Remember what I said about all the chapters running into each other sequentially? We pick up with Kiss me damn it! I implore him, but I can’t move. I’m paralyzed with a strange, unfamiliar need, completely captivated by him. He's totally not going to. You know how I know? Because this is Twilight fan-fiction, and while I have never read Twilight, I have read Mark Reads Twilight, as well as the wonderful Ana Mardol deconstructions of the book. E L James is keeping pretty close to Smeyer's characters. She has “Ana” constantly tucking her hair behind her ear, or peering through it, or her eyelashes. I want to know how you “peer” through your own eyelashes. I just spent like thirty seconds trying. I failed. We also have Grey being endlessly fascinated by Ana's most banal behaviors (She drinks tea?! ZOMG!) and his supposed “mystery” is “creepy and douchy” and as such Grey will be all “NO I AM A DANGEROUS MAN! NOT ACTUALLY A VAMPIRE THOUGH!” (still betting he sold his soul to the devil) so hey, as far as fanfiction goes, James is doing a bang up job.
“Anastasia, you should steer clear of me. I’m not the man for you,” he whispers. What? Where is this coming from? Surely I should be the judge of that. TOLD YOU! Also, I hate to say it, but I agree with Ana. Fuck you if you think you get to choose what's best for her, Grey. She is an adult. She can vote and drink and if she likes you and wants to act on it, you better have a reason for brushing her off besides making her choices for her. He then lets her go and holds her at arm's length with all sorts of lingering contact because he obviously WANTS to be with her, but for what ever tragic reason can't. While Grey is being tortured by his inner turmoil, Ana is freaking out in her head over the rejection.
And the only thing I can think is that I wanted to be kissed, made it pretty damned obvious, and he didn’t do it. Really? When did you make it obvious? When he had her all wrapped in his arms after saving her from the rampaging cyclist was she just puckering up, staring intensely at him? Because I can now side with Grey being all “Uhhh, you should stay away from me. FOR YOU! Totally stay away from me because I am bad for you. This is totally all about you”. However, he doesn't just back away slowly, hands held in front of him, and once he's far enough away turn tail and run, so I am tragically led to believe that Ana did not make it “pretty damned obvious” to HIM, just in her own head. Then again, considering how she's been acting, he probably got the idea.
How could I have misread the situation between us so utterly? I need to get away from him. This is one of the first good ideas you've had, Ana! He has been doing what Kate, if I give her the benefit of the doubt and assume she isn't evil, was worried about. He was running around holding Ana's hand and buying her tea and asking her all these intense “getting to know you” questions, and then he turns it all off and is inconsiderate about it, messing with her head. No shit she'd want to get away from him. Grey ignores this and is all “HERE COME INTO THE HOTEL TO CALM DOWN YOU NEARLY JUST DIED BECAUSE THAT CYCLIST! GOOD THING I WAS HERE!” and, once again, dude, it's a fucking bike. I almost feel that he's the one trying to make it seem more dramatic not for the sake of the narrative, but for the sake of trying to make Ana feel like she had been in very real danger so she'd feel more indebted to him. Still, this scene makes me like Grey better then his Twilight counterpart, Edward, because after saving her, his response to her thanks was “Dude, I wasn't going to just let you get squashed by a rampaging cyclist” while Edward would have been all “GOD WHY ARE YOU SO CLUMSY BE MORE CAREFUL SO I DON'T NEED TO WORRY ABOUT YOU LIKE THIS!?” and made her “near death” experience all about him.
So Grey walks Ana to his car, and they have a conversation that could be had by two humans. She thanks him for doing the shoot, and he clearly WANTS to say something and is SO CONFLICTED about it, no, really. “Anastasia… I… ” He stops, and the anguish in his voice demands my attention, so I peer unwillingly up at him. His gray eyes are bleak as he runs his hand through his hair. He looks torn, frustrated, his expression stark, all his careful control has evaporated. He doesn't say what ever it is that he's so torn and frustrated and stark about, which I imagine is something to the effect of “I want to throw you over my desk and do things that are illegal in half the country, but you are so innocent and virgin-y! I don't know if I could be the one to corrupt you!” and then run off into the night to sacrifice some babies to his lord Satan. Seriously, being into BDSM – not that dangerous. Being into devil worship and periodically needing the odd virgin sacrifice – both more dangerous to Ana, and more interesting.
