Grey: Fifty Shades as told by a Garbage-Person, Chapter 2 recap

Welcome back, dear readers. We return to Christian’s increasingly sinister story with- and I’m not making this up- the full text of the background check that he ordered, without the permission of the woman whose privacy he is invading, moments after his first meeting with Ana ended in the last chapter. So, you know, if you ever wanted to know Ana’s fucking grade point average, now you can; vital information, I know.

To be honest, there’s a lot wrong with how this chapter opens, in the context of what we’ve already read thus far. For one, this background check contains so much information that would be completely useless to Grey in a romantic context that it’s unclear whether he’s trying to woo her in the most overcomplicated manner possible, or steal her identity; what the hell is he going to do with her social security number or bank details?

I pore over the executive summary for the hundredth time since I received it two days ago, looking for some insight into the enigmatic Miss Anastasia Rose Steele.

Well shit, maybe you should have asked for more relevant behavioral information, and less meaningless numerical data, then. Because, see, while Welch sure managed to get hold of Ana’s old high school, when it comes to the stuff Christian might actually want, like romantic relationships or sexual orientation (let’s face it, he’s really only after the one thing, as the previous chapter makes uncomfortably clear) the results are a big ol’ shrug. Why even have sections on the document for stuff like that just to write “not known” under them?

At least be good at stalking, if you absolutely have to do it, Grey.

The worst part about all this is that it confirms the worst possible interpretation of this scene in the Fifty Shades story, and this was always going to be the big pitfall that writing this same narrative from Christian’s perspective risked falling into. The benefit of Ana’s story, for those fans of the series who insist that these books don’t depict abuse, is that we never knew what Christian was thinking during all of this, bar what he himself said; it was possible, before now, to interpret his intentions in a charitable light, and therefore to justify his actions because he might have been coming on strong, but he was doing so for a person he genuinely liked. The intensity of their attraction held the hope of making the more troublesome aspects of the series romantic, if very strange to read about.

You may notice that I’m essentially talking about the original Fifty Shades trilogy in terms of plausible deniability rather than outright evidence that it isn’t abuse. This should be a huge warning sign; vagaries and plausible deniability are key weapons in the arsenal of an abuser. He’s not hitting her, she’s just clumsy. Those bruises are from something else.

All that vanishes now, the thin veneer of respectability that vagueness brings collapses, because Christian’s intentions are now explicit, and they are exactly as wrong as the biggest detractors of the series have been saying all along. The timeline of Christian’s actions are now set in stone: He met Ana once, began obsessively objectifying her for the majority of that meeting, immediately invaded her privacy behind her back, obsessed over the information that invasion gleaned for days, and then, ultimately, he drops his work at a large company to make the six hour, nearly four hundred mile drive across state lines, in order to visit her at work without her knowledge. This is the behavior of a stalker, not a romantic. He’s one closet-shrine to her away from Hollywood stalking.

Bad enough as this is on its own, E.L James’ inexplicable pacing here serves to exacerbate it further, as this scene takes place immediately after the first meeting of the two protagonists, and with no interstitial scenes to break up the flow and give us time to decompress from one episode to the next, we’re left with the feeling that this is all Christian has done since meeting Ana. The lack of any secondary character development makes Christian feel flat and single-minded; he spent the first scene having vaguely sketched BDSM fantasies, and kicks off the second by… continuing to do essentially that, with an added dose of privacy invasion. For a book that lives or dies on its depiction of romance, such a flaw only being enforced by the writing is crippling. Remember, this is our first introduction to these events from Christian’s perspective, potentially our first introduction to this character at all, if you’re a newcomer to the series, and the author opts to kick this off in the creepiest manner possible. There may not be a way to recover from this first impression.

