I was originally going to call Chapter Nineteen the “No Underwear Chapter,” for reasons I will explain later. But after I finished reading it, I excitedly realized I could instead give it a different title – the “Mercifully Short Chapter.”
It’s true – I had grown used to every chapter going on much longer than I expected them to (or than they really needed to), and therefore was pleasantly surprised to see how short this one was. I’m not sure why that is. Perhaps one of the Twilight movies was on TV the night James was writing this chapter, and she needed to wrap it up quick. More likely, it’s because it’s a chapter that heavily features some of the book’s supporting characters, and we’ve already talked about how obviously disinterested James is in that aspect. Really, though, I don’t care why it’s shorter than the others. Gift horse, mouth, and all that.
Now, first off, you might ask “is this finally the chapter where Ana and Christian sign that damned Dominant/Submissive contract and get on with it already?” NOPE. Seriously, waiting for this freaking contract to be signed is becoming the annoying “when will Sam and Diane hook up” of Fifty Shades – we know it’s going to happen, but for some reason James keeps delaying the obvious. I guess it’s her version of suspense, which is sort of lame, but then again, Fifty Shades is her version of a novel, and look how that is going.
The chapter opens with Christian waking Ana up, or at least trying to – she’s still exhausted from the marathon orgasm session they just recently enjoyed. “We have to leave in half an hour for dinner at my parents’,” he reminds her. And oh boy, I can just sense the sitcom hijinks that scenario promises! It’s gonna be awesome!!
Christian leaves Ana alone to get ready, at which point she realizes that although he has left her her dress and bra to change back into, her panties are mysteriously missing.
I steal into the bathroom, bewildered by my lack of underwear. While drying myself after my enjoyable but far too brief show, I realize he’s done this on purpose. He wants me to be embarrassed and ask for my panties back, and he’ll either say yes or no. My inner goddess grins at me. Hell… two can play that particular game. Resolving there and then not to ask him for them and not give his satisfaction, I shall go meet his parents sans culottes. Anastasia Steele! My subconscious chides me, but I don’t want to listen to her – I almost hug myself with glee because I know this will drive him crazy.
Now those of you with poor memories, don’t fret – there is no reason to worry that you will forget that Ana isn’t wearing panties for the remainder of the chapter, as she is going to remind you roughly five thousand fucking times! I mean, Jesus Christ, it’s like James doesn’t trust her audience to remember this detail themselves (though maybe that’s understandable, given the readership she is targeting). And what’s worse is, for all of the way-too-numerous times she brings it up, it never really comes into play. I know I’m getting ahead of myself here, but whatever – if you’re gonna bring up a lack of underwear this many times in an erotica book, you should probably pay it off. There’s one brief scene where Christian tries to stick his hand up her dress while at the dinner table, but Ana immediately stops him. Not to sound like a total perv (perhaps a lost cause, considering this blog), but then what’s the freakin’ point??
Anyway, the “going commando” Ana finds Christian downstairs, listening to “Witchcraft” by Frank Sinatra. He asks Ana to dance with him.
I put my free hand on his shoulder and grin up at him, caught in his infectious, playful mood. And he starts to move. Boy, can he dance.
We cover the floor, from the window to the kitchen and back again, whirling and turning in time to the music. And he makes it so effortless for me to follow.
Do you see what I did there? I used humorous to undercut the nice moment James was trying to create in this scene. Ha. Sometimes I crack myself up.
So the two of them head to the Grey family mansion, arriving there shortly before eight (kind of a late dinner – it proves the Grey’s are cool). There, Ana gets reacquainted with Christian’s mother, Dr. Grace Trevelyan-Grey, and for the first time meets his father, Carrick (Carrick??), and his friendly, energetic little sister Alice…no, wait, Mia! His sister’s name is Mia. Geez, sorry about that – Mia is an incredibly unique character in the way that she is clearly more open and free with her emotions than her brother, and how she instantly takes a liking to and befriends Ana. She’s an amazing literary creation – I don’t know where my mind was at when “Alice” popped into my head…
Oh yeah, Kate and Elliot are there, too, which you would think would make Ana happy, but instead she just slips into Debbie Downer mode about the whole thing.
I flush scarlet, and seeing Kate sitting with Elliot, it occurs to me suddenly that the only reason Christian invited me was because Kate is here. Elliot probably freely and happily asked Kate to meet his parents. Christian was trapped – knowing that I would have found out via Kate. I frown at the thought. He’s been forced into the invitation. The realization is bleak and depressing. My subconscious nods sagely, a you’ve-finally-worked-it-out-stupid look on her face.
Wait, just pages ago Ana was all aflutter over Christian’s loving, playful attitude as he led her in a dance (and just pages before that she was basking in the afterglow of yet another multi-orgasm session he had provided her), but now suddenly she has convinced herself that he has only invited her to his family’s home out of some unavoidable sense of duty? What’s the deal with this chick? I mean, clearly Christian has problems, but Ana obviously isn’t much better, what with her crippling low self-esteem and apparent multiple personalities (“subconscious” and “inner goddess” indeed, Ana). Call me crazy, guys, but I’m starting to think Ana is a pretty annoying main character. I don’t know, maybe I’m crazy.
