Alright, enough messing around. You’re not here to read about two people going on dinner dates, eating oysters and haggling over legal contracts. You’re here to read about fucking. You know it, I know it, and E.L. James sure as shit knows it. So she’s done messing around with all this lame build-up crap, and she instead plunges us into Chapter Fourteen mid-coitus. Ana is “naked and shackled, spread-eagled on a large four poster bed;” Christian standing over her brandishing a leather riding crop which he first orders her to suck, before pulling it out of her mouth, trailing it down her body, and eventually flicking it against her “sweet spot,” causing her to “come, gloriously.”
And then…she wakes up.
It was all a dream.
Yeah, that old chestnut. A tired cliche, to be sure, but almost worth it to hear the increasingly stupid sounding Ana actually express bafflement at the very idea of a wet dream. “I didn’t know I could dream sex,” she muses to herself. Wow. Is it really appropriate for Christian to be messing around with someone this dumb? I mean, there have to be laws about this kind of thing, right?
Anyway, the real gist of this chapter is Ana and Kate’s graduation ceremony. There’s some nonsense before hand with Kate grilling Ana over the details of her dinner with Christian, but that’s really only notable for this hilarious exchange:
“How was dinner?”
“We had oysters. Followed by cod, so I’d say it was fishy.”
Alright, let’s not hold that lame joke against Ana – after all, she has a lot on her mind. She still can’t stop thinking about her “negotiation” with Christian the night before.
I am so confused. Christian’s idea of a relationship is more like a job offer. It has set hours, a job description, and a rather harsh grievance procedure. It’s not how I envisaged my first romance – but, of course, Christian doesn’t do romance. If I tell him I want more, he may say no…and I could jeopardize what he has offered. And this is what concerns me most, because I don’t want to lose him.
Even though I know plenty of people who have been in awful, unpredictable relationships that would probably love the idea of set hours and a job description for any new relationship, I still sympathize with Ana. Christian does seem like a great guy, what with all the history of past abuse, ordering her to eat her food even when she isn’t hungry, his stated desire to make her beg for more pain. I mean, a catch is a catch. She needs to lock this up!
But that will have to wait. Right now, it’s time to crank up “Friends Forever” by Vitamin C and get to the graduation! The day starts off well for Ana, as her favorite stepfather Ray does indeed show up for the big day. The two briefly catch up for a bit before heading to the auditorium. Once there, Ana starts getting nervous – she knows Christian is somewhere in the building, and the very thought of it sets her heart pounding. Things don’t get any easier when he finally makes his way to the stage. A jealous Ana fumes as the girls sitting beside her talk about how hot he is, and then…
As he sits, he undoes his single-breasted jacket, and I glimpse his tie. Holy shit…that tie!
Thankfully, Ana composes herself in time to listen to Kate’s valedictorian speech. And good thing, because it sure sounds like an amazing speech!!
She takes her time, not intimidated by a thousand people gawping at her. She smiles when she’s ready, looks up at the captivated throng, and launches eloquently into her speech. She’s so composed and funny, the girls beside me erupt on cue at her first joke. Oh, Katherine Kavanagh, you can deliver a good line.
Uhh…OK. What was the joke?
Kate concludes her speech with a flourish, and spontaneously everyone stands, applauding and cheering, her first standing ovation.
Well, yea, I can see why…oh, no, wait, I can’t…because I didn’t get to hear one goddamn bit of the speech! This is one of the oldest and laziest writer tricks in the book, and I’m really not that surprised to see James resort to it. You simply tell us the speech was great, and that everyone loved it, but at the same time save yourself the trouble of actually having to come up with a brilliant speech yourself. I can just see James sitting at her computer, trying to think of some really moving, inspirational words, before finally sighing and saying, “eh, fuck it, I’ll just say everyone in the crowd loved it and move on – let whoever writes the eventual Fifty Shades movie deal with actually having to write the damn speech.”
To be fair, we do get a little bit of Christian’s speech – well, the opening paragraph, at least. I’m sure it exhausted James to even write that much of it, but in this case she probably felt she had to, as it includes what I assume is an important character revelation. As he talks about his involvement in the University’s environmental science department, and their work in developing viable and sustainable methods of farming for third world countries, Christian drops this bombshell:
“I have known what it’s like to be profoundly hungry. This is a very personal journey for me…”
Wait…does this mean Christian was a street urchin?
Ana – already feeling very protective of her potential future Dominant (I know…just go with it) – is very perturbed by this news.
My jaw drops to the floor. What? Christian was hungry once. Holy crap. Well, that explains a great deal…I desperately rack my brains to remember what Kate had written in her article. Adopted at age four, I think. I can’t imagine that Grace starved him, so it must have been before that, as a little boy. I swallow, my heart constricting at the thought of a hungry, gray-eyed toddler. Oh no. What kind of life did he have before the Greys got hold of him and rescued him.
Geez, I hope Christian didn’t just mean that he once skipped a few meals on a diet or something, or else Ana is gonna feel really foolish later. For now, though, she still can’t stop fretting over his hungry past.
