Oy. Sorry for the massive delay before the post of chapter 3 yesterday, but chapter 4 killed me. A few weeks back, I read it, I sat down at the computer… and stared at a blank screen for an hour. I had absolutely zero interest in writing about what happened here. And, no, it wasn’t anything shocking or perverse or controversial. It was just boring. This book has officially become Fifty Blands of Meh before the main plot has even managed to kick in, and I was suddenly looking at the remaining 22 chapters as something I had no desire to pursue.
But the show must go on, dammit! The last thing this site needs to be known for are projects that go unfinished!
Our last chapter ended with Anastasia Steel wrapped in the arms of Mr. Grey just after the bastard saved her from being fatally run over by an oncoming bicycle. We open this chapter with the first thought racing through Ana’s head: “Kiss me dammit!”
Remember how I actually liked her character in the first chapter? How I found her an interesting mix of clumsy instinct and sharp intellect? Apparently the writing of “James” lacks this thing called consistency as Ana’s personality has jumped all over the place in the course of the ensuing chapters. Here, when Mr. Grey rejects her with the Cullenian* standard that she should stay away from him because he’s not good for her, does Ana wonder about the complexities of his past? Or focus on how this echoes her early fears that he’s creepy and dangerous? Or wonder at how this push completely contradicts the past chapters worth of pull?
No. She walks home and cries that he doesn’t want her.
I get it. We all feel a bit bad when we’re rejected by others, even those we’d rather be the ones rejecting. But she literally bursts into tears and sobs that this relationship that never was, that she initially DID NOT WANT, will now never be. Because he’s just so handsome and dashing and the flower swirl in his espresso was ever so lovely. We hear the voice of the old Ana, the one I like, occasionally shouting at herself with an italicised “What were you thinking!” and “How ridiculous!” and “Forget about him!” I want a book with that Ana. The one who’s aware. Not the one lost in the artificial funk of dramatic license puppy love.
So Ana returns home and Kate, being the good friend and capable reporter, instantly notices the puffy eyes and asks “What did that bastard do to you!” Given what I hear happens in later chapters, I now want the book from Kate’s point of view as she goes all Lois Lane and tears Mr. Grey and his organization to the ground, painfully and publicly. Alas, Ana brushes off her mood as being due to the encounter with the cyclist, and Kate pulls a complete reversal, now gushing about Mr. Grey and trying to prod her friend in his direction.
It’s a shame Ana can’t, I don’t know, be honest with her friend and, I don’t know, ask her for advice. Ana’s prose thought bubbles tell us that much of her confusion comes as a result of her lack of experience with men and how she’s often cold and wary of them and how Mr. Grey is like totally different you guys. Kate, on the other hand, has people skills, can read and intuit others, and has more relationship history. If she’s a friend Ana trusts, why not just open up and get a second opinion?
Instead, Kate has Ana read the finished article, which puts Ana in even more of a funk. That night, she dreams of Mr. Grey, his espresso, and his line from the interview, “I don’t do the girlfriend thing.”
Lord help us.
But wait! This chapter isn’t done yet! Noooooooooo!
A week later, Ana is the picture of excitement as she finishes the last of her college exams.
It’s Friday, and we shall be celebrating tonight, really celebrating. I might even get drunk! I’ve never been drunk before.
Yeah, this is gonna end well.
Ana and Kate return to their apartment to find a package from Mr. Grey. Remember in Twilight how Edward wouldn’t stop showing up in Bella’s life, but every time he did, he warned her to stay away? Welcome to the return of that passive-aggressivism as Mr. Grey just can’t seem to move on. Unlike Ana, who, while still having the occasional dream, already seem willing to get over it. Which totally lines up with her reaction earlier in this chapter.
The package contains first editions of all three volume of Tess of the d’Urbervilles, an 1891 novel by Thomas Hardy, which Ana had been studying in class. It’s not a book I’m familiar with, and looking it up, I see it’s about the social struggles of a woman who’s raped by a popular playboy and how that affects her image and eventual marriage, among other things. It sounds like an interesting book, and if anyone’s read it, let me know what you think in the comments section. Anyways, Mr. Grey included a note highlighting a particular passage:
Why didn’t you tell me there was danger? Why didn’t you warn me?
Ladies know what to guard against, because they read novels that tell them of these tricks…
It’s a quote from when the young lead of the book is talking to her mother about the then recent rape.