I do find myself wondering, also, whether the book is going to continue in this vein, by which I mean, is it going to just keep skipping from one “Ana and Christian” scene to another, with nothing in between? See, the trouble there is, we’ve already seen all of those scenes, they took up the majority of the first round of this crap. If they do the same here, then there won’t be any new content to be found here, and in the end nothing to justify writing the same story again. The big draw of this type of re-release isn’t the narrative, since that’s already available, it’s the additional insight of seeing that story through the eyes of another character (in this case, probably also the extra cash) but if we don’t get any scenes that didn’t already exist to round out what is increasingly becoming a flat character- by chapter two- then nobody is going to care. There’s no creative reason to write this story a second time if you refuse to offer anything different from the first time around.

Also? Such a book will be significantly shorter than the original, as content will only be subtracted, not added.

One final thought on this, which is a piffling little nitpick, but I think its significant either due to how delusional Christian is, or how inconsistent E.L James’ writing is: when asked what he does to relax in the first chapter, Grey acts all put upon and says:

Besides, when do I get time to chill out?

One chapter later, he’s dropping his entire job to travel interstate on a whim, because he thinks a girl is hot.

Anyway, Christian has followed Ana to Oregon, where he decides to drop in to her work unannounced, because of course the one thing a young woman wants is for a near-stranger who spent the entirety of their time together being overbearing and aggressive to attach themselves to her while she’s working, concealing an ulterior motive. As he sits in his car, Christian ponders the questions that we’re all just fucking consumed with:

My fear now is that Miss Steele is just too young and that she won’t be interested in what I have to offer. Will she? Will she even make a good submissive?

First of all, Ana is 21, and Christian is supposed to be 27, so he’s right, that’s one insurmountable age gap right there. He’d better just turn around right the fuck now.

Second, notice the big ass assumptions Christian is making right off the bat, that Ana’s just going to take whatever he’s willing to dish out: will she make a good submissive? How about, is she even kinky at all? What Ana might want never seems to figure into the man’s thought processes; it’s all about his desires, what he wants from her. There’s this shallowness to his thinking regarding Ana that pervades the writing thus far; this is seriously this generation’s big ticket romantic hero?

Also, and this has been bugging me since chapter one, yet again we have this one-dimensional approach to how Christian sees Ana, and how he seems to see every woman; he’s into BDSM, and therefore every sexual or romantic relationship he approaches (and apparently even platonic single meetings, given how he’s treating Ana) ends up within this little box of how the other party would be as a submissive. No thoughts of getting to know the person, not even any thoughts of her sexually, just thoughts of how she would be sexually submissive.

Circling around a single thought or theme would be repetitive with any kind of character, but it particularly irritates me with BDSM practitioners because it’s reductive of a concept that’s complex and nuanced, not just a character who should also be complex and nuanced. BDSM is bigger and wider than floggers and canes, the pain and impact play that seem to occupy the majority of Christian’s sexuality (and mind in general) are shallow waters, just one little corner of a host of sensations and mentalities and roles that kinksters can involve themselves in. BDSM can be romantic, or impersonal, it can be the majority of a person’s sex life, a once-in-a-while thing, or any point in between, but what it isn’t is this monomaniacal obsession that blots out all thought of relationship building or acting like a human being. Christian doesn’t get that, because E.L James doesn’t get that. And if I had to hazard a guess, I’d say E.L James doesn’t get that because it’s a repeated trope found in kink fiction, the dominant who only does BDSM, and so that’s what she’s modelling her kink on because she doesn’t know better and seems to have little firsthand experience with any of this. In doing so she’s scuttling the character we’re supposed to spend the most time with: aspiring kink writers, if you listen to any of my advice, listen to this. Don’t go down this road. Avoid the dom who only thinks about collars and nipple clamps, it’s dumb and undercuts the human experience. Give your characters an inner life that extends beyond what you’d like them to be doing with their genitals.

Unfortunately, Grey continues to ruminate on various things in his car, and equally unfortunately none of the topics he moves on to are any less troublesome than the first: from “what if she doesn’t immediately buy into my every kink and fetish?” he begins to wonder “what if she doesn’t find my magic penis appealing?”

