Tuesday, June 10, 2014

50 Shades Shadier: Chapter 16

Ana narrowly escapes being sexually assaulted by her boss and Christian thinks it's all her fault. 

Chapter 15 ended with a cliffhanger, or as near a thing to a cliffhanger as we’re likely to ever see in this series: Ana, alone in the break room at work, is confronted by her skeezy boss who gives every indication that he intends to rape her.  Dramatic stuff!

Only, not really. The central conflict, to the extent that there is a central conflict in this book, is the conflict between Ana’s boring life and her new life with Christian. Although Christian is the new secret owner of Seattle Independent Publishing and thus, Ana’s boss’s boss’s boss or whatever, when Ana got the job at SIP, she did so on her own merit. So however things play out at SIP is unlikely to have much bearing on that central conflict between life with Christian and life without Christian. And because Jack Hyde, Ana’s boss, is separate from the central conflict, I doubt many readers actually read Chapter 15 and then worried that Ana was actually going to be assaulted. EL is a terrible writer, yes. But if Ana were to be raped by her boss in Chapter 16, the entire story would be overwhelmed, right? I mean, how could we be convinced to give a shit about CG’s birthday party or José’s plan to deliver photos in the aftermath of a traumatic assault carried suffered by the narrator? 

Right so EL’s bad, but she’s not that bad. She’s not going to introduce something so big that it derails the boring back-and-forth she’s got going between Ana and CG, so when I start reading Chapter 16, I’m not thinking, “Holy shit! Is this actually going to happen?” Instead, I’m wondering how, exactly, EL is going to keep the thing from happening that seems like it’s about to happen. 

Here’s how, after the jump:

Our story thus far:

Ana is a naive college student who dated a billionaire for a couple weeks but broke things off with him because he spanked her too hard.
  1. Ana starts her new job at a publishing company and agrees to let Christian give her a ride to José’s art show. It turns out they both miss each other or whatever.
  2. Ana and Christian eat steaks at a restaurant. They rekindle their “romance” and Christian says that they won’t have to have rules anymore and he won’t punish Ana. They drive back to Seattle and Christian gives Ana back the expensive gifts that she'd returned to him when they broke up, along with a new iPad.
  3. Ana goes to work. She is confronted by one of Christian's ex lovers on her way out for drinks with her coworkers. Christian picks up Ana from the bar, and then they venture to a grocery store so that they can cook dinner at Ana's house. But then they get too horny to cook so they have sex.
  4. Ana and Christian eat dinner and then have ice cream sex and then in the middle of the night Ana has a dream about Christian's ex lover Leila, which worries Christian. Later, Ana and Christian fight about money, eat breakfast, and then go to a hair salon where the woman who introduced Christian to BDSM works.
  5. Ana is upset by the sight of Christian's ex-lover, Elena, and storms out of the salon. Christian insists that Ana come to his house because his other ex-lover Leila may be armed. Christian picks up Ana bodily when she disagrees with him. Ana and Christian retire to Christian's house and Christian allows Ana to draw on him with lipstick so that she knows which parts of his body he is comfortable having touched and which parts are off limits. 
  6. Ana and Christian have sex and get ready for a fancy charity auction at Christian's parents' house. Then they go to the fancy charity auction, and Ana bids $24,000 on a weekend getaway at Christian's Aspen condo. 
  7. Ana gets auctioned off to Christian for the first dance of the evening, but before the dance, the couple retreat to Christian's childhood room for sex. Christian's ex, Elena, threatens to hurt Ana if she mistreats Christian. After the party, Ana and Christian drive home, where they are informed by Christian's security staff that someone, most likely Leila, has vandalized Ana's car and may have broken into the apartment.
  8. Christian's security goons conclude that Leila is not in the apartment, but soon she sneaks into Ana's room while she sleeps so Christian and Ana go to a hotel because Leila may be dangerous. Ana has another of her famous Sunday morning home appointments with her gynecologist. 
  9. Ana and Christian buy a car and ride on a boat. 
  10. Ana and Christian eat dinner and play pool.
  11. Ana returns to work and Christian follows every little thing she does from afar.
  12. Ana returns to her apartment to meet Kate's brother Ethan, but instead finds Leila, who holds a gun.
  13. Christian disarms Leila and Ana has drinks with Ethan. 
  14. Nothing happens in Chapter 14. 
  15. Ana's boss confronts her in the break room after work. 

