(Content Warning for virginity shaming AND slut shaming, emotional manipulation, and references to child sexual abuse. And as always, FSOG quotes are in purple, Grey quotes are in green.)
Battlestar Galactica I mean Fifty Shades Revisited, Ana had just revealed that she’s never had sex, and Christian was in the middle of reacting to it like this:
The earth stops spinning.
I don’t fucking believe it.
How the hell did I get this so wrong?
Anger lances through me. What can I do with a virgin? I glare at her as fury surges through my body.
“Why the fuck didn’t you tell me?” I growl, and start pacing my study. What do I want with a virgin?
I, too, have to wonder how the hell you got this so wrong, bucko, considering how many trees had to die so you could belabor the point that Ana was obviously “innocent” and inexperienced. Yet somehow it manages to be an Earth-shattering revelation to this guy that she has no sexual experience at all.
But sure, fine, his surprise I can understand to a degree; I’m sure it would rattle anyone who’d just shown a potential partner their elaborate, custom-built sex dungeon and list of sex rules to find out that said potential partner was a virgin. Then again, no reasonable person would have gone about things the way Christian did, so this is entirely a situation of his own making for not, I dunno, simply talking to Ana about her sexual desires and experiences first like a normal human being. At least he’s gracious enough to mentally kick himself for it, though that won’t spare him from me repeatedly kicking him in the nuts inside my own mind palace.
All this is happening inside Christian’s head, though, so all that’s coming across from Ana’s perspective in FSOG is his anger. It’s takes about a full page in both narratives for him to clarify that he’s mad at himself and not at her, yet for the entirety of this conversation she’s the one he’s taking his anger out on.
Christian is running his hands through his hair and pacing up and down his study. Two hands—that’s double exasperation. […]
“The subject never came up. I’m not in the habit of revealing my sexual status to everyone I meet. I mean, we hardly know each other.” I’m staring at my hands. Why am I feeling guilty? Why is he so mad? I peek up at him.
“Well, you know a lot more about me now,” he snaps, his mouth presses into a hard line. “I knew you were inexperienced, but a virgin!” He says it like it’s a really dirty word.
He’s pacing. He’s glaring at her. He’s swearing and snapping (or “snarl(ing)” in his POV) at her, and treating her virginity like it’s a personal affront to him. And I just need to know why? Why the anger, at either her or himself? Why the histrionics? And as is often the case with my questions about these books, this is a multifaced “why.” Because for one thing, we have Grey bitterly asking himself what he “can do with a virgin” and then being all “May God forgive me” like the melodramatic, self-obsessed freak he is at the realization that he dared besmirch her purity even the tiniest bit by showing her his playroom. Which should be kind of offensive to anyone who has an interest in BDSM but hasn’t had sex or been in a relationship before.
Virgins are allowed to be kinky and know about BDSM, you know. Hell, someone can be asexual and have no interest in having sex ever and still be into kink. Let’s just pretend for a minute that their relationship dynamic isn’t completely fucked and that Ana—while still being completely inexperienced—was actually turned on by the idea of submission and really curious to try. What if she’d already known a bit about BDSM before having the playroom sprung on her? Would Christian still be having this kind of overreaction if she’d explicitly told him she was super eager to explore her kinky fantasies with him despite being a virgin? Or is this a useless question because Christian/E L James can’t conceive of a woman who’s never had sex not being ignorant of her own sexuality or anything related to sex in general until her vagina has been magically unlocked by the right penis?
Which brings me to a deeper and more discomforting facet of this “why.” Obviously it’s been hinted at before now, but here is where ELJ really starts to lay the foundation that her whole romantic fantasy for this series will be built upon; that not only does the dark, “damaged” man (whose darkness and brokenness is embodied by his sexual fetishes) need to be saved from his need for BDSM, but that only a pure and virtuous ingenue such as Ana is capable of saving him and is worthy of his love. And the unfortunate implication of this thematic throughline is that women who are into kink—such as Grey’s previous submissives—are “damaged goods” themselves, which makes them incapable of drawing him “into the light” or whatever, but also makes it OK for him to not concern himself so much with their needs or feelings or inhibitions. So, why is Grey so furious about Ana’s virginity? Hmm, well, perhaps it could have something to do with him suddenly being confronted by this old-fashioned idea of despoiling her maidenly honor and how that’s forcing him to reckon with the fact that he’s never considered the “honor” of the sexually active and kink-experienced women he’s slept with before. But Christian Grey has less self-awareness than a dog looking at its own reflection for the first time, so of course that level of introspection and personal growth is too much to ask for from this book.
