Thursday, May 9, 2013
50 Shades Darker Chapter 16 in which Erika gives up halfway through and tries a new approach.
This chapter picks up where the last left off, with Jack sexually harassing Ana. The scene is entirely over the top to the point where I think Jack might actually be some monster from beyond the veil that Grey summoned and forgot about and is now bent on VENGEANCE! It's the only way to explain why Jack thinks trying to coerce the girlfriend of Christian Grey, CEO and all around big-shot, is a good idea. I mentioned in the comments of last weeks chapter the bit in How To Succeed in Business Without Even Trying, the guidebook says that "the smaller the secretarial skills, the bigger her protector at the company", which comes into play when figuring out who is and is not safe to try and have sex with. Jack knows he has a reputation, and he knows that Ana is dating a man of great power and wealth. Any power he thinks he has over her (she is his underling, after all) should be tempered by the fact that many women would run home and tell their boyfriends about this, and her boyfriend is Grey. A man wealthy and connected enough that Jack should worry, but, he doesn't. So, monster.
He takes a step toward me, glaring at me, his eyes never leaving mine. His pupils are dilating as I watch—the black eclipsing the blue. Oh no. My fear escalates.
See? His eyes are turning black. Classic creepy monster transformation.
So Jack accuses Ana of starting to suck at her job because of her boyfriend "leading her astray" and then says he went through her e-mails and noticed the only personal ones were from her "hot-shot-boyfriend" but there were no responses from him! Why were none of his emails on the database? SHE IS CLEARLY A SPY! Which makes no fucking sense because about a paragraph before he comments that he had to fight to get Ana as opposed to someone more qualified for the job. Although: remember how bitchy Grey was last chapter about Ana not using her blackberry to email him? ZOMG FORESHADOWING! But why is he responding to her emails to her work email rather than her personal one so it only goes to her blackberry if it's that important to him? Hm.
Jack continues, enjoying my discomfort. “And he thinks I’d make a pass at you?” He smirks and his eyes heat. “Well, I want you to think about something while I’m in New York. I gave you this job, and I expect you to show me some gratitude. In fact, I’m entitled to it. I had to fight to get you. Elizabeth wanted someone better qualified, but I—I saw something in you. So, we need to work out a deal. A deal where you keep me happy. D’you understand what I’m saying, Ana?”
Yes, that is what he means, Ana. So, this is the gist of it. Jack is trying to blackmail Ana for sex. BECAUSE THAT COULDN'T POSSIBLY BACKFIRE AT ALL! According to Jack, Grey is well connected enough to be able to get the New York trip candled. Jack believes this to be true. So, Jack is aware that Grey is so well connected he can influence things within PIP. He can threaten to find out what Grey did all he likes--Grey can act so fast that Jack would be out of a job before he could do anything with that information, assuming he could even dredge it up fast enough. All Ana has to do is say "He touched me" and BAM. Jack is at the bottom of a lake or some shit. I have no idea how Jack thinks this will work out for him.
Jack moves closer until he’s standing right in front of me, staring down into my eyes. His cloying sweet cologne invades my nostrils—it’s nauseating—and if I’m not mistaken, the bitter stench of alcohol is on his breath. Fuck, he’s been drinking . . . when?
“You are such a tight-assed, cock-blocking, prick tease, you know, Ana,” he whispers through clenched teeth.
What? Prick tease . . . Me?
OHMYGOD. Why is she thinking "What, the drunk surly crazy man thinks I'm a prick tease? I am shocked and confounded! My virtue as a virginal vixen is hurt!" as opposed to... anything else? Also Ana's reactions have been spliced with "I think I'm going to faint", "Okay, Ray taught me well, if he lays a finger on me/breathes too close fucker is going down" and "Is security in the building yet?" I can't say that I've been in Ana's situation, my own experiences with sexual harassment left a lot more room for potential gaslighting after the fact, but I do understand that "Oh God I'm going to throw up, kick this dude in the balls and then run away crying and hope someone rushes to my rescue", "maybe if I just remind him his cab should be here and his shit is ready to go he'll leave me alone?" thought when someone is being threatening. The way she goes through these thoughts are weird, unnatural, vain and self-absorbed because Ana is all of those things. That base "I AM FEELING SO MANY THINGS AT ONCE" however... That rings true. On the upside, at least there hasn't been a peep from her inner goddess or subconscious!
