A great book spoiler sent in by J., who says, "There are many explicit sex scenes in the book. I did not describe them with a lot of detail because that would make this summary VERY long."
Anastasia (Ana) Steele is a 22-year-old college student living in Vancouver, Washington with her wealthy best friend/roommate, Katherine (Kate) Kavanagh. They are both on the cusp of graduating from WSU, where Kate is a journalist for the college paper. She is scheduled to interview the “enigmatic CEO of Grey Enterprises Holdings, Inc,” Christian Grey, who is a benefactor of the university and will hand out the diplomas at graduation. However, she comes down with the flu and gets Ana to go to Seattle to do the interview in her place. Ana reluctantly heads to Seattle to conduct the interview and is caught off guard when she comes face-to-face with the handsome 27-year-old billionaire CEO. The interview is rather awkward with Ana being rather nervous and Christian being very intense and arrogant with his responses. We learn a few things about Christian: He is a control freak, and he is adopted, and he is not gay (apparently many people think he is because he is never seen with women despite his good looks and status). He even turns the tables and starts asking Ana questions about herself, and we get a slight sense of a flirty attraction between the two. The interview ends, and Christian sees Ana out to the elevators where they part ways.
Ana feels embarrassed and foolish in the way she conducted the interview, and she is also rather smitten with Christian but ignores her feelings. We meet Ana and Kate’s friend, Jose Rodriguez, who is a photographer and has a crush on Ana (though she is not interested in him in that way at all).
Later in the week, Ana goes to her part-time job at a hardware store called Clayton’s and is surprised when Christian walks in. He says he is in town on business and needs a few things (cable ties, duct tape, rope, etc). They exchange some friendly banter, yet Ana tries to remain professional despite being totally disarmed by Christian. Paul, the son of the owner of Clayton’s, comes into the store and gives Ana a rather intense hug which immediately puts Christian off. Paul retreats and Christian and Ana discuss doing a photo shoot for Kate’s article the next day. Christian gives Ana his business card and tells Ana he is glad Kate wasn’t able to make the interview. Ana finally accepts that she “likes” Christian, but knows that it’s a “lost cause” because of who he is.
Ana and Kate arrange for Jose to take photos of Christian at the Heathman Hotel in Portland. The photo shoot goes well, and Christian asks Ana to go for coffee with him afterwards. Kate and Jose are not happy about this turn of events, and Kate even feels that there’s something “dangerous” about Christian and that Ana is too “innocent” to start anything with him.
During their coffee date, Christian and Ana get to know each other a little more personally. He talks about his mother Grace (a doctor), father Carrick (a lawyer), older brother Elliot (construction worker), and little sister Mia (studying cooking in Paris). Ana talks a little about her mother Carla (living with husband #4 in Georgia) and her step-father Ray (lives in Montesano, her birth father died when she was young). Christian also inquires about her romantic life, asking if she is interested in either Jose or Paul, to which she declines. Ana asks Christian if he has a girlfriend to which he replies, “I don’t do the girlfriend thing.” As he is walking her to her car, a cyclist almost hits Ana, but Christian pulls her out of the way just in time. They embrace, and she tries to kiss him, but he refuses her and warns her to stay away from him and that he is not the right guy for her. They part ways and Ana is very hurt and tells herself that she will not be seeing him again.
After final exams are over, Ana and Kate plan to celebrate that night at a bar. Unexpectedly, Ana receives a package from Christian: first-edition copies of Tess of the d’Urbervilles worth thousands of dollars. She wonders why he would send her such an expensive gift despite rejecting her. That night at the bar, Ana gets very drunk and calls Christian asking why he bought her those books. He is very surprised to hear from her, and is worried about her drunken state. She drunkenly insists on knowing his motives for sending the books while he insists on knowing exactly where she is. She vaguely tells him her location and hangs up, only to have him call back and say that he’s coming to get her. Feeling sick, she goes outside with Jose, who makes a pass at her. She refuses him, and Christian arrives to break up the situation. Ana proceeds to throw up in a flower bed while Christian holds her hair back, and Jose retreats back into the bar. Christian insists on taking Ana home but makes her drink some water first. Elliot, who came with Christian, is dancing and flirting with Kate. Christian leads Ana to the dance floor, but she passes out.
