Beautiful Oblivion Chapter 23
“Even for just a few classes, midterms were kicking my ass. Kody, Raegan, Gruber, Blia, and I were all studying at the Red before it got busy or when it was slow, and Trenton was helping me study at Skin Deep. ”
Oh man, one of Cami’s challenges that is never mentioned continues to be a challenge. I know Cami has mentioned a couple of times that she has to study between jobs or if she has a free moment at Skin Deep, but to be honest I never actually have registered the fact that she’s in school. What classes is she even in? She never mentions classes, just the work that supposedly comes from them. [Matthew says: Strangely, I actually find this bit of information fascinating. Blia got into a college?]
To be fair, though, if Blia is going to the same school, the academics can’t be all that rigorous. “Holy monkey’s ass in a church, these classes sure are hard as a frog’s uncle!” [Matthew says: I swear I wrote my joke before I noticed Ariel ALSO made a “wait, Blia in higher education?” joke. Does anyone else really wanna know what Blia is majoring in? I bet she’s a political science major. She’s probably gonna be a senator.]
Raegan’s epic love story continues to happen off-screen and to achieve its usual level of compelling:
If Kody wasn’t spending the night at our apartment, Raegan was at his. After the first few days of are we or aren’t we? they picked up where they’d left off, and I’d never seen Raegan so happy.
Does anyone else feel as sorry for Kody as I do? The only way I can possibly interpret his story is that Raegan dumped him for another guy [Matthew says: Specifically, her ex], pined over her, and she got back together with him only after the other guy hurt her [Matthew says: Many times.]. Doesn’t exactly look like the happiest of endings from where I’m standing. [Matthew says: The point of this subplot was definitely supposed to be “OMG Raegan, look at your life! Look at your choices!”, but I’m way more concerned about Kody’s decision-making abilities by this point.]
At Trent’s, Cami gives us tedious details of their sleeping arrangements:
Alternating between big spoon and little spoon as we turned from one side to the other had become a nightly ritual. I was more comfortable sleeping on my right side, and Trenton was more comfortable on his left, so we tossed and turned a lot.
I never thought I’d say this, but that paragraph about Raegan and Kody was more interesting than this. That sentence shouldn’t have been more interesting than anything.
Not interested in Trenton and Cami’s cuddling problems? Let’s discuss Trenton’s room decor and get confused about the book’s timeline together:
His white walls were broken up by old bronze framed family pictures, portraits of his mother, and many snapshots of us: at the Red Door, at Skin Deep, and the ridiculous shot of us celebrating the completion of my sixth tattoo, an intricate peacock with deep yellows, blues, greens, reds, and purples, spanning from my hip to midrib.
When has Cami been getting all of these tattoos? At the start of this chapter, I know she’s mentioned Spring Break is approaching and the last chapter mentioned Valentines Day…so did we skip ahead a couple of months and that’s when Cami’s meant to have gotten all these tattoos? I feel awful that we weren’t there to stop her from getting a peacock tattoo and I dread to think what the other tattoos are. [Matthew says: Is this going to be our only reference to why there’s a fucking peacock on the cover of this book? I guess it makes as much sense as the butterfly on the other ones, but surely she got a more meaningful tattoo than this one.]
Cami mentions that even though she’s paid for her brother’s recovery program (I had completely forgotten that’s why she took the second job), she’s still working there to get free tattoos. “But, truthfully, Trenton would have done them for free, anyway—a perk of being the artist’s girlfriend.” She doesn’t actually offer any real reason for the second job, but I’m going to go ahead and assume it’s to spend time with Trent/have some extra cash.
Now it’s time for Trenton to be the worst in multiple ways (also, there’s some Abby fanservice in there because I guess there are Abby fans out there somewhere in some forgotten corners of the Earth):
“Don’t forget,” he said.
“I know. Travis’s fight could be at any time, and you have to go the moment he calls to keep an eye on Abby.”
“I hope that scumbag who attacked her last time shows his face. He’ll wish it was Travis beating on him instead.”
“If you beat him any worse than Travis did, you’ll kill him. So let’s hope he doesn’t show.”
“You can have my apartment while I’m in jail.”
I rolled my eyes. “How about you just not go to jail? I’m kind of liking the way things are.”
Typical excessive Maddox violence? Check.
“He looked up at me. “You are?”
“I’ve got a key with your name on it.”
“It’s too early, baby, don’t start,” I groaned.”
Compulsive need to demand relationship moves faster even when it is progressing nicely? Check.
He sat up. “One of these days I’m going to quit asking, and you’ll miss it.”
“I doubt it.”
“You doubt that I’ll quit asking, or that you’ll miss it.”
He frowned. “That’s not nice.”
Emotional manipulation? Check.
I looked at my watch. “We