So, Jack goes for the creepy face stroke and lingering hand on her collarbone, needling Ana to admit that she "wants him" and Ana... reacts admirably.
I grab his little finger, and twist it back, pulling it sharply down backward to his hip....
I bring my knee, swift and hard, up into his groin, and make perfect contact with my goal. I dodge deftly to my left as his knees buckle, and he collapses with a groan onto the kitchen floor, grasping himself between his legs.
“Don’t you ever touch me again,” I snarl at him. “Your itinerary and the brochures are packaged on my desk. I am going home now. Have a nice trip. And in the future, get your own damn coffee.”
I'd cheer for her more if she actually did her job. My boss would sometimes ask me to grab him coffee, which I didn't think anything of because, well, 9 times out of 10 I was going to grab myself tea anyways. The 10th time? He always asked nicely, so meh. However when HIS boss, who I have absolutely nothing to do with spent a day snarling at me and then sent me to fetch him lunch without so much as a please... that pissed me off. But I couldn't say shit because, well, boss's boss and all that. However, I write this as a cook. Ana is a personal assistant. I would imagine things like "get coffee and lunch" are in her job description. So she bitches about getting him coffee, having to read all those big scary manuscripts, is constantly taking breaks/emailing her boyfriend/texting... Yeah, Ana, Jack may be a huge skeeze but you're not even trying to be good at your job.
So, Ana (reasonably) then SPRINTS out of the building (although surprisingly does grab her purse and coat first) and then all the adrenaline drains away and she remembers that she hasn't eaten and just sort of sags to the ground. Since Grey was going to pick her up from work anyway he is naturally there.
Christian sinks to his knees at my side, and on some unconscious level, all I can think is: He’s here. My love is here.
So Grey is freaking out because he just saw Ana collapse (reasonable) and is looking her over for injuries because it takes her a minute to actually start talking. Once she does Grey goes from "ZOMG ARE YOU OKAY" to "MURDERNATE MODE ON!" which rubs me the wrong way. I wasn't sure at first, I've commented on getting the appeal of "here is my super wealthy, powerful, and sexy boyfriend who can actually help me when dealing with sexual harassment at work!" but when he flips to blind rage to the point that Ana gets scared FOR Jack (the man she just left writhing on the ground in agony) and begs him not to go... It reminds me of a conversation I had with an old co-worker of mine. We had somehow gotten onto rape culture (I didn't even start the conversation this time, honest) and he commented that his girlfriend and best friend had waited until a guy moved before telling him that this dude had raped them both.
He seemed almost proud of it. I mean, I get the "I am man and will protect my loved ones NO MATTER WHAT RAAAAAHHH" but I was miffed that he was proud of himself for behaving in such a way that was stressing out people who wanted to turn to him in a time of need were afraid to because they were afraid he'd get himself in trouble. Wasn't that appropriating their trauma and making things harder on loved ones? Shouldn't protecting loved ones be as much about protecting their psychological state as their physical one? Much to his credit, when I put it that way he was absolutely horrified of the actions of past him. Grey would not be horrified if it was pointed out he was appropriating Ana's trauma and maybe making it worse by not listening to what she is asking for (also bear in mind Grey doesn't know what happened, just that Jack did something). So, Grey's anger, once again, is more important than Ana's feelings in the face of her own trauma.
“Don’t go in. Don’t, Christian.” Suddenly my fear is back, fear of what Christian will do to Jack.
“Get in the car,” he barks at me.
“Christian, no.” I grab his arm.
“Get in the goddamned car, Ana.” He shakes me off.
“No! Please!” I plead with him. “Stay. Don’t leave me on my own.” I deploy my ultimate weapon.
Remember what I said about Ana not being able to just ask for what she wants and having to be very manipulative in how she asks? Yeah.