Ana wakes up in Christian’s hotel room at the Heathman. Christian lets her know that they did not have sex, but he did undress her and sent her clothes to be cleaned because they were splattered with vomit. She showers and they discuss the events of the previous night (her drinking, Jose’s advances, the expensive books, etc). He sent her the books as an apology, and because he can’t seem to stay away from her despite not wanting a romantic relationship. They discuss her future plans to apply for internships and move to Seattle after graduation. She tries to tempt him to touch her, but he clearly states that he won’t until he has her “written consent” and offers to take her to Seattle to his apartment to show her what he means by that. Extremely intrigued, Ana accepts. After breakfast, they leave the hotel, but not before sharing a passionate kiss in the elevator. Christian takes her home and says he will pick her up later that evening.
At home, Ana tells Kate (who spent the night with Elliot) how things seem to be moving along with Christian. She goes to work at Clayton’s and discovers Jose has been trying to contact her, but she decides to let him “stew” for a while. Christian picks her up after work, and they take his private helicopter, Charlie Tango, to Seattle. They arrive at his apartment building, Escala, where they have some wine, and he has Ana sign a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) so she can’t say anything to anyone about what he is about to show/tell her. She signs and asks if Christian is going to “make love” to her, and he says he doesn't make love, he “fucks.” He leads her to a room in his apartment and tells her that she can leave at any time if she wants to because what he is going to show her may scare her away. She insists on seeing what’s inside the room, so they go inside to find that it is filled with all kinds of sex toys and bondage equipment.
Christian explains that he is a Dominant (Dom), and he wants Ana to be his Submissive (Sub). If she agrees to this, there are rules she must follow, and she will surrender herself to him “in all ways.” If any rules are broken, she will be “punished.” Basically, Christian wants a BDSM (bondage dominance submission masochism) relationship where he can get off by controlling her, and she will be “happy” by pleasing him with her submission. Ana is taken aback by all of this; however she doesn’t leave. They leave the room and discuss things further, with Christian being very business-like about everything and urging her to ask questions knowing it’s a lot for her to take in. He gives her more paperwork that explains the “rules” of the Dom/Sub relationship and reveals he’s had 15 submissives in the past. The paperwork also explains “hard limits,” or things that are not negotiable such as sexual acts involving children or animals, fire, breath control, etc. Ana reveals that she is a virgin, which shocks Christian. He feels foolish and just “assumed” she’s been with men because she is so beautiful. He takes her to his bedroom to deflower her and “make love” by having “vanilla sex” (sex without toys or anything kinky). She has her first orgasm while he is only playing with her nipples. He has sex with her twice (missionary position and doggie-style), and she thoroughly enjoys every second of it.
After a short sleep, Ana finds Christian playing a sad song on his piano. He says he can’t sleep because he isn’t used to sleeping with anyone else. They go back to his bedroom and fall asleep together. In the morning, Ana fixes breakfast for herself and Christian while thinking about everything that has happened. Christian joins her and urges her to eat all of her breakfast (he’s obsessed with Ana eating full meals all the time). She speaks to Kate on the phone who tries to get details out of her about her night with Christian, but she is coy about it and hangs up. She asks Christian if it is okay for her to discuss their sex life with Kate despite signing the NDA; however she will not mention his Red Room of Pain (her nickname for the playroom of sex toys and bondage). He says he doesn’t want her to because Elliot and Kate are sleeping together, and his family knows nothing about his bondage lifestyle. He also reveals that he’s never had vanilla sex before and that he actually enjoyed it.
They take a bath together and fool around some more. She gives him a blowjob (unbelievably, an amazing one despite it being her first time doing that), and he goes down on her and has sex with her while her hands are tied together with one of his neck ties (the gray one that’s on the cover of the book). Suddenly they hear voices outside the room, one of which turns out to be Christian’s mother. After throwing some clothes on, they go into the living room where Christian happily introduces Grace to Ana. Grace is glad to meet her and comments on not seeing Christian for 2 weeks, and she misses him. After a brief exchange, Grace leaves, and Christian takes a business call. Ana notices Jose has called her again, much to Christian’s dismay. He gives Ana the BDSM contract and urges her to read it carefully and do internet research about BDSM so she can make a fully informed decision.
They leave in his Audi R8 Spyder to go back to Portland. Christian says it’s okay for Ana to discuss things with Kate (short of the BDSM stuff), but to make sure she doesn’t talk to Elliot. They stop at a restaurant on the way, and they discuss his sexual past and lack of regular dating/relationship experience. Christian reveals he was seduced by his mother’s friend when he was 15 years old and was her submissive for 6 years. They are still good friends to this day, and his mother has no idea about any of it. Ana is disgusted that Christian was sexually abused as a teen, but he doesn’t see it that way. His relationships with his past subs dissolved due to “incompatibility” and he feels that he and Ana are very compatible and urges her to do the research in hopes that she will sign the contact and be his. Ana seems to have some reservations about the whole thing, but Christian’s allure keeps her intrigued.
