Fifty Shades Freed: Fifty Shades of Gilbert and Sullivan

Last time on Fifty Shades of Aimless Dickery, the Twilight gang went to Aspen and there was much aimless dickery, including shopping, eating and lots and lots of drinking. Kate and Elliot got engaged, Mia was Alice Cullen (only even more annoying, if such a thing is possible) and Christian punched someone in a nightclub, because what his charming personality really needed was a fresh injection of random, casual violence. 

Chapter Fifteen…

…astoundingly opens with Ana waking up in the sweaty grip of her overheated husband.

I linger on the edge of consciousness, aware that if I wake fully I’ll wake him, too, and he doesn’t sleep enough.

Yeah. That’ll be the ‘nightmares’ he keeps having when he thinks you’re not paying enough attention to him.

Time for them to start fondling each other again.

Oh my…he’s tense, lying on top of me, and his growing erection is digging tantalizingly into my soft, willing flesh, distracting me. What’s this about? Brawling? Fantasy? Will he hurt me? My inner goddess shakes her head – Never.

Ana, your inner goddess is an idiot. Don’t listen to her. Also, don’t you find it interesting that in 607,000 words of relentless, boring pornography nobody ever uses the word ‘cock’? Or dick. Or prick, putz, schlong, dong, spam-javelin, wang, willy, sperm-chucker or love truncheon.

Blah blah blah, humping. Well, kind of. They’re not actually getting freaky. They’re just rolling around. She gets on top and ‘calls the shots’ as they put it. Although not so much that she touches herself or tells him to get down and eat her damn box for once, and not as a preamble for another mawkish bump and grind thank you very much. Because that would be slutty, and Ana is a lady.

Ana brings up Mrs. Robinson, because while she usually never bothers with people she hates, she is also a sick little puppy who needs to be constantly reassured that Christian likes her better than the nice lady who molested him when he was fifteen.

He says it was ‘different’ with Mrs. Robinson.

“I thought you liked it.”

“I did. At the time.”

“Not now?”

He gazes at me, eyes wide, then slowly shakes his head.

It doesn’t matter if he ‘liked it’. It was still statutory rape and he was still a child. But Ana doesn’t really give a shit because she’s ‘won’, over Mrs. Robinson the glamorous pedophile. He likes her best and he’s added another layer of trauma to his beautiful, beautiful pain.

I’m overwhelmed by the feelings that swamp me. My lost boy. I launch myself at him and kiss his face, his throat, his chest, his little round scars.

Have I spent too much time in the company of these dreadful people or does Ana come across like the kind of person who might one day bust out with a terrifying case of Munchausen’s-by-proxy? It’s like she’s addicted to other people’s misery and distress.

Then there’s several pages of further dickery too pointless to record and then at the end of it Kate throws herself into Ana’s arms and exclaims how wonderful it will be when they becomes sisters-in-law. In normal circumstances this would be touching, but these are the Greys we’re talking about. This whole Aspen jamboree was basically Christian telling her she could spend time with her friends – AKA his family. And now Kate’s going to be part of his family too! Hey Ana, you have no need for friends now! All your friends are Family.

One of us. One of us.

They get back from Aspen. Ana attempts to remind us of the plot, such as it is.

Tomorrow we go back to reality – back to work, the paparazzi, and to Jack in custody but with the possibility that he has an accomplice. Hmm…Christian was vague about that. Does he know? And if he did know, would he tell me?

More to the point, does anyone even care any more? We’ve had two whole chapters of pointless crying followed by two more chapters of getting drunk and trying on clothes. If this was a movie it would be like Breaking Dawn Part One – one montage after another, the first one set to an 80’s Heart power ballad and the second to some pissweak pop music designed to sell on iTunes.

It’s been a revelation to see him out of his normal environment, relaxed and happy with his family.

And punching people in nightclubs.

I wonder vaguely if it’s because we’re here in this apartment with all its memories and associations that he gets wound up.

Could be. Or he’s just a violent psycho. That’s always an option, given the overwhelming weight of evidence.

Ana’s weird little mind returns to the house she’s renovating and the subject of Gia. Want to know what Gia was doing in Aspen? Nothing.