So Ana once out of sight of Grey in the under ground garage starts bawling because she's stressed and frustrated and when no one had ever done it for you before and that person turns you down it sucks extra hard. I'll give Ana this one. She's studying for her last exams ever, has been roped into this insanity that has been causing extra anxiousness and splitting her attention, and if she fails any of these exams she won't graduate. She's feeling frail and frayed, and so I'm not throwing any stones at our narrator for getting disproportionately weepy at getting rejected by a dude she's met three times. She's overwhelmed by life and this is just One More Thing. Besides, I actually like how she ultimately walks away from it.
Stop! Stop Now! - My subconscious is metaphorically screaming at me, arms folded, leaning on one leg and tapping her foot in frustration. Get in the car, go home, do your studying. Forget about him… Now! And stop all this self-pitying, wallowing crap.
I take a deep, steadying breath and stand up. Get it together Steele. I head for Kate’s car, wiping the tears off my face as I do. I will not think of him again. I can just chalk this incident up to experience and concentrate on my exams.
“Fuck it. I've got exams. Screw this noise”
So she goes home to Kate, who's been kind of worried this whole time because she really didn't trust Grey not to fuck with Ana's head. I go back to being annoyed with Ana here.
“Ana what’s wrong?”
Oh no… not the Katherine Kavanagh Inquisition. I shake my head at her in a back-off now Kavanagh way – but I might as well be dealing with a blind, deaf mute.
“You’ve been crying,” she has an exceptional gift for stating the damned obvious sometimes. “What did that bastard do to you?” she growls, and her face – jeez, she’s scary.
“Nothing Kate.” That’s actually the problem. The thought brings a wry smile to my face.
“Then why have you been crying? You never cry,” she says, her voice softening. She stands, her green eyes brimming with concern. She puts her arms around me and hugs me. I need to say something just to get her to back off.
“I was nearly knocked over by a cyclist.” It’s the best that I can do, but it distracts her momentarily from… him.
So, first thing first, how do you shake your head in a “back off” sort of way? I can think of a few facial expressions that would go with that to tell me to back off, but honestly, I can't figure out how a shake on it's own can convey this. Moving on, I think it's pretty shitty how Ana is treating Kate here, both in speech and her internal monolog. A few chapters ago you call her your dearest friend, but when she notices you've been crying, something you never do because you're SO STRONG AND SUFFER SILENTLY (ugh), and you're annoyed at her for it? If my friends noticed I had been bawling (which never happens unless I'm caught in the act, because I don't “look” like I've been crying after, I guess?) and just didn't say anything, they'd be shitty friends. Kate is responding how I'd expect the typical BFFF character to. “WHO HURT YOU LET ME STRING THEM UP BY THE GENITALS!” and Ana, rather then just saying “Listen, I really don't want to talk about it, but I'm fine, honest. Just over whelmed with exams and stuff” which would all be honest, half lies to Kate. Kate continues to be concerned because even if their relationship is heavily influenced by Ana doing things for Kate, Kate still cares about her. Ana's response is MORE ANNOYANCE. I think I'm supposed to take away that Ana is Strong! She doesn't like relying on other people! Which is fine, honest, I don't think everyone needs to talk about everything all the time, but even if you don't want to talk about it, you're a jerk for belittling your BFFF for their concern.
Anyways, Ana weasels out of the conversation, and Kate, getting that she doesn't want to talk about it offers to show Ana the article, which she's proud of. This plays into my not getting their relationship. They're apparently super close, but Ana doesn't want to talk about her issues or feelings ever to Kate, and Kate caring is seen as intrusive, meanwhile, Kate is constantly sharing what's going on with her, and there's an expectation that Ana will be all over it (and she is). Despite not wanting a reminder of Christian Doesn't Want Me Grey, she looks at the article (though the picture, really) and deduces that the reason he rejected her was because he was sooooo pretty and rich and wonderful and she's just plain old every girl Anastasia Rose Steele! Gag me.
We get a time jump to the girls finishing their last exam, and being excited about FREEDOM! IT IS TIME TO PARTY! Hell, Ana is feeling saucy, despite just having finished university, she's never gotten drunk, perhaps tonight is the night for that! I want to comment on this before I keep going on and snarking. She isn't shown as a non-drinker, so I think it's more she has ONE maybe TWO drinks and then that's it, but I'm surprised she made it through all of university as an English major without ever once getting drunk if she drinks at all. Anyways, she goes home, Kate going for the bubbly again (does she have a stash? How rich IS her family?) and debating what to wear for their adventures that night. Ana has a package waiting for her, unmarked, with no sender. She thinks it's from her folks. I think it's something super personal and thoughtful from Grey. Inside there is a card that reads:
Why didn't you tell me there was danger? Why didn't you warn me?