Christian takes Ana home, and they agree to see each other again on Wednesday. Kate is eager to know the details about Ana’s first sexual experience. Ana admits she’s unsure about their future as a couple saying that Christian is “complicated.” Kate talks about how much she’s into Elliot and her upcoming family trip to Barbados. Jose calls Ana and apologizes for making a pass at her, but expresses his disdain about her seeing Christian. She promises to have coffee with him sometime soon, and they hang up. Kate and Ana pack up much of their apartment, and Ana thinks about her situation with Christian, and if she wants to pursue a sexual relationship with him. After much avoidance, she gets out the contract and reads it.
The contract is extremely business-like and outlines all the rules that Ana must obey, all the sexual acts that they may engage in (which may be negotiated), and exactly what is expected by both the Dom and the Sub. The Dom will financially provide for everything and make sure the Sub is in good emotional and physical condition, and in return, the Sub will submit to every need and want the Dom has. Breaking any of the rules will result in punishment of the Dom’s choosing, such as whipping or spanking. Ana tries to take it all in, still having major reservations about the whole idea of being Christian’s “sex slave,” but part of her finds the whole prospect thrilling and very hot. She goes to sleep dreaming of Christian.
The next day, Christian sends a brand-new MacBook Pro to Ana, and also equips her with an email address so he can contact her. They send a few emails back and forth discussing their future date on Wednesday and questions about the contract. Ana goes to work at Clayton’s and gets coffee with Jose on her lunch break. She forgives him for making a pass at her, and they are friends again. Later that night, Ana and Christian exchange some flirty emails and then Ana begins her internet research on BDSM.
The next day, Ana decides to go for a run and think some more about the contract. As a joke, Ana emails Christian that she’s “seen enough” and that “it was nice knowing you,” but regrets sending it worried that Christian won’t see it as a joke at all. Turns out she’s right, as he shows up in her bedroom not long after claiming that her email required an in-person response to remind her just how “nice” it was to know him. He ties her to her bed with the same gray necktie again and blindfolds her with his t-shirt. After some foreplay with wine and ice, they have sex. Afterwards, they discuss his “indecent proposal” and he discloses that he was “collared” when he was a submissive to “Mrs. Robinson” (this is a nickname Ana gives to the woman that dominated Christian years ago, obviously a reference to “The Graduate”). He offers to introduce her to some of his former submissives, but she immediately refuses and is put off by the notion. He accuses her of being jealous, which upsets her and she asks him to leave. He gives her a passionate and romantic kiss before leaving and says to Ana “What are you doing to me?” He leaves and Ana starts to cry, struggling with the fact that she has strong feelings for him, but she is afraid of getting hurt if she agrees to be his submissive. Kate comforts her and says that he seems to have commitment issues. She also informs Ana that her dad called while she was with Christian to tell her that her mother can’t make graduation because her husband, Bob, has a minor injury.
Ana emails Christian her comments and concerns about the contract, including the following: why can’t she masturbate, why can’t she touch him, she’s not on board with being “punished” physically, she refuses to eat from a “food list” he has provided, etc. After some emails back and forth, she goes to bed feeling troubled.
The next day, Ana calls her mom to discuss Bob and how she won’t be able to see Ana graduate, which Ana is okay with. She and Christian email back and forth some more, with him confirming their date for 7pm the following day which he will pick her up for. She insists on driving herself and meeting at Escala, to which he reluctantly obliges. Ana calls her step-father, Ray, and realizes how much she can’t wait to see him at her graduation because he’s always treated her like his real daughter and they have a special bond. Ana and Kate pack up their apartment some more and go to bed.
The next day, Paul shows up at Clayton’s during her shift and asks her on a date. She refuses him and makes it clear that she is seeing Christian Grey, much to his disappointment. Later, she drives to Escala and meets up with Christian at the bar. They sit in a private dining room and immediately get into a discussion about the contract. He tells her that she can walk away anytime she wants to, but once she goes, that’s it. This pains her to hear. They eat oysters, and he compromises with her on several contract issues, assuring her that they will take it slow because he knows she is inexperienced. They flirt, and she realizes that if she stays any longer, they will wind up having sex in the dining room. She gets up to leave, and he embraces her and pleads with her to spend the night with him, but she refuses which frustrates him. The valet brings Ana’s car around, and Christian is appalled that she is driving an old Beetle which he feels is very unsafe. She assures him that she’s fine with it, and they part ways. When she gets home, she reads an email from Christian saying that he hopes she will take him up on his offer because he really wants to make it work with her. She goes to sleep, once again, crying.