Why no boyfriend, Miss Steele? Sexual orientation unknown—perhaps she’s gay. I snort, thinking that unlikely. I recall the question she asked during the interview, her acute embarrassment, the way her skin flushed a pale rose…I’ve been suffering from these lascivious thoughts since I met her.

“Pfft, she can’t be gay, because of how acutely she wanted my D!” I’m beginning to get the feeling that Christian’s thoughts will always circle around to how much the object of his desires wants him, no matter the reality. Wishful thinking, readers.

Also, what “lascivious thoughts” are these? Ones of Ana being embarrassed and blushing? Those are the items directly before this reference, and yet neither of them are particularly lascivious; perhaps we’re just supposed to start filling in the erotic content ourselves? I mean, with the amount of outright copy/pasted content here, it’s not like we need more evidence that E.L James is just phoning it in at this point. She’s been phoning it in ever since the first book, considering that it was 89 percent identical to the fanfic it was originally.

Finally, here we have another reference to homosexuality that is entirely derogatory, something for the protagonist to laugh about. Ugh.

I’m itching to see her again—those blue eyes have haunted me, even in my dreams. I haven’t mentioned her to Flynn, and I’m glad because I’m now behaving like a stalker. Perhaps I should let him know. No. I don’t want him hounding me about his latest solution-based-therapy shit.

Yeah, why would you ever discuss your behavioral issues, that you acknowledge as a problem, with your therapist? All he’d do is propose therapies about it, and who wants that?

The line between “behaving like” a stalker and being a stalker is thin enough for me to consider it non-existent, especially when it’s a sustained behavior over several days, but it’s good to see Christian- and by extension E.L James- explicitly acknowledging that, contrary to her past assertions that this series in no way depicts abuse, her main character does, in fact, act in an abusive fashion. Apparently neither of them see it as enough of a problem to even consider getting psychological help for, but that too is a running theme in this series, where nobody gets a therapist when they need one, and the only one actually present in the books is largely for show, there to lend a professional tone to the “healing through the power of love,” craptitude that James attempts to use in place of an actual romantic story arc here. Perhaps we’ll go there later, for now, just know that Christian understands what he’s doing is not right, he just doesn’t care because it’s in service of fulfilling his whims.

After approximately eighty years of sitting in one place and individually unpacking each of the problematic elements in this scene, so that he can act like they’re no big deal, Christian finally decides to go into the damn hardware store where Ana works, thinking as he does so that he can use this as an opportunity to make yet more inappropriate come-ons to a woman he barely knows, regardless of her interest in him, or lack thereof:

I’d forgotten the possibilities that a hardware store could present to someone like me. I mainly shop online for my needs, but while I’m here, maybe I’ll stock up on a few items: Velcro, split rings—Yeah. I’ll find the delectable Miss Steele and have some fun.

Frankly, this might be the only halfway decent kinky advice in the entire series, because yes, hardware stores can be pretty good resources for the aspiring kinkster. That Christian will go on to fuck this advice up in future should not be surprising- and really, one would be better ordering the velcro already attached to your desired restraint, rather than just picking some up wholesale- but credit where credit is due, I guess.

However? Split rings? Nope: they aren’t made to hold the weight that bondage mostly requires. They, y’know, split. For anything other than appearances they’re basically useless, especially when you can get D-rings and the like from hardware stores that’ll do the same job, but way better. Remember what I said about fucking up this imitable kink thing? Yeah. Couldn’t even maintain it for an entire paragraph.

Showtime, Grey.

Yeah, because that’s what this is, isn’t it? It’s just one big sideshow for your amusement, everyone else be damned.

Another thing that I want to highlight here is that Christian has engineered this entire second meeting to give himself a huge power advantage, whether intentional or not; coming to her work might be a good pretense through which to see her some more, but what it also means is that he is a customer here, and that Ana’s job relies on her keeping him pleased. She can’t just brush him off when he talks to her, she can’t escape him, and if he complains about her to her boss then she could end up unemployed. Just… keep that in mind, for the remainder of this hardware store scene.