“Christian, he has my e-mails.”
“My e-mails to you. He wanted to know where your e-mails to me were. He was trying to blackmail me.”
Christian’s look is murderous. Oh shit. “Fuck!” he splutters and narrows his eyes at me. He punches a number into his Blackberry.
Oh no. I’m in trouble.
YUP THIS IS DEFINITELY THE WAY TO HANDLE SOMEONE WHO IS OBVIOUSLY TRAUMATIZED! Grey makes two phone calls, one to an IT guy* and one to the owner of the company to get the e-mails wiped and to get Jack fired RIGHT THIS SECOND or he's liquidating the company! Jack was literally on his way to a big important conference that now has no one going to represent the company because of this, by the way. How is Grey successful? Right, black magic.
“Blackberry,” he hisses at me through clenched teeth.
“Please don’t be mad at me.” I blink up at him.
“I am so mad at you right now,” he snarls and once more sweeps his hand through his hair. “Get in the car.”
“Get in the fucking car, Anastasia, or so help me I’ll put you in there myself,” he threatens, his eyes blazing with fury.
Oh shit. “Don’t do anything stupid, please,” I beg.
“STUPID!” he explodes. “I told you to use your fucking Blackberry. Don’t talk to me about stupid. Get in the motherfucking car, Anastasia—NOW!” he snarls and a frisson of fear runs through me. This is Very Angry Christian. I’ve not seen him this mad before. He’s barely holding on to his self-control.
“Okay,” I mutter, placating him. “But please, be careful.”
Pressing his lips together in a hard line, he points angrily to the car, glaring at me.
Jeez, okay, I get the message.
Holy fucking shit. Grey is actually kind of terrifying here, and I just want to take Ana aside, sit her down for some tea and talk about how this is Not Okay and abuse does not mean love. This is not how you should treat people you love. This is how you treat people you want to abuse. He's calling Ana stupid and implying Jack trying to blackmail her is her own fault. And yet, as stated earlier, he could have just replied to her personal e-mail address (which her blackberry is synced to) to bully her into using that instead of just constantly responding to her work e-mail and enabling that. I'm not saying he should HAVE to do this, but if he's going to go around screaming at her for being stupid in broad daylight on a street corner maybe he should consider more productive responses that are not blatantly abusive and terrifying?
So Grey goes in, and Jack comes out with a security guard and a box of his crap. Grey and Taylor then get in the car and we are on our way!
“Are you talking to me?” I ask quietly.
Christian glances at me, before fixing his eyes back on the road ahead, and I can tell he’s still mad.
“No,” he mutters sullenly.
Oh, there we go . . . how childish. I wrap my arms around myself and stare unseeing out the window. Perhaps I should just ask him to drop me off at my apartment, then he can
“not talk” to me from the safety of Escala and save us both the inevitable quarrel. But even as I think it, I know I don’t want to leave him to brood, not after yesterday.
I remember when The Boy and I were long distance, he called me and asked what he felt was an innocent enough question, and I did not. It led to a fight, and since we were long distance it was over the phone and I was just getting more and more angry, as was he. I stopped mid-sentence and said "You know what? We're just pissing each other off. I'll talk to you later." and then after we had both had time to cool off and sort out our thoughts we tried to have the conversation again and figured out where the upset had come from. I later told my Dad about this and he laughed, commenting that the art of fighting productively is not one people put nearly enough stock into. So I actually think telling Grey point blank "If you're not going to talk to me how about I go home and we can have this conversation when we both have a cooler head?" would actually be an AWESOME idea. I've commented on Ana being a slow-burn before, time-out during a fight is important to slow-burns. However Ana's reasoning isn't "this is a conversation we should have with less charged emotions" and is "I don't want to leave him alone because he was sad last night" and it shows just how effective Grey's emotional manipulation is and now I'm sad.