First, EL quite promptly has Ana think back to the lessons learned in a self-defense class. Later, she gives her dad credit because, as is always the case in this book, women are incapable of acquiring knowledge unless a man is around to regurgitate it to them like a mother bird. (Editor’s note: Ironic, since mother birds are girls. Wait look that up. Is that just a people thing, or is it that way with other animals, too? Be sure to delete this before publishing. Don’t let anyone know I don’t understand birds.) 

But the idea that Ana has defense training that she can put to use makes her sound strong and pro-active, which makes me immediately skeptical, because she spends all of her time being weak and passive. Ana is frequently being carried around by men, often literally. She can’t walk in anything but her regular shoes. She’s incapable of basically everything but reading books and making soup, but yet EL is somehow trying to convince me here, in Chapter 16 of Book II that Ana is trained in self defense. Sure. Why not. 

Ana points out to her boss that this isn’t a convenient moment for him to lecture her or whatever, considering that there’s a cab due to take him to the airport. This simple fact serves to further blunt the stakes. How terrible is Jack going to be able to get before it’s time for him to go? And I don’t remember if CG is supposed to pick up Ana tonight or not, but I suspect that he or Taylor is probably coming to fetch her, since  I don’t recall CG giving Ana “permission” to travel outside of his care. So basically, Jack Hyde has ten minutes to do his worst, after which Ana has guaranteed reinforcements. 

So I’m not worried. Also, Jack is merely another ploy to make CG look good in comparison, so I see little chance that he’ll actually carry out any of his threats. That would go beyond his purpose. He’s basically already done his duty--he’s proved CG’s warnings correct, and he’s turned CG into a “gentleman” in comparison. 

That’s pretty gross in its own right, isn’t it? CG is angry at Ana all the times. He’s horribly controlling and manipulative. But hey! He doesn’t try to attack her after work in the break room so he must be a good guy! The worst men in the world will all be happy to explain to you what gentlemen they are. This is one of the many cases in which the worst possibility is used to make bad possibilities look acceptable. CG isn’t the worst misogynist! So since he’s not the worst, he must be, I dunno. What’s the opposite of the worst? Is he that? 

No. He's just second worst. But anyway. Moving right along:

This is another one of those sequences in which Ana just comes off looking hecka stupid. (Editor’s note: one of my colleagues just moved away from Seattle and so we’re using “hecka” in his honor. It’s much nicer than saying hella.) As is so often the case, Ana is interpreting events several beats slower than we are, even though she has, by definition, fuller access to the relevant data. 

So, this, for instance: “Fear chokes me. What is this? What does he want?”

Anyone else wondering what this is? Or what Jack wants? Of course not. Not even a little bit. Let us know when you catch up to the plot, Ana!

EL is always talking about people’s eyes and I really can’t stand it. It’s a dumb detail that nobody notices in real life. These are all examples from a single page. First page of the chapter, which is really only a half-page:

Jack’s eyes flash the darkest blue, and he sneers as he casts a leering look down my body.

He smiles, and it’s a despotic fuck-you smile that finally touches his eyes. They glint in the harsh fluorescent glow of the strip light above us in the drab windowless room. 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. 