Once he finally meets up with her, Christian offers this observation, amongst a bunch of others that are literally all about her appearance and nothing else:

She’s dressed in a tight T-shirt and jeans, not the shapeless shit she was wearing earlier this week. She’s all long legs, narrow waist, and perfect tits.

So, this is what Christian actually thinks about what she looks, which is interesting because he spends the entirety of the first book making negative comments about her body; she’s too thin, she needs to hit the gym, and so on and so forth, an endless stream of criticism. This would be bad enough if he actually believed it- what the fuck is wrong with a person who’ll get into a romantic relationship with a person they can only frame in negative terms and spend the entire time beating them down with that?- but now we know better: Christian’s formative reactions to Ana are uniformly positive, he actually uses the word “perfect” to describe parts of her. So what purpose does the constant criticism and negativity serve, if he doesn’t even believe it?

This, my friends, is a classic tactic for abusers; he offers Ana a series of persistent negative talking points to play off of her obviously present insecurity to prompt her to devalue herself and, thus, rely on him more. It simply can’t be denied anymore, that Christian is doing this; he’s established himself that he isn’t offering those criticisms because those are things he truly believes, and Ana’s insecurity is clear just from looking at her through his eyes, so there is no reason for him to do so other than to degrade her. Utterly vile.

Christian continues to be utterly vile by subjecting this poor captive woman to- what he perceives to be- sexual come ons:

“There are a few items I need. To start with, I’d like some cable ties.”
My request catches her off guard; she looks stunned.

Why?

No, seriously: why is Ana stunned by this? Anyone with knowledge of the other books in this series would know that Ana is an incredibly sexually naive woman; in fact the narration in Fifty Shades takes pains to let us know that she hadn’t even masturbated before meeting Christian. Leaving aside how unrealistic that is, the end result is that we have a woman with little to no sexual experience immediately leaping to the conclusion that a man who she barely knows wants cable ties for sexual reasons. This runs completely contrary to the virginal character this girl is supposed to be; what kind of woman has never even touched herself but knows anything at all about bondage? If sex is such a non-issue for her then why would she instantly be thinking about it at all?

Mind you, actual practitioners of bondage probably wouldn’t be thinking that way about cable ties, because as a method of restraint, cable ties suck; they’re stiff and hard to deal with, they’re abrasive on the skin and can pinch nerves too, they have no give at all to prevent a loss of circulation, and it can be difficult to cut them to release a sub in an emergency. They simply were not made to put a human being into; they were made for cords and other inanimate objects. Hardware stores carry rope, which is a far better option than cable ties because it accomplishes the same result without all the messy negative points. And it would actually be reasonable for a vanilla person to connect rope with bondage, whereas cable ties… not so much. It’s almost like Christian went out of his way to pick the worst possible tool to start with, which I guess makes sense, because Christian himself is also the worst possible tool.

“They’re with the electrical goods, aisle eight.” Her voice wavers and she blushes…
She is affected by me. Hope blooms in my chest.

A flushed face is also a reaction one can have when in danger, which seems to me to be a much more reasonable reaction when a guy you’ve barely met stalks you across state lines and starts mugging at you while asking for equipment most commonly used by kindappers, but hey, what do I know? Clearly Ana’s physical reactions can only be caused by how dripping her nethers are becoming. Why would a physical human reaction in a woman not be caused by arousal toward Christian Grey, that’s just ridiculous! Perish the thought!

She really is the whole package: sweet, polite, and beautiful, with all the physical attributes I value in a submissive. But the million-dollar question is, could she be a submissive? She probably knows nothing of the lifestyle—my lifestyle—but I very much want to introduce her to it. You are getting way ahead of yourself on this deal, Grey.