So anyway, Christian can’t believe that Ana is “seriously discussing what I want to do, when you have no experience.” Well, buddy, it’s not like you ever seem to have considered even casually discussing what she wants to do up until you realized that what you want is apparently too shocking for her delicate, virginal mind to handle. Not like you ever really gave her much of a choice but to discuss this anyway since you kept her in the dark about your sexual interests before bringing her over to your place. He’s utterly baffled as to how an attractive 21-year-old woman such as herself has “avoided sex,” as if it’s some kind of contagious disease. From his memories of college “all the kids were fucking like rabbits,” which obviously means that it’s inconceivable that this one soon-to-be graduate out of them all managed to escape the orgiastic thrall of campus life.
Well, “All of them. Except me,” anyway, and apparently “The thought is a dark one” that Christian has to push away. And I just have to pause and rant about this pair of lines because it’s yet another aggravating instance in Grey in which ELJ could have given us—and was seemingly half-assedly trying to give us—a juicy morsel of insight into the enigma that is her dark and brooding MMC but instead has just left me totally confused. And I know I’m jumping ahead again here, but in order to understand what I’m getting at we need to talk a bit about Elena Lincoln. For those of you just joining me for these recaps and/or who haven’t read Fifty Shades, Elena—aka “Mrs. Robinson”—is Christian’s mom’s friend and also his ex-Domme who raped him when he was 15 and continued to have a sexual relationship with him until he was 21, after he’d already dropped out of school. As he tells Ana a couple chapters from now, he didn’t have sex with anyone else when he was in college, partially because he didn’t want anyone besides Elena, and partially because she would’ve “beaten the shit out of [him]” for it.
Now, so far in Grey we have had none of this crucial context for Christian’s and Elena’s relationship; we’ve gotten hints that they used to be together sexually with Christian having submitted to her, and that they’re mostly platonic friends now. And to be honest, there’s nothing wrong with gradually revealing details about their past together; it’s certainly better than getting a huge info dump at the first mention of Elena’s name in Christian’s POV. But the problem here, though, is that Christian ruminating “darkly” on his lack of a sex life in college either 1) contradicts what he’ll say later about him being with Elena during that time, 2) implies some sexual trauma that held him back from pursuing relationships with people his own age, or 3) both. Which again, isn’t inherently a terrible bit of writing taken out of context; paired with his earlier panicked reaction to being touched by Ana in the bar (see chapter four) and his refence to being beaten by Elena in a BDSM context as the “only touch he could bear,” it points to him likely having some kind of sexual trauma, though we don’t know exactly what it is yet.
Once we learn more about his relationship with Elena, you’d think that the answer to the mystery of why remembering his sexless college days is too dark for him to dwell on would be clear; he’d been dealing with the trauma of having been molested for years as a teenager by an adult family friend at the time, and now that he’s a few years older he’s still coming to terms with it. Except that ELJ, unfortunately, is absolutely shit at writing trauma, which will become more and more apparent as the books go on and Elena becomes a more prominent figure. Because while I personally believe that this moment should have been a reference to him being victimized by Elena and probably would have been in the hands of a more sensitive and competent writer, it instead comes across as entirely out of left field with no clear context behind it, since Christian does not consider himself to be a survivor of statutory rape or Elena to be a rapist, nor do we get any other indication after this one singular reference that he was traumatized by or in any way unhappy with the state of his sex life during college. These lines only exist to build mystery for mystery’s sake and cheapen the very real sources of trauma in Christian’s past, and I hate it.
…I’m still only about a page into this recap, aren’t I?
Let’s see if I can pick up the pace and lighten things up a bit. So, while Christian is internally beating the piss out of himself (as is right and proper), Ana’s also receiving a mental smackdown from what appears to be the locus of her low self-esteem:
Christian Grey thinks I’m beautiful. I knot my fingers together, staring at them hard, trying to conceal my goofy grin. Perhaps he’s farsighted. My subconscious has reared her somnambulant head. Where was she when I needed her?
Oh, God, not this bitch again. Ana, when I said trust your gut, I didn’t mean whoever your imaginary frienemy thinks she is. Why are you whining about her not being around earlier to bully you? Is it because being told you’re an ugly, unfuckable troll would’ve been the only thing the could have held you back from wanting to say yes to Grey’s offer? I guess we accept the mental constructs we think we deserve…
She trails off while trying to express that she’s never slept with anyone because no one else has ever met her lofty expectations except for him somehow, “And you turn out to be some kind of monster.” Yeah, sorry, but the only acceptable use of the word “monster” to describe a love interest is in literal monster erotica. She doesn’t actually say this to his face, though; just wanted to be clear on that since this reads like it should be an italicized thought when it isn’t.