Ana has an erotic dream about Christian involving a braided leather riding crop. She wakes up and vaguely tells Kate about her evening. Kate reads Ana her valedictorian speech while trying to get her mind off of Christian. Ray arrives, and they go to the graduation. She sees Christian there, wearing the same gray necktie that he’s tied her hands with during sex. Things get underway, and Christian makes a speech about trying to eradicate hunger around the world and that he had personally been a victim of going hungry, which shocks Ana and makes her wonder about his life before he was adopted. Diplomas are handed out, during which Christian and Ana share a brief exchange about her ignoring his emails, which puzzles her. Afterwards, Kate winds up introducing Christian to Ray as Ana’s “boyfriend,” much to Ana’s embarrassment, however, Christian goes along with it. He and Ray have a nice conversation about fishing. We meet Kate’s brother, Ethan, who just came back from Europe. Ana is not happy with Kate, but she insists that she’s doing Ana a favor and that Christian just needed a push. Privately, Ana tells Christian that she wants “more” than just the BDSM stuff if they engage in any kind of relationship, which puzzles him but yet, he doesn’t dismiss it. She then verbally agrees to “try” to engage in the relationship he wants, and he is thrilled. Ray and Ana go out for lunch, parting ways with Christian.
Later that night, Ray drops Ana off at home, and they say their goodbyes. She discovers her cell phone is dead, and upon charging it, she discovers 2 texts from Christian from the previous night, as well as an email on her laptop, both of which hoping she was okay driving home in her Beetle. They exchange more emails, and he decides to come over so they can discuss the contract again. She decides that she will give him the expensive books back and wraps them up before his arrival.
Christian arrives, and they drink fancy wine out of teacups. She tells him that she feels cheap when he buys her expensive things, but he tells her it is his pleasure to do so and that she is most certainly not cheap. They discuss more specifics in the contract (use of sex toys and such). She admits that she is very uncomfortable with the idea of being punished, but he will not negotiate it saying “it’s all part of the deal.” Christian makes a deal with Ana that he will try to give her more beyond the BDSM, but he still isn’t sure how it will work because he doesn’t know any other way to have a relationship. In return, she has to accept his graduation present to her: a red hatchback, two-door compact Audi. They have sex, with Ana getting to have all the control by being on top, and go to sleep. Upon waking, Ana tries to touch Christian’s chest but he tells her not to. She asks him again why he doesn’t like to be touched, and he says, “Because I’m fifty shades of fucked up.” He goes on to say that he had a very rough introduction to life and doesn’t want to go into detail about it. While he is getting ready to leave, he urges Ana to seek out contraception because he hates wearing condoms. Ana is sad that he is leaving and rolls her eyes at one point, which is something Christian has warned her not to do, or he will spank her. He puts her over his lap and spanks her 18 times. It’s not too painful, and Ana seems to semi-enjoy the experience. Christian then has sex with her from behind and soothes the redness on her butt from the spanking with baby oil.
Taylor, Christian’s live-in assistant, picks him up from Ana’s apartment. She feels uncomfortable with herself that she actually enjoyed the spanking and isn’t sure what kind of girl she is anymore. She calls her mom and they have an emotional conversation about men, and she urges Ana to come to Georgia to visit them and get away for a while. Kate comes home and sees Ana is upset about Christian again, urging her to dump him. After some wine, Kate leaves to call Elliot and Ana emails Christian. They exchange emails about Taylor selling her Beetle, and Ana refers to herself as a girl that Christian “occasionally fucks.” This angers him, and she goes on to to say that she doesn’t like him very much right now because he never stays with her. She abruptly shuts off the laptop and lies in bed, crying. Not even 10 minutes later, there is a commotion of Kate yelling at someone and Christian bursts into Ana’s bedroom. Kate offers to throw him out, but Ana says it’s fine. He wants to know why she is upset and feels it must be something he’s done (men really are oblivious). Ana feels that he is trying to change her, but he doesn’t see it that way and likes her the way she is. He just needs to feel that control over her by getting her to obey him and punishing her when she doesn’t. Christian points out that she was sexually aroused after the spanking, so some part of her did enjoy it. He wants them to be honest with each other for their relationship to work. He lies down in bed with her, and they sleep.