Turns out it was nothing but coincidence.

Well, I’m glad that’s settled then. Red herrings – how not to do them. By the way, whatever happened to that gun in the desk drawer about four chapters back? Remember that?

I look out at the night sky. I will miss this view. This panoramic vista…

I sure as hell won’t miss you trying to describe it. Panorama and vista mean more or less the same fucking things, you moron. One is a Greek root and the other is Latin. Not that I should be expecting much for Ana the Brilliant English Major – this is the dumbass who thought Tess of the D’Urbervilles was some kind of 1890’s rom-com and somehow missed all of the parts of Jane Austen that take place at dances.

Maybe that’s Christian’s problem – he’s been too isolated from real life for too long, thanks to his self-imposed exile. Yet with his family around him, he is less controlling, less anxious – freer, happier.

And more violent. Let’s not forget that part.

Holy crap! Maybe that’s the answer. Maybe he needs his own family.

Yes, because what this relationship really, really needs is another desperately needy, uncommunicative person who keeps everyone up all night. Of course, because this is a Twilight fanfic and because E.L. James does subtle foreshadowing almost as well as she does 19th Century novels, we know Drunkface Ana is already knocked up with Christian’s pickled CGI hellchild.

“I’m not looking forward to going back to reality,” I murmur.

Sorry? Were you ever there?

“No?”

I shake my head and caress his lovely face. “I had a wonderful weekend. Thank you.”

He smiles softly. “You’re my reality, Ana,” he murmurs and kisses me.

Healthy talk, coming from the man with no friends. Also Ana should take this to its illogical conclusion and go to work the next day in a scuba mask and a tutu – if you’re going to become someone’s entire reality you should at least have the common courtesy to make it interesting for them.

Like I keep saying, I’m old-fashioned.

Christian then tells Ana what she’s been waiting to hear since book one – that her magical love has cured him of his need for crap bondage. Because people are into kink because they’re broken and damaged. Not because it’s fun or anything.

Then several days fly by in a flurry of really boring e-mails. Apparently they had to go to some fancy dinner and he stuck the ben-wa balls up her twat again. Because we really needed to know that. And Ana gets all damp in the pants department. Again.

All the muscles in my belly clench. Hmm…I wonder what he’ll dream up.

With the vague anatomical descriptions in these books, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Ana is not sexually aroused at all but is actually suffering from a case of Irritable Bowel Syndrome so vicious and unrelenting that it deserves to be the subject of a medical case study. Fifty Shades of Brown. Eugh.

E-mail, e-mail, e-mail. The dates are moving along now because work is not interesting and the author is bored. Jack has apparently been denied bail and has been charged with attempted kidnapping and arson.

Ana moans a bit about Prescott, the female bodyguard she doesn’t like. Christian says he’ll fire her, Ana says not to – she’s not that bad.

The following day, I gaze at the calendar on my desk. Only five days until September 10th, my birthday.

It speaks volumes for the depth of characterisation that only in the middle of book three do we finally learn the fateful date when our heroine was shot squalling forth into this unwary world.

Then Hannah, Ana’s assistant (If your main character is called Ana, Hannah is probably not a good name for her secretary – just saying. This is basic.) knocks on the door and tells Ana that there’s a Leila Williams here to see her.

Remember good old Leila? The bugfuck crazy lady who attempted to kill Ana in Fifty Shades Darker? Ah, good times.

Leila? Fuck. What does she want?

Hopefully to finish the job.

Chapter Sixteen

Leila is in reception along with another young woman. Prescott tells Ana that Leila is on her list of ‘proscribed visitors’ and Ana is astonished to discover that such a list even exists. Because Christian Grey has never showed the slightest interest in controlling Ana.

“Is [Leila] dangerous?”

Well, I don’t know, Ana. Granted she was in the throes of a severe psychotic break the last time you saw her and was probably not that responsible for her actions. On the other hand that was only two months ago and she did have a gun pointed at you. Personally I’d be slightly cagey, just in case Leila had skipped her meds and decided to pick up where you left off, but then I have more than four functioning braincells.

Prescott has dropped the ball.

“I was on a restroom break. She came in, spoke directly to Claire, and Claire called Hannah.”

