Just a quick scheduling note: we’re experimenting a bit more with the update schedule. I will now be posting on Mondays and Ariel has Wednesdays. This isn’t as dramatic as our MTThF to MWF shift, so you probably won’t notice too much difference, unless your reaction just now was “Matthew is ill-suited for odd-numbered entries, this is bullshit” or “two people write this blog?”
Darker: Chapter 4 (Part 3)
SUNDAY, JUNE 12, 2011
We’re coming up to the part where Fifty Shades starts being less about kink and more about how difficult life is for Ana and Christian with their many enemies determined to thwart their beautiful love, so casual reminder that Christian’s into the weird stuff.
I teach her how to tie three knots. This she’s not so good at, and I find it hard to keep a straight face.
“I may tie you up one day,” she promises.
“You’ll have to catch me first, Miss Steele.” It’s a long time since anyone tied me up, and I’m not sure I’d like it anymore. I shudder, thinking how defenseless I’d be against her touch.
I think one thing that frustrates me about the Christian Grey rewrites of Fifty Shades is that, while meeting Christian is the most interesting part of Ana’s life… it’s hard of hard to say that meeting Ana is the most interesting part of his. Which means that we only get the extra insight into Christian’s story that the rewrite needs (in order to have any purpose as a companion story whatsoever) through peeks like this one into his much more interesting past. His experiences with being tied up begin and end before the book we’re actually reading even starts. Did we really learn that much new about Christian here? I almost hate to suggest this, but… the Christian stories should have been prequels. But then E L James would have to actually write something new, so I guess that’ll never happen.
“MATTHEW, WRITE A JOKE ALREADY.” OKAY. OKAY. Ana isn’t clear on what “christening” is.
“Perhaps we can enroll you in sailing school, so we can go out for a few days, just the two of us.”
“I’d love that. We can christen the bedroom again and again.”
Is… is that how that works? Wait, his name is Christian. Why wasn’t that the joke?
Ana continues the befuddling adventure of learning basic information about the man she is already madly, deeply in love with, such as “has no friends”.
“Is [Mac] your friend?”
“Mac? He works for me. Helped build The Grace.”
“Do you have many friends?”
What would I need friends for?
Sometimes it’s very hard to remember that this is a book about a man in his thirties and not a boy in his freshman year of high school.
“You don’t seem to have many friends. Why is that?”
“I told you, I don’t really have time. I have business associates, though that’s very different from friendships, I suppose.”
And then sometimes it’s very hard to remember that this is a book about a man in his thirties and not a book written by aliens trying their honest-to-god best to write a book about a human man in his thirties.
“I have my family, and that’s it.” I shrug. “Apart from Elena.”
Thankfully, she ignores my Elena comment. “No male friends your own age that you can go out with and let off steam?”
No. Just Elliot.
“You know how I like to let off steam, Anastasia.”
Look, we all know that Christian “the only people I need in my life are people I pay and people I fuck” Grey is a fucking mess, so I’m actually less perturbed by that than I am by Ana’s impression that what Christian needs in his life is man friends specifically. Just men. Having friends who are women totally wouldn’t address any of Christian “if only Ana were my sex slave, then we wouldn’t be arguing” Grey’s problems at all.
“Must be lonely.”
Leila’s words come back to me: “But you’re lonely. I can see it.” I frown. The only time I felt lonely was when Ana left me. […] I never want to feel like that again.
“What would you like to eat?” I ask, hoping to move the subject on.
Ana steers the conversation towards her concerns that Christian isn’t getting enough out of their relationship now that they’ve put the BDSM stuff on hold. On the one hand, I’m glad she’s pursuing an open dialogue about her concerns and needs in their relationship. On the other hand, we are reading a really boring book, so…
“I’m just worried that this isn’t enough for you. You know, to let off steam.”
What? Not this again.
“You have been amazing, and I know it’s just been a few days, but I hope I’m not forcing you to be someone you’re not.”
Christian and Ana’s relationship is kind of like that one friend who asks you what’s going to happen five minutes into a movie none of you have seen before.
Her response is reassuring, but I think she’s missing the point. “I’m still me, Anastasia, in all my fifty shades of fucked up…ness”
Christian admits that he’s scared to take her back into the playroom since the last time they were in there was when he crossed a line, she had too much, and she dumped him. Ana points out that that’s not really fair to his needs either. Christian points out that “it’s only been one weekend”, which I cannot reiterate enough is a very good fucking point that applies to most of their conversations.
The truth is, I don’t know if I can maintain a vanilla relationship, but I’m willing to try.