Everybody please join me in waving the RED FLAG! RED FLAG! RED FLAG!
Yeah, Mr. Grey, let’s totally try to woo a woman in your typical passive-aggressive way by giving her an extremely expensive gift, then highlighting the bit where the young woman was raped by the dashing rich dude.
Seriously! No! Bad! Ick!
And how do the ladies react? Kate whips out her smart phone and finds out how much first editions of these books auction for, and Ana jokes about mailing them back with a quote where Tess essentially told her husband – not the guy who raped her, mind, but her later lover – to fuck off.
And then they go and get drunk. No, this chapter still isn’t over, because we head to the nightclub where Ana and Kate are celebrating their finals with Jose and some dude name Levi. And Ana is totally wasted. Champagne. Followed by five tequila margaritas. Followed by a huge mug of beer. For someone who’s never gotten drunk before, she’s sure going all out. It’s not long before she’s in line for the restroom and decides to fill her hazy boredom by whipping out her phone. And who’s number does she spot? Mr. Grey’s.
That’s right, the highlight of this chapter is Anastasia Steel drunk-dialling Christian Grey.
“Why did you send me the books?”
“Anastasia, are you okay? You sound strange.”
“I’m not the strange one, you are.”
“Anastasia, have you been drinking?”
“What’s it to you?”
“You’re so… domineering,” I giggle.
“Ana, so help me, where the fuck are you?”
After she hangs up and plops herself on the john, noticing the handy “safe sex” poster on the stall door, what she did sinks in so hard that she follows a “holy crap” with a “shit”, which is how you know things are serious. And then he calls her back saying he’s coming for her, which freaks her out even more. Rightfully so.
She rejoins her friends, but is so lightheaded she decides to step out for air. Jose joins her, and this is the scene where I come to loathe Jose because he forces himself on her. He’s drunk, too, and repeatedly says “please” as he forcibly grabs her, grabs her hair, and forces kisses on her. Despite her saying “no” multiple times and trying to push him away.
Dios mio, they sure nixed him early as the third corner of a romantic triangle, because I sure as hell don’t want to read about him again. Oh, and he says “dios mio” a lot. About as often as Ana says “crap”. Because he’s Hispanic and “James” did tons of research about the cultural authenticity of ethnic voices.
With Ana’s protestations ineffective, what finally gets Jose to back off and let her go? Mr. Grey shows up. He and Jose have an epic and manly staredown. Then Ana starts vomiting all over everything, and while Mr. Grey holds her hair back for her, he and Jose continue their epic and manly staredown. Until Jose finally turns away in shame.
Mr. Grey and Ana then have a talk about how irresponsible she’s being and how he wants to drive her home, and instead of carrying the story thread from there, we hearken back to the last chapter, where everything ground to a halt so people could sort out who’s driving home with who. Ana goes back into the bar, insisting she needs to tell Kate before she leaves. Kate has abandoned Levi, though, and has taken to the dance floor with Elliot Grey, Christian’s brother, who’s essentially Emmett Cullen with Jasper’s curly blond hair. And Kate is apparently working it in a way that means they’ll be waking up together the next morning, which has Ana worried and hoping Kate will see the safe sex poster on the bathroom stall door and GOOD LORD I DON’T CARE.
To demonstrate his eagerness to get Ana home, Mr. Grey decides to stop at the bar and force Ana to drink an entire glass of ice water – she dubs him Mr. Control-Freak Grey in this moment, so I shall now call him C.F. Grey – then drags the weak and woozy young woman out on the dance floor for a round of spinning and strobe lights. Solid plan there, C.F.
Oh, and how was it that C.F. Grey found out where Ana was? He hacked the GPS in her phone. That ever distant voice of the awesome Ana screams “STALKER!” in the mind of her weaker willed primary host, but is quickly dismissed as most of this encounter is Ana being all flustered that C.F. Grey is actually holding her hand.
Surprising nobody, Ana passes out after the dancing, and the last thing she hears before hitting the floor are the sweet, elegant words of C.F. Grey as he blurts, “Fuck!”
Can you see why it took me two weeks to write about this shit?
Crap Count: 7 uses. Including our first use of “double crap”. Also, 1 use of “holy cow”.
[* Someone already called dibs on the term “Edwardian”, dammit. Who knew.]