Happy Tuesday, all! Time for a recap of chapter twenty-five of Fifty Shades Freed. We’re almost done with this train wreck, so let’s finish it up, bit by agonizing bit.
“It was a hot summer day. I was working hard.” He snorts and shakes his head, suddenly amused. “It was backbreaking work shifting that rubble. I was on my own, and Ele—Mrs. Lincoln appeared out of nowhere and brought me some lemonade. We exchanged small talk, and I made some smart-ass remark . . . and she slapped me. She slapped me so hard.”
This is such a ripoff from The Graduate. Or the first American Pie movie. Either way, it’s just wrong.
“But then she kissed me. And when she finished, she slapped me again.” He blinks, seemingly still confounded even after all this time.
“I’d never been kissed before or hit like that.”
Oh. She pounced. On a kid.
I’m not even understanding this, either.
“Well, naturally, I was confused and angry and horny as hell. I mean, a hot older woman comes on to you like that—” He shakes his head as if he still can’t believe it.
Hot? I feel queasy.
“She went back into the house, leaving me in the backyard. She acted as if nothing had happened. I was at a total loss.
“She didn’t touch me when she kissed me,” he murmurs and turns his head to gaze at me. “You have to understand . . . my life was hell on earth. I was a walking hard-on, fifteen years old, tall for my age, hormones raging. The girls at school—” He stops, but I’ve got the picture: a scared, lonely, but attractive adolescent. My heart twists.
“I was angry, so fucking angry at everyone, at myself, my folks. I had no friends. My therapist at the time was a total asshole. My folks, they kept me on a tight leash; they didn’t understand.” He stares back up at the ceiling and runs a hand through his hair. I itch to run my fingers through his hair, too, but I stay still.
“I just couldn’t bear anyone to touch me. I couldn’t. Couldn’t bear anyone near me. I used to fight . . . fuck, did I fight. I got into some god-awful brawls. I was expelled from a couple of schools. But it was a way to let off steam. To tolerate some kind of physical contact.” He stops again. “Well, you get the idea. And when she kissed me, she only grabbed my face. She didn’t touch me.” His voice is barely audible.
So, cool. He’s “attractive” as an adolescent even though he seems to have some major issues. He was even expelled from a few schools because of this. And this is okay?
“Well, the next day I went back to the house, not knowing what to expect. And I’ll spare you the gory details, but there was more of the same. And that’s how our relationship started.”
Oh, fuck, this is painful to hear.
He shifts again onto his side so he’s facing me.
“And you know something, Ana? My world came into focus. Sharp and clear. Everything. It was exactly what I needed. She was a breath of fresh air. Making the decisions, taking all that shit away from me, letting me breathe.”
“And even when it was over, my world stayed in focus because of her. And it stayed that way until I met you.”
Okay, so basically he was physically abused as a child and more or less sexually abused as a young man, and this turned him into an abuser himself. But somehow, there is a silver lining to this, because Elena made him a better person. God, this book is so fucked up.
“You turned my world on its head.” He closes his eyes, and when he opens them again, they are raw. “My world was ordered, calm and controlled, then you came into my life with your smart mouth, your innocence, your beauty, and your quiet temerity . . . and everything before you was just dull, empty, mediocre . . . it was nothing.”
“If you grow up with a wholly negative self-image, thinking you’re some kind of reject, an unlovable savage, you think you deserve to be beaten.”
Christian . . . you are none of those things.
He pauses and runs his hand through his hair. “Ana, it’s much easier to wear your pain on the outside . . .” Again, it’s a confession.
“She channeled my anger.” His mouth presses together in a bleak line. “Mostly inward—I realize that now. Dr. Flynn’s been on and on about this for some time. It was only recently that I saw our relationship for what it was. You know . . . on my birthday.”
I shudder as the unwelcome memory of Elena and Christian verbally eviscerating each other at Christian’s birthday party surfaces unwelcome in my mind.
“For her that side of our relationship was about sex and control and a lonely woman finding some kind of comfort with her boy toy.”
“But you like control,” I whisper.
“Yes. I do. I always will, Ana. It’s who I am. I surrendered it for a brief while. Let someone make all my decisions for me. I couldn’t do it myself—I wasn’t in a fit state. But through my submission to her, I found myself and found the strength to take charge of my life . . . take control and make my own decisions.”
I just can’t even with this passage. So Christian was a survivor of abuse, but that abuse helped him take charge of his own life? Ugh.
I frown. “She knew what?”
That I was head over heels in love with you. She encouraged me to go down to Georgia to see you, and I’m glad she did. She thought you’d freak out and leave. Which you did.”
I pale. I’d rather not think about that.
“She thought I needed all the trappings of the lifestyle I enjoyed.”
“The Dom?” I whisper.
He nods. “It enabled me to keep everyone at arm’s length, gave me control, and kept me detached, or so I thought. I’m sure you’ve worked out why,” he adds softly.
“Your birth mom?”
“I didn’t want to be hurt again. And then you left me.” His words are barely audible. “And I was a mess.”
1. Elena told him to go to Georgia even after Ana had specifically told Christian not to because she knew that advising Christian to do so would cause their relationship to fail.
2. Awww, so all of his problems are because of his mommy issues! Isn’t that cute?
And that’s it for today!