Ana doesn’t want to leave and Christian doesn’t want her to leave, but since we’ve already established that there’s no Xbox, and there’s nothing good on Netflix to watch, and the DDR machine in the playroom is broken (Christian lost to Taylor and threw a bit of a tantrum, it’s a long story), it’s slim pickings for what to do next. Thankfully, ELJ has been cultivating attraction points between her two Sims for long enough that she now has the option to make them WooHoo in bed (it’s been so long since I’ve played it that I don’t even know if that’s The Sims 2 or The Sims 4 I’m referencing) and promptly clicks on it. Unfortunately for her Christian Sim, ELJ has forgotten to download the latest version of the WickedWhims mod, so he’s limited to vanilla gameplay options right now.
And I want to fuck her, and spank her, and watch her alabaster skin pink beneath my hands. That’s out of the question now–isn’t it? Perhaps not the fucking… perhaps I could. The thought is a revelation. I could take her to bed. Break her in. […] She asked me earlier if I was going to make love to her. I could try, without tying her up.
But she might touch me.
I mean, not if you tell her not to??? He told her not to touch anything in his helicopter, but he can’t do the same when it comes to his own body? Geez, talk about overcomplicating things if that’s really the whole reason why he’s never had sex with a woman without tying her up. And it really does make it sound like that’s the case, because it reads like in the mind of Christian Grey, the all-important distinction between Fucking. Hard. and making love is bondage vs. no bondage. Either he thinks that women are such empty-headed bimbos that they can’t be trusted to respect his boundaries during sex because they just can’t get enough of his hot bod, or it never occurred to him that if touching is such a hard limit for him, he could, I don’t know, ADD IT TO HIS LIST OF HARD LIMITS, WHICH HE HAS TYPED UP AS PART OF A CONTRACT HE EXPECTS ALL HIS SEXUAL PARTNERS TO SIGN AND HAS JUST SHOWN TO ANA. Fucking genius. Absolutely stunning.
If you somehow needed proof that we live in a cruel and unfair world, look no further; this man legitimately has no idea how to communicate at all and yet he runs a Fiction 500 company, and the author writing him seriously made his inability to say the words “please don’t touch me on X part of my body” a crucial pivot point of the romance that has earned her millions.
He asks Ana if she wants to fuck and indeed she does. Er, sorry, I mean, he tells her that he’s going to “rectify the situation right now.”
“Your situation. Ana, I’m going to make love to you, now.”
“Oh.” The floor has fallen away. I’m a situation. I’m holding my breath.
“That’s if you want to. I mean, I don’t want to push my luck.”
“I thought you didn’t make love. I thought you fucked hard.” I swallow, my mouth suddenly dry.
He gives me a wicked grin, the effects of which travel all the way down there.
“I can make an exception, or maybe combine the two, we’ll see. I really want to make love to you. Please, come to bed with me. I want our arrangement to work, but you really need to have some idea what you’re getting yourself into. We can start your training tonight—with the basics. This doesn’t mean I’ve come over all hearts and flowers—it’s a means to an end, but one that I want, and hopefully you do, too.”
You know, there is a certain kind of inept charm to ELJ’s clunky writing style at times. “Combine the two”? Who talks like that? What does that even mean? I think she may have gone too far in a few places drawing such a hard line between two euphemisms for the same act. I know this may be difficult to imagine, but it is possible to fuck hard in a loving way, or make slow, gentle love to someone that you have no great emotional attachment to. But since we just learned that to Fuck. Hard. means tying someone up to Christian and making love means not tying them up, then I guess the only way to combine the two is to like, have Ana hold onto a rope and pretend she can’t move?
How charming that this is all just a “means to an end” for him so he can “break her in.” Not exactly sure how the kind of sex they’re about to have constitutes showing her what she’s getting herself into, though. He makes such a big deal of the fact that this is his first time banging without all the bells and whistles, but as he just admitted out loud, it’s all just a means to the end of getting her to agree to said bells and whistles.
