There’s no way to candy-coat what happens in this chapter. It’s not even as bad as it’ll get in this book, and this book is mild compared to the third book in the original trilogy. You know, the book where he’s “all better.”

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

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And the rest of this chapter…oh, deities….

(Directory of recap links)

Grey gets his sorry ass out of the shower and heads to the kitchen where Ana and Mrs. J. are talking, and even though Ana’s not hungry, like a lot of people who don’t care to eat in the morning, he decides she’s GOING TO eat. Well. Geez. As someone dealing with an eating disorder every damned day, if someone ordered me to eat, I’d probably throw up.

An unsettling theme in the books through Ana’s eyes is how little she eats, and how much others constantly tell her she needs to. Frankly, there are red flags that Ana could potentially have an eating disorder. Honestly, I couldn’t blame her if she were to develop one at this point, if she didn’t already. It’s the little control she has, but Grey’s taking even that away from her.

Grey starts grilling Ana on whether or not she bought her ticket yet.

“Do you have the money?”

“Yes,” she says, as if I’m five years old, and she tosses her hair over her shoulder, flattening her lips, peeved, I think.

I arch an eyebrow in censure. I could always spank you again, sweetheart.

“Yes, I do, thank you,” she says quickly, in a more subdued tone.

That’s better.

I’m not at all sure what she’s saying “thank you” to. He didn’t make an offer of any sort. A “Sir” there would make more sense. I’m as confused as Ana was when she thought his play room would be where he kept his X-box right after they talked sex.

He does end up offering her a company jet, which she turns down.

Surely most women would jump at the opportunity of taking a private jet, but it seems material wealth really doesn’t impress this girl—or she doesn’t like to feel indebted to me. I’m not sure which. Either way, she’s a stubborn creature.

You think, you asshole? Of course she doesn’t ant to feel indebted to you when you’re already of the mind that you own her body.

Spoiler alert: It’s CANON that she’s taking this trip to get away from him. CANON. Ana actually says so.

Since she won’t take his jet, he tries to get out of her where she’s applying for a job, and she won’t tell.

“I’m a man of means, Miss Steele.”

“I’m fully aware of that, Mr. Grey. Are you going to track my phone?”

Score one for Ana. Score an express bus pass to hell for Grey.

He calls this “banter” and her being “sassy.” This is “refreshing and fun” to him. No. It’s her literally wanting to get away from him.

Food’s served, and she eats. Like she has a choice? Ana wants to know again why he doesn’t like to be touched, and again, this is a fair question. She wants to get to know him, WHICH IS FAIR. He gets pissy and decides to demand to know if she’ll miss him when she’s gone. There’s only one answer to safely give to that, and she gives it.

Once she’s finished eating, she tells him she needs to leave, and he pressures her to spend her day with him.

“I have to prep for my interviews. And get changed.” She eyes me warily.

When you notice she’s wary, drop it.

And for once, he does. And off she goes to get ready to leave, and he tells her to remember her Blackberry, Mac, and chargers. And once again I laugh because this book is dated by the Blackberry references. Because Blackberry is no more. Bwahaha! A little writing tip: Don’t mention tech by name unless you want to date a book. Despite the dates on these chapters, I don’t think Madame James meant to date these books. She padded the Fifty Shades books with headers on literally every single email, and inadvertently dated them.

Also when you only have one computer, I don’t think you need to mention the brand. I’m an iPhone-user who is impatiently awaiting the arrival of my 7 (first time I haven’t had a new phone on the day of release because I am THAT kind of fan), and I have two Macbooks Pros, and I just call then my phone and my big computer and small computer. If my husband asks if my phone is charged, he doesn’t have to specify brand because that’s a given.

But while we’re on Mac products (you’re going to want a little diversion before some stuff coming up soon makes your head explode if your heart doesn’t seize in fear first), here’s a selfie I took with my iPhone 5:

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And here’s a pretty bunch of flowers I got with my iPhone 6:

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I call my stuff iFauxtography. iFeelclever.

Bye-bye, pretty flowers. Time to go back to hell.

Where were we? Oh, yeah, he’s name-dropping gratuitously as he tells her to take the things he can use to track her. Yeah, you could track pretty easily using Mac computers and iPhones in 2011, and still can, if you have the right apps installed. Of course he goes the route that requires committing a crime with the phone.

Ana wants to go to her car alone, and he won’t let her. Nope. Even though she wants to go alone, he wants to make out with her in the elevator. Guess who wins. Yup. She doesn’t want him there, is kissed when she wants to be alone, and fans call this bit of sexual assault romantic.