Really? For realsies? So we’re to believe that Jack’s eyes are unusually blue, and then, what, change colors like he’s a goddamn lizard or something? (Editor’s note: check that analogy before publishing. Lizards can change colors, right? But can their eyes? That doesn’t seem right.) Has anyone ever seen anyone else’s eyes dilate like that? I mean, non-opthalmologists. I know I have hecka ophthalmologist readers and I don’t need you guys writing in and being like, “Geez Alden. I see people’s eyes rapidly dilate all the time. What’s the big deal?” I love you guys, but shut up just this once. 

Also, let’s talk about eyes glinting. Usually we use the word “glint” in a context of low-light, right? Like a bit of glass reacting to a flashlight in the darkness. Something like that. A “harsh fluorescent glow” tends to illuminate everything evenly. I doubt very much that such lights have ever made anyone’s eyes glint. Words mean things! EL is always overloading with visual details, but then when you actually sit and think about the details, you’re stuck with the realization that the details don’t actually make any sense at all, and thus aren’t making anything more clear. 

Ana is remarkably calm under the circumstances. It would be admirable if it didn’t feel so thoroughly at odds with everything that’s come before this point. For instance: 

“Jack, what exactly is your problem? If you want to air your grievances, then perhaps we should ask HR to get involved. We could do this with Elizabeth in a more formal setting.”

Good mutterblushing idea! This moment suggests that Ana actually knows what the HR manager is supposed to do. She knows that Elizabeth is there, at least in part, to protect her from exactly this sort of harassment. Ana has never given any indication of this knowledge. A bit convenient for her to come up with it now, right when she has to elude an attack. 

Jack admits to reading Ana's email, as though this were a reasonable step for him to take in his imaginary quest to find out why she isn't better at her job. He says that he could only see her sent messages, and not messages from CG, because, you see, CG's computer-magician magicked those messages away using computer magic, which is a thing that EL very much believes in. Ana acts like she isn't particularly worried about this, but of course she's so worried because her messages were so incriminating, even though of course they totally weren't. They're flirty and suggestive, but if anyone were to read her little jokes about whips and chains and whatever, I think they'd assume they were flirty jokes and not the thoughts of someone who'd actually seen the inside of a sex dungeon. Ana is always worrying about the wrong things.

Jack calls Ana incompetent, and then accuses her of being a spy. Ana rightly points out that this makes no sense:

“You just said that you had to persuade Elizabeth to hire me. So how could I be planted as a spy? Make up your mind, Jack.” 
Jack assumes correctly that CG is behind some of his recent troubles at the office, and gets more explicit in his own aims. Here's an extended chunk of the chapter for your poor eyeballs to look at:

“Look at it as refining your job description, if you like. And if you keep me happy, I won’t dig any further into how your boyfriend is pulling strings, milking his contacts, or cashing in some favor from one of his Ivy League frat-boy sycophants.”
My mouth drops open. He’s blackmailing me. For sex! And what can I say? News of Christian’s takeover is embargoed for another three weeks. I can barely believe this. Sex— with me!
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? 
This book would be probably ten percent better if an editor just went through and deleted every single italicized word. The italics tend to be moments in which Ana says, "Hey I know this is really complicated? But let me try to explain to you what's going on right now." But of course we're all familiar with the conventions of story and so we pick up on certain "subtleties" without Ana pulling us aside and whispering in our ear every time.

But let's look at Jacks' actual threat. It's totally empty, right? Even if CG weren't already the new boss, what is Jack really even threatening? I can't even tell. Plus, is Jack so dumb that he doesn't think CG is a bad person to cross? Jack has figured out that Jack is manipulating things at SIP, and thus one way or another must have some legit sway. But still Jack is like, "I'm sure it'll work out fine for me to force Ana into having sex with me."

Also I'm amused by the weird string of insults that Jack puts together. I'm not saying that they should make sense, but they don't make any sense and feel wrong. I'm not saying I'm surprised that he's saying rude things to Ana. I just don't think that these particular rude things make a great deal of sense.