In the morning, Christian wakes up and realizes he’s going to be late for a meeting. He leaves Ana with a promise to see her on Sunday. Ana gets ready for her last day working at Clayton’s feeling good about her relationship with Christian. She exchanges a few emails with Christian about her confused feelings about being spanked. He tells her that she shouldn’t feel ashamed and that she should free her mind and her body. Later at work, she gets another delivery from Christian: a blackberry so that he can contact her even more frequently now. He sends her an email saying he’s leaving for Seattle and that he will see her on Sunday at Escala.
Ana and Kate finally finish packing their apartment. Taylor comes to get Ana’s Beetle so he can sell it, and Ana asks him how long he’s been working for Christian (4 years). He also adds that Christian is “a good man” and Ana hopes this is the truth. Jose and Elliot show up later, and Ana and Jose decide to leave Kate and Elliot alone and get a drink at a bar. Later on, Ana discovers an email, several missed calls, and a stern voicemail from Christian (she promised to email after work, but she forgot). She calls him and they talk for a bit, ending with him wishing her luck with the move tomorrow. The next day, Elliot helps Kate and Ana move into their new place in Seattle. Christian has fancy champagne delivered to them as housewarming gift.
Sunday arrives, and Ana heads to Escala. Upon arriving, Christian shows her a picture that was taken of them as a couple at the graduation in the Seattle Times (she is captioned as a “friend”). Christian has scheduled for the best ob-gyn in the city, Dr. Greene, to see Ana for a full examination and to prescribe her birth control pills. Before the doctor shows up, Christian invites Ana for dinner at his mother’s house that evening, adding that he’s never introduced a girl to his family before. Dr. Greene arrives and exams Ana, leaving her with a prescription. Christian and Ana eat lunch together and then he takes her to the playroom/Red Room of Pain. He goes into Dominant mode and starts giving her orders as to how she should act when they are in the playroom. Her hair must be braided, and she must wear nothing but her panties and sit on her knees by the door until he tells her otherwise. She does as she is told and he is pleased. They engage in some kinky sex with her being shackled from the ceiling, fondled with a riding crop, and then fucked up against a wooden cross on the wall. Despite her exhaustion, he has sex with her a second time, this time doggie-style with her hands tied together with a cable tie that he bought at Clayton’s.
After some sleep, they get ready to go to Christian’s parents’ house for dinner. Christian, however, pocketed Ana’s panties during foreplay in the playroom and hasn’t given them back. Ana decides to call his bluff and not ask for them back because he knows that’s what he wants her to do, so she goes to the dinner without any panties on. Taylor drives them to the Greys' house, and they discuss Mrs. Robinson briefly (she taught Christian how to dance). They arrive, and the family greets them, including Kate, Elliot, and Mia who is back from Paris. Ana begins to feel that Christian only invited her along because Elliot invited Kate and he felt obligated. She also discloses to the family that she’s planning on going to Georgia for a few days to see her mother, and Christian is obviously not thrilled about this. During dinner, they discuss various topics (Paris, Elliot’s current construction job, etc) and Christian discreetly caresses Ana’s thigh under the table, however, she abruptly shifts her legs away from him in response. He states he wants to show Ana the grounds and they leave the dining room together, with Christian practically dragging her across the backyard into the boathouse. She knows he’s angry, but pleads with him not to spank her and instead gently touches his face and initiates a tender romantic kiss. He responds passionately but breaks away from her saying, “What are you doing to me?” He reveals that by her shifting her legs from him during dinner was her way of refusing him (no one has ever refused him before), and he found it very arousing. He’s mad that she never told him about going to Georgia and he’s going to have quick, rough sex with her and not let her come as punishment.
After their tryst, Mia comes to find them so they can say goodbye to Elliot and Kate. Ana and Christian say their own farewells and head back to Escala. They discuss her trip to Georgia and Christian gives his blessing for her to go if it means so much to her. She says she needs time away from him and everything that has happened so she can get some clarity. Christian is worried that she is changing her mind about things, but tells her to take the time and sign the contract after Georgia. They arrive at Escala and get ready for bed. She wants him to make love to her and to be able to touch him, but he refuses. She insists on knowing more about his past so she can get to know him better, and he decides to tell her a few things after they engage in more kinky sex. He inserts 2 small metallic balls into her vagina and has her get him a glass of water (they stimulate as she walks). He spanks her a few times (for pleasure, not punishment), and they have sex. As they finally settle for sleep, Christian abruptly tells Ana that his birth mother was a crack whore who died when he was 4 years old.