If he was genuinely interested in giving her an idea of what she’d be getting into with him, he’d take the time to really talk to her about what she wants to get out of being there with him that night, if there’s anything kinky that sparked her curiosity, maybe ask her if she’d like to try being spanked, or see how it feels to have her hands cuffed while engaging in some light foreplay. Take it slow with her, put her at ease, talk through things with her, make sure she knows she’s in full control and don’t go all Domly Dom on her from the get-go. Introduce one kink at a time and go easy on her, you know? Maybe this would include having PIV sex that night, maybe not. But as the scene as written stands, Christian doesn’t actually have any idea yet if Ana is interested in his form of BDSM at all, yet he’s blatantly planning to use vanilla “lovemaking” that falls in line with her romantic expectations to cajole her into agreeing to his arrangement.
Speaking of cajoling her into arrangements she may or may not want, Ana burbles about not having complied with all his silly rules yet. Christian is the opposite of deterred:
“Forget about the rules. Forget about all those details for tonight. I want you. I’ve wanted you since you fell into my office, and I know you want me. You wouldn’t be sitting here calmly discussing punishment and hard limits if you didn’t. Please, Ana, spend the night with me.”
He holds his hand out to me. His eyes are bright, fervent…excited, and I put my hand in his. […] He runs his fingers around the nape of my neck, winds my ponytail around his wrist, and gently pulls so I’m forced to look up at him.
He gazes down at me. “You are one brave young woman,” he whispers. “I am in awe of you.”
I fail to see how any of this makes her awesomely brave. He admires her because she a virgin willing to have sex with him after seeing his sex dungeon; would she still be “brave” in his eyes if she’d been sullied by the touch of a man who wasn’t him?
“Yes, Ana, please forget about the rules… for now. Just forget about my long list of strict relationship requirements and pay no attention while I proceed to work my sex magic on you so you’ll comply with them later for the sake of my hypnotic peen.” This fucking guy. Also, I couldn’t help but notice reading this time around that he’s now calling her by her preferred name as opposed to Anastasia. Just another tactic to sweet-talk her with, perhaps?
Just want to flag up in Grey’s POV here that when he pulls her against his chest after she takes his hand, “[…] I feel her against me. The darkness is quiet, perhaps subdued by my libido.” Let’s leave aside the unfortunate idea for now that the power of luuurve is already starting to heal him from his PTSD and instead examine the fact that he’s acknowledging that he is having a milder form of his usual trauma response and/or that he would normally have a trauma response in this situation. Now, I understand that PTSD is a complex thing, and someone living with trauma can’t always predict what will trigger them or how they’ll react to said trigger. But again, ELJ is shit at writing trauma and portraying Christian’s fear of touching; she only seems to remember it when it would be most dramatic to show it, so the inconsistency of his touch aversion comes across as simply confusing rather than realistic.
The inconsistencies will only get worse as FSOG/Grey goes on and continue into FSD/Darker, but basically at various points it seems like he’s adverse to being touched by hands most places on his body, or touched by hands on his torso, or on his torso and arms, or when he’s touched unexpectedly, and now it seems like it doesn’t even need to be someone putting his hands on him and he normally reacts badly to even just having bodily contact with someone else. Which, uh, would make the following missionary sex scene and many others to come quite a challenge for him if THE DARKNESS is threatening to rise up any time Ana’s boobs brush his chest. Also, this is the third time he’s deliberately pulled/pressed her body flush against his, and the only time out of those that he’s brought up his PTSD being triggered/expecting it to be triggered; the first was when he saved from from being hit by the bike, and he specifically mentioned her “clutching [his] biceps” (no appearance of the darkness at all) and how he was turned on by feeling her breasts pressed against him; the second was the elevator kiss when Ana mentioned him “pinning [her] to the wall using his hips,” so I think we can assume their chests were touching as well. And again, not to make light of trauma, but given the level of consistency and sensitivity with which ELJ writes Christian’s tragic backstory, it’s hard not to treat it like the cheap drama that it is.
No mention from either POV what Ana’s doing with her hands right now… which is weird for Grey because I could understand his reaction a little better if maybe she’d automatically put a hand on his chest or her arms around his waist, but even weirder for Ana because isn’t it strange that she isn’t doing anything with her hands? Is she just standing still with her arms hanging at her sides because she’s too dazzled by Christian to know how to move? I mean, I guess that would make sense for a Bella Swan expy, but I’m just saying, I think most people’s natural reaction to being pulled into the arms of someone whose advances they’re receptive to would be to do something with their arms in return.
