In Matthew news, this is my first post from New York! Well, sort of, I wrote it before I moved, but I’m in New York when this post goes live. So, yeah, I’m in New York in the future that is now! In Bad Books, Good Times news, this is the last chapter of Reflected In You! We’re probably going to return to this series in the future, but we want to take a break from it and explore other things that are not erotica. Seriously, fuck erotica.
Last chapter, Eva went around talking to various people in Gideon’s life to try to discover the mystery that is Gideon Cross until he showed up and told her his past anyway. Then they made out and talked about getting back together but didn’t. And because nothing that happens in this book ever matters, this chapter Eva decides to continue interviewing people about Gideon, and so she has lunch with Christopher when she realizes that there’s a flaw in her brilliant plan to discover specific details about Gideon’s childhood.
[Christopher] greeted me with his boyish grin, and it struck me then – I couldn’t ask him about what he’d said to his mother long ago. He’d been a child himself, living in a dysfunctional home.
I’m not going to lie to you, guys. I’m not even following this story anymore. I have no idea what Eva’s found out about Gideon’s past. I have no idea who abused Gideon or how they did. Even when Eva’s investigating Gideon’s secret past, she’s keeping all her discoveries a secret too. She’s not even explicitly narrating what she’s discovering. Imagine you’re reading a Sherlock Holmes story, and instead of ending with Sherlock outlining every detail of the mystery he’s solved, he just implies that someone did something, but never explicitly told you.
What Eva does tell us, however, is that after lunch where she pretends to hate Gideon, she understands Christopher’s hatred of stepbrother. Although it’s nothing that we don’t already know (Gideon’s richer? OMG. Gideon’s more handsome? Heavens, Mama!), so I don’t know why this was supposed to be a significant last chapter reveal.
Speaking of people who don’t understand what’s going on, Eva gets back to work and Gideon calls her to his office to ask why she’s still interviewing people because didn’t she already figure out… something? Eva realizes that their conversation is more calm than it would have been in the past, which they decide is a sign that they’re getting to trust each other, as opposed to a sign that they probably really shouldn’t date each other. They keep their distance from each other not dating each other, which makes their relationship stronger. I’m not making this up, I’m trying to summarize this and I just have no idea why any of this is supposed to make sense, but this book is determined to not make sense:
I was on the threshold of my room when Cary’s door opened and Tatiana came out. My eyes widened at the sight of her naughty nurse costume, complete with exposed garters and fishnets. […]
“No judgment here, but I assumed you and Tatiana were done.” […]
“We’ll see how it goes. She knows Trey’s in my life and I hope to keep him there. Trey, though… I know he won’t like it.”
I felt for both men. It was going to take a lot of compromising for their relationship to work out.
Wait, so their relationship is… what, open? Open only for one person in it so long as he has affairs with people of the opposite gender only? Is the novel seriously presenting this as a good relationship? As something to shoot for? This is the worst moral ever.
But if you think that’s awful, you’ve seen nothing yet. Eva goes to her Krav Maga class (Fun fact, I only just learned how to correctly pronounce Krav Maga last week. Yeah, after all this time!) and runs into the detective who was investigating Nathan’s murder.
“I can’t speak to you without my attorney present.”
She spread her arms wide. “I’m off-duty. But anyway, you don’t have to say anything. I’ll do all the talking. […] I think your boyfriend killed Nathan Barker. […] I’ll never be able to prove it,” she said grimly. “He’s too smart. Too thorough. The whole thing was precisely premeditated. […] I would say that Nathan Barker attacked Cary Taylor as a way to intimidate and threaten Gideon Cross. My guess is that Cross wasn’t conceding to Barker’s blackmail demands. […] At that point, I think Cross perceived you to be in mortal danger. And you know what? He was right. […] Usually when we find this sort of thing, it’s too late. […]
“So here’s how I think it went down. […] Cross cut you off, started seeing an old flame. That served two purposes – it made Barker relax, and it wiped out Cross’s motive. Why would he kill a man over a woman he’d dumped? […] Cross doesn’t hire out the job. […] this is personal. You’re personal. […]
“Barker was taken out by a single stab wound to the chest. Right in the heart. Would’ve taken no more than a minute. […] My guess? He opened the door to Cross and it was over before he could blink.”
Eva goes to Gideon’s apartment.
“I ran into Detective Graves tonight. […] They’re dropping the case.”
His chest expanded on a deep breath.
With that sound, I knew. […]
I’d kill for you, give up everything I own for you… but I won’t give you up. […]
[I] touched his face with my hands and my lips. My gratitude for his gift whispered over his skin: Thank you… thank you… thank you…
So this is how this erotic romance ends: the male lead murders someone and the female lead is not only good with that, but she loves him more. I realize this isn’t quite that black and white because, yes, Nathan was Eva’s rapist and was probably going to kill her. Is it a relief he’s dead? Probably. Is it better that he’s dead? Probably. Is it comforting to know that the man she’s in love with literally murdered him for her?
The novel tries really hard to rationalize this ending (uh, chyeah). During her speech, Detective Shelley talks about how people shouldn’t take the law into their own hands, but they likely wouldn’t have been able to do anything until too late in this scenario. And nobody misses Nathan anyway. But I want you to pause and really, seriously think about this scenario for a second. Think about your significant other. Really think about them. Think about who they are, the sort of things they do, and why they’re important to you. Now pretend they murdered someone. Let’s not get caught up in the why or the how, for this exercise. Just focus on the weight of how they have made another person stop living.