenaline also plays a part in sexual arousal. He’s intentionally conflating the feeling fear with arousal to try to get his way with her. This is manipulative and sick.
After they kiss, he keeps pestering her to stay. I’ve lost track of how many times she said no. He’s just going to keep asking and asking until she says yes, then consider it consent, the way fans of this book do, right?
Close. She stands her ground, though he does keep asking. Finally, he realizes she’s not staying.
“Why do I think you’re telling me good-bye?”
“Because I’m leaving now.”
“That’s not what I mean, and you know it.”
“Christian, I have to think about this. I don’t know if I can have the kind of relationship you want.”
A guilt trip for the road.
“This cannot be the end. I have to show her—demonstrate what this all means, what we can do together. Show her what we can do in the playroom. Then she’ll know. This might be the only way to save this deal. Quickly I turn to her. “You’re moving this weekend to Seattle. If you make the right decision, can I see you on Sunday?” I ask.
“We’ll see. Maybe,” she says.
That’s not a “no.”
I really wish he’d start seeing her as a human being instead of a Real Doll. There is nothing “together” about any of this. It’s all about what she can take from her. “If you make the right decision, can I see you on Sunday?” is MANIPULATIVE AS FUCK. He doesn’t mean the right decision for her. Oh, no. He means the right decision for him, which really is to be tossed in the slammer with Pornstashe.
“I notice the goose bumps on her arms. “It’s cooler now, don’t you have a jacket?” I ask.
This woman needs looking after. I take off my jacket. “Here. I don’t want you catching cold.” I slip it over her shoulders and she hugs it around herself, closes her eyes, and inhales deeply.
Is she drawn to my scent? Like I am to hers?
Yes, Edward. She’s so drawn to your scent that her panties are disintegrating… It’s not uncommon to forget a coat sometimes. Doesn’t mean we need a keeper.
The valet brings her vintage VW Beetle. Grey starts insulting everything about it. I don’t know about you, but if someone started insulting everything about my car, I’d be offended and hurt, especially if the reason is that that someone is so rich that they don’t understand that not everyone can go buy new, off-the-lot cars with their idea of pocket change. I had a real-life friendship end when a friend of mine started acting like that. Ana tells Grey NOT to buy her a car. This will be important to remember in a moment.
He contemplates having Taylor take her home since he doesn’t trust her car, until he remembers Taylor is off that night. Something is confusing me here. Grey asks Ana if her car will make it to Seattle sine they’re in Portland. But he considers having Taylor take her home, but remembers Taylor’s off, right? So does that mean James forgot their location and thinks they’re in Seattle? Or was Grey going to make her wait a few hours for Taylor to drive her home?
Regardless, she she says good bye, she’s trying not to cry. Who can blame her, after how he treated her?
She leaves, and he gets more alcohol to take to his room. Right away he starts an email to her, and beretes her for “running off,” and says they can make it work and he promises to take it slow. Being engaged in 24 days is taking it slow? They’ll break up in ten days, and be broken up for five days. None of this is slow.
Then he sends Taylor an email telling him to have a new Audi delivered the next day. Remember how I said Ana telling Grey not to buy her a car would be important? Here it is. He’s buying her a car against her wishes.
When Ana doesn’t reply to his email the second she gets home, he starts pestering her by text, and sends her another email where he insults her car again. Then he hosts a pity party for himself because he isn’t getting his way right that very second.