Ana has a plan tho so it's cool:

I am waiting to make my move. Ray will be proud. Ray taught me what to do. Ray knows his self-defense. If Jack touches me—if he even breathes too close to me—I will take him down. My breath is shallow. I must not faint, I must not faint. 
In the beginning of the chapter (Editor's note: Ugh that was only two pages ago. This is so boring and forever-taking.) Ana uses the phrase "self-defense class" and now she's talking about getting taught stuff by her step-dad. And that's not the same thing at all. Unless it has a syllabus, it isn't a class, yo! Mostly I don't like the mention of Ray because of the sexist way that this book brings up Ana's knowledge.

Jack keeps ranting at Ana:

"And that's why I'm going to take a good girl. I know you want it. You're a good girl. 
Can't let it get past me. You're far from plastic. Talk about getting blasted."

Then he starts touching Ana because he's the grossest. Ana's inability to be anatomically specific keeps us from know quite how gross he is, but whatever. He's super gross no matter how we interpret this bit:

He reaches the dip at the base of my neck, where the top button of my black shirt is open, and presses his hand against my chest. 
Am I wrong, or is that more than a little ambiguous? Doesn't help that Ana doesn't react all the time. It's like EL forgets that the narrator should like, react to to stuff happening, and not just report on it. Whatever.

It's ok tho! Ana twists his pinky and then knees him in the junk and he collapses in a puddle. It is not satisfying in the slightest. I want Ana to grow up and have a marvelous life and whatever, and I don't want anything else bad to happen to her. But her escape, though not surprising given the story, feels wildly out of character. She's just too competent.Usually, she forgets to breathe, falls down, and gets carried around by CG, and now she's pulling off self-defense maneuvers? Doing stuff that requires dexterity and quick thinking? Is this still Ana Steele we're talking about? Not somebody else?

It's also unsatisfying because in my heart I believe that when EL wrote this scene, she was thinking something along the lines of, "Hurrah! I am conquering the patriarchy!" Ok. I know she didn't think that exactly. Probably none of those actual words, but I bet she felt like she was really sticking it to the man or whatever, you know? But no. No, no. One scene in which Ana stands up for herself does nothing to counteract this book's general sexism. Blerg.

Her line after she takes Jack down is kinda funny tho:

“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 like how polite she is, but also the end is funny because let's be real: they're not going to be working with each other anymore. There's no way that Jack is going to be Ana's boss any longer.

Ana runs "full pelt" to her desk to gather her things and then meets CG and Taylor outside. I love all the weird Britishisms in this book. Hey here's an idea: if you set a book in a place, maybe have someone who's been to that place take a look at your book before you publish it so you don't end up looking like a huge doofus. (Editor's note: or maybe EL proved that this sort of thing doesn't matter and you should do whatever. We don't know.)  

Ana explains the situation to CG and Taylor but kind of only in bits and pieces. I don't blame her for this--she's just been in an extremely dangerous situation, and now she's stuck with her shitty boyfriend who's certainly going to find fault with her somehow.

Ana begs CG not to go into the building. There's then a brief moment where it looks kinda like Taylor has gone in and murdered Jack. Then Ana tells CG that Jack was trying to blackmail Ana over her emails and this is when CG flips out, only he flips out at Ana instead of at Jack because this book is the worst book.

First, CG calls his computer magician and asks for some more computer magic. Then he calls someone named "Roach" whom I think we've heard of before maybe but I also don't remember or care. I guess that Roach is Jack's boss because CG makes Roach fire Jack.

CG totes flips out next!

“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.” 
“Christian, please—”
“Get in the fucking car, Anastasia, or so help me I’ll put you in there myself,” he threat- ens, 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.
Are you following the logic? Ana sent some basically innocuous emails from her work email account to her boyf. This is why her boss decided to violate her privacy, and it's also probably why he decided to demand sexual favors from her. If only Ana would've sent those emails from another device! We can all agree that this is all her fault, right?