So they go into the elevator and Ana asks why he's so mad at her. His answer is basically "YOU KNOW WHY IF SOMETHING HAD HAPPENED TO YOU I'D HAVE MURDERED HIM! AS IT IS I WILL ONLY RUIN HIS CAREER. YOU KNOW, SO HE CAN'T TAKE ADVANTAGE OF ANYONE ELSE!" and... this freaks me out a little bit. There is a lot of data out there that says attempted rape can be as traumatic as rape, and what happened to Ana was definitely sexual harassment, if not assault (sexual assault is a word I'm never quite sure of the boundaries on, so someone correct or confirm me here). As someone who has been assaulted, I can say that that fucking counts as something happening to you. Also, again, it is about HIM, not her, when she's the one who was just cornered and threatened. Then there is this.
He shakes his head. “Jesus, Ana!” He grabs me suddenly, imprisoning me in the corner of the elevator.
His hands fist in my hair as he pulls my face up to his, and his mouth is on mine, a passionate desperation in his kiss. I don’t know why this takes me by surprise, but it does. I taste his relief, his longing, and his residual anger while his tongue possesses my mouth. He stops, gazing down at me, resting his weight against me so I can’t move.
OH MY GOD I HATE YOU SO MUCH GREY. SO FUCKING MUCH. Lets go over the list of what happened to Ana earlier: She was cornered, trapped, leered at, held accountable for someone else's feelings and expectations of her relationship to their dick, and manhandled a little bit. What did Grey just do? ALL OF THOSE THINGS. That- I just-
Moving on before I burst an artery. They get back to Grey's place and he's happy now that he has gotten to have his out burst and Ana has meekly agreed she will forever use her blackberry. Grey then goes off to call the IT guy back because... well, he found something on Jack's computer! We don't know what yet. Then there's this.
“What’s wrong?” Christian asks.
“I don’t know if I still have a job.”
He cocks his head to the side. “Do you still want one?”
“Then you still have one.”
Simple. See? He is master of my universe. I roll my eyes at him and he smiles.
Grey has not asked "Are you okay?" by the way, just when he was trying to figure out why Ana had suddenly collapsed onto the sidewalk. This also just... ugh. PRIVILEGE! Moving on, Ana tries to figure out what Barney found, and Grey won't tell her (Cuddle porn is my bet. Jack seemed like a cuddler.) so she instead starts to tell him that Jose will be in town on Friday and he's crashing with Ana. So either he's staying there at Grey's place with her, or at her own place.
“What exactly are you asking?”
I bristle. “I’m not asking anything. I’m informing you of my plans for Friday. Look, I want to see José, and he wants to stay over. Either he stays here or he can stay at my place, but if he does I should be there, too.”
Christian’s eyes widen. He looks dumbfounded.
“He made a pass at you.”
“Christian, that was weeks ago. He was drunk, I was drunk, you saved the day—it won’t happen again. He’s no Jack, for heaven’s sake.”
I give up. Tamaki, you take it from here for a bit.
“He’s my friend, Christian. I haven’t seen him since his show. And that was too brief. I know you don’t have any friends, apart from that god-awful woman, but I don’t moan about you seeing her,” I snap. Christian blinks, shocked. “I want to see him. I’ve been a poor friend to him.” My subconscious is alarmed. Are you stamping your little foot? Steady now!
“Think about what?”
“Elena. You’d rather I didn’t see her?”
Holy cow. “Exactly. I’d rather you didn’t see her.”
“Why didn’t you say?”
“Because it’s not my place to say. You think she’s your only friend.” I shrug in exasperation. He really doesn’t get it. How did this turn into a conversation about her?
“Are you okay?” he whispers into my hair.
“After what happened with that fucker? After what happened yesterday?” he adds, his voice quiet and earnest.
I gaze into dark, serious, gray eyes. Am I okay? “Yes,” I whisper.
Christian is still working. I have showered and dressed in some sweats and a T-shirt of my own, and I’m bored. I don’t want to read. If I sit still, I’ll recall Jack and his fingers on me.
Back down the hallway I find myself outside the playroom, and without thinking, I try the door handle. Christian normally keeps it locked, but to my surprise, the door opens. How strange. Feeling like a child playing hooky and straying into the forbidden forest, I walk in.