He bites her lip, she says yes, then it’s off to the bedroom they go. “Finally, after all this time, I’m going to do it,” Ana thinks, but not quite yet because we have to drag things out even longer with a ridiculously detailed description of Christian taking off his watch, jacket, shoes and socks. Oh! But we do learn that Ana has a foot fetish, though: “Christian Grey’s feet… Wow, what is it about naked feet?” Idk, Ana, you’ll have to tell me. Actually, please don’t, I kind of have the opposite of a foot fetish because feet are disgusting. Again, no kink shaming here, but I can’t help it if this makes me gag. Honestly, with how often Ana mentions Christian’s sexy, sexy naked feet in these books, I think ELJ was trying to capture the wrong kinky audience and missed her true calling writing foot fetish erotica. Imagine how much brighter the world would be if only she’d focused on the feet and left the abuse apologia disguised as shitty D/s out of it…
Christian, meanwhile, is getting condoms from the stash he has as backup in his bedroom dresser for some reason despite never having had sex in his own bed before. I really hope having sex in his sleep-only bed majorly fucks up his circadian rhythm. Naturally, as a virgin, Ana couldn’t possibly be on the pill for any medical or personal reasons, but “At least I don’t have to worry about every dick she’s slept with.” Lovely.
Grey gives us another vague reference to the nature of Christian’s past relationship with Elena, and chronologically it’s the first confirmation we get that he lost his virginity to her:
She studies me, her eyes impossibly large in her beautiful face, and I have a moment’s hesitation. This is supposed to be a big deal for her, isn’t it? I remember my first time with Elena, how embarrassing it was… but what a heaven-sent relief.
Again, if–for whatever reason–you’re reading this book without having read the original or are reading both FSOG and Grey simultaneously for the first time and haven’t picked up on “Mrs. Robinson’s” deal from pop culture osmosis, then you still don’t know yet that Elena molested Christian as a teenager. This line stands out to me because taken in the context we have so far from his POV–that Elena beating him was the only touch he could stand, that his whole family thinks he’s gay and/or celibate due to never being openly with a woman, and his “dark thought” about being the only kid on campus not fucking like crazy in college–it gives a very different read on their relationship than what will turn out to be the truth. To me, it reads like his sexual trauma predates Elena, and that she was the first person who helped him to cope with it, albeit in an unhealthy way. Now, given that he does have childhood trauma of a non-sexual variety this isn’t actually that far off from the truth, but given how clumsily ELJ handles trauma and how tepid her condemnation of Elena will be later in the series, the implication here that she was ultimately a healing force and net positive in Christian’s life makes me uncomfy and will also make it very jarring in a couple chapters when he does reveal how young he was when their relationship started. But we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Also, without knowing that he was 15 at the time, this line and the previously mentioned context could be interpreted as implying that he was also a late-bloomer adult virgin, which would put a whole new gloss on his shock and fury at learning Ana has never had sex.
It’s now time for Christian to undress Ana, which means it’s time to drag things out even more! I’m sure the slowness was meant to be all sensual and seductive, but really it’s just insanely boring. Honestly, I’m probably going to skim through a lot of this sex scene, because as we will come to learn about most ELJ sex scenes, it’s quite rote and uninspired, though interspersed with some of the most baffling and unintentionally hilarious lines you’ve ever read in your fucking life. The sex scenes as written in Grey are pretty much the same, though with 2x the cringe and 5x the creepy, rapey vibes. Case in point:
I stalk toward her like she’s my prey. Oh, baby, I want to bury myself in you. Her breathing is shallow and quick. Her cheeks are rosy…she’s wary, but excited. She’s at my mercy, and knowing that makes me feel powerful. She has no idea what I’m going to do to her.
He also rather creepily compliments her on how “pale and flawless” her beautiful skin is (this guy is always going on about how white she is for some reason). Not helping is the fact that he somehow finds it “unsettling” (?) that her skin is unmarked, and he fantasizes about how much he’d love to give it some welts with a riding crop. Ana is absolutely sent into raptures at being told how pale she is, though.
I flush. Why did he say he couldn’t make love? I will do anything he wants.
He grasps my hair tie, pulls it free, and gasps as my hair cascades down around my shoulders.
“Mmm, I like brunettes.” And both of his hands are in my hair, grasping each side of my head.
Yeah, buddy, we know you do. Putting a pin in this for much later when we find out exactly why he has a thing for brunettes, because once we do… eeeurrgh. That’s all I’ll say for now. Pardon me while I go bleach my hair and/or my eyeballs. Funnily enough, Ana has also apparently dyed her hair and Mr. Brunette Aficionado has somehow missed the fact that it’s gone from a “whirl of long chestnut hair” in their first encounter, to “a riot of mahogany” when she was passed out in his hotel, and is back to “chestnut” now. Or maybe he didn’t, considering he’s gasping as if noticing with surprise what color her hair is for the first time. Good thing this wasn’t called Fifty Shades of Brown, because I think ELJ needs to break out the ol’ Crayola box and refresh her memory.