Ana wakes the next morning alone. She feels saddened by the new information Christian has told her and has a better understanding of why he lives an isolated life; however she still doesn’t know why she can’t touch him. She meets Mrs. Jones, Christian’s housekeeper, in the kitchen. She finds Christian in his study, taking a business call. After his call, they have sex on his desk. He’s disappointed that she still wants to go to Georgia. Later during breakfast, he offers Ana his private jet for her trip, but she refuses. They discuss her internship interview that she has scheduled that day, though she refuses to tell Christian which publishing company it’s for so he won’t interfere. She brings up the info he told her the previous night about his birth mother and he reveals he’s never told anyone that before. He makes her promise to think about their arrangement while she is away, and they tell each other how much they’ll miss each other.
Ana goes to her interview at Seattle Independent Publishing (SIP). She meets Elizabeth Morgan, who is head of human resources. She is interviewed by Jack Hyde, the acquisitions editor. The interview goes well. At home, Ana and Kate discuss Christian. Kate says she thinks Christian is in love with Ana, and that Ana should confess her feelings to him, but she just isn’t sure about all of it. Later, her and Christian exchange more flirty emails and she tells him that she will contact him when she is in Georgia. Kate and Ana go to the airport, and part ways to get on their flights. Ana discovers Christian has upgraded her ticket to first class. She enjoys the perks of first class despite being annoyed at Christian’s stalker-ish tendencies. She sends him a few flirty emails before takeoff, and one of his responses talks about her being “bound and gagged in a crate.” After landing in Georgia, Ana sends a long email to Christian about how much she is “caught up in his spell” but the “crate” comment scares her because she doesn’t know if he’s joking or not. She shares her complicated feelings towards him and how she needs some distance to sort them out.
Ana has an emotional reunion with her mother and Bob. She texts Christian and her friends that she arrived in Georgia safely. She remembers Jose has an art gallery opening coming up and thinks about asking Christian to go with her. Later, at the beach, Ana and her mom discuss Christian and her mom gives her some good advice about men not being as complicated as women make them out to be, and that Ana should just take him literally and not over-think things. At the house, Ana unpacks and checks her email and sees Christian’s reply. His response is very long, basically saying that Ana has totally disarmed him and he has never wanted to share his lifestyle more with anyone else than he does with her. He wants to make things work between them and will do whatever it takes to make her trust him and be comfortable. She realizes how much she misses him after reading it.
Ana and Christian send emails to each other throughout much of the night. Christian leaves her hanging at one point, saying that he’s having dinner with an old friend and he will be driving. She figures out that the “old friend” is probably Mrs. Robinson and isn’t too happy. She sends Christian one last email asking him if it is Mrs. Robinson and doesn’t get a response. The next day, Ana and her mother are at a bar drinking Cosmopolitans and talking more about men. Her mom gets the feeling that Ana isn’t telling her everything that’s bothering her about Christian. Ana finally gets a response from Christian on her Blackberry, confirming that it was Mrs. Robinson and that she is just an old friend. He also makes a remark about how many Cosmos she’s drinking, and she figures out that he’s there somewhere watching her. She sees him across the room, and he walks over to their table. Ana is very mad but contains herself and introduces him to her mom. They exchange some friendly banter and Carla invites him over to dinner for the next evening, and he accepts. She excuses herself to the bathroom so Ana and Christian can be alone, and they discuss Mrs. Robinson while she is gone. Ana sees her as a child molester, and Christian just doesn’t see it that way and says that their sexual relationship is over, and she shouldn’t be mad about him meeting up with her. He says that she was a “force for good” and that she “helped” him when he needed it the most. Ana inquires more about their past relationship and how it ended, to which Christian reveals that her husband eventually found out about them. Ana asks “Did you love her?” Just as Carla returns and the conversation ends. Christian excuses himself and tells Ana he will call her in the morning. Carla is convinced that Christian has strong feelings for Ana and urges her to go to him and see it through, considering he’s flown across the country just to see her.
