Fifty Shades Darker: Chapter Nineteen
We left off last week with the delicious prospect of Christian vanishing from the face of the Earth, marking this the first chapter I’m actually looking forward to recapping. On with the show!
We open with Ana sitting in front of the fire in Christian’s apartment, while his friends and family wander about trying to figure out what’s going on. For some reason, his disappearance is all over the news, which is odd because…well, he’s just a very, very rich guy, isn’t he? There are loads of those about. Did literally nothing else happen in Seattle that day?
Ana goes through a greatest-hits of all the lovey-dovey things Christian has said to her over the last book or so, and it would be so romantic and heart-wrenching were it not for the fact that if Christian really was gone, Ana’s life would almost certainly be improved. Because she wouldn’t have someone in it who disrespects her sexual boundaries, rapes her, tries to exert his control over every single thing she does, takes out his random furious moods on her, etc. Jose, who’s with them, asks Ana if she wants to call her mum, but she declines, thinking that her mother would get too emotional.
“Maybe Ray, he wouldn’t get emotional—he never gets emotional, not even when the Mariners lose.”
Just chucking this in here because, of course, Ray (her stepdad) being a man, he would never, ever, ever get emotional about anything. Not even sports! Not. Even. Sports.
“I stare into the flames once more. I can see his shy smile—my favorite of all his expressions, a glimpse of the real Christian, my real Christian. He is so many people: control freak, CEO, stalker, sex god, Dom […]”
Now, this is interesting. It’s interesting, because Ana thinks that the shy, smiling Christian is the “real” one, before immediately going on the ackowledge the fact that that side of him is only a minute part of who he actually is. All the other things she lists? None of them are relevant to why she loves him. She dislikes the BDSM he wants her to get involved him, she doesn’t like it when he invades her space, she claims not to care about his job status or his money, she finds his controlling tendencies annoying and intimidating…hell, even the “sex god” part of that is sullied by the fact he raped her a few chapters back. Ana only really seems to love this one tiny corner of Christian, one that rarely shows it’s face against all the rest of the bullshit he wheels out.
“Even though he’s so complex and difficult, I love him. I will always love him. There will never be anyone else. Ever.”
Yeah, no. Ana is what, twenty-two, twenty-three at this point? And they’ve been together for maaaaaybe three months? She’s literally acknowledging how hard the relationship is, but then following it up with the fact that she’ll never leave him because he’s…what, fit and good in bed? That’s depressing.
And then, of course, Christian arrives back, unharmed.
His family run to greet him, but Ana is frozen to the seat, where Jose is still sitting comforting her. His mother tells him that she died “a thousand deaths” waiting for him, so it’s clear where Christian got his panache for the ridiculously overwrought from.
“He blinks and glances briefly at José, who lets go of my hand. Christian’s mouth tight-
Yeah, God fucking forbid that your girlfriend’s mate should offer her some solace when she thought you might be dead. Priorities, here.
Christian is surprised by the fanfare, because he didn’t realize returning home after the helicopter crashed would take this long. He finally goes to comfort Ana, and they snuggle a bit before his housekeeper offers to get him a drink. Here, I discover to my horror that Christian Grey’s beer of choice is the same as my boyfriend’s, a fact which disturbs me more than it probably should.
Christian finally explains what happened, which was that he was flying back from a meeting with a colleague when they decided to take a detour to see some mountain. The engines caught fire, they landed, then they hitched a ride back to Seattle with a trucker. Somehow, the truck driver didn’t have a mobile with him, which I’m 90% sure is bullshit, so they couldn’t call to tell anyone where they were. Considering how jealous Ana is and how bloody spurious this story sounds, I’m surprised she’s not jumping to the same “he was cheating” conclusion that I am.
Everyone leaves except Jose, who’s staying over- Christian leaves Ana to say goodbye to him, and it feels like Jose is reeeaallly trying to offer her a lifeline out of the relationship.
““Seriously, Ana, I’m glad you’re happy, but I’m here if you need me.”
I gaze up at him. “Thank you.”
He flashes me a sad, bittersweet smile, and then he goes upstairs.”
Now, EL frames this as Jose still having feelings for Ana, but it comes across to me that Jose sees how shitty things are, also assumes Christian was fucking around, and is basically telling her that he’ll be here for her whenever she wants to jump ship. It astounds me how well EL managed to write the story of a woman trapped in an abusive relationship without even intending to. Hey, you think that maybe if she tried to right a terrible book, she would fail at it as spectacularly as this and would end up writing a masterpiece? Food for thought.
Christian and Ana grope and grab at each other a bit and Christian tells her that “in the few seconds of sheer terror before [he] landed, all my thoughts were of [her],” because once again EL understands with a deep and moving profundity how people actually fucking talk to each other.
Christians asks her to shower with him, and when he takes off his jacket he pulls out the little box Ana gave him for his birthday. She tells him to open it, and inside is a tacky light-up keyring with SEATTLE written on it. But wait! It’s more than that!
““Turn it over,” I whisper, holding my breath.
He does, and his eyes shoot to mine, wide and gray, alive with wonder and joy. His lips part in disbelief.
The word yes flashes on and off on the key ring.
“Happy birthday,” I whisper.”