Now we’re talking. Chapter Eighteen opens with Dr. Greene – a tall, immaculate “Stepford blonde” – on hand to give Ana a private gynecological exam in Christian’s apartment. Oh yeah…maybe it looks like a medical procedure on the surface, but this is Fifty Shades of Grey, baby, and I’ve seen this sort of set-up before. Having seemingly already exhausted Ana-Christian sex scenes, something tells me we’re in for a whole other kind here. C’mon, you know what I’m talking about. In a word…
OK, look, I’m a mature guy, and besides, I’ve already read more than my fair share of sex scenes in this thing. So I’m not saying I’m excited by this possibility. Nope…not saying that at all.
Ahh, who am I kidding?
Except…no…it never happens. Surprisingly enough, I was wrong about where this was heading. Even though she does somewhat inappropriately tell Christian to look after Ana because she thinks she’s “a beautiful, bright young woman,” Dr. Greene is otherwise completely professional, giving Ana a thorough exam, lecturing her on birth control, and finally prescribing her the pill. And that’s it. Just like that, the book’s opportunity for hot girl-on-girl action slips through our fingers. Well, that’s perfectly alright…
Anyway, as it turns out, there’s simply no room for Sappho shenanigans in this chapter, as this is another no-hold-barred, extended, Ana-Christian fuck-fest. Hey, write what you know, right? And E.L. James knows how much she loves to see Ana and Christian do it.
Not that they just dive right into sex following her doctor’s appointment. No, they at least have the good sense to eat a meal first, which is probably smart, cause you can bet they’ll be working up an appetite otherwise. As Christian says, “I don’t want you to passing out on me later.” He says it, but I’m not sure I believe it. Something tells me Christian is the kind of guy who could probably think of plenty of things to do with an unconscious girl.
No matter – they do eat, even though Ana is having a hard time focusing on anything but Christian, who she says is “sex on legs.” And any of you out there with unnamed bands might want to snatch that one up while you still can.
Following their meal, both are eager to get to business. Not the business of finally signing their contract (can we just get this damn thing signed already??). No…you know…other business.
Still, what with this being non-contracted sex and all, and given what she already knows (and has experienced) regarding Christian’s proclivities, Ana is understandably apprehensive about what is about to go down.
“Are you going to hit me?”
“Yes, but it won’t be to hurt you. I don’t want to punish you right now. If you’d caught me yesterday evening, well, that would have been a different story.”
Holy cow. He wants to hurt me… how do I deal with this? I can’t hide the horror on my face.
“Don’t let anyone try and convince you otherwise, Anastastia. One of the reasons people like me do this is because we either like to give or receive pain. It’s very simple.”
Well, Ana obviously can’t resist smooth talk like that, especially not after “he pulls me against him, and his erection presses into my belly.” Girls are a sucker for that kind of thing, you know. “Right now,” Christian informs her, “I just want to tie you up and fuck this senseless.” This sounds like a plan to Ana, and the two head to his Red Room of Pain.
Ahhh, yes, the “Red Room of Pain” – Christian’s sex dungeon. This place must seem like Disneyworld to devoted Fifty Shades readers. Don’t believe me? Consider that there are already online memes dedicated to the desire to visit said room…
And even t-shirts!
So, given all this Red Room excitement, just what is it that women can look forward to experiencing in there?
It’s the same, the smell of leather, citrus, polish and dark wood, all very sensual. My blood is running heated and scared through my system – adrenaline mixed with lust and longing. It’s a heady, potent cocktail. Christian’s stance has changed completely, subtly altered, harder and meaner. He gazes down at me and his eyes are heated, lustful… hypnotic.
Yes, she did just use “heated” and “lust/lustful” twice in one paragraph. Hey, different word are hard!
“When you’re in here, you are completely mine,” he breathes, each word slow and measured. “To do with as I see fit. Do you understand?”
His gaze is so intense. I nod, my mouth dry, my heart thumping for a way out of my chest.
With Ana now under his full control, Christian could maker her do all sorts of weird shit – like say that Enterprise is the best Star Trek series, for instance (I know, right?! that would be crazy!). But I guess he’s not that creative, because instead he just has her stand there while he strips her down to her panties. Which, I admit, has its strong points, as well. But still, c’mon, man – let’s put a little more thought into it!
Next, Christian shows a heretofore unknown talent:
Pulling my hair behind me, to my surprise, he starts braiding it one large braid, his fingers fast and deft. He ties it with an unseen hair tie when he’s finished and gives it a quick tug so I’m forced back against him.
“I like your hair braided in here,” he whispers.
Oh, c’mon, Ana, even you’re not that dumb. Well, no, actually, you probably are, but don’t worry, something tells me you’ll find out very soon why Christian is such a master at braiding hair. And I’m sure it doesn’t have to do with any unfulfilled wish to be a hair-dresser.
After informing her that from now on she is only allowed to enter the Red Room clad only in panties, he shows her another expected behavior:
“Good girl.” His eyes burn into mine. “When I tell you to come in here, I expect you to kneel over there.” He points to a spot beside the door. “Do it now.”