They kiss, and we finally find out what Ana’s hands are doing: they’re holding onto Grey’s biceps again, which he’s relieved is the only part of him she’s touching. He gets nervous when her hands start to move up and he doesn’t know where she’ll touch him next (again, never occurs to him that he can use his words to tell her where she can and can’t touch), and is at first unsettled when she touches his face then decides he likes it when she engages in a bit of light hair pulling.
Touchy-time is over for Ana now, though, Christian decides, and it’s back to tedious undressing and incredibly tame foreplay. Well, except for more foot stuff. Just to reiterate, I’m not mocking ELJ for having a thing for feet, I’m just saying that it’s starting to feel like she honestly doesn’t realize that not everyone thinks feet are sexy. Her understanding of kink is so bad that I don’t think it’s ever even occurred to her that foot stuff–at least the way she writes about her character’s drooling over naked feet–is itself a kink. Like, am I wrong here? Am I just reading way too much into this because I think feet are so unsexy that any mention of them in these books feels like a personal attack?
Still kneeling, he grasps my foot and undoes my Converse, pulling off my shoe and sock. I raise myself up on my elbows to see what he’s doing. I’m panting…wanting. He lifts my foot by the heel and runs his thumbnail up my instep. It’s almost painful, but I feel the movement echoed in my groin. I gasp. Not taking his eyes off mine, again he runs his tongue along my instep and then his teeth. Shit. I groan. How can I feel this there?
I’m surprised Tarantino wasn’t jumping at the chance to direct the movie…
Oh, and if you’re all like “where?” anytime Ana says “there” or “down there,” she means her pussy. This is the second time she’s used that word in this scene by my count, and it’s usage is only gonna increase exponentially, so get used to it. Naughty words are only for filthy non-virgins, I guess.
Christian wants her to show him how she masturbates, but Ana doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Okay, this is just ridiculous. Like, there’s nothing wrong with her never having touched herself before or simply not having the desire to do so–I know it may be hard to believe, but there are some people out there who don’t masturbate–but the fact that she seems confused by the very idea of self-pleasure just reads as more gross infantilization. It’s way more uncomfortable than the conceptually identical scene in the first season of Bridgerton because at least in that show (I haven’t read the books so I’m only talking about the show here) it was less incredulous that the FMC was so clueless about sex due to the time period.
“I’m going to make you come like a freight train, baby,” Christian thinks upon realizing he gets to give her her first orgasm. I’m sorry, you’re going to what now?
Christian can’t very well plow his train through her tunnel with his pants still on, though. He contemplates taking his shirt off as well, but “I can’t risk taking my shirt off, because then she might touch me.” Okay, this is also just getting ridiculous. What’s keeping your shirt on gonna do, bud? Does it say “don’t touch me” on it and ELJ forgot to mention that? Does it emit a force field that repels hands away from his no-go zones like magnets? It’s fabric, not plate armor, for shit’s sake, and we’ve already established on multiple occasions that he’s perfectly capable of feeling her body against his through his clothes, albeit with no consistency in how it makes him feel emotionally. And if this is meant to convey that there’s a big difference for him between being touched on his bare chest and being touched through his clothes, then this is an entirely new and confusing development.
And how does Christian conduct Ana’s locomotive on its maiden voyage? Through the even more incredulous expedient of nipple play. Yep, that’s it. First-time orgasmer Ana Steele is such a hair trigger that she goes off like a rocket from having her nipples pinched a bit. All the while, Christian is telling her to keep still, proving that my theory about how he thinks combining Fucking. Hard. with making love is supposed to work wasn’t far off from the truth. The pleasure is so intense that it makes Ana “nearly convulse” after having already “practically convuls(ed)” earlier in this scene. Is she okay? Does she need to see some kind of specialist? She comes at Christian’s command, and the way ELJ describes her orgasm sounds so dreadful that she needs to have Ana reassure us afterwards that it felt good and she wasn’t just having a seizure:
“Oh, please,” I beg, and I pull my head back, my mouth open as I groan, my legs stiffening. Holy hell, what’s happening to me?