And that’s kind of all that matters? He wants to try. As long as he feels like it’s in alignment with his wants, they’re good! Anyway, tune in for approximately four dozen more tense conversations over the next book and a half about whether Ana and Christian are really happy with each other or not. Maybe that’s their real fetish.
Back at Christian’s place again, they jump each other in the elevator.
The elevator doors open with the familiar ping and I pull my face away from her, but I’m still pinning her to the wall with my hips and my hardening erection.
“Whoa,” I whisper, dragging air into my lungs.
“Whoa,” she answers, panting.
“What you do to me, Ana.” […]
“What you do to me, Christian,” she says.
Remember how one chapter ago I pointed out how easy it is to overlook that a hilarious amount of this story is Christian’s security team just waiting around the corner while Christian and Ana are mackin’ on each other?
As we exit the elevator, Taylor is standing to one side.
Ana jokes with Taylor about how they used his name as cover at the hotel. This is enough to make Christian insanely jealous.
“Mr. Grey, Miss Steele.”
“I was Mrs. Taylor yesterday,” Ana says, all smiles for Mr. Taylor.
“That has a nice ring to it, Miss Steele,” Taylor responds.
“I thought so, too.”
What the hell is going on?
Christian catches Ana up on the Leila situation, explaining that her husband and family have abandoned her. Christian earns another “Boy, please”.
“What about her husband?”
“He’s washed his hands of her.” Asshole. “Her family is in Connecticut. I think she’s very much on her own out there.”
Ana’s compassion knows no bounds.
…are we sure this is evidence of that? Because Christian could also have thought “Ana was barely pretending to give a shit” and I’d be like “that checks out”.
Anyway, here’s a conversation in a romance novel published in 2017 that takes place in 2012 that’s part of franchise that had a quarter-billion dollar-grossing film in 2017 in which the male love interest doesn’t want his girlfriend to have a job.
“I was just getting my clothes ready for work tomorrow.”
“Work?” I release her.
“Yes, work,” she says, confused.
“But Leila, she’s out there.” Doesn’t she get the risk? “I don’t want you to go to work.”
“That’s ridiculous, Christian. I have to go to work.” […]
“No, you don’t.” I can look after you.
IT. IS. TWENTY. EIGHT. TEEN.
“Christian, I need to work for a living, and I’ll be fine.”
“No, you don’t need to work for a living, and how do you know you’ll be fine?”
Fuck. This is why I like having submissives.
Hey, remember when I said earlier in this post that maybe having some female friends was maybe more of a priority than male friends for a dude who doesn’t know how to handle things like his girlfriend wanting to have a job and maybe this is indicative of a deeper inability to understand that women are people huh remember that do you recall this point I made this is why I made this point it remains quite applicable
“I don’t want you going to work.”
“It’s not up to you, Christian. This is not your decision to make.”
She’s made up her mind.
And of course she’s right.
Can we take a second to appreciate that we actually needed a rewrite of this book from Christian’s perspective to help clear up points like “no, I swear, Christian understands that his girlfriend’s job is his girlfriend’s decision”? Because that’s bananas.
Christian tries to compromise by suggesting Sawyer accompany her, which is fair in terms of a compromise about the real threat to her safety, but also dude does not understand why his girlfriend’s career is important to her romaaaaaaaaaance. They go back and forth on this a few more times this chapter, but let’s be honest, not even the people who like this book give a shit. Where’s the sexy stuff?
I open the door to the library, where Ana spies the billiards table.
“Shall we play?” she challenges. […]
“What would you like to wager?”
“If I win, you’ll take me back into the playroom.” […]
She is so going down.
Hmm. Maybe that could be my prize.
Ana turns out to be better at pool than Christian was expecting, but the real surprise is that Ana… can be sexy????
I like this new Ana. Predatory. Competitive. Confident. Sexy as hell. […] She purses her lips, and while watching me through her lashes, she slowly, deliberately blows off the excess.
I feel it in my dick.
Tell us more about your dick, Christian.
As she bends over, she peeks up at me.
“I know what you’re doing,” I whisper.
And my cock approves, Ana.
So glad we got a whole other book to get Christian’s cock’s perspective. Really fleshes out the character of Christian’s cock.
I’m a fan.
So is my cock…
You thought I was kidding, but nope.
“We’re lovers, Anastasia. Lovers don’t need safe words.” I frown. “Do they?” This is something I know nothing about.
I kind of like how this is one actual case where the Christian-rewrite kinda explains something horribly problematic and cringey that he said (he’s actually inexperienced here and, hey, it’s ok to not know things sometimes), but in terms of what he actually says to Ana, it’s the same story so we’re still locked into the problematic and cringey shit (so we can’t actually see him grow from that not knowing, so this doesn’t really make him a better person at the end of the day).