I had to do it. Instead of paying and walking away from the table, I picked up a fresh plate and helped myself to more from the Self-Hatred buffet! Despite myself, I have to know just bad this trilogy becomes. Call it morbid curiosity, call it hit-whoring; you know you wanna join me!
We open with a prologue. “He’s come back. Mommy’s asleep or she’s sick again.” What? Who? Did Ana regress further since the last book? I presume this is supposed to be from Christian Grey’s perspective. As a child, his mother is passed out, and someone is shouting at her and hitting her with a belt, calling her a “fucked-up bitch” over and over. Then the man with the boots seeks mini-Grey. He wakes up with a start, hearing a scream; just as abruptly, we are shifted from first-person to third-person. (I really hate when that is done). The scream came from his mouth; “they’re back.” Poltergeists? No, the bad dreams about his childhood. Waaah, his mommy was a drunken ho-bag and the men in her life were abusive. So this is the explanation for his sadism? Yawn. Typical.
Chapter One, and we’re back to Anastasis “No Backbone” Steele; it’s been three days since she told Grey he was a “fucked up son of a bitch,” and escaped. She’s a sad sack – oh, wait, she was before any of this happened. It’s not just about Grey, though; now she has to take the bus with the other plebes. Even though he gave her money for her old car . . .
Kate is conveniently still out of the country, so Ana is alone with the television. “I am numb. I feel nothing but the pain.” Which is it? A few pages in and we’re already deep into shitty writing.
The doorbell rings and it’s a delivery for her. White roses and a note from Grey congratulating her on her first day of work and thanking her for the glider. She can’t bear to throw them away, but she knows he didn’t send them; it was merely an errand for his assistant.
Ana is sad and depressed; he haunts her dreams. She can’t listen to music; she hasn’t talked to anyone. And, perhaps the most surprising of all, she hasn’t eaten anything in days! She’s been sucking down lattes and Diet Cokes; what are you, a model?
Grey emails her at work about José’s gallery show, and offers to drive her. This upsets her so much she has to leave her desk. She realizes that she hasn’t heard from anyone lately because she has all of her calls forwarded to the Blackberry that she returned. She internal-monologues about missing him, and changing her mind, and changing her mind, and memories of him. It’s only been five days, “that has felt like an eternity.” Yeah, I know what THAT’S like. Feeling it right now, in fact!
She emails him to say she would appreciate a ride. She tells José she’ll be there. Grey emails to ask what time. You seriously are going to pad out the book with more insipid emails? That issue could have been taken care of with ONE fucking sentence. Instead, we read four emails to discover that he will come to “collect” her at 5:45.
Does he miss me? Has he found someone new already? I totally have a job I need to do, but I can’t stop thinking about him. She can’t sleep, but she’s not crying now. Give it some time. She is sad that Grey feels he doesn’t deserve love. Because he doesn’t know what love it? And he wants you to show him?
Ana’s boss hits on her. She attempts to put on makeup. Grey snaps at her about eating; he’s very angry. He’s annoyed that she waves to her boss. She talks back and says it’s none of his bees when she last ate. Then she wants to laugh. The hell? Are you crazy? And then they touch and talk about missing each other. He pulls her onto his lap and she doesn’t seem to struggle very much. “For a moment, I allow myself the illusion that all will be well, and it soothes my ravaged soul.” You are so delusional; you’ve seen how abusive he is, and all it takes is five days apart and five minutes of close contact to make you forget? Bitch, please.
They stare at each other in the elevator, and come close to doing it, but they don’t. They take the helicopter. He likes the harness, of course. He likes being repetitive, too, as he’s used this line before. He gives her the aerial tour. He mentions they can eat at the Space Needle some time, and she reminds him that they’re broken up. “I can still take you there and feed you.” That sounds so creepy.
Ana keeps comparing herself to Icarus. You’d be too afraid to flap your wings and leave the ground. He’s missed her smart mouth. They land and take the stairs. Grey is broody. He presses her to promise to eat. He wants her back, although nothing has changed. He says they’ll talk later, and NOW she wants to say something about the fact that he brings up such things at inopportune times. She has to concede that the street might be too public. Really, now?
A girl comes up to them; she seems to know Ana, but Ana doesn’t know her. Grey frowns, as if it’s wrong to be friends with the lower castes, or something. He offers to get her a drink, and he’s unhappy with her choice of wine. When she was with you, you wanted her to drink, so you could take advantage of her. Why stop now?
José hugs Ana, which makes her want to cry. He’s her only friend, besides Kate. And what friends you have been! Let’s recap – he tried to kiss you, you put up a huge fuss, and then Grey didn’t want you to talk to him, so you barely have spoken to him since. Oh, except for that time you hung out at the bar that Kate talked about to make Grey jealous, which only got you a “punish-fuck” for your troubles. Best friends, indeed. José finds out Christian brought her to the show, which he’s not happy about in the least. He tries to warn her about something, but he’s dragged away. Grey returns, they talk about the photos. Someone takes their photo; she explains why she asked her gay question. No, he only took his subs shopping, never on dates.
A few people notice Ana, but she thinks it’s because she’s with Grey. But then she sees the gigantic photos of herself in different attitudes.
Grey, of course, is angry. He walks away and buys all seven of the pictures to ensure that “some stranger” isn’t “ogling [her] in the privacy of their home.” This turns into annoying banter about him being a pervert, and NDAs, and what he wants to do to her mouth. Then he says that he wishes her to be as relaxed with him as she is in the photos. Perhaps if you weren’t such a scary guy, that would be easy to do. Ana tells him he needs to stop the intimidation. No, SHE needs to communicate more. No, HE doesn’t know what he really wants.
He wants to go eat now (it’s only ever eating and sex in these damned books; yay, feminism!), but they’ve only been there a short while. They argue about José, and Ana says José never hit her. Low blow, kiddo, but she’s angry; you are <u>so</u> getting punished even though you’re not together anymore. He orders her to “find the boy, say good-bye.” (How imperious of you. You’re only 27 yourself, you know). And she DOES. Grey is back in the saddle, ladies and gentlemen; and later, back in the <i>literal</i> saddle, perhaps.
Ana is annoyed that he told her what to do. So, don’t. Crash with José and tell Grey to fuck himself. And paddle himself first, for good measure. Ana is such a milquetoast. I hate her all over again. She says good-bye to José, who keeps hugging her, and she leads him on a bit, which is going to give Grey apoplexy. Grey advances to drag her away, and then pulls her into an alleyway, pushes her up against a wall, and kisses and grabs her hard. He tells her that she is his. (I wondered if James was thinking of turning this into a rape scene, then quailed at the last minute. The way he’s digging his fingers into her clothing sure reads like an assault, even though she kisses him back). I think the limp dishrag – I mean, girl has a choice in the matter. He has <i>feels</i> for her, and he doesn’t know about emotion, and love, and all that razzmattaz. He has no control (and he’s got a lot, now he’s all grown up), and that bothers him. But, before the sexing, they need to eat.