Matthew quickly realised that these chapters are loooooong. We must divide and conquer. I have to say I’m relieved because I think writing about ~60 pages of Christian’s inner monologue at once would break me.
Darker Chapter 1 (Part 1):
THURSDAY, JUNE 9, 2011
This book begins in true Fifty Shades spirit – with Christian sitting outside of Ana’s office (which you’ll recall he’s purchased!) counting down the hours until he’ll be seeing her.
Damn it. Where is she?
She’s inside— inside Seattle Independent Publishing.
WHERE IS SHE??? OH WAIT STILL INSIDE!
Christian passes the time by judging SIP and reminding us that he is a creep-o who purchased this company in order to wield as much control over Ana as possible.
The business behind those closed doors could be an insurance company or an accounting firm— firm— they’re not displaying their wares. Well, that’s something I can rectify when I take control. SIP is mine. Almost. I’ve signed the revised heads of agreement.
I like that Christian’s first order of business will be to ensure that SIP doesn’t look like it could possibly pass for an insurance company or an accounting firm. The horror!
Christian also frets that Ana is only going with him because he’s a free ride to Portland. This seems particularly strange to me since he’s the one who is always forbidding her from driving her car, and she seems perfectly fine getting around on her own.
He contemplates emailing Ana to tell her he’s there (I mean, he should probably text her to give her a heads up, yes? Email might be overkill), but he doesn’t want to take his eyes off the door long to do this. I am as confused as you are.
Closing my eyes, I try to center myself, but I’m confronted by my deepest, darkest fear: she’s met someone else.
I’m certain they broke up a mere four or five days ago. Sure, I guess Ana could have picked up someone for a one-night stand, but then wouldn’t he have said “slept with someone else”? Meeting someone else implies more than this. Though, I suppose at the breakneck pace of these books, maybe it is entirely possible Ana would have met and fallen for someone new in under a week.
Taylor is pacing outside and glancing toward the front door. Christ, he looks as nervous as I feel. What the hell is it to him?
This is a fantastic question, and it is also not the only instance of Christian being super weird about Taylor and Ana this chapter. Was there supposed to be an undercurrent of Taylor/Ana in the original series that I completely did not pick up on? Or is this meant to highlight just how unhinged Christian truly is.
Ana finally emerges from the building, and Christian begins his chapter-long freakout about how much weight she’s lost and how he must feed her. Seriously, at one point later in the chapter he says she “needs feeding”. Like she is an animal.
She’s talking to none other than Jack Hyde, and this infuriates Christian:
Their carefree exchange only fuels my rage. He watches her with blatant male appreciation as she walks toward the car, and my wrath increases with each of her steps.
Blatant male appreciation.
I was thinking a lot throughout this chapter that actually the quality of writing itself has gotten better, but at this point there’s no way for James to redeem Christian. In fact, he comes across as even more terrifying once we’re in his head. I actually think it could be really good if that’s the story the book was telling rather than unrelentingly trying to convince us that this is a beautiful love story. I mean, look at the above quote (which isn’t even the worst of this chapter!). Why is Christian full or wrath and rage that Ana is simply talking to a coworker? It’s horrifying.
As soon as Ana gets in the car, Christian begins hounding her about eating. I know how this story goes, and I’m still begging Ana to get out of the car right now. He’s not going to murder her, but I feel like he’s going to murder her.
Jesus H. Christ, she’s not eaten since our last meal together! I want to pull her across my knee, right now, here in the back of the SUV—
He begs her to eat, tells her how much he misses her. Then this:
An orchard in the fall. Laughter at home. Bright eyes, full of humor and mischief … and desire. My sweet, sweet Ana.
At first, she’s stiff with resistance, but after a beat she relaxes against me, her head resting on my shoulder.
Emboldened, I take a risk and, closing my eyes, I kiss her hair. She doesn’t struggle out of my hold, and it’s a relief.
Yeah, that should be a relief. Isn’t it so great when you get all possessive over your ex and put your hands all over her without consent and she doesn’t struggle?
They arrive at the helipad as they’re flying (duh) to Portland. This is where Christian gets super weird about Taylor and Ana again:
“I should give you back your handkerchief,” she says to Taylor with a coy smile.
“Keep it, Miss Steele, with my best wishes.”
What the hell is going on between them?
This is the strangest subplot and also my favorite. I mean, their behaviour is just so innocuous. Christian is bonkers!
“Nine?” I interrupt, not just to remind him what time he’ll pick us up in Portland, but to stop him from talking to Ana.
“Yes, sir,” he says quietly.
Damn right. She’s my girl. Handkerchiefs are my business, not his.
Bless this book. That last bit was highlighted sixteen times. I hope it’s because those fifteen other people who highlighted this also cannot believe how unhinged Christian clearly is.
Then Christian starts wondering if she still has the handkerchief he lent her when she was drunk and vomiting, and he’s hoping she kept it and still uses it. Please, Christian. Get it together, my god.
They get to the art gallery, and Christian refers to Jose as “the boy” six or seven times even after Ana asks him to stop. He’s pissy and jealous and super rude to random passerbys (there are a few inexplicable pages dedicated to a balding man who tries to make conversation with Christian at the bar before he just storms off).
What’s super interesting to me is how reasonable Ana comes across in all of this aside from the fact that she continues to give Christian the time of day. She explains to him how frustrating all of his mixed-messages are and why she struggles to relax around him even though he wants her to. And even though we’re in Christian’s head and his motivations should make more sense to us now, they don’t.
“Good point well made, as usual, Miss Steele.” My tone is arctic. “Come, let’s go eat.”
“We’ve only been here for half an hour.”
“You’ve seen the photos. You’ve spoken to the boy.”
Find the boy, say good-bye.” My tone is clipped as I struggle to control my temper, but she doesn’t move.
“Please, can we stay longer?”
“No. Go. Now. Say good-bye.”
His emotional manipulation is even more stark from his perspective. He lures her into these emotional talks, berates her for having them in public, and then uses that as an excuse to get her somewhere private and continue to isolate her.
After they leave, Christian pulls her into an alley and forcefully kisses her, unsure of Ana’s consent:
Her hunger is unexpected. Desire bursts through my body, like a forest fire licking through dry tinder. I’m so aroused— I want her now, here, in this alley. And what I’d intended as a punishing I-own-you kiss becomes something else.
She wants this, too.
It’s great Ana does want this, but incredibly disturbing that Christian is surprised by this. He’s completely honest about his intentions about this kiss. It was purely a show of dominance and control. If I didn’t know how this story ended, I would actually be impressed.
Christian manages to tear himself away, and they head to a restaurant. Don’t forget Ana “needs feeding”.