No? What's that you say? None of you think that any of this is Ana's fault in the slightest? Ok good. I'm glad. That was a test, and this time you passed. Granted, this was a pretty easy test and it would've been pretty outrageous if you hadn't passed but you did pass and I'm glad.

That's cute how CG calls Ana stupid, right? And fair, I'm sure. I should maybe, in the name of science, go back and read An's emails again and see if I'm forgetting anything that she said that would've cast her in a bad light but I don't care enough so I won't. Basically, here's the worst thing that you could say about Ana based on her emails to her boyf: "Ana sure does seem to spend a lot of her work day writing emails to her boyf. Seems like maybe she would get more work done if she were doing less of that. Also, why doesn't she have gmail like a regular person? Maybe she's not very smart?"

Nothing else about the emails reflects poorly on anyone. Whatever.

Soon Jack limps out of the office, followed by a security guard, and gets into a cab. Then CG and Taylor get into the car with Ana. CG's computer magician says he needs to talk to CG about "what else" he discovered while hax0ring Jack's computer and I'm sure that this will be very interesting indeed! What could be more interesting than whatever bullshit is on the computer of this tertiary character who doesn't matter at all? Riveting.

They return to CG's place

“Christian, why are you so mad at me?” I whisper as we wait.
“You know why,” he mutters as we step into the elevator, and he punches in the code to his floor. “God, if something had happened to you, he’d be dead by now.” Christian’s tone chills me to the bone. The doors close.
“As it is, I’m going to ruin his career so he can’t take advantage of young women any- more, miserable excuse for a man that he is.”  
Ugh. That's right, Christian! You big, strong man you! Make sure that that poor, defenseless ladies are safe from dangerous predators like Jack Hyde and Christian Grey! Oh, wait. I also don't like that "miserable excuse for a man" bit because the implication is that Christian is a "real" man and Jack is some kind of "false" man based upon their relative attitudes toward women. And Christian is the "gentleman" who treats ladies properly or whatever. Ugh.

I'm sorry, ladies. This is just kind of a terrible place for women. Earth, I mean. That's the place I'm talking about.

Then they make out in the elevator. This is surprising to Ana because she is unable to discern patterns in repeated phenomena because she lacks basic skills of cognition.

After dinner, Ana and CG have their next fight. This time over José's planned visit to deliver his photos to CG / visit Ana. Ana rightly compares José to Elena. Ana doesn't like CG's one friend, so what's the big deal if CG doesn't like Ana's one friend? CG reconsiders and allows as how José can stay at Escala when he visits.

It is at this point that CG manages to ask Ana if she's "ok." This comes one day after she was nearly murdered in her own apartment, and then nearly raped at work. Ana has just suffered two back-to-back traumas, right in the spots where a person most needs to feel safe and secure. How mutterblushing considerate of you to ask, Christian! If anything, I think Ana is dealing with all of this unreasonably well. A guy yelled at me in the street a few weeks ago and I'm still kinda nervous about it. If somebody pulled a gun on me in my own apartment? I expect I would retreat from human society entirely and go live in the woods or something because eff that noise. Ana is being a real champ!

I suppose I should give Ana credit for that throughout: she remains largely unaffected by a pretty constant stream of the absolute worst bullshit. I mean she cries about a bunch of stuff and is sad a lot of the time. That's all true, sure. But on balance, she is downright cheerful about the worst of it. If you want to talk about Ana as a strong woman, the only possible context in which to do that is to talk about how "strong" she is to put up with her boyfriend's terrible, pointless shenanigans.

Shit maybe that's her whole appeal! Maybe I just figured something out! Maybe readers are just excited about how chill Ana is about her shitty boyfriend. That's as good a reason as any to read this book, and better than most. There is no legitimate reason to read this book, tho. Don't actually read this book.

