Fifty Shades Freed: Chapter Sixteen
In a few days time, I will be heading ACROSS the COUNTRY to visit my darling best friend ELLIE for her birthday. In penance for the carnage that shall ensue, I figured it was best to get another recap up before I’m out of commission for the rest of the week in horror and disgust of the things I said and did on that fateful day. To the recap!
We left off last time with Leila arriving at Ana’s office. Apparently, she’s there with another woman, and Ana, for some fucking reason, agrees to have them both sent up to her office. Ana’s bodyguard comes in and tells Ana that Leila is on a “proscribed” list of visitors, which means that Christian has made up a list of the people it is and isn’t alright for Ana to see (the only reason she heard Leila was there, we discover, is because her bodyguard was on a bathroom break when she arrived). Prescott, the bodyguard, tries to talk Ana out of meeting with Leila but Ana shoots her down and giggles internally about the fact that she had to go to the bathroom, because
Ana texts Christian to let him know what’s going on, and then prepares to seduce Leila and whoever she’s brought with her:
” I stand, smoothing my gray pencil skirt over my hips, pinch my cheeks to give them some color, and undo the next button on my gray silk blouse.”
God, how brilliant would it have been if this story had taken a turn for the gay in the third book and it turned into this nuanced, fascinating story of Ana coming to terms with her sexuality and recovering from the abuse meted out to her by the last man she would ever be with? Someone write that. I’ll write that. Anyway.
Leila arrives with another woman, Susi, in tow, and they reveal themselves to both be ex-subs of Christian’s. Susi then instantly leaves, for some reason, and Christian calls the bodyguard in order to be put through to Ana. He bellows down the line to her about how he’s “fucking furious” that she “completely disregarded” his “specific instructions” and then she hangs up on him, satisfyingly.
Leila reveals that in fact she wants to see Christian, which freaks Ana out, and she tries to assure Ana that she’s feeling better but honestly anyone asking to see Christian out of choice should be restrained for their own safety and well-being. She tells Leila that it’s Christian’s choice, and Leila reveals that Christian is not only paying for her art school tuition, but that he already purchased two of her paintings. No wonder Christian didn’t want Ana to see Leila; it’s so Ana wouldn’t figure out the lies and deceit he’s been carrying on behind her back with his ex-partner.
Leila and Ana giggle over how lovable Christian is, and Leila reveals that the only reason she came to see Ana is because she knew Christian would turn up if she did and she wants to see him in person. Christian bursts in, fires the bodyguard, and starts berating Leila for coming to harass his wife. Two out of these three things are fair, which is a better standard than most Christian Grey-related interactions to be fair. Christian rounds on Ana once he’s kicked Leila out and told her never to bother them again (oh, and he’s threatening her with cutting off her medical support if she does), and tells her off because she “defied him”. Ana, sprouting a backbone for all of a paragraph, argues:
” I don’t remember receiving your papal bull decreeing that I couldn’t see Leila. I didn’t know that my visitors were subject to a proscribed list.””
Of course, instead of actually dealing with the fact that Christian had applied a list of visitors she could and couldn’t see to the employees that he hired to keep an eye on her, Christian is amused by her use of the term “papal bull” and we move on instead to why Christian was so mean to Leila. Seriously.
“Leila, Susannah—all of them—they were a pleasant, diverting pastime […]I don’t want you tainted with my old life.””
Ah yes, there’s nothing about treating fully-formed human beings as a “pleasant, diverting pastime” that could have left them feeling anything less than respected and valued, and certainly wouldn’t have contributed to the severe mental health problems at least one of them is suffering from. There’s not one red flag there for the way he will treat Ana if he grows bored of her! How refreshingly decent of him. Ana argues with him about how she loooves him so and accepts all those dark parts of him (not the bits where he uses women as playthings, mind, but the bits where he likes to spank her in bed once in a while), and accuses him of being heartless towards Leila:
“”I told you once, I don’t have a heart,” he mutters”
Ana thinks about how Christian can’t accept that he cares about his ex-subs because they remind him of his mother (sure, I guess). Christian demands that she leave work in the middle of the day, and Ana refuses:
“”You know,” I elucidate, “I do something you don’t like, and you think of some way to get back at me. Usually involving some of your kinky fuckery, which is either mind-blowing or cruel.””
Now, I feel like most people when faced with their partner saying something like that would hone in on the parts about revenge and cruelty, and how much they don’t seem to like those as part of their bedroom play. Christian – and this is a fact – can only ever hear the good in anything anyone says about him, so:
“”What was mind-blowing?” he asks, his eyes now shimmering with amused sensual curiosity. And I know he’s trying to distract me.”
Yeah, it’s not like Ana just had a major fight with him about the callousness he showed towards a vulnerable ex-partner and the boundaries he attempts to place on Ana’s life. Because that would be a ridiculous time to initiate sex, because it would be nothing more than an obvious attempt to escape the argument and-
“”We could stay here.” His is voice low and husky.
Oh no. My inner goddess gazes longingly down at the wooden table. No. No.
No. Not in the office. “Christian, I don’t want to have sex here. Your mistress has just been in this room.””
Yeah, Christian Grey, sex-God. I was pretty sure one of the things that made a guy a great lover was being able to read your signals and know when proposing sex was going to be an annoyance, but apparently it’s actually just haranguing your wife to bang you at work while she’s obviously distressed? My bad. Of course, Ana finally relents after Christian gets pissed at her for calling Leila his mistress, and they go home and bang. We cut to halfway through the sex scene, I guess because the set-up was too much, and Christian makes her come and they fuck a little and he’s all smug about how great it was and she’s all smug that this proves that he does have a heart, somehow? She makes him say it, and then we jump forward to a few days later when some good sex has apparently mellowed things between them. So, good to see that resolved in a satisfying and unrushed manner.
The cliffhanger this chapter ends on finally arrives as Jose’s dad calls Ana to let her know her stepfather is in the hospital, and mercifully, it’s all over for another week. As ever, please feel free to support me on Patreon if you’d like, and have a fantastic week!