“Oh. I see.” I realise that even Prescott has to pee, and I laugh. “Oh dear.”

“Yes ma’am.” Prescott gives me an embarrasssed grin, and it’s the first time I’ve seen a chink in her armour. She has a lovely smile.

Way to admit you only like other women when they fuck up in some way, Ana. They’re not a ‘threat’ to you that way, are they? You insecure little baby.

Apparently Prescott has left a voicemail for Christian with Taylor, which means that Christian is going to start screaming, kicking and demanding a fresh juicebox within the next couple of pages.

Prescott quite sensibly says that she is not comfortable with Ana being alone with the woman who tried to kill her two months ago, but Ana is determined to talk to Leila despite knowing that Prescott, as the security officer, is going to be the one facing off against her tantrum-prone mess of a husband and will also probably lose her job. I love that Ana is continually protesting that she’s not used to being rich when she’s already halfway to morphing into Daisy Buchanan.

Ana assistant cancels her next couple of meetings, because as we all know, if Ana is in danger of doing any kind of actual work while at work then she will spoil her Business Barbie outfit, and nobody wants that.

What the hell does Leila want? I don’t think she’s here to do me any harm. She didn’t in the past when she had the opportunity.

That’s because Christian and Taylor arrived before she actually shot you, dingbat. And then you ran across the street in tears and got really, really drunk because you were worried Christian might have lingering romantic feelings for the woman currently pointing a gun at his head. (That actually happened in Fifty Shades Darker. It was pretty special.)

Christian is going to go nuts…

Go?

I type a quick e-mail, then pause, checking the time. I feel a momentary pang of regret. We’ve been getting along so well since Aspen.

They’ve gone over a week without having a blazing, histrionic, high-drama howling match. Oddly, in a book distinguished for its leaden pacing, this week has blown by in the space of a chapter. It’s almost as if, when they’re not hooting like angry gibbons at one another, they’re really boring people.

She goes to meet Leila, who is looking much better and not crazy. She’s accompanied by another young woman named Susi, who looks like her and who also looks like Ana, because Christian Grey liked to sexually degrade slender, dark-haired young women because they reminded him of his mother. But it’s okay, because he’s better now. (He’s so not.)

By this point the phone is ringing off the hook because Christian is chucking one of his infamous shitfits at the other end of it. Ana considerately tells Hannah to stall him, because I’m sure what Hannah wanted to do this morning was listen to the angry ravings of a foaming fucking psychopath.

It’s one thing to have a husband who should rightly be restrained at the end of a six foot brass rod lead every time he doesn’t get his way, but to inflict him on others is nothing short of inconsiderate.

I turn back to the two women sitting in front of me. They are both staring at me in awe. It’s uncomfortable.

Shut up, Ana. We know you love it.

Susi speaks. “I know this is all kinds of weird, but I wanted to meet you, too. The woman who captured Christian Grey.”

Pack it up, ladies. We can all go home now. Ana has won. She is the best woman in the whole world because she’s won all the prizes and there are no more left for the rest of us.

“We call ourselves the sub club.” She grins at me, her eyes shining with mirth.

Wait – there’s like a support group for Christian Grey’s exes? Like Christian Grey Anonymous? Actually I can kind of believe that. Similar groups convene at women’s shelters and refuges all around the world.

Christian finally screams at enough people for Prescott to hand the phone over to Ana. As you can probably guess, Mr. Miffy is not amused.

“What do you mean don’t shout at you?” he shouts, louder this time. “I gave specific instructions which you have completely disregarded – again. Hell, Ana, I am fucking furious.”

“When you are calmer, we will talk about this.”

“Don’t you hang up on me,” he hisses.

“Goodbye, Christian.” I hang up and switch off Prescott’s phone.

Holy shit. I don’t have long with Leila.

Astonishingly, Ana has learned something. She has learned that if you hang up on Christian Grey he comes storming over to continue yelling at you in person whether he has to come from across town or from New York. Meanwhile I’m still puzzled as to how things work at Grey Inc or Grey Enterprises Holding or Grey Ltd or whatever the company is called in this book. Presumably they have to take account of the fact that their CEO might explode at any given time and then disappear for days at a time in order to shout at his wife and then make it up to her with a drunken holiday in Aspen.