Tentatively I run my fingers over the belts, the floggers, the paddles, and the whips. Sheesh. This is what I need to square with Dr. Flynn. Can someone in this lifestyle just stop? It seems so improbable.
Christian is standing in the doorway, staring at me, his face unreadable. How long has he been there? I feel like I’ve been caught with my hand in the cookie jar.
And we all know how well getting caught with her hand in the literal cookie jar went for her last time.
“You’re not mad?” I whisper, using my remaining breath.
He cocks his head to one side, and his lips twitch in amusement.
“Why would I be mad?”
“I feel like I’m trespassing . . . and you’re always mad at me.” My voice is quiet, though I’m relieved. Christian’s brow creases once more.
“Yes, you’re trespassing, but I’m not mad. I hope that one day you’ll live with me here, and all this”—he gestures vaguely round the room with one hand—“will be yours, too.”
"Even The Great American Challenge?"
“Am I angry with you all the time? I wasn’t this morning.”
Oh, that’s true. I smile at the memory of Christian when we woke, and it distracts me from the thought of what will become of the playroom. He was such fun Fifty this morning.
“You were playful. I like playful Christian.”
This reminds me of The Boy saying things like "I like affectionate Erika. She's less bitey." This happens often enough that it has prompted people to ask if there was an adjective-Erika that wasn't bitey at all. The answer is no. It just means I like you! Or I'm hungry. Or hello.
So Ana starts asking what different things are.
“This is for me?” I whisper.
“For you.” He nods slowly.
“This is the butt drawer?”
He smirks. “If you like.”
Now I'm sad that I don't have a butt drawer. Not for sexy reasons, just because I think having a drawer full of butt stuff would be adequately hilarious.
I swallow, and to divert his attention, pull out a device that looks like a spiky pastry cutter.
“This?” I frown. No baking in the playroom, surely.
This sounds like a docker to me. Meant to be used on bread more than pastry, mind you.
“You have power over me. You know you do,” I whisper.
“Do I? You make me feel . . . helpless.”
“No!” Oh Fifty . . . “Why?”
“Because you’re the only person I know who could really hurt me.” He reaches up and tucks my hair behind my ear.
Do we have to take a break from Ana trying to figure out what anal beads are for Grey to demand she re-affirm his feelings again?
“Ana, you were nearly attacked today.” His voice is soft but ice-cold and wary.
“So?” I ask, enjoying the feel of his hand at my back and his proximity. He pulls his head back and scowls down at me.
“What do you mean, ‘so?’ ” he rebukes.
I gaze up into his lovely, grumpy face, and I’m dazzled.
“Christian, I’m fine.”
He wraps me in his arms, holding me close. “When I think what might have happened,” he breathes, burying his face in my hair.
“When will you learn that I’m stronger than I look?”
Points for checking in, but don't ask "are you sure? Are you sure you're sure?" because that shit is exhausting dude.
“Ana, you may be ready to go back in there, but I’m not. Last time we were in there, you left me. I keep telling you—when will you understand?” He frowns, releasing me so that he can gesticulate with his free hand.
“My whole attitude has changed as a result. My whole outlook on life has radically shifted. I’ve told you this. What I haven’t told you is—” He stops and runs his hand through
his hair, searching for the correct words. “I’m like a recovering alcoholic, okay? That’s the only comparison I can draw. The compulsion has gone, but I don’t want to put temptation in my way. I don’t want to hurt you.”
He looks so remorseful, and in that moment, a sharp nagging pain lances through me. What have I done to this man? Have I improved his life? He was happy before he met me, wasn’t he?
I'm pretty sure they have this exact conversation in Twilight.
“Do you want me to fuck you on the stairs?” he mutters, his breathing ragged. “Because right now, I will.”
“Yes,” I murmur and I’m sure my dark gaze matches his.
He glares at me, his eyes hooded and heavy. “No. I want you in my bed.” He scoops me up suddenly over his shoulder, making me squeal, loudly, and smacks me hard on my behind, so that I squeal again. As he heads down the stairs, he stoops to pick up the fallen spreader bar.
