Content warning: This instalment contains mentions of blood, rape, and emotional abuse. If those are triggering topics for you, I encourage you to take care of yourself and skip this post.
We already know, from heavy-handed literary references in other chapters, that Ana has a thing for Victorian-era romantic heroes. So it makes sense she’d be interested in Christian. His attitudes about women, virginity and “sin” are so archaic that they make the Victorians look well-adjusted.
I wake with a start and a pervading sense of guilt, as if I’ve committed a terrible sin. Is it because I’ve fucked Anastasia Steele? Virgin? … Ana sleeps the sound sleep of an innocent. Well, not so innocent now.
He lies awake in bed, hours after their inaugural fuck-fest, watching her sleep – like Chuck Bass in my favorite fanfic. (Don’t judge me, please.) Christian reflects on Ana’s “unbridled enthusiasm for sexual congress” and concludes that “fucking her was merely a means to an end and a pleasant diversion.” This is the dude who’s melting the hearts of female readers the world over? Huh?
It’s at this point that I start wanting to count the number of times Christian’s “cock twitches in agreement,” because surely it’s been at least five so far. E.L. James is notorious for repeating the same words and phrases far too many times, but this is one of the first I’ve noticed in this book. Maybe her writing has improved (marginally) or maybe Christian is just less annoying than Ana (unlikely).
Ever-pretentious Christian goes to his piano – “my solace, where I can lose myself for hours” – and plays a sad Bach piece. I know he hasn’t forgotten that Ana’s there, so I guess he just doesn’t care if he wakes her up? And indeed, she does wake up, and comes to see him. When she calls him “melancholy,” we get a brief flashback to one of Christian’s memories, in which a previous submissive, Leila, also called him that word. It’s a welcome reprieve from the narrative, but doesn’t really reveal anything new about Christian’s character, like a flashback should.
They go back to bed and there’s blood on the sheets. “Evidence of her now-absent virginity.” Ana’s deeply embarrassed upon seeing this, but instead of comforting her, asking her if she’s still in pain, or offering to change the sheets, Christian just says, “Well, that’s going to give [the maid] Mrs. Jones something to think about.” Helpful.
They fall asleep together. In the morning, Christian is awakened by the smell of the bacon Ana’s cooking, and he goes to watch her in the kitchen. She doesn’t hear him come in because she’s wearing earbuds (see, she’s more considerate than him: when someone is sleeping nearby, she keeps her music quiet). “Christian watches Ana without Ana knowing” is a disturbingly frequent theme in this book.
She’s whisking eggs, making breakfast, her braids bouncing as she jiggles from foot to foot, and I realize she’s not wearing underwear. Good girl.
After she notices him and they chitchat awkwardly about pancakes and eggs, Christian pulls on one of her braids and says, “I love these. They won’t protect you.” ??!??!
“Mr. Grey,” she replies, with contrived formality, and winces as she sits.
“Just how sore are you?” I’m surprised by an uneasy sense of guilt. I want to fuck her again, preferably after breakfast, but if she’s too sore that will be out of the question. Perhaps I could use her mouth this time.
This is so alien to me. I am starting to believe Christian might be a sociopath, because how else could he view Ana’s sexual debut so cavalierly? Having sex for the first time is always at least kind of a big deal, and you need some time to process it and recover from it, at least emotionally if not physically. How can he think, Her vag is sore from her FIRST-EVER fucking; better make her give her first-ever BJ, too?!
After talking to her friend Kate on the phone, Ana asks Christian if it would be okay for her to ask Kate a few sex questions. The NDA she signed prevents her from going into too much detail about her sex life with Christian (including the fact that it exists at all), but she still wants to learn some basic things about sex. Christian tries to convince her to keep these questions to herself, and in doing so, he’s displaying a key behavior of emotionally abusive partners: trying to isolate Ana from her support systems. Nice.
“I know that lip is delicious, I can attest to that, but will you stop biting it? Your chewing it makes me want to fuck you, and you’re sore, okay?”
Translation: “My desire for you is entirely your fault, and if you push me over the edge and I rape you, it’ll be completely because of you, okay?”
They take a bath together. He lathers up her breasts and then kind of fingers her through a washcloth, during which he says to her, “Feel it, baby. Feel it for me.” He’s the king of dirty talk, right?! Also, here is a literal thing he says about his penis:
“I want you to become well acquainted, on first-name terms, if you will, with my favorite and most cherished part of my body. I’m very attached to this.”
Then there’s some HJ and BJ action. To Christian’s credit, at one point he tells her, “Anastasia, I’m going to come in your mouth; if you don’t want me to, stop now.” Hooray, ongoing consent. I was enjoying this paragraph until I saw that the thing that finally makes him come is Ana using her teeth on his dick. Look, I’m not saying no man has ever enjoyed a very slightly toothy beej, but I do have to wonder if E.L. James actually asked any penis-havers about this before writing it.
After he comes, he tells her he “owes her an orgasm,” and then impulsively begs her to say yes to his Dom/sub agreement. Um, I’m not sure it’s ethical to make someone sign a contract when you’re implicitly blackmailing them with proverbial blue balls. How about you make her come first, take some time for both of you to cool down, and then talk legalities?!
Anyway, he doesn’t make her sign it just yet. Instead, he takes her to his bed, and there’s actually a pretty great cunnilingus scene. It’s only occasionally ruined by weird Christian-thoughts such as:
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen pubic hair up close and personal like this.
After some more fucking and two orgasms for Ana (yeah, girl!), they are interrupted by the arrival of Christian’s (adoptive) mother, Grace. They engage in some pointless small-talk. She leaves after about two minutes and we’ve learned basically nothing about her or her role in Christian’s life. Cool narrative development, E.L. James!
Christian and Ana go for lunch and he tells her part of his backstory: a friend of his mother’s, Elena, seduced him when he was a teenager, and he was her submissive for six years. He doesn’t say a lot about this relationship but it sounds pretty fucked-up, obviously. He also reveals to Ana that her devirginization the previous night was a first for him too: his first time having “vanilla sex.” (Ana doesn’t even know what this phrase means, and has to ask him for clarification. Oh, sweetie…)
Ana fidgets beside me as we wait for the elevator, her teeth on her plump lower lip. It reminds me of her teeth on my cock.
And with that haunting image, I’ll leave you til next week. I know you’re champing at the bit for the next chapter… just like Ana is champing at Christian’s dick.