She manages to escape, finally, and Grey tells Taylor, who has been there all along and not once mentioned, that he wants to go to his office.

I call Welsh from the car.

“Mr. Grey,” he rasps.

“Welch. Anastasia Steele is buying an airline ticket today, leaving Seattle tonight for Savannah. I’d like to know which flight she’s on.”

“Does she have an airline preference?”

“I’m afraid I don’t know.”

“I’ll see what I can do.”

I hang up. My cunning plan is falling into place.

No. No, no, NO. I know what he’s going to do. You remember how he admitted she probably didn’t want to be indebted to him? After she told him she’d buy her own ticket? Remember that. He’s not about to respect her. Of course he won’t.

Grey gets to the office, startles Andrea, snarks to us that he does work there (when is he ever there?), and when she asks how he wants his coffee, he tells us…

Good girl.

Oh god. Gross. It’s like he’s seeing his office staff as fair game.

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At least one person approves. (Total aside: Too bad the woman who was handed a gift with those recordings changes the topic instead of standing by women and thoroughly denouncing his behavior.)

Grey opens an email from Elena Lincoln that’s pointless, and gets a cal back from Welsh that no ticket has been bought yet, but that he’ll monitor the airlines. I’m pretty sure that kind of hacking could be considered a terrorism concern.

Some lady named Caroline Acton calls, and rather than telling us she’s the personal shopper he has picked out for his subs (and victims–he has hurt at least one of them badly before Ana, which is canon as well), he just tells her he wants “the usual,” and the colors, and to make sure we know he’s rich, there’s no budget. He tells her that stuff, then says he’ll email the sizes. Strange that that’s what he wouldn’t say aloud.

Welsh calls him back with Ana’s flight info, and it’s important to note that he only got the flight into going to Georgia. Grey immediately orders Andrea to upgrade those flights, and to pay for Ana’s return flight back…which she hadn’t even booked!!! So he decided when she’s coming back! And access to the first class lounges, which is the smallest transgression here. And as a kicker, Grey wants Andrea to buy the seat next to Ana on all flights, ostensibly so no one can be near her. When Andrea looks concerned, Grey tells us it’s none of her business. Um, actually it is since she’s been ordered to change the flight into of someone without their consent. I can’t even change my husband’s flight details if we aren’t flying together.

So he won’t respect her enough to let her be independent, and is isolating her on her flights, and decided for her when she’s coming back.

Next up is some gibberish about business that has no context, making it utterly boring, even to someone like me who actually enjoys reading about mergers and acquisitions.

Who wants a bunch of boring emails padded with headers? Me neither. To sum them all up, Ana wants to know if Mrs. Jones is an ex-sub of his (and he mentally orders Ana to watch her language when she wrote “fucking,” which makes him a hypocrite since he says it plenty).

He tells her no, he wouldn’t work with someone he’s had sex with (though it seems like he’s at least thought about it with Andrea), and if Ana doesn’t clean up her language (now he tells her instead of us), then maybe he won’t hire her.

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So you’re threatening her by saying you’re going to do what she wants anyway. She reiterates that she doesn’t want to work for him, and the irony goes over his head. He’s only annoyed that someone as “bright” as her doesn’t want to work for him. He’s really just annoyed that she’s trying to preserve some agency, but I laughed at the “bright” part.

Frankly, she’s a dim bulb who doesn’t know how to use the internet and hadn’t the lightest clue about sex, and is still shocked by the tiniest things that an reasonably unsheltered teenager would know about. Grey himself had to tell her how to do some basic research that elementary school kids are required to so for essays and such. She’s not bright, and she wouldn’t have graduate the real WSU, especially with a degree that requires using the internet, unless she was on the equivalent of a 504-plan, an IEP, aka a federally-mandated plan that helps special needs students with disabilities finish their education, and I don’t think colleges have those. But in this word, they’d have to since she got out of college without ever using the internet. It just…it doesn’t work that way!!

Now for some page of emails between Grey and Elena. She wants him to meet a girl she mentioned at some point, but that we haven’t heard about before now. He tells her he wants to “let the arrangement [he has] now run its course.” Well. He sounds dedicated….

He moves on to more random business stuff, but says something about a summary of the publishing houses in Seattle. Guess where this is going. Go on. Guess.

Later on that night, he gets another email from Ana.

Dear Mr. Grey,

What really alarms me is how you knew which flight I was on.

Your stalking knows no bounds. Let’s hope that Dr. Flynn is back from vacation.