Next Ana is bored and wandering around, and also I'm bored too. We are once again at a point where there are basically no threads of our "story" left to follow. Let's do a quick recap on possible things left to happen in this book:

  1. José is going to visit! That's something! Right? No.
  2. Oh it's going to be Christian's birthday and he's going to have a very interesting birthday party maybe / probably not.
  3. CG asked Ana to marry him and she hasn't formally decided to yet even though we totally know that she's going to say yes and that they're going to get married at some point.
That's it! That's literally all I can come up with! I'm pretty sure we'll have to deal with Jack, Leila, and Elena more but I don't really know when or why. So we're not done with them but really, they're subplots, and they're all subplots that are currently sort of "at rest." Leila is in a hospital (but maybe she'll escape!) and Jack is fired (but maybe he'll seek revenge!) and Elena's blackmail thing was quickly resolved (but maybe there's more to it!) so while there's more that could happen with them, the reader has, at this point, no indication that anything really is left in this entire book series other than the eventual wedding of our protagonists. In other words: what a huge, huge waste of time. Yay.

Ana opens up the door to the sex dungeon and it just feels like EL is thrashing around for something to do. I think there are points where perhaps even the author understands that this novel has nowhere to go. 

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.  
Ha! I like that mixed metaphor. "Let's skip school and hang out in the Forbidden Forest, dudez!"

For some reason Ana is cataloging the various sexcessories:

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. 
Um, yes? I mean, this is effectively a hobby, right? Why does it seem improbable that CG could stop having floggy sex? Oh! I know: because CG just does whatever he wants all the time and never thinks about anyone. He only does things for Ana if so doing reinforces his control over her life in some way. So you're kind of getting things confused, Ana. The question isn't whether or not someone who likes BDSM can stop participating in BDSM because of course they can if that person decides that it's no longer appealing or whatever. The question is whether or not CG can quit being a huge asshole and the answer is, "Almost certainly not."

Glancing behind me, I spy the museum chest. My curiosity is piqued. What does he keep in there?As I pull open the top drawer I realize my blood is pounding through my veins. Why am I so nervous? This feels so illicit, as if I’m trespassing, which of course I am. But if he wants to marry me, well . . .Holy fuck, what’s all this? An array of instruments and bizarre implements—I don’t have a clue what they are, or what they’re for—are carefully laid out in the display drawer. I pick one up. It’s bullet-shaped with a sort of handle. Hmm . . . what the hell do you do with that? My mind boggles, though I think I have an idea. Jeez, there are four different sizes! My scalp prickles and I glance up. 
Here's my favorite part: "I realize my blood is pounding through my veins." Holy shit really? Possible lines that EL wrote first and then rejected:

  • I realize that my heart is circulating oxygenated blood so that I can continue living.
  • I realize that my liver is metabolizing the alcohol in the wine I drank with dinner.
  • I realize that the light receptors in my eyeballs are helping me interpret my surroundings.
FTB. Also Ana doesn't know what a mutterblushing dildo is? I'd be surprised if she owned one, obvs. But c'mon. This is just pathetic.

Fortunately CG shows up to explain to Ana what sex toys are. Ugh. Here. I read this so you have to as well:

“Butt plugs?”
Okay . . . I swallow. Butt plug. It’s solid metal—surely that’s uncomfortable? I remember our discussion about sex toys and hard limits after I graduated. I think at the time I said I would try. Now, actually seeing one, I don’t know if it’s something I want to do. I examine it once more and place it back in the drawer.
“And this?” I take out a long, black rubbery object, made of gradually diminishing spherical bubbles joined together, the first one large and the last much smaller. Eight bubbles in total.
“Anal beads,” says Christian, watching me carefully.
Oh! I examine them with fascinated horror. All of these, inside me . . . there! I had no idea. 
Oh man. This book. It's going to be pretty mutterblushing confusing if Ana starts to use the word "there" to describe more than one part of her body, right? But the main problem with this sequence is that when Ana is all like, "Oh hey maybe I don't want stuff in my butt," I'm all like, "Fine, but what are we even doing here? What is even happening in this book?" I am beginning to expect that even though a gun appeared in an earlier chapter, nobody is going to get shot, and even though we've seen a ton of sex-things, nobody is going to use anything besides condoms and neckties. And that's fine in the sense that I don't care and also I find the sex-parts of this book trite and lazy. But what about building some tension? What about taking the reader somewhere? All this stuff keeps getting introduced and it's just all pointless. Just all of it pointless.