“Let go, baby,” he murmurs. His teeth close around my nipple, and his thumb and finger pull hard, and I fall apart in his hands, my body convulsing and shattering into a thousand pieces. He kisses me deeply, his tongue in my mouth absorbing my cries.
Holy shit. That was extraordinary. Now I know what all the fuss is about.
He fingers her a bit, which also manages to sound entirely unpleasant, then Ana finally gets to meet Christian Grey’s Amazing Talking Penis. Sadly for anyone who was waiting with baited breath for a lovingly detailed description of it on par with that of the playroom, the details are bit… sparse. Which I’m personally not too broken up about. It is apparently such a monster cock that she wonders how it could possibly fit, though considering she thought a twenty-story skyscraper was impossibly huge back in chapter one, I think her size perception might be a little off.
Christian, to his very minor credit, asks Ana if she’s sure she wants this. Which is nice and all, that he’s considering her feelings for once, but unfortunately ruined all of one second later:
Should I be gentle and prolong the agony, or do I go for it?
I go for it. I need to possess her.
Bro, she’s a nervous virgin, and the author who’s writing you is of the variety who believes that bleeding and stabbing pain is normal for anyone with a vagina losing their virginity; whose agony do you think you’d be prolonging here by going slow? But I guess that does answer my question as to how this round of vanilla sex would in any way show Ana what she’d be getting into with him; it wasn’t the bondage and pain play he was referring to, it was the fact that any woman who enters a relationship with him should expect to have her feelings routinely shat upon.
Either Christian rams into her cervix or ELJ thinks Ana’s hymen is halfway up to her ovaries, but whatever it is that happens it suddenly reminds Ana that it’s Talk Like a Pirate Day:
“I’m going to fuck you now, Miss Steele,” he murmurs as he positions the head of his erection at the entrance of my sex. “Hard,” he whispers, and he slams into me.
“Aargh!” I cry as I feel a weird pinching sensation deep inside me as he rips through my virginity. He stills, gazing down at me, his eyes bright with ecstatic triumph.
She’s holding his forearms, but Christian doesn’t mind, though of course he expresses it in his dramatic, self-obsessed weirdo way: “The darkness is slumbering, perhaps because I’ve wanted her for so long.” So, upper arms are okay, and forearms are riskier territory for some reason, got it.
They fuck, it’s boring, Ana comes again on voice-command, then Christian gets off as well immediately after she does. And again, because the Greybot is a horny AI who is programed to commence copulation first and gather data on pleasure responses after, it’s only after they’ve fucked that he stops to ask if he hurt her by “ripping through her virginity.”
And I have to grin, widely. “You are asking me if you hurt me?”
“The irony is not lost on me.” He smiles sardonically. “Seriously, are you okay?” His eyes are intense, probing, demanding even.
I stretch out beside him, feeling loose-limbed, my bones like jelly, but I’m relaxed, deeply relaxed. I grin at him. I can’t stop grinning. Now I know what all the fuss is about. Two orgasms…coming apart at the seams, like the spin cycle on a washing machine, wow. I had no idea what my body was capable of, could be wound so tightly and released so violently, so gratifyingly. The pleasure was indescribable.
“You haven’t answered me.” He’s frowning.
I think you need to get a new washing machine, Ana; it shouldn’t be doing that. Huh… come to think of it, maybe she is “scruffy looking” because her clothes are coming apart at the seams…
Why is it ironic that he’s giving a shit about her being in pain? Is it just because he’s a Dom and sexual sadist and therefore isn’t supposed to give a shit about her feelings? Not to belabor the point, but if it wasn’t clear by now that ELJ has a low opinion of BDSMers and doesn’t understand a thing about consensual sadomasochism, then I don’t know what to tell you.
She’s too coy to give him a yes or no answer, but says that she wants to go again. So fuck again they do, this time from behind so Grey can take his shirt off without fearing her trying to touch him (grrr). It’s really not worth going into great detail about, except to mention that he sticks his thumb in her pussy then tells her to suck it, and when he tells her that he’s looking forward to getting a blowjob from her it shocks her so much that she bites his thumb. He imagines how he might punish her for that if she was his sub, and ELJ teases me with my fondest desire before cruelly denying me: “My cock expands to bursting at the thought.” James, if you’re not going to give me the exploding Christian Grey peen, then I’m going to have to ask you to kindly get the fuck out. And I need it to be gory, let me tell you.