I’m seized by a sense of raw outrage. Poor, fucked-up, kinky philanthropic Christian – though I’m sure he wouldn’t see himself this way and would repel any thoughts or sympathy or pity. Abruptly, everyone bursts into applause and stands. I follow, thought I haven’t heard half his speech.
Well, isn’t that convenient? You’ve done it again, James!
Eventually it is finally time for the degrees to be handed out. When he gives Ana hers, Christian uses the brief opportunity to ask her if she has purposely been ignoring his e-mails. Ana promises that isn’t that case, and after the ceremony the two meet up apart from the crowd. Ana explains that she simply hasn’t checked her messages yet today, and Christian tells her that he needs an answer from Ana about their “arrangement” by tomorrow, because “the waiting around is driving me crazy.”
Ana agrees to this, and then says she should really get back to her stepfather. Christian expresses a desire to meet Ray, an idea that absolutely floors Ana.
“No!” It’s my turn to sound exasperated. “Introduce you to my dad as what? ‘This is the man deflowered me and wants us to start a BDSM relationship.’ You’re not wearing running shoes.”
Sure, dad’s are always protective of their daughters, but I guess in this case – what with the whippings, nipple clamps and all – Ray would actually have a pretty good point. Still, Ana eventually relents and agrees to introduce Christian as her “friend,” but that sneaky bitch Kate (now joined by her visiting brother Ethan – yet another character who might just have a crush on Ana) ruins it by blurting out to Ray that Christian is, in fact, Ana’s “boyfriend.”
Holy shit…Kate! Fuck! All the blood drains from my face.
It turns out Ana doesn’t really have much to worry about, though. Although Ray is upset that Ana didn’t share this news with him herself, he doesn’t seem to have much issue with Christian himself. That’s probably because Christian is smart and doesn’t say anything like, “hey, Ray, nice to meet you…now let me tell you about the time that I ruined my sheets with the blood from Ana’s broken maidenhood.” No, he’s a classier guy than that, and in fact gets on Ray’s good side by instantly finding common ground with him – in this case, their shared love of fishing.
Ray raises his eyebrows and smiles – a rare, genuine bona fide Ray Steele smile – and off they go, talking fish. In fact, I soon feel surplus to requirements. He’s charming the pants off my dad…like he did you, my subconscious snaps at me.
Well, hopefully not exactly like he did you…that would be a very different kind of book.
Christian and Ana finally get another brief moment alone. Christian once again asks Ana to agree to his proposal. She waffles, telling him she wants more from a relationship. Christian informs her he can’t offer more, that he doesn’t know the world of “hearts and flowers.” All he can offer is his twisted version. Ana, the strong woman she is, stands her ground and says it’s not enough, striking a blow for in-control women everywhere.
Nah, I’m just kidding. Actually she suddenly folds because she remembers that he’s really hot.
“Try it,” he whispers. A challenge, daring me, and he cocks his head to one side and smiles his crooked, dazzling smile.
I gasp, and I’m Eve in the Garden of Eden, and he’s the serpent, and I cannot resist.
“Okay,” I whisper.
“What?” I have his full, undivided attention. I swallow.
“Okay. I’ll try.”
And thus officially begins the greatest love story of our age!! Or, you know, at least something to masturbate to after your husband and kids have gone to bed, I guess.
Anyway, the reality of what Ana has just agreed to quickly hits her. On one level she can’t believe she just agreed to be Christian’s sub, but she is mentally torn on whether it was a good idea or not.
What have you done? My subconscious screams at me. My inner goddess is doing back flips in a routine worthy of a Russian Olympic gymnast.
And so, Ana returns home with Ray. Before he leaves, Ray tells her that Christian seems like “a solid young man,” and that she could do a lot worse. It kills Ana a little that Ray doesn’t know what her and Christian will soon really be up to, but hey, them’s the breaks. Besides, if it’s any consolation, Ana, I doubt Ray would be happy to hear about any sex between you and a new boyfriend. The whole bondage thing might be beside the point at this moment.
As the chapter comes to a close, Ana and Christian again exchange e-mails. Ana wants to discuss the “soft limits” of their deal – her last sticking point – and Christian agrees to come over right that moment to work it out. Ana gets ready by grabbing the Thomas Hardy books he gave her and wrapping them up to give back to him, still not comfortable with such an expensive gift. She’s a sub, not a whore, you see. She scrawls a direct quote from Tess on the wrapping:
“I agree to the conditions, Angel; because you know best what my punishment ought to be; only – only – don’t make it more than I can bear!”
Man, putting a section from Hardy into the middle of Fifty Shades is sort of like if the characters in Troll 2 suddenly stopped in the middle of the movie and watched a scene from Citizen Kane. But, no matter! Christian is on his way to Ana’s apartment, which means I should probably go find more perverted gifs to use in the next chapter review. Something tells me it will be a naughty one.
And now, it’s time once again for:
The Official George Takei “Oh My” Counter® = 38!
Only one more “oh my” in this chapter. Disappointing, but I guess a graduation just isn’t erotic enough for Ana. Let’s see if these two crazy lovebirds can’t bump that up a little while they’re making the sexy-time in Chapter Fifteen, shall we?