Ladies know what to guard against, because they read novels that tell them of these tricks...
I recognize the quote from Tess. I am stunned by the irony as I’ve just spent three hours writing about the novels of Thomas Hardy in my final examination. Perhaps there is no irony… perhaps it’s deliberate. I inspect the books closely, three volumes of Tess of the D’Urbervilles. I open the front cover. Written in an old typeface on the front plate is:
‘London: Jack R. Osgood, McIlvaine and Co., 1891.’
Holy shit - they are first editions. They must be worth a fortune, and I know immediately who’s sent them. Kate is at my shoulder gazing at the books.
Ana is, reasonably, confused. Grey had just told her to stay away from her, then sends her incredibly valuable first edition, nearly mint condition classic books (We are told by Kate that the only one she can find online is 14k, and Ana's are MUCH nicer so they MUST cost more!) and the two girls are, reasonably, puzzled. Grey is rich, fine, but he isn't stupid (I think.). He knows Ana is a university student, and therefore broke. He can't expect her to just think “OH MY GOD THIS IS THE SWEETEST MOST CONSIDERATE THING EVER!” she's going to be shocked and confused and uncomfortable with him spending that kind of money on her. So, Grey has now asked her out, held her hand, and spent a morning getting to know her before warning her from staying away, he's dangerous. So she does. And then when she doesn't come crawling to him, ignoring his warning (having taken it for rejection rather then a warning on her behalf) he sends her these priceless books – with another warning? I also don't recall her ever giving him her home address (or know why Kate would have done so herself) so that adds another layer of creepy to this. Did he use his connections with the university to find out where she lived? The whole thing is a show of power and wealth, and he's supposed to be mysterious, but honestly? It reads as incredibly creepy and invasive to me. He told her to back off. She did. He has now decided to enact PHASE TWO anyways. He is showing no respect for her choices, or ability to make them. He first tells her to stay away, because he isn't right for her. So she took his advice (admittedly by misreading it) and then he decides he wants her after all, and starts his pursuits again.
Ana responds reasonably.
“I don’t know, and I don’t care. I can’t accept these from him. I’ll send them back with an equally baffling quote from some obscure part of the book.”
“The bit where Angel Clare says fuck off?” Kate asks with a completely straight face.
Ana and Kate toast their freedom from post secondary school, and the new adventures that await them in Seattle, and we move on. Now it's later that night and we're at the bar. I'll drop you in where things get creepy.
“So what now Ana?” José shouts at me over the noise.
“Kate and I are moving to Seattle. Kate’s parents have bought a condo there for her.”
“Dios mio, how the other half live. But you’ll be back for my show.”
“Of course, José, I wouldn’t miss it for the world.” I smile, and he puts his arm around my waist and pulls me close.
“It means a lot to me that you’ll be there Ana,” he whispers in my ear. “Another margarita?”
“José Luis Rodriguez – are you trying to get me drunk? Because I think it’s working.” I giggle. “I think I’d better have a beer. I’ll go get us a pitcher.”
So, Kate really is just a spoiled princess who's Mommy and Daddy buy her a condo. I get the feeling it will end with something like this http://www.deargirlsaboveme.com/ and we have Jose dropping stereotypical lines because he's brown (HIS NAME GOT THE POINT ACROSS ALREADY!) and his whole character thus far seems to be revolving around LOOK IT HE'S A MINORITY! Which is something that his Twilight counterpart, Jacob, was also subjected to, and it bothered me when S Meyer did it, and it bothers me when James is doing it now. That aside, he's being kind of date-rapey here. “HERE DRINK MORE!” and then he get's grabby and is whispering in her ear and honestly, this doesn't need to go much further to get terrifying. Anyways, Ana wanders off, drunk, on her own, in a crowded bar (which is a state I've been in myself many times before, but I'm apparently a more experienced drinker then Ana) which is also a bit strange. I suppose her friends think there are enough people about, and Kate's watching her drink, so what evs! While she waits in line to go to the bathroom, she drunk dials Grey with the intention to ask him about the books, because she needs to be drunk to be pushy enough to demand an answer! She asks, he ignores her, instead conferring that she's drunk and demanding to know where she is. I'll cut it short, but here's the gist of it.
“You’re so… domineering,” I giggle.