“We’re going to go real slow this time, Anastasia,” he tells her, because it’s not like that was an option the first fucking time around. I guess he’s all about “prolonging the agony” now, hm? He fucks her again, develops an annoying habit of telling her she’s sweet and belongs to him with a period between each word, Ana comes again and “convulses” again (seriously, I think she should get checked out by a neurologist or something), and they’re both so overcome by either boredom or the wild passion they just shared that they fall asleep.
Grey wakes up sometime later (early the next morning, because it’s past midnight and therefore new chapter o’clock in Grey), feeling guilty “as if I’ve committed a terrible sin” for having just fucked a virgin. He gets horny thinking of the night’s events, citing Ana’s “unbridled enthusiasm for sexual congress” as a highlight, which is something that only an AI could possibly think passes for erotic. Nice try, Greybot, but I’m not so easily fooled by your flimsy human guise. I guess “sexual congress” is what you get when you try to combine Fucking. Hard. with making love.
He leaves Ana sleeping in his bed to go play sad piano because he’s just too overcome by feeeeelings to sleep. I don’t even need to use another Phantom gif here, the reference just makes itself. Eventually, his playing wakes up Ana, too:
I wrap the duvet around me and quietly pad down the corridor toward the big room. Christian is at the piano, completely lost in the melody he’s playing. His expression is sad and forlorn, like the music. His playing is stunning. Leaning against the wall at the entrance, I listen, enraptured. He’s such an accomplished musician. He sits naked, his body bathed in the warm light cast by a solitary freestanding lamp beside the piano. With the rest of the large room in darkness, it’s like he’s in his own isolated little pool of light, untouchable…lonely, in a bubble.
He’s not actually naked but wearing PJ bottoms, which she notices after she approaches him and he stands up. “His pants hang from his hips, in that way…” which of course makes her horny. WHAT WAY, ANA? PLEASE, TELL ME. Christian scolds her for being up past her bedtime, tells her what the music was he was playing was, and she says calls it, “…exquisite, but very sad, such a melancholy melody,” which prompts Grey to go into flashback mode. He’s thinking of Leila, one of his ex subs who is mentioned here for the first time and will become very important later in Fifty Shades Darker. I appreciate that ELJ figured it was a good idea this time around in Grey to bring her into the story earlier, but the way she writes Leila is just… weird? I’m not sure how else to put it other than she sounds like C-3PO:
“May I speak freely? Sir.” Leila is kneeling beside me while I work.
“Sir, you are most melancholy today.”
“Yes, Sir. Is there something that you would like me to do…?”
I guess chatbots attract other chatbots…
Christian tells Ana to go back to bed and reminds her that he doesn’t normally sleep with anyone. But because he’s just so ~*melancholy*~ she can’t resist engaging in her emerging favorite mental pastime of picturing him as a sad little boy:
I can’t fathom his mood. He seems a little despondent, but it’s difficult to tell in the darkness. Perhaps it was the tone of the piece he was playing. He puts his arm around me and gently walks me back to the bedroom.
“How long have you been playing? You play beautifully.”
“Since I was six.”
“Oh.” Christian as a six-year-old boy…my mind conjures an image of a beautiful, copper-haired little boy with gray eyes and my heart melts—a moppet-haired kid who likes impossibly sad music.
They go back to the bedroom where there’s blood on the sheets, because some authors just can’t let go of that particular virginity trope and/or because Christian couldn’t be bothered to be gentle with a nervous virgin who has never had anything larger than a tampon inside her before. Ana’s all embarrassed by this, which annoys Christian, and we get a bit of irony in his POV that I still haven’t figured out was intentional or not:
I’m about to give her a short lecture on how not to be ashamed of her body, when she reaches out to touch my chest.
I step out of her reach as the darkness surfaces.
Hypocrisy, thy name is Mr. Grey.
He’s not wearing his force field shirt, you see, so Ana’s hand was naturally drawn to his chest since it’s just occurred to her that she’s never seen him shirtless or touched his chest before. She’s puzzled by his rejection, but he puts a t-shirt on, orders her to go to bed for the fourth time, and tells her that he’ll lie down and cuddle with her to soften the blow.
“Sleep, sweet Anastasia,” he murmurs, and I close my eyes. But I can’t help feeling a residual melancholy either from the music or his demeanor. Christian Grey has a sad side.
And that’s where chapter eight ends. Boy, this ended up being longer than I thought it would yet again, but once I was already over halfway I was kind of on a roll and just wanted to push through to the end rather than breaking it into two posts (also at that point it would’ve been a pain in the ass to cut half of what I wrote and paste it correctly formatted with all the gifs and links in a new draft post and I’m feeling lazy tonight). See you again soon in chapter nine!