Then a drawer full of vibrators. Then? Clamps. And somehow that seems fun to Ana! Ana allows as how she'd like to use the nipple clamps and I learn that I am very bad at guessing what Ana might find exciting. I'm good at guessing what I will find exciting, though! And the answer is: not anything. Oh! I do miss Kate. I am looking forward to Kate showing up again because the longer she stays away, the more I forget about the aspects of her personality that got on my nerves.

Then they talk about some other props and I'm insufficiently invested in this chapter to bother reporting on all of them. Yawn.

Right before this sex-dungeon sequence started, Ana thought, "If I sit still, I’ll recall Jack and his fingers on me." But now she's all like, "Oh let's try out some of this sex stuff, Christian! I'm totally fine and not at all traumatized by the super traumatic stuff that has happened to me in the past 48 hours!" (Editor's note: one of these last two quotations was made up by Alden but you'll have to guess which one!) 

Ana wants to stay in the dungeon but CG doesn't because EL thinks that kink is a disease:

“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.” 
Sorry, kinksters! Sorry that the most popular representation of kink portrays its practitioners as diseased sociopaths. That's gotta suck, right? Yeah probably. I mean, I think it sucks and I don't know anything about anything.

Ana tells herself that she loves CG unconditionally, and that's weird, but this whole book is weird. Whatever. Then they start making out.

I'm not going to tell you much about this sex scene because it's basically like all their other scenes ever. Well. Some oral sex happens. That's unusual for them. Also Ana's legs are cuffed to a "spreader bar" so that's different. Basically that's the one prop from the sex dungeon that CG brings with him to the bedroom. I'm trying to understand this passage and failing:

“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. 
Legit unable to tell if Ana is literally falling somewhere or that's just more of EL's bad writing. Also, can't tell if she falls "on and on" or if her orgasm goes "on and on" because her legs are so far apart. Is that a thing? Is that like a Cosmo sex-tip? "Spread your legs far apart and then your orgasms will go on and on."

If Ana isn't going to pay attention to what's happening in this scene I don't know why she expects me to.

Vaguely, I’m aware that Christian has flipped me on to my front.
“We’re going to try this, baby. If you don’t like it, or it’s too uncomfortable, tell me, and we’ll stop.”
What? I am too lost in the afterglow to form any sentient or coherent thoughts. I am sitting on Christian’s lap. How did that happen? 
I don't know either! Also CG says he's going to do sex to Ana's butt, but I guess this is just a warning or whatever because I guess that's not going to happen until some other time. Whatever. I should abbreviate that somehow. W/E. No? Dunno. I'm just saying--I talked to this efficiency expert and she had a lot of ideas for me and suggested that I shorten some repeated phrases so that I don't have to type them all out all the time. FTB. See? Timesaver!

Anyway, sex happens while Ana is all attached to this metal thing or whatever and I guess she's into it and also that's the end of the chapter.

We made it! That was a lot. That was a lot of a lot. This was kind of a long one but a lot of things almost happened and sometimes things almost happening takes as much time for discussion as when things actually happen. You get me? Yeah you totally get me. But we mad it through all this, together.

Here's some bad news tho:

There are six chapters left, and absolutely nothing is going to happen that isn't super annoying. I know that isn't surprising, but I went ahead and verified it last night. It's just like, dumb garbage, and then a "twist" for an epilogue that isn't surprising, but is terrible.

What I'm saying is this: this is not getting any better. It could stay this bad, or it could get worse. But it isn't getting any better. 

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