Leila explains that she’s feeling better and is very sorry about trying to kill Ana in book two. Aw, Leila – and I thought we were going to be friends.

Apparently Leila is here to see Christian, because he’s refused all her requests to see him.

I don’t want her anywhere near my husband. Why is she here? To assess the opposition?

Yes, because everyone wants to fuck Mr. Psycho. Everyone wants what you have, Ana. Hey, it’s almost like you’re beginning to think of your husband as property! Carry on like that and you’ll be a match made in heaven.

“Leila.” I flounder, exasperated. “It’s not up to me, it’s up to Christian. You’ll need to ask him. He doesn’t need my permission. He’s a grown man…most of the time.”

Said grown man is currently storming towards her office, fists clenched and nostrils aflare, braced and red-faced and about to bust out one of his special company crèche sized tantrums. Yeah. He’s a grown-up.

“Why is it so important for you to see him?” I ask gently.

“To thank him. I’d be rotting in a stinking prison psychiatric facility if it wasn’t for him. I know that.”

Leila, ladies and gentlemen. She wants to say thank you. One of the only characters in this book who has displayed anything approaching decent manners.

“And for art school. I can’t thank him enough for that.”

I knew it! Christian is funding her classes. I remain expressionless, tentatively exploring my feelings for this woman now that she’s confirmed my suspicions about Christian’s generosity. To my surprise I feel no ill will toward her.

Congratulations, Ana. You met a minimum standard of good behaviour. You want a fucking pat on the head and a biscuit or something?

“What are your plans, while you’re here?”

“Pick up my belongings from Susi, return to Hamden. Continue painting and learning. Mr. Grey already has a couple of my paintings.”

What the hell! My stomach plunges into the basement once more. Are they hanging in my living room? I bridle at the thought.

Ah, there’s the Ana we all know and loathe. It’s a painting, Ana. What do you think is going to happen? Is it going to ooze some kind of homewrecker gas like the bathroom fittings Gia picked out for your house in Aspen?

And don’t you just love how Leila – the psychotic ex-girlfriend – has undergone more character development in her two or three brief appearances in these books than the two leads have in the entire series? She recovered from a psychotic break after the death of her boyfriend. She picked up the threads of her life. She got a hobby.

Unfortunately she didn’t get over Christian Grey, because it’s not worth Ana’s having him if other women don’t want him.

Ana sits back and wallows in the knowledge that Leila still loves Christian, because Ana is gross.

…my overwhelming response to this poor young woman is compassion. Mentally I run through all the classical literature I can think of that deals with unrequited love.

Ana is also thick as mince. It’s been said, but it’s worth mentioning again. She can’t think of a single example, but she’s mentioned ‘classical literature’, in the hopes of looking smart.

Swallowing hard, I clutch the moral high ground. “I know. He’s very easy to love,” I whisper.

He’s not. I’m beginning to look at his mother’s ‘accidental’ overdose in a whole new light. I know I’d want to kill myself if I’d given birth to Damien Thorne’s evil twin.

My subconscious rolls her eyes at me in despair and goes back to reading her dog-eared copy of Jane Eyre.

Ah, there’s that ‘classical literature’ we were looking for. Maybe this explains why Ana manages to get Thomas Hardy and Jane Austen so staggeringly, hilariously wrong – the whole time she was at college she didn’t do any reading; the stupid cartoon person in her malfunctioning head was doing all the reading.

At this point Mr. ‘Easy To Love’ comes stomping into the room in the pyroclastic throes of yet another major tantrum eruption. Aw, schnookums.

The menacing cool glint in his eyes reveals the truth – he’s emanating rage, though he hides it well. In his grey suit, with his dark tie loosened and the top button of his white shirt undone, he looks at once businesslike and casual…and hot.

Yes, Ana. We get it. You won the prize. The hottest man in the world is in love with you. Mousy little innocent you. (He’s a fucking stone cold psychopath but we won’t mention that because if we love him enough he’ll get better, right?)

The adorable Christian immediately fires Prescott and rounds on Leila, who ‘peeks up at him through long lashes, her eyes wide, her face ashen, her rosy glow gone.’