Yes! Yes you are! You are getting so very far ahead of yourself! You know nothing about this woman! I mean, granted, reading Fifty Shades confirms to us that yes, Ana is attracted to Christian too, but he has no way of knowing that right now. It’s like he’s just decided, simply by virtue of thinking she has a fine ass, that she must desire him too; he’s just entitled to have her because he thinks she’s hot. Yeah, he’s taking the occasional physical cue and spinning that to confirm what he’s already decided on before he even entered the store, but that just means he’s set in seeking out whatever might get him what he wants, it’s classic confirmation bias.

More than that, he’s also assuming that she has no idea about BDSM either, an assertion proven roundly false by the success of this series of fucking books. The man treats kink like some big dark secret, some special little club that he’s a part of but nobody else knows about (at least until he educates them with his magic beef truncheon) but he’s doing that as the protagonist of an erotic novel that has sold millions of copies and became a best selling movie too. There are clearly more people into bondage than he seems to think; with the information at his disposal it’s equally likely that Ana has her own set of live-in submissives waiting in chains back home, than it is that she’s a kink virgin. But no, he can’t possibly be wrong about such things, and she has to be sexually submissive herself based on a few uninformed observations of her meek conduct, because nobody has ever had a private life that differed from how they present in public in any way, ever.

“Are you in Portland on business?” she asks, interrupting my thoughts. Her voice is high; she’s feigning disinterest. It makes me want to laugh. Women rarely make me laugh.

Oh yeah, of course she’s feigning disinterest, she simply must be, because you’re the most interesting fucking guy on the planet, aren’t you Grey? Nobody could ever legitimately not be interested in what you have to say.

And of course, women don’t often make him laugh either, with their unsophisticated humor. Fuck other women, right? Ana’s so much better than they are.

The point I’m trying to make here is that it’s a bad sign when the only way a writer can make their heroine look better is by going negative on all other women. There’s no emphasis on Ana’s positive character traits here- because she has none- just this weird obsession with tearing other women down, which shows up in other aspects of the book too. Maybe I’ll start a running tally of this kind of reductive character “building.”

“I was visiting the WSU farming division. It’s based in Vancouver,” I lie. Actually, I’m here to see you, Miss Steele.
Her face falls, and I feel like a shit.

Oh, that’s a good sign: he wants to start something with her but won’t stop lying to make it seem otherwise, even when it (apparently, because it’s very hard to trust Christian’s narration) visibly disappoints her. Mind games like that are very healthy bases for relationships.

“Something like that,” I mutter. Is she laughing at me?

So when you laugh at her it’s fine, but she can’t do the same?

Christina waffles on in his mind about asking Ana out on a date, and though the narration seems to want us to feel like he’s doubting that as a possibility, it’s hard to actually follow along because he’s made so many assumptions about how much she wants him already. Hell, he literally takes her unwillingness to look at him as a sign of attraction in that very same paragraph; I simply don’t buy this sudden spasm of nervousness in the light of the weird, stalkery confidence he’s had all throughout the book thus far.

Also, he spends the entire time he’s thinking these things silently fondling cable ties, which makes the whole scene so much funnier if you keep that in mind.

From there they go to get masking tape, Grey pontificating equally about how he doesn’t have a hope with her and how much she wants him the entire way, and then he asserts that the tape is good as a gag, which it totally isn’t. You get the same skin abrasion problem you get with cable ties there, and ultimately tape is an inefficient gag because it leaves the mouth open and has a chance of being worked off just through movements of the jaw. A wadded up length of cloth tied around the head does a far superior job, and could no doubt be found in a hardware store too. Remember, with gags, merely covering the mouth only does part of the job; filling the mouth restricts the voice far better, and the intimacy involved with having something in the mouth has a greater psychological effect on your chosen sub.

Grey also pops a boner when their fingers touch, which makes me suspect that actually we’re reading about a teenager and not a legitimate adult.

