Ladies and Gents (do we have any gents?) this is it. The final chapter.
Ana wakes up (9 out of 26) and remembers that she has to take her birth control pill. Grey is also up, playing the piano, and we get treated to yet another shtick about how it’s so beautiful and meaningful when he plays the piano. It’s just music. I can be meaningful, but it isn’t the default, and it doesn’t supersede the rest of his crappy personality.
It’s 5am, because Ana is supposedly on East Coast time. Even though she’s only been there four days, and adjusting back to Pacific time is as simple as staying up until your normal bedtime so you’re tired enough to sleep until 8. Copious amounts of sex would probably exhaust you enough to make this plan work.
Ana needs to take her pill at the same time every day, (8am EST) so they plan to step the time back half an hour each day until she’s on Pacific time again. You know, it’s not that specific, especially since she’s only been on the pill a week. She can skip 3 hours and be fine.
And then…I don’t even know.
“Well, I think the contract is moot, don’t you?” His voice is low and husky, his eyes soft.
“Moot.” He smiles. I gape at him quizzically.
“But you were so keen.”
“Well, that was before. Anyway, the Rules aren’t moot, they still stand.” His expression hardens slightly.
“Before? Before what?”
“Before,”… He pauses, and the wary expression is back, “more.”
So, they don’t need a contract. Why? And I’m speaking about from the view of the characters themselves, not from the view of sane people who realize the contract was bullshit in the first place. Does a moot contract mean they won’t be kinky? Does Grey think that only strangers get contracts, and girlfriends just give verbal consent? But the rules are there. So, since her punishment was part of the contract, does she have to follow his rules, but he won’t spank her if she breaks them?
This makes no sense. Completely separate from the fact that they screwed up negotiating in the first place. In the book’s own world-rules. This makes no sense. We have no idea what significance they placed on the contract, so declaring it moot is…well, moot.
“Besides, we’ve been in the playroom twice now, and you haven’t run screaming for the hills.”
Okay, so…did he think that having a contract would force her to stay put? He said in an earlier chapter that he knew the contract wasn’t legally binding, but he didn’t seem to have any problem letting her believe it was. Is the contract moot because he doesn’t feel the need to manipulate her into sex? Is that all he was using this ‘contract’ for?
So, from what I can gather from their further conversation…Grey wants what they set down in the contract. Nothing changes, just for some nebulous reason, they think the actual signing of the paper isn’t important. Even though it wasn’t important in the first place. He’s still going to punish her for breaking rules. He’s still going to kinkify her in the playroom.
So, basically, they’re saying “We want to be kinky, but without having to actually talk about it, because screw that shit, it just gets in the way of even more sex.” And I think I’ve cover the myriad of ways in which that is all completely horrifying in earlier chapters.
We get another reprint of the rules list, and then for some reason Ana has to ask what he’ll do if she breaks them, then is surprised at the answer. Why is this constantly the Biggest Deal Ever? It seriously reads as if she’s learning this the first time, every time she learns it. We get it. Move on. Find some new drama and stop rehashing the old crap.
It’s one of the basic rules of storytelling. It’s so basic, I’m not even sure what to call it, because I can’t imagine anyone needing to be told it. When you have a point of drama, the thing we call ‘story’ is that drama being resolved, or at least watching that drama evolve. Some sort of ‘volve-ing should be happening. Repeating the drama over and over without doing anything with it? That’s not a story. It’s not anything. It’s just shitty writing.
Ana decides to…taunt him by saying if he wants to spank her he’ll have to catch her, and then they run around. The whole thing so soulless that I can’t tell if she’s turned on by him or afraid of him. I wouldn’t be surprised at either.
I’m a child again, though that’s not right.
I don’t think she realizes how true these words are.
On the other hand, they make no sense. She’s now having fun while being chased, so I’m guessing that’s where the child-like feelings are coming from. But…what’s not right about that? Is she saying that it’s somehow ‘wrong’ to be playful with one’s lover?
“Anyone would think you didn’t want me to catch you.”
“I don’t. That’s the point. I feel about punishment the way you feel about me touching you.”
Then why the fuck didn’t you tell him this in the first place? Is this what was ‘wrong’ in the previous quote? She was actually running away to escape and it felt wrong to enjoy the escape attempt? God, that’s fucking creepy.