He’s so cute when he’s bullying women.

“Leila, if you come anywhere near my wife again, I will cut off all support. Doctors, art-school, medical insurance – all of it – gone. Do you understand?”

“Christian – ” I try again, but he silences me with a chilling look. Why is he being so unreasonable?

Because he’s an enormous piece of shit. He’s always been a piece of shit. He will probably always be a piece of shit. You were just too cock-struck to fucking notice.

Leila says she just wanted to know if he was okay.

“I’m fine. There, question answered. Now Taylor will run you to Sea-Tac so you can go back to the East Coast. And if you take one step west of the Mississippi, it’s all gone. Understand?”

Holy fuck…Christian! I gape at him. What the fuck is eating him?

Necrotizing fasciitis, hopefully. (Whatever you do, do not Google Image search this condition.)

Ana is still standing around baffled that her husband has turned into a bellowing, bullying, aggressive asshole, because he was such a charmer before. Like I say, she’s not that bright.

Then Leila has the last word.

“This is the Christian Grey I know,” she says, her tone sad and wistful. Christian frowns at her, while all the breath evaporates from my lungs. I can’t breathe. Was Christian like this with her all the time? Was he like this with me, at first?

He’s like this with you now, you forty watt moron. It’s almost like you were so dazzled with diamonds, dick and helicopters that you failed to realise your husband is the biggest asshole since that repulsive cabaret turn in The Naked Lunch.

Anyway, Leila goes out and Ana is left to deal with Captain Tantrum (the World’s Most Annoying Superhero) and intercedes on behalf of long suffering Prescott, who probably doesn’t want this job back anyway. Ana kind of tells her husband off for being awful, but not really.

“You. Why were you so callous toward her?”

He sighs and shifts, stepping toward me and perching on the table.

“Anastasia,” he says, as if to a child, “you don’t understand. Leila, Susannah – all of them – they were a pleasant, diverting pastime. But that’s all. You are the centre of my universe.”

Until he gets bored, at least. Don’t you just love it? He basically admits that women are objects to him but Ana is still stupid enough to believe that she’s different and special. Protip, cupcake – you’re so not.

Christian says what Leila did in book two was ‘unforgivable’, even though she was in the middle of a major psychotic episode and not in control of all her faculties at the time. Most courts would plead diminished responsibility, but not Christian Grey.

“She didn’t hurt me. She loves you, too.”

“I don’t give a fuck.”

I gape at him, shocked. And I’m shocked that he still has the capacity to shock me.

I’m just shocked the above made it past a line editor. Yikes.

‘This is the Christian Grey I know.’ Leila’s words rattle around my head. His reaction to her was so cold, so at odds with the man I’ve come to know and love.

It bears repeating that Ana met and married this man in the space of less than four months. And most of the time when she reminds herself that she loves him she’s thinking of him as a dirty, neglected child.

Ana reassures herself that Christian does love Leila in some capacity, because he can’t be that cold and awful (he can) and says he must care because he paid for her therapy. Admittedly that was uncharacteristically kind of him, or maybe he just felt responsible since it was he was the one who drove her nuts in the first place.

Suddenly it’s my lifetime ambition to make him realise this. It’s painstakingly obvious that he cares. Why does he deny it? It’s like his feelings for his birth mother…

…here we go. Tragic Past incoming. Also ‘painstakingly’? Really? Is it because I’ve not picked up the book for a couple of days or is the writing even worse than usual in this chapter?

…oh shit – of course. His feelings for Leila and his other submissives are tangled up with his feelings for his mother. ‘I like to whip little brown-haired girls like you because you look like the crack whore.’ No wonder he’s so mad.

Mad? To quote Blackadder he’s madder than Mad Jack McMad, the winner of this year’s Mr Madman competition.

Paging Dr. Flynn, please. How can he not see this?

Who, Christian or Dr. Flynn? Because Dr. Flynn is the world’s worst psychiatrist. Seriously. This guy sucks worse than the woman on Dexter who more or less told Deb to act on her inappropriate sexual feelings for her brother.