She pales. “Anything else?” Her voice is soft and husky.
Christ, I’m having the same effect on her that she has on me. Maybe…

Here I’d like to note that earlier in the chapter Grey took Ana blushing as a sign that he was “affecting” her (he keeps using that word too, in case you still had some illusion that E.L James was a writer) and now he’s taking her paling as a sign of the same thing; those are the only two things human face skin can do. Having more blood in her face is a sign that she’s hot for him, and having less blood in her face is a sign that she’s hot for him.

Seems like no matter what Ana does, Christian is going to interpret it as longing for his throbbing meat spade.

Christian also wants rope, which just says to me that he knows rope exists, yet still wants cable ties because he’s a shitty dom who doesn’t care about the physical well being of his submissives. Ana starts listing kinds of rope- vaguely- and Christian starts fantasizing about her again, which lends credence to my theory that everything Ana does will act as cock-confirmation, but eventually he orders “natural filament” rope, which makes me wonder what kind, because there’s more than one of those. They start talking about how Ana wasn’t a girl scout, and then he finally learns, after chasing her interstate and holding her captive at her work, his first real fact about who she is as a person:

“Books,” she answers.
“What kind of books?”
“Oh, you know. The usual. The classics. British literature, mainly.”
British literature? The Brontës and Austen, I bet. All those romantic hearts-and-flowers types.
That’s not good.

… And immediately interprets it through his own prism of assumptions, rather than just asking her. Because Ana is a woman, and so obviously the only segments of British literature she could possibly have been exposed to are romances. And of course she’s bound to have internalized the gender roles in those books too, because she’s a vacuous portal to be filled by whatever experiences drift Ana-wards, whether they be classical romances or Christian Grey’s weaksauce cable tie bondage party. There’s no possible way she could have rejected those era-specific stereotypes in favor of a personal, nuanced set of expectations for romance and sex based on what appeals to her, rather than what others have dictated should appeal to her; after all, she’s a woman that Christian Grey desires, and therefore can and should be molded by outside influences into the kind of woman he wants, rather than her own, self-determining person.

Man, fuck this dude. What an ass.

As if to confirm what I just said, Christian steps up his unasked-for sexual advances, offering to take off his pants, and as a normal person held captive by this presumptuous, jumped up little prick with an ulterior motive, Ana is rightly embarrassed to be seen with him.

She’s mortified, eyes still cast down. Christ, she does things to me.

Christian is sexually excited by Ana’s mortification. Because that’s nice, that he gets off on her negative emotional reactions, made outside of a sexual setting. That’s a good sign.

Unfortunately, Ana gives Christian an opportunity to see her again, requesting a photograph to go along with the article that her friend Kate is writing, that Ana had acted as replacement for during the interview in the first chapter. Christian assumes, based on nothing, that Ana will be there, despite the fact that she’s not involved in the article in any real sense. Thusly agreeing to a photo shoot, he considers dragging Taylor down here with his stuff so that he can maintain the false pretense of working in Portland and hiding his real motives for being here. Of course, nobody who hasn’t read the other books will know who Taylor is, as Christian is just throwing around nouns without any explanation, but E.L James is apparently just working under the assumption that her old audience is her only audience and expansion be damned, so it goes uncommented on.

Finally something actually happens to interrupt the doldrums of watching two interminable buffoons shop for rope:

“Ana!” We both turn as a young man dressed in casual designer gear appears at the far end of the aisle. His eyes are all over Miss Anastasia Steele. Who the hell is this prick?

Christian has known Ana for maybe half an hour before this moment, tops. Despite this, and the fact that she has in no way agreed to, or even begun a discussion on, beginning a romantic or sexual relationship with him, the man gets instantly territorial, aggressively so, at the sight of any other male. He even starts arching up to attack the man, balling his fists and staring like some drunken lunatic, but Ana, ever the doormat, rushes to offer excuses, as if she needs to justify knowing another man to this guy who’s almost a stranger.