Ana, honey, if you are in a relationship where you feel like running around the house is a more viable option than just telling someone ‘I don’t want to play with that,’ then you need to get the fuck out and get some help.
And then when Grey looks hurt, she amends her answer.
“No. I feel ambivalent about it. I don’t like it, but I don’t hate it.”
Thanks to bad writing throughout this book, I can’t tell if she’s changing her answer just because “Oh, no, we don’t want the pwecious man to feel bad!” or if it’s a true answer and she just feels bad about exaggerating before.
I’m leaning toward the first option, because “Ana doesn’t like punishment” is the closest we’ve ever come to a plot point in this fucking book.
Ana goes on to say she doesn’t mind when he hits her just for fun, but she’s afraid when he does it for punishment. Neither of them point out the fact that the first option isn’t fucking punishment. It’s just play. She wants to know why he needs to hit her, and he doesn’t say.
“If I do, you will run screaming from this room, and you’ll never want to return.” He stares at me warily. “I can’t risk that, Anastasia.”
Okay, look you sick fuck. If you’ve got issues that put her in danger, those issues don’t go away just because you don’t tell her what they are. Scarey shit does not become not-scary shit just because no one talks about it. It’s still there. He’s simply removing her option to decide if she wants to deal with his issues or not. He’s taking her safety, happiness, and wellbeing, and he’s saying “yeah, fuck all that. If she leaves, I’ll be mildly put out for a few days, so I’ll just lie and cheat to make sure she doesn’t leave.”
Ana spontaneously decides that she wants to go full-bore with him. She wants him to show her ‘how bad it can get,’ to see what the limit of what he’s willing to dish out is. I’m a bit ambivalent about this request, because we’ve seen the worst he can do, and it was in his last line of dialogue. He didn’t even need a paddle for it.
But really, asking for the worst right off is a bad idea. 'The worst' can be worked up to, and when one goes about things carefully, 'the worst' can be not actually bad. It can be simply ‘the limit of what we like.’ When someone has ‘the worst’ shoved on them all at once, it can instead be fucking traumatizing, and something they might otherwise have been okay with suddenly becomes ‘bad touch’ territory.
I guess there’s some merit in wanting to challenge yourself, in wanting to see if you can take what the other person can dish out. But I would expect that from someone a bit more…into kink than Ana is. Someone who viewed it as an eager challenge, not as just something to be endured.
He bends her over a spanking bench (where did that come from?) and hits her with a leather belt six times.
…that's his 'worst'? Okay, fine, I’m sure it hurts a lot. Ana certainly goes on about how much it hurts the whole time he’s hitting her. But…really? Just a belt? How uninspired.
Well, Ana is in such pain that she starts crying, and the crying pisses her off. Afterward, she won’t let him touch her, and she calls him a freak. Honestly, this feels random. He’s hit her before, the only difference this time is in the severity, and she straight-up asked him for his worst. What did she think was going to happen? She treats the fact that it hurt as if this is some huge revelation, like she didn’t realize he was sadist before right this moment.
Ana retreats to her own room and decides that she can’t be with Grey, because she couldn’t take the belting. Never once does it cross her mind that his ‘needs’ were being filled pretty regularly with vanilla sex, and she could go out and just say “Wow, that was bad, let’s not get that bad ever again.” Oh, who are we kidding. She couldn’t say that. She’s too stupid to realize it and he’s too much of an asshole to accept it.
Grey comes in, they cuddle, and Ana tells him that she doesn’t want to be hit with a belt again…therefore they must break up.
You know what? For once they’re having a sensical conversation. She says that he makes her happy, but she at the same time, she knows that he’s having to change himself to make her happy, and eventually that’ll bite them both in the ass. They are, at base, incompatible because they both have different needs and desires, in spite of the fact that they get each other’s hormones all riled up.
So, they break up. Ana leaves all his gifts to her in his place, then asks for the money Taylor made when he sold her old car. Grey is taunting us with some business he’s trying to do on the phone, some emergency about how something went missing, but since this is the second to last page, you can bet this won’t get resolved.
Then Ana goes home, falls over on her bed, and cries emo tears of ultimate sadness, because as we all know, theirs was a perfect love for the ages and it’s just the worst thing ever that they broke up.
And…this the book…stops. It doesn’t end, it just stops. Huh. How dull. On the other hand, rather fitting for a book that never really got started in the first place.