Happy with her performance so far, Christian leaves for a bit – Ana, now knowing her place, remains in her kneeling position, eagerly awaiting his return.
And suddenly he’s back – and all at once I’m calmer and more excited in the same breath. Could I be more excited? I can see his feet. He’s changed his jeans. These are older, ripped, soft, and over-washed. Holy cow. These jeans are hot.
Christian then informs Ana he is going to “chain” her. When she gives him her hand, as requested, he suddenly swats it with a riding crop – why, that sneaky bastard! Anyway, he then fastens her into some shackles with black leather cuffs, and suddenly things get a bit more over-thought and complicated than you might expect.
“This grid is designed so the shackles move across the grid.”
I glance up. Holy shit – it’s like a subway map.
“We’re going to start here, but I want to fuck you standing up. So we’ll end up by the wall over there.” He points with the riding crop to where the large wooden X is on the wall.
At this point, I’m legitimately more intrigued and excited by the architectural design of this room than I am by the sweaty sex the two are about to have, but it’s fairly obvious E.L. James doesn’t share this view, so you can guess what really gets the lion’s share of the attention over the next dozen or so pages.
This whole “beyond erotic” experience so far is “singularly the most exciting and scary thing” Ana has ever done. So much so her mind wanders to…well, odd places.
He stands very close as he fastens the cuffs. I’m staring at his chest. His proximity is heavenly. He smells of body wash and Christian, an inebriating mix, and that drags me back into the now. I want to rub my nose and tongue through that smattering of chest hair. I could just lean forward…
Christian clearly has similar thoughts, though.
Standing in front of me again, he hooks his fingers into my panties, and at a most unhurried pace, peels them down my legs, stripping me agonizingly slowly, so that he ends up kneeling in front of me. Not taking his eyes off mine, he scrunches my panties in his hand, holds them up to his nose, and inhales deeply. Holy fuck. Did he just do that?
Now apparently driven mad by what he has inhaled, Christian finally gets down to the nitty-gritty, walking around Ana and periodically flicking her with the riding crop. He smacks her on the buttocks, her nipples, her belly and finally even on her sex.
I did not expect it to be like this… I am lost. Lost in a sea of sensation. And suddenly, he’s dragging the crop against my sex, through my pubic hair, down to the entrance of my vagina.
“See how we you are for this, Anastasia. Open your eyes and your mouth.”
I do as I’m told, completely seduced. He pushes the tip of the crop into my mouth, like my dream. Holy shit.
“See how you taste. Suck. Suck hard, baby.”
He then continues to smack Ana’s privates with the riding crop until it finally brings her to orgasm. Seriously, between this scene and their prominent role in BBC’s Sherlock, I have to imagine sales of riding crops have risen dramatically in the last year or so.
And then, after her first orgasm, well, it just sort of keeps going on and on, you know? I’ve already spoken about James inability to keep these sex scenes short and sweet. This whole Red Room of Pain scene just goes on for an interminable amount of time, as Christian fucks Ana standing up for another orgasm, and then ties her hands (using the plastic cable ties he bought that day at Clayton’s) and fucks her again from behind (“…oh, the fullness“) for yet another orgasm, this one leaving her “all body and spiraling sensation and sweet, sweet release, and then completely and utterly mindless.” I can’t help but wonder if all of this is leading up to Ana being one of the first ever characters to die by orgasm.
The only possibly notable thing in all of this is a brief moment where Ana notices “a few random and faint small, round scars dotted around his chest.” She wonders if they are perhaps from chicken pox or measles, though the very fact that James brings attention to them leads me to believe there is a much more interesting back-story. Well, maybe not interesting. This is still Fifty Shades we’re talking about. But, still, my point is we’ll probably hear more about these scars later.
As the chapter comes to a close, Christian carries an exhausted Ana to her bed, lays her down, and even gets in beside her and holds her close as she falls fast asleep. It’s all very sweet and romantic, as long as you don’t focus too much on all the kinky, sweaty sex they just had moments ago. Not that that’s not romantic…ah, hell, I don’t even know what I’m talking about anymore. I’m just happy to have survived yet another chapter – and one of the worst kinds, at that.
I’m not kidding, these super-long sex scenes have become my least favorite sections of this book. At least the chapters dealing with “plot” are occasionally humorous in their ineptitude. The problem with the sex scenes is that James has a shocking lack of creativity when it comes to writing eroticism, and so although she drags the scenes on for numerous pages, she rarely offers anything new. And no, new toys don’t count. Every scene still reads more or less exactly like the one that came before. And maybe I’m just broken, but I’m still failing to see the erotic nature of James’ rather pedestrian writing style, which reads slightly less hot than a well-done Penthouse Letter. When I started this, I joked that maybe I would learn some sexual tips and tricks from the book, but as it turns out, there are plenty of other books I could be reading that would probably be a hell of a lot more helpful than this one…
* * * * *
Anyway, the one good thing about these extended sex scenes is you know we’ll get more “oh my’s,” and sure enough two more popped up during Christian and Ana’s naughty time in the Red Room of Pain.