Mrs. Jones is coming out of the utility room when we pass through the hall. She smiles at us, and I give her an apologetic upside-down wave. I don’t think Christian notices her.
I kind of love the idea of if they did start fucking on the stairs, Mrs. Jones walking in on them.
So let the fucking begin! They go back to Grey's room, and asks if she can touch him and undo his buttons/kiss his torso. Again, Ana is stopping to ask consent at each point and I kind of love it. She also comments that it's getting easier for him to be touched.
I know what I do to him, and it’s hedonistic, liberating, and sexy as hell. The feeling is heady, I’m not just powerful—I’m omniscient.
“When do I not behave?”
“I can think of a few infractions,” he says softly, running his fingers up the soles of my feet. It tickles, but the bar holds me in place, though I try to writhe away from his fingers.
“Your Blackberry, for one.”
I gasp. “What are you going to do?”
Okay, I've lost count of how many times we've had Grey pull the "I AM GOING TO BRING UP SOMETHING I'M MAD AT YOU FOR DURING SEX" thing. I feel it happens every time now.
And the award for least sexy sentence this chapter goes to!
Bending over, he kisses my belly, soft, sucky kisses
Belly and tummy are words that make me uncomfortable when they're in a sexy situation. Sucky is not a real word nor should it be.
“You are mine.” His voice is soft and deadly and with one last flick of his tongue, I fall—spectacularly—embracing my orgasm, and because my legs are so far apart, it goes on and on and I am lost.
Seriously, we get it. Grey owns Ana, and Ana has orgasms that are so powerful they open portals to other worlds so Grey can summon extra dimensional horrors through them.
So Grey is now fully utilizing the spreader bar, and has now fastened Ana's ankles and wrists together.
My knees are drawn up, my ass in the air, utterly vulnerable, completely his.
“Ana, you look so beautiful.” His voice is full of wonder, and I hear the rip of foil.
Wasn't there a whoooole lot of BS around Ana's birth control so they could stop using condoms?
“When you’re ready, I want this, too.” His finger is hovering over me. I gasp loudly as I feel myself tense under his gentle probing. “Not today, sweet Ana, but one day . . . I want you every way. I want to possess every inch of you. You’re mine.”
"I paid an extra 20 dollars for the Virginal Vixen Deluxe fuck toy and I plan to get my money's worth!" The not-deluxe version had a mop for hair.
I can do this. He
takes me to these dark places, places I didn’t know existed, and together we fill them with blinding light. Oh yes . . . blazing, blinding light.
What the hell does that even mean?
So, they fuck, they both finish and it's noisy and they rip a hole in the Space Time Continuum and then they nap. Ana briefly surfaces from her nap with horrible beasts rampaging around and Grey telling her to never let go, but since Ana is apparently concussed it's hard for her. (Some of this may be me taking liberties).
“I need you,” he whispers, but his voice is a distant, ethereal part of my dreams. He needs me . . . needs me . . . and as I finally slip into the darkness, my last thoughts are of a small boy with gray eyes and dirty, messy, copper-colored hair smiling shyly at me.
Why does she keep picturing a man she has SUPER SEXY THOUGHTS about as a kid? Is this to further add to his Oedipus complex? Is it condoning it? It ties together in ways that make me feel icky. That brings us to the end of this week's chapter, tune in Sunday for this weeks book-club and as always, leave your thoughts on this cluster fuck in the comments! Also you can follow me on twitter @SnappyErika for updates on the blog, snark, silliness, and what ever social justice thing catches my eye! Until Sunday my dears!
*My Dad, being Mr. Business Dude, would often go on about how important it was to win over the techies in the company. He then added on that if you had nothing to do with hiring them (though he often did) the next best way to do this was to feed them. I know there are a handful that to this day, even though he's moved to a different province, he's stayed friends with. I now have the mental image of Grey trying to bribe the IT guys into liking him with food and it delights me.
**For nerd reasons I now have a collection of Tamaki .gifs and images. They will probably start turning up often because there are so many.