We last left our author confronted with a scene she absolutely does not have the ability or maturity to write.
So the last chapter very non-promisingly ended like this:
[Jack] steps in, closing the door behind him […] His lips twitch into a grotesque smile, and his eyes gleam a deep, dark cobalt. “At last, I have you on your own,” he says, and he slowly licks his lower lip. “Now . . . are you going to be a good girl and listen very carefully to what I say?”
To which Ana responds with:
“Jack, now might not be a good time for this. Your cab is due in ten minutes, and I need to give you all your documents.”
“Now might not be a good time for this”? What… what the fuck does that even mean? Is she saying “Jack, now might not be a good time to try to rape me?” Jesus Christ, E L James, can your characters show a little more concern for their safety? Or at least some believable emotion?
His pupils are dilating as I watch—the black eclipsing the blue. Oh no. My fear escalates.
Not that fear isn’t an appropriate reaction here, but, um, one time Ana learned a person’s name and said “Holy fuck!”. I think we can agree that, after that, sexual assault warrants more than an “Oh no.”
Jack reveals that he did, in fact, only hire he because he wanted to bone her. Okay, technically he only implies this, because that’s what passes for subtlety in this book, although he tries to cover it up with “I thought you would be a hard worker”, and then says that her work has become sloppy, which, to be fair, literally every scene we’ve read of her at work has consisted of her texting Christian, so….
Anyway, Jack suspected it was because of her boyfriend, and so he went through her email, which is… fair? But her inbox is empty (because Christian deletes it all because Ana’s really bad at, you know, not using her work email to send her boyfriend sexy emails), and so Jack suspects that she’s a spy. Which is fucking ridiculous?
“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?”
Ana summarizes to demonstrate that she understands what he’s saying.
He’s blackmailing me. For sex! […] I can barely believe this. Sex—with me!
E L James tries to make Jack Hyde even more despicable and comes up with a string of dirty words to hope that does the trick.
“You are such a tight-assed, cock-blocking, prick tease, you know, Ana,”
Jack continues to tell Ana that he knows she wants him, and then she breaks his finger and kicks him in the nuts. She runs out of the building to Christian and explains. Taylor runs into the building and presumably kicks Jack’s ass off screen, while Ana manipulates her boyfriend’s childhood-trauma induced neuroses to keep him from running into the building as well, which is… not super nice?
“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.
Christian makes some calls, gets Jack fired, and then yells at Ana for using her work email instead of her Blackberry to sext him, which is more than a fair point. Ana describes how mad he is about it.
This is Very Angry Christian.
They have a very awkward car ride home, and then E L James doesn’t use particularly good diction for not drawing uncomfortable comparisons.
“As it is, I’m going to ruin his career so he can’t take advantage of young women anymore, miserable excuse for a man that he is.” He shakes his head. “Jesus, Ana!” He grabs me suddenly, imprisoning me in the corner of the elevator.
The next morning they switch the topic of conversation over to Jose’s impending visit, because now that Ana’s boss isn’t trying to rape her anymore, E L James needs some other awkward situation, regardless of what it is, to try to keep the plot going, regardless of how uncomfortable a transition it is.
“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.”
E L James does attempt, to her credit, to convey a person realistically living with the aftermath of attempted rape. For a sentence.
If I sit still, I’ll recall Jack and his fingers on me.
Finding it unusually unlocked, Ana wanders into Christian’s playroom.
Ana wonders about some of the BDSM sex toys.
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!
Then Christian comes in and Ana hasn’t been paying any attention to the story.
“I was in here earlier today wondering what to do with it all. I must have forgotten to lock it.” [Christian] scowls momentarily as if leaving the door unlocked is a terrible lapse in judgment.
Anyway, in the same chapter as an attempted rape, we get this:
“Always hungry for information, Miss Steele. That’s a butt plug,”
Then we have Ana’s kind of hilarious thoughts on anal beads:
Oh! I examine them with fascinated horror. All of these, inside me . . .there! I had no idea.
Then we get genital clamps and nipple clamps. Man, to think this chapter started with attempted rape. Are you uncomfortable yet?
“The sensation is very intense, but it’s when taking them off that they are at their most painful and pleasurable.” I remove the clip. Hmm, that might be nice. I squirm at the thought.
Amazingly enough, the scene gets more uncomfortable when they start talking about how they love each other again. Ana wants to try out a spreader bar with ankle and wrist restraints (as you do), but Christian takes her out of the room because the last time they were there, she left him, and he can’t deal with it yet. So they go to his room and Ana gives him some surprise head.
I want him—in my mouth.
Then Ana… sheathes her teeth…?
I sheath my teeth and suck harder.
Then E L James forgets what grammar is.
He closes his eyes and surrenders to this blissful carnal pleasure is so arousing.
The chapter ends with them trying out the spreader bar, but it’s honestly not that exciting.