Ana knocks on Christian’s door and he opens it while taking a business call. She demands an answer to her last question, to which he says “no.” She decides to stay and he is glad and notes that no one has ever been so mad at him like she has, except his family. They embrace and have wind up having sex in the bathroom, despite the fact that she has her period (it doesn’t bother him). Afterwards, she notices a few burn scars on his chest that must have been from cigarettes. He assures her that Mrs. Robinson didn’t make those, and defends her again saying that she kept him from going down the same path as his birth mother. He goes to her for advice about lots of things, including Ana herself. He’s never had these in-depth discussions with anyone before Ana, except with his therapist, Dr. Flynn. He turns the tables and asks how she feels about their arrangement. She admits that she doesn’t think she can be his submissive for entire weekends (as stated in the contract), and he agrees, saying jokingly that she’s, “not a great submissive.” They discuss spanking, and he tells her that she can always use a “safe word” to stop him if she can’t take it. They talk some more and have sex in the bathtub. Ana admits to herself that she loves Christian. Later, they talk more about Christian’s past sexual partners, to which there are many (he can’t give her a specific number), and they were all submissives (however only 15 have been in the playroom). He reveals that he’s paid for sex in the past, and there are BDSM places around for people to go if they want to learn and engage in the lifestyle. Ana is shocked by this and says that she can’t shock him back. He reveals that she has shocked him several times (being a virgin, not wearing her underwear to his parents house, etc). He tells her that he has a surprise for her in the morning, and they go to sleep.
They get up very early the next day, and he takes her to a mystery location. While in the car, the song “Toxic” by Britney Spears comes on through Christian’s iPod. He says that one of his past submissives, Leila, put that song on there. Ana asks why things ended with Leila, and he says because she wanted more and he didn’t. He has never wanted more, until he met Ana. He’s had four long-term relationships apart from Elena (Mrs. Robinson’s real name, the first time we’ve heard it). They all ended with Christian not wanting more, and they did, apart from one who found someone else. All of the others “just didn’t work out.” All of the new information boggles Ana’s mind as they arrive at an airfield where Christian says they’re going to “chase the dawn” by going gliding. After the trip, he gives her a romantic kiss and they head out to eat breakfast at an IHOP. He says Carrick used to take him to IHOP as a kid when his mom as away at medical conferences. They order food and Ana brings up the fact that Christian has “changed his mind” about the nature of their relationship. He thinks of it more as that they have to “redefine our parameters.” She admits she was scared that he would leave her if she didn’t agree to everything in the contract, and he says that he isn’t going anywhere.
Christian drops Ana off at her mother’s house and they part ways. She tells Carla about her evening and offers to help her make a meal for Christian’s visit that night. Ana emails Christian, thanking him for gliding trip, and they exchange more flirty emails. Later, Ana gets a call from Elizabeth Morgan at SIP, and they offer her an internship, and she accepts. She gets a call from Christian soon after, and he tells her that an emergency has come up in Seattle, and he has to fly back right away and will not make dinner. He says Taylor will pick her up from the airport tomorrow. Later, Ana thinks about Christian’s change in attitude about wanting a more traditional relationship with her and realizes that Elena must have given him some advice about it, hence the change. She wonders if he landed safely and Seattle and emails him. They exchange more flirty banter. However, the “situation” in Seattle is not under control yet (Christian never reveals what it is).
Ana flies home the next day. Taylor meets her at the airport in Seattle and drives her to Escala. She asks how Christian is, and he says he is “preoccupied.” She arrives at Christian’s apartment, and he immediately embraces her and takes her to the bathroom where he goes down on her, and they have sex. They take a shower together, and she tells him that she got a job, but she won’t say where. She also invites him to go to Jose’s photography show in Portland on Thursday, and he accepts. He washes her body, and she asks if she can do the same to him, to which he refuses and initiates sex with her again instead.
Later, after eating a meal, Ana asks about the “situation,” and Christian says it’s “out of hand” but nothing for her to worry about. Christian requests that Ana go to the playroom in fifteen minutes. He’s had a whole wardrobe of clothes bought for her, as well. She goes to her room and assumes the required submissive playroom attire (panties only) and kneels by the playroom door. Christian enters and grabs something from a drawer. He instructs her that he is going to do something very intense to her, and she will not be able to see or hear him. He takes her to the bed, braids her hair, and shows her the flogger that he’s going to use on her. He reminds her of the safe words she should use if she is in pain (“yellow” to slow down, “red” to stop completely). She lies on the bed, blindfolds her, puts iPod ear buds in her ears, and ties her arms and legs (spread eagle style) to each of the four posts of the bed with leather cuffs. Beautiful music plays in her ears while Christian drags the flogger around her body to create different sensations. Eventually they have sex, and he releases her from her constraints and massages her shoulders afterwards. She asks him about what he heard her say in her sleep during their night together in Georgia, and he tells her that it was stuff about cages, strawberries, that she wanted more and that she missed him. She is relieved that it wasn’t anything else, and he wonders if she is hiding something from him.
