Nov 062012
 

Jack Hyde makes a ridiculously clumsy pass at Ana, alone in the office. This is not subtle sexual harassment. This is blatant aggression.

Ana kicks him in the groin, runs out of the building and meets Christian and Taylor outside. Christian immediately explodes at her.

“Please don’t be mad at me.” I blink up at him.
“I am so mad at you right now,” he snarls and once more sweeps his hand through his hair. “Get in the car.”
“Christian, please—”

“Get in the fucking car, Anastasia, or so help me I’ll put you in there myself,” he threatens, his eyes blazing with fury.
Oh shit. “Don’t do anything stupid, please,” I beg.
“STUPID! ” he explodes. “I told you to use your fucking Blackberry. Don’t talk to me about stupid. Get in the motherfucking car, Anastasia— NOW! ” he snarls and a frisson of fear runs through me. This is Very Angry Christian. I’ve not seen him this mad before. He’s barely holding on to his self-control.

That Christian can explode like this should be a giant red flag to Ana. That he says he is angry at her, not at the situation or the guy who molested her, is an even bigger one.

Fortunately, at least for Jack, Christian just fires him then and there. (His actions towards Ana would have been firing offences anyway, even if her boyfriend didn’t own the company.) I expected that this subplot would be drawn out more, with Ana trying to deal with this guy on her own without going to Christian’s help. (Note that this happens the day after Leila threatened her.)

While Christian works, Ana wanders around his penthouse and, of her own accord, goes into the playroom. (This, incidentally, could be Ana violating Christian’s privacy, but he’s violated hers plenty of times, so by this book’s demented logic, that’s fair.)

How strange. Feeling like a child playing hooky and straying into the forbidden forest, I walk in. It’s dark. I flick the switch and the lights under the cornice light up with a soft glow. It’s as I remember it. A womb-like room.
Memories of the last time I was in here flash through my mind. The belt . . . I wince at the recollection. Now it hangs innocently, lined up with others, on the rack beside the door. Tentatively I run my fingers over the belts, the floggers, the paddles, and the whips.
Sheesh. This is what I need to square with Dr. Flynn. Can someone in this lifestyle just stop? It seems so improbable.

It’s also telling that in trying to figure out kink, Ana goes to somebody from Christian’s world, not her own. Earlier this chapter, Christian and Ana had a minor squabble over Ana even seeing Jose.  Even when Jack was threatening her, she thought she couldn’t say anything about Christian owning the company because the news was embargoed. She’s engulfed by Christian’s world, isolated from all of her friends and family, even without the contract.

As for whether somebody involved in BDSM can just stop, yes, they can. The question is, should Christian have to? I don’t think Christian should have to bow to Ana’s prejudicial ideas about BDSM in order to be with her.

As I pull open the top drawer I realize my blood is pounding through my veins. Why am I so nervous? This feels so illicit, as if I’m trespassing, which of course I am. But if he wants to marry me, well . . .
Holy fuck, what’s all this? An array of instruments and bizarre implements—I don’t have a clue what they are, or what they’re for—are carefully laid out in the display drawer.
I pick one up. It’s bullet-shaped with a sort of handle. Hmm . . . what the hell do you do with that?  My mind boggles, though I think I have an idea. Jeez, there are four different sizes!

Of course Ana has never read Story of O. Yet there are moments she seems ambivalent about kink, which makes me wonder if she would be more open to it if she had been introduced to it in a low-pressure way.

Christian comes in, having forgotten to lock the door earlier.

“Yes, you’re trespassing, but I’m not mad. I hope that one day you’ll live with me here, and all this”—he gestures vaguely round the room with one hand—“will be yours, too.”
My playroom . . . eh? I gape at him—that’s a lot to take in.

He introduces her to butt plugs and anal beads, though not directly. We’re back to the kink-teasing mode of the story. I have to remind myself that the concept of anal stimulation is a novelty or even a taboo for a lot of people, including the majority of readers of this book, and the book will therefore tiptoe around the subject. It’s hard to remember that, once upon a time, oral sex was this bizarre, perverse act that only whores and perverts and foreigners did, and it’s only over the last century or so that it has shifted to the standard sexual menu of heterosexuals. We may be seeing a similar shift towards anal. One theory suggests that anal wasn’t a major thing for heterosexuals until the AIDS crisis of the 1980s forced people to start talking about anal, and then people started doing it en masse.

Christian lets Ana poke through the drawers in the playroom, giving guidance as needed, which is a good way to let a newbie get her feet wet. She gets to the nipple clamp drawer:

“Hold out your little finger.”
I do as he asks, and he clamps one clip to the tip of my finger. It’s not too harsh.
“The sensation is very intense, but it’s when taking them off that they are at their most painful and pleasurable.” I remove the clip. Hmm, that might be nice. I squirm at the thought.

“I like the look of these,” I murmur and Christian smiles.

Then a Wartenberg pinwheel:

He reaches over and takes it from me. “Give me your hand. Palm up.”
I offer him my left hand and he takes it gently, skating his thumb over my knuckles. A shiver runs through me. His skin against mine, it never fails to thrill me. He runs the wheel over my palm.
“Ah!” The prongs bite into my skin—there’s more than just pain. In fact, it tickles slightly.
“Imagine that over your breasts,” Christian murmurs lasciviously.
Oh!  I flush and snatch my hand back. My breathing and heart rate increase. Holy cow.

If Christian had done this a book and a half ago, instead of immediately shoving the contract into her face, Ana might have been more accepting of kink.

“Ball gag. To keep you quiet,” says Christian, amused once more.
“Soft limit,” I mutter.
“I remember,” he says. “But you can still breathe. Your teeth clamp over the ball.” Taking it from me, he replicates a mouth clamping down on the ball with his fingers.

When somebody says, “soft limit,” you shouldn’t push it like Christian does. Gagging, for example, may set off physical or psychological problems.

“That,” says Christian, his eyes darkening, “is a spreader bar with ankle and wrist restraints.”
“How does it work?” I ask, genuinely intrigued. My inner goddess pops her head out of her bunker.
“You want me to show you?” he breathes in surprise, closing his eyes briefly.
I blink at him. When he opens his eyes, they are blazing.
Oh my.  “Yes, I want a demonstration. I like being tied up,” I whisper as my inner goddess pole vaults from the bunker onto her chaise longue.

At long last, Ana wants to try something and says so. This is a major step in this book series, which is supposedly all about kink.

To be continued.

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