“Ana, so help me, where the fuck are you?”
Christian Grey is swearing at me. I giggle again. “I’m in Portland… s’a long way from Seattle.”
“Where in Portland?”
I hang up.
So, bets on how long it will take Grey to GET to Portland and find Ana because she is DRUNK and therefore needs protecting? We established that it was a long drive before (about 3 hours according to google maps). Then again, we're not told where Grey is, he could still be in Portland? Nah. He'll take the helicopter. He's fancy like that. Ana keeps going on about ZOMG I'M SOOO DRUNK which, dude, we GET it, and when people are drunk, they don't DO that! ALIENS! THIS IS NOT A CONVINCING DEPICTION OF A MODERN 21 YEAR OLD GIRL! Grey calls her back and is all “I AM COMING TO GET YOU EVEN THOUGH YOU DIDN'T ASk ME TO AND REFUSED TO TELL ME WHERE YOU ARE WHICH WOULD IMPLY THAT YOU DON'T WANT ME TO BUT I DO NOT CARE ABOUT YOUR CHOICES SO I AM COMING TO GET YOU!” and Ana is all “Pffft. What evs, I didn't tell him where I am” and continues to tell us how DRUNK she is as she goes back to her friends and then out for some air, no one goes with her. So now she's alone OUTSIDE the bar. Cue rapist in 3... 2...
“No José, stop – no.” I push him, but he’s a wall of hard muscle, and I cannot shift him. His hand has slipped into my hair, and he’s holding my head in place.
“Please, Ana, cariña,” he whispers against my lips. His breath is soft and smells too sweet – of margarita and beer. He gently trails kisses along my jaw up to the side of my mouth. I feel panicky, drunk, and out of control. The feeling is suffocating.
“José, no,” I plead. I don’t want this. You are my friend, and I think I’m going to throw up.
CALLED IT! Though, smells sweet? Beer + margaritas = not sweet. Now cue Grey.
“I think the lady said no.” A voice in the dark says quietly. Holy shit! Christian Grey, he’s here. How? José releases me.
Remember what I said before “At least it wasn't a roving band of rapists?” I take it back. I'm sure the plot will try to redeem Jose later, or Ana will protest “But he was drunk!” but honestly? Not okay even if he IS drunk out of his mind. You said NO and he kept pushing. I will be PISSED if/when they try to excuse this, because I really hate how often literature tries to hand wave things like date rape into being “okay when drunk” or not a big deal. Date rape IS a big deal, and in no situation is it okay. When books do things like dismiss it, they feed into Rape Culture, and as a woman who has felt unsafe with pushy drunk guys at a bar who thought they were being cute because "no means try harder" I'm continually frustrated with it. I'm hoping we'll see Ana loosing her shit over the fact that someone she trusted was, against her will, starting to get intimate with her, even after she said no. I doubt she will, though. The whole thing just makes light of the trauma women who've been through this sort of thing by using it for dramatic tension, but it's a common enough trope that I can't judge too harshly for it, as much as I want to. At least we're getting a slightly more realistic depiction of rape as it's someone Ana knows as to random strangers. Anyways, moving on before I get all of the rages. Ana then chooses that moment to barf, and Jose leaps back in horror. Grey steps forward, leads her to a better place to heave, and holds her hair back. I'm a little sad Grey turned up now, as it would have been spectacular if Jose, still kissing her as she protested, was puked upon.
So Grey magically knew Ana would get into trouble if she were drunk and shows up to rescue and care for her. She ruins the flower bed by vomiting that way that you only really can when drunk, and after that she just dry heaves (though if she was still going the way the narrative suggests, there would be bile, and now I'm having flash backs to a Christmas party I really don't want to remember. Arg.) and Christian calmly stays by her side, holding her up (which doesn't seem like a great idea to me. Let the poor thing knee down and pray to her deity of choice, Grey) and keeping her hair out of the way. Jose is hanging back and watching, basically to underscore how Jose - Bad Grey - Good.
Turning, I glance at José who looks pretty shamefaced himself and, like me, intimidated by Grey. I glare at him. I have a few choice words for my so-called friend, none of which I can repeat in front of Christian Grey CEO.
This I appreciate. She isn't just saying “Well he was drunk” she's already realized he was no friend, and I hope she follows through on this and doesn't just forgive him once the rage wears off. He slinks off, and Ana feebly apologizes to Grey, feeling embarrassed and humiliated about this night.