Later, after sleeping, Ana wakes up and has to take her birth control pill (the time zone changes have screwed up her schedule). She finds Christian playing a sad song on his piano. She asks him when he started playing, and he says that when he was 6 years old, he threw himself into learning piano to please his new parents (Grace and Carrick). He wants to have sex on the piano, but she just wants to talk. They discuss the contract, and Christian says that the contract is pretty much obsolete at this point. She asks him to clarify what that means, and he states that he wants her to follow the rules all the time, but not the rest of the contract (unless they are in the playroom), and that he will still punish her if she breaks any of the rules. She wants to reread the rules, and he fetches her a copy of the contract to do so.
After reading, Ana rolls her eyes, which has always been a rule-breaker for Christian. She realizes what she’s done, and asks if he wants to spank her now, to which he obliges. However, she teases him by getting him to chase her around the kitchen. He playfully goes along with it and says that it’s almost as if she doesn’t want him to catch her, and she admits that’s exactly what it is. She states, “I feel about punishment the way you feel about me touching you” and he is immediately saddened and horrified by this, showing just how much the notion of anyone touching him makes him fearful. Ana says she lets him spank her because he needs it, and he admits that he does need to hurt her, but nothing that she couldn’t take. She wants to know why he needs to hurt her, and he says that if he tells her the reason, she will run screaming from the room and will never want to return. He doesn’t want to risk losing her because he couldn’t bear it and starts kissing her and begging her not to ever leave him. She senses in all of this, that Christian is lost in some private darkness and needs help. She decides to let him punish her. He is shocked and confused by this change of events, but she insists that he shows her “how much it hurts.” She admits she is confused and not sure about going through with it, but at least they will both know if, once and for all, if she can handle the extent of his need for control.
Christian leads Ana to the playroom and asks her to bend over a bench. She gets herself ready, mentally, telling herself that she can do this. Christian clarifies that he is going to hit her six times with a belt on the butt and that she will count each time. He tells her he is doing this because she rolled her eyes and tried to run away from her, and he doesn’t want her to do that. He begins, and hits her once with the belt and it hurts a lot. With each hit from the belt, Ana is in a lot of pain and cannot control tears streaming down her face despite wanting to control herself. After the sixth and final blow, he immediately embraces her lovingly; however she pulls away and wants nothing to do with him. She calls him a “fucked-up son of a bitch” and leaves the playroom. Christian is completely shocked and does not understand.
Ana cries in the other room, sad that she’s in love with “fifty shades” and that this was all a wake-up call that there is no way she can be with him if she has to endure punishment like that. Christian joins her, bringing her cream and Advil for the soreness on her butt. He holds her and begs for her not to hate him, and she apologizes for the terrible thing she said. She also states that she can’t be everything he wants her to be, and he disagrees, saying that she is everything he wants. She doesn’t understand, saying that she isn’t obedient, and she is “sure as hell” not going to let him hit her ever again like he just did. With a sudden bleak expression, he says, “You’re right. I should let you go. I’m not good for you.” She doesn’t want to go and finally confesses that she has fallen in love with him. He is horrified by this, saying that she can’t love him; that it is wrong and that he can’t make her happy. She claims he does make her happy, but he says “Not at the moment, not doing what I want to do.” With that, she resolves to leave him and asks for some privacy to shower and get dressed. Brokenhearted, Ana takes out a gift she got for Christian (a model kit for a glider) and leaves it for him with a note saying it reminds her of happier times.
Ana and Christian are both fully dressed, and he is taking a call from Welch, his security advisor. He is clearly angry about something and asks Welch to “find her” (at this point, we don’t know who “her” is). He hangs up and watches Ana unpack her MacBook, Blackberry, and Audi car keys and place them on the breakfast bar. She requests the money that Taylor got for selling her Beetle. He tries to convince her to keep all of those things, but she coldly refuses saying she wants nothing that will remind her of him. He writes her a check and offers to have Taylor take her home, and she reluctantly obliges. Before she leaves, he makes another plea for her to stay, but she refuses saying she “just can’t do this.” They part ways and Taylor drives her home. Once at her apartment, she curls up in her bed and cries.