This instant possessiveness and suspicion is another classic sign of an abuser; Christian has never had a personal interaction with Ana before, and yet he’s ready to haul off and punch a complete stranger, whom he reasons could be her boyfriend even, simply for the crime of acting familiar with what he’s already reasoned is his property.

He can try excusing it by calling it a “primal reaction” all he wants, but this is not the way a normal man thinks. This is not the way a good man acts, when around anybody, let alone a woman he wishes to get to know better.

Of course, now he knows that the man- Paul, who’s related to the owner of the store and a friend of Ana’s- is no threat because Ana fell over herself in her rush to make it clear he’s not her boyfriend, the gears in his head shift and the narration changes so that Paul is admiring of Christian, a clear act of submission to Grey’s alpha-male nonsense that I have a hard time believing exists anywhere outside of Christian’s biased interpretation of events. It’s like the narration is bragging to make Christian look better, but it’s so transparent and nasty that he just ends up looking like a violent psycho.

This scene takes up the entirety of the second chapter, it turns out, and the first chapter was itself a single scene without a change of setting too; the lack of variation isn’t exactly helping the narrative to remain vital, but the point is that Christian is leaving the hardware store finally. For some unfathomable reason E.L James decides it’s so very important that we see Christian paying for his crap and getting it bagged, and then he’s gone.

Yes, against my better judgment, I want her. Now I have to wait…fucking wait…again.

Truly, you are the greatest martyr of our time. You could have just explicitly asked her out like a normal person would, if waiting means so much to you. She would have said yes, or no, and you could be done with it; what exactly does anyone involved in this train wreck think will be accomplished by this constant beating around the bush?

I’m deliberately not looking back at her. I’m not. I’m not. My eyes flick to the rearview mirror, where I can see the shop door, but all I see is the quaint storefront. She’s not in the window, staring out at me.
It’s disappointing.

So on the one hand Christian rejects the notion of conventional romance out of hand, preferring instead to have coldly negotiated, purely sexual engagements with a series of contracted submissives, and yet he still expects conventional moon-eyed romantic swooning over him from Ana, presumably so he can make her feel bad for it and look all cool in the process. This brooding loner schtick must be hard to pull off without a bunch of real people there to facilitate it.

IT’S BEEN FIVE HOURS with no phone call from the delectable Miss Steele. What the hell was I thinking? I watch the street from the window of my suite at The Heathman. I loathe waiting. I always have. The weather, now cloudy, held for my hike through Forest Park, but the walk has done nothing to cure my agitation. I’m annoyed at her for not phoning, but mostly I’m angry with myself. I’m a fool for being here. What a waste of time it’s been chasing this woman. When have I ever chased a woman?

When have you ever chased a woman? You’re not chasing this woman, in any sense but the physical: you’ve been tracking her like a fugitive, but “chasing,” in the sense you’re thinking of? No: you’ve repeatedly kept your true motivations hidden from Ana, you’ve actively lied in order to stop her from thinking that you’re at all interested in her. In what way could you possibly consider yourself to be chasing her in a romantic sense, given that your every interaction with her has been filled with obfuscation to stop her from thinking that’s what you’re doing?

And for that matter, why are you blaming her for not picking up on the thing you’ve been trying your hardest to hide from her anyway?

“Er…Mr. Grey? It’s Anastasia Steele.”
My face erupts in a shit-eating grin.

That’s an awfully aggressive expression to use, upon having someone do something you want; generally, a “shit-eating grin” is worn by someone who feels they’ve gotten away with something, or who’s being purposefully antagonistic… is that truly how Christian views interacting with Ana?

Anyway, this is where the chapter mercifully ends: Ana sets up a time and place for a photo shoot with Christian, and Christian, for his part, assumes that she’ll be there. We end on the line:

How the hell am I going to close this deal?

Well, I can already tell this is going to go wonderfully.

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