“We’ve all been here, perhaps not quite as dramatically as you,” he says dryly. “It’s about knowing your limits, Anastasia. I mean, I’m all for pushing limits, but really this is beyond the pale. Do you make a habit of this kind of behavior?”
Ah, there's the Edward I know and hate that he's based on. She was just getting molested by one of her best friends, threw up violently, and is just in rough shape. Because that doesn't happen at almost every college party to at least one person ever. His response to her trauma? Scolding her for getting too drunk. Had she been sober and Jose tried that, she still would have been helpless, he's continually described as all muscle, and she's “scrawny and pale”, so you know what? Her being drunk wouldn't have made a difference. HIS being drunk maybe, but hers? She'd have had the same end result. Also, fuck you, getting throw up drunk is not “beyond the pale” when you're 21 in the USA. That is when you become legal and are LEARNING your limits, you dick weed.
Ana is upset at his chiding as well, but is still too down trodden and feeble to fight back, so he “notices her dizziness” and scoops her up to take her home.
“How did you find me?”
“I tracked your cell phone Anastasia.”
Oh, of course he did. How is that possible? Is it legal? Stalker, my subconscious whispers at me through the cloud of tequila that’s still floating in my brain, but somehow, because it’s him, I don’t mind.
I don't care he is cute and charming and made of wonderful, stalking – not okay. Breaking the law because you're “worried” about them? Not okay. Yes, he came in the nick of time to save the day, but he's been incredibly invasive and creepy this whole time about it. The type of guys who do this in real life wouldn't, I hope, get such a warm reception. His every move is screaming “danger!” and not “sexy danger” but “he's going to tie you up in his basement danger to never be seen or heard from again” danger.
So they go back in the bar so she can find and talk to Kate, which is totally futile, as Grey's brother is already on it. Still, they go in, he forces Ana to drink some water and is all Mr. Bossy-Pants (I've tricked drunks into chugging water by telling them it was gin on more then one occasion, so, won't judge here, though I want to.) When they cross the dance floor, rather then, you know, just skirt through it, Grey pulls Ana close and they dance across and find Kate in full seduction mode on Elliot, Grey's brother.
But I never got to talk to her. Is she okay? I can see where things are heading for her and him. I need to do the safe sex lecture. In the back of my mind, I hope she reads one of the posters on the back of the toilet doors. My thoughts crash through my brain, fighting the drunk, fuzzy feeling. It’s so warm in here, so loud, so colorful – too bright. My head begins to swim, oh no… and I can feel the floor coming up to meet my face or so it feels. The last thing I hear before I pass out in Christian Grey’s arms is his harsh epithet.
And Grey's last line closes out this chapter and sums it up. We've got the character who's characterizations often just scream “HE'S BROWN!” being put in the date rapist role, the romantic lead being a creepy pushy stalker, and Ana's getting all lady boner over it. Also, Kate. Kate, you suck, I'm sorry, but I am giving you no more credit. Earlier today you advised Ana to tell Grey to fuck off. His brother turns up and you're too busy trying to fuck him to think “Wait, why is Grey here, and should I be letting him take my drunk – now unconscious, friend off, alone?” just because he can get women with his impossibly good looks doesn't mean he wouldn't seize on an opportunity like this. You were also willing to accept this information from a second hand source, not going to check that yes, your friend is, in fact, alright, and willing to go with this, or in a state of mind that she can make that call? You're only protective when it's convenient, which just loops around to you like having Ana around for yourself, not out of any deep love for her.
Either way, moral of the story: Don't let dudes walk off with your super drunk/passing out friends on their own. Most rape isn't strangers on the street, it's people who know the victim. I imagine the conversation went something like this:
Elliot: So, hi, I'm Christian Grey's also incredibly attractive little brother.
Kate: Why yes, yes you are.
Elliot: Your friend drunk dialed my brother so he's freaking out and had to rush to her rescue. He's convinced that she's messy drunk, not fun drunk, so he's gonna take her home. Don't ask how I knew who you were, Grey has pictures of all the people around his current target, so we can know who to look for in situations like these.
Kate: Cool. Wanna dance?
Elliot: We are both attractive and fair haired, which sets us up to be a good beta couple. Sure. Can we fuck later?
Kate: Can we!
It gets worse next chapter kids. It gets so much worse. As always, love to hear your thoughts in the comments, and I'll see you next Thursday!
It gets worse next chapter kids. It gets so much worse. As always, love to hear your thoughts in the comments, and I'll see you next Thursday!