I have had a manicure, a back massage, and two glasses of champagne—a very nice start to my vacation.

Thank you.

Grey mentally congratulates Andrea on successfully upgrading the flights. Her alarm doesn’t even register with him.

And his stalking is about to get much, much scarier.

The bit of passive-aggressiveness did register, and he wants to know who massaged her back. I guess he forgot that first-class lounges often have that service, and it’s entirely professional.

She tells him a massage-therapist she wouldn’t have met had she been allowed to take the flight she booked herself.

Is she trying to make me jealous? Does she have any idea how mad I can get? She’s been gone for a few hours, and she’s deliberately making me angry. Why does she do this to me?

Which is frightening.

Have another pretty picture I took.

Maybe envision Grey falling over it. This is Multnomah Falls.

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From: Christian Grey
Subject: Enjoy It While You Can
Date: May 30 2011 22:25
To: Anastasia Steele
Dear Miss Steele,
I know what you’re trying to do—and trust me, you’ve succeeded. Next time you’ll be in the cargo hold, bound and gagged in a crate. Believe me when I say that attending to you in that state will give me so much more pleasure than merely upgrading your ticket.
I look forward to your return.
Christian Grey
Palm-Twitching CEO,
Grey Enterprises Holdings, Inc.

There’s not a single part of that that isn’t terrifying. From the ominous subject line to his palm twitching to hit her. I think the body of the message speaks for itself.

This isn’t romance. It’s abuse, and people who fantasize about this guy and get turned on thinking about him need professional help. I’m not saying that lightly.

From: Anastasia Steele
Subject: Joking?
Date: May 30 2011 22:30
To: Christian Grey
You see—I have no idea if you’re joking—and if you’re not, then I think I’ll stay in Georgia. Crates are a hard limit for me. Sorry I made you mad. Tell me you forgive me.

A

Do fans think it bodes well when a woman doesn’t know if her boyfriend/abuser is kidding? Do fans really think that fear won’t affect the decisions she makes? Simply getting a massage has her threatened with being bound and gagged and tossed in a crate, and now she’s asking for forgiveness. SHE IS SCARED!! What the FUCK is wrong with the people who love this?!

Of course I’m joking…sort of.

Rather than being startled that she finds him frightening enough to believe he might really do that to her, he merely tells us that he’s SORT OF joking. That’s no comfort. He’s mad. He hits her when she begs him not to, stalks her enough that she tries to make light of it, won’t respect her at any point in time…of COURSE he’d do that to her!! What happens in the third book makes that heart-breakingly clear.

Rather than console her by telling her he’s joking, he tells her she shouldn’t be on her phone since she should be on a plane (still stalking her location), and that’s endangering her (nope, when I was on a flight that year, the plane had WiFi, and of course first class would have included access), and that he has two twitching palms now. So he wants to hit her twice as much.

Poor little asshole only starts to have anxiety about whether or not she’ll return to his presence so he can fuck her some more. So he starts drinking and playing his piano.

I considered ending this one with pictures of puppies or something, but is anyone reading this are fans, I don’t want them to have the mood lightened. I want it to sink in. I want them to reflect on how they can see this man as romantic or ideal when he’s absolutely horrifying. I want people who defend this book as “just fiction,” fan or not, to think about how they’re defending the actions of an abuser by claiming “it’s not real.”

Well, defending these books and the actions as “just fiction” sends the message to kids and teens that what happens in these books is acceptable. Do you want to claim a part in helping normalize these books? A decade ago, it was better understood that rape and sexual assault were wrong, and now we have convicted rapists getting off because the unconscious victim somehow asked for it because she drank. We have more compassion for rapists (look at the Stanford asshole who had a judge concerned that six months would be too hard on the rapist).

It’s been normalized enough that we have as the top presidential candidates a rapist and someone who ignored her husband’s sexual assaults and is personal friends with the rapist and who won’t denounce him. We have a society where these things are only issues when supporters of either side are trying to tear the other down more. These things were known long ago, and our society looked the other way, and we have millions of people around the world approving of the behavior of one of those candidates by loving and adoring a character almost exactly like him.

Look at this picture and tell me if you can hold up these books and say to that little girl that what is in these books is perfectly fine. Can you tell her that Christian Grey is attractive and that these books are romantic? If Christian Grey is good enough for you, he’s good enough for her, because you deserve just as good of a partner as she deserves to have when she’s older. Can you tell her that Christian Grey is a man who deserves you, who deserves her, who deserves anyone?

Go on. She’s listening.

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