As they wait for dinner to be served, our various characters sit around, making polite conversation about school and vacations…
…until things finally start to get a little tense when Ana mentions she has been thinking about taking a trip to Georgia for a few days to visit her mother…a trip she neglected to tell Christian about until this very moment. Most normal guys wouldn’t mind if their girlfriends wanted to visit their mom for a few days…but this is no normal guy we’re talking about here. This is Christian Grey, the biggest fictional romantic icon in the world right now…and he’ll be damned if his girl goes to see her mommy!!
“When were you going to tell me you were leaving?” he asks urgently. His tone is soft, but he’s masking his anger.
“I’m not leaving, I’m going to see my mother, and I was only thinking about it.”
“What about our arrangement?”
“We don’t have an arrangement yet.”
He narrows his eyes, and then seems to remember himself. Releasing my hand, he takes my elbow and leads me out of the room.
“This conversation is not over,” he whispers threateningly as we enter the dining room.
Oh, crapola. Don’t get your panties in such a twist… and give me back mine. I glare at him.
Finally it’s time for dinner, consisting of takeout they’ve ordered from Popeye’s Chicken. Nah, just kidding…although I think James did miss out on a great cross-promotional opportunity by not doing something like that. Instead, it’s a feast starting with chorizo and scallops with roasted red peppers and shallots, sprinkled with flat-leafed parsley, a main course of beef wellington served with roasted sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips and green beans, and a lemon syllabub dessert. Ugh, rich people…so predictable.
During dinner, Ana notices that one of the Grey’s help (“Little Miss European Pigtails,” Ana dubs her) keeps checking out Christian and trying to brush against him as she serves dinner. Ana doesn’t like that, not at all…
…which I guess rules out the possibility of a threesome between the three of them later. Too bad. Again, between this and the denied lesbian potential last chapter, this book is getting awfully tame and repetitive in its sex scenes. Considering this is the biggest erotic book of all time, I was expecting a lot more varied scenarios, and not just scene after scene of the same two lovers. Maybe the last seven chapters will pleasantly surprise me…but I’m not holding my breath.
Mia regales everyone with stories of her recent exploits in Paris, and Elliot talks about the eco-friendly community he is hard at work building north of Seattle (they really are the perfect family!!), but not surprisingly Christian is mostly silent. Doesn’t bother Ana, though, who uses the opportunity to simply stare at her man.
I sigh and peek up at Fifty Shades. He’s so beautiful, I could stare at him forever. He has light stubble over his chin, and my fingers itch to scratch it and feel it against my face, against my breasts… between my thighs. I blush at the direction of my thoughts.
Yeah, yeah, yeah…heard it all before. What I think is particularly interesting about that passage is that she actually refers to Christian as “Fifty Shades,” as if it’s some sort of pet name. I was not expecting that, and – truth be told – for some reason it strikes me as one of the dumbest things in the book yet. It’s just too on the nose…which is weird, cause up to now James has seemed like a master of subtlety, you know?
The only somewhat entertaining exchange in the entire dinner sequence is when Kate purposely asks Ana how her recent coffee date with José went, clearly just trying to get a reaction out of Christian. It’s actually a pretty funny moment, but I can’t help but wonder if Kate would be so quick to do so if she realized the reaction she’s tempting just happens to involve her best friend’s behind and an angry man with paddles and chains.
In fact, that’s exactly what a worried Ana is thinking when dinner comes to a close and Christian offers to give her a tour of the grounds.
“My heels. I need to take my shoes off.”
“Don’t bother,” he says, and he bends down and scoops me over his shoulder. I squeal loudly with shocked surprise, and he gives me a ringing slap on my behind.
“Keep your voice down,” he growls.
Oh no… this is not good, my subconscious is quaking at the knees. He’s mad about something – could be José, Georgia, no panties, biting my lip. Jeez, he’s easy to rile.
You think? Oh, I should probably point out that the above scene occurs after they have already separated from the rest of the group and stepped outside – though it would have been awesome if Christian had just scooped her up and started spanking her in front of his entire family…and even more awesome if they all laughed and cheered him on. This book could use a strange, Spider Baby like vibe at this point. It would certainly do a better job of keeping me interested.
Christian tells Ana he is taking her to the boathouse, and I’m instantly reminded of that Toadies song about the girl killing that girl…but nothing so dark here, I’m afraid (errr..I mean “relieved”).
“I need to be alone with you.”
“Because I’m going to spank and then fuck you.”
“Why?” I whimper softly.
“You know why,” he hisses.
“I thought you were an in-the-moment guy?” I plead breathlessly.
“Anastasia, I’m in the moment, trust me.”
And so Chapter Nineteen ends, and I’m legitimately fatigued at the idea that I’m almost certainly going to have to make it through yet another lengthy Ana-Christian sex scene in the next chapter. At this point I’m dying for something new and unexpected to happen – a serial killer waiting for them in the boathouse. Maybe a chupacabra or something. Anything! Please?
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The Official George Takei “Oh My” Counter® = 47!