My heart swells for him momentarily. My lost boy…

Oh here we go again. Why don’t you just fly off to NeverNeverLand and live up a fucking tree, Wendy? I’ve had it up to here with these lost boys – let me tell you. I should draw up a bingo card.

Why is it so hard for him to get back in touch with the humanity, the compassion, he showed Leila when she had her breakdown?

If you’ve read my recaps of Fifty Shades Darker you’ll know that this was the part where Christian gave Leila a bath and Ana, soul of compassion that she is, threw a lengthy jealous squealing fit and went and got incredibly drunk. Because apparently no man can resist a gun-wielding ex-girlfriend when she’s having a psychotic break.

I have to admit it was my favourite part of the entire book. Especially the bit where he went catatonic. Jesus, that was fucking funny.

Anyway, back to the book…

“Christian.” My voice is weary. “I’m tired of having the same argument with you.”

You’re tired? Hahahah! You’re fucking tired? How the fuck do you think I feel? You’re the most boring people in human history, and I say that as a woman who sat through all two and a half unnecessary hours of Eat, Pray, Love and lived to tell the tale. If boredom was an Olympic event you would win every single Gold. You’d be world champions. People would talk in hushed tones of wonder about just how many spectators blew their brains out during the legendary Christian Grey/Ana Steele Bore Off of 2013.

I’m sorry, but the Kindle bar thingy says I am only 59% done with this book. How can there be more? How is this even possible? Why won’t it end?

“You know,” I elucidate. “I do something you don’t like, and you think of some way to get back at me…”

Huh. An elucidate. This is always the kind of thing I use as an example of ridiculous dialogue tags you should always steer clear of, but here’s one in its natural habit.

Anyway, she mentions ‘kinky fuckery’ and he wants to get busy in the boardroom. Ana’s stupid ‘subconscious’ pipes up to point out that he distracts her with sex all the time and she whines that he’s just so good at it. He’s not. Maybe I just spend too much time reading about the Golden Age of Stage Magic but when it comes to distraction Christian Grey isn’t even an amateur, trust me. Also it helps considerably that his mark is so damn dumb she could be merrily distracted with a laser pointer for hours on end.

There’s some more flirting and foreplay but I’m just too bored to recap it. Then they go home and have some sex – yawn.

Then there’s some more e-mail. Subject: The List.

I don’t know what list they’re talking about, but after this chapter I’ve got a list of complaints and grievances against this book. A little list, but heartfelt.

*

When I’m reading Fifty Shades of Grey there’s several things I’ve found

That cannot be dismissed. I’ve got a little list.

On these messes I will now expound

So they will not be missed. (They never should be missed)

*

There’s the shabby state of find/replace that’s subbing for a plot,

Ellipses scattered all around where there should be a dot.

There’s Christian Grey who chases women round with whips and chains

And Ana Steele the ditzy klutz who may well be insane.

A man this dull could never get my knickers in a twist.

He’s going on the list. He’s going on the list, and he never would be missed.

*

There’s the travelogue descriptions of his house and private plane

And the constant getting pissed. It’s going on the list.

There’s the puzzling way the CEO enjoys a rockstar’s fame.

And the endless meetings missed.

There’s Twinings tea and whining sprees and every single time

They cry and fuck and cry some more and every other line,

When she insists he’s really nice and not a psychopath

When everyone with half a brain can clearly do the math.

And the way she gets a-twitch ‘down there’ before they’ve even kissed.

I’ve got them on the list, I’ve got them on the list and they’d none of them be missed.

*

There’s the noisy sound of Thomas Hardy spinning in his grave,

And Tallis, Bach and Lizst – I’m sure they’re pretty pissed.

There’s the ‘paperwork’ in triplicate on every other page,

And all the lines he’s ‘hissed’. They’re going on the list.

And while we’re on the subject here’s another thing I hate,

Where I should find a simple ‘said’ I find ‘elucidate’,

Or murmur, mumble, mutter, stammer, whisper, growl or snap,

Is it any fucking wonder that your favourite word is ‘crap’?

And ‘impassive’ and ‘flush’ and ‘smirk’ can suck a bag of dicks,

They’d none of them be missed. They’d none of them be missed.

*

And then Ana gets a phone call saying her dad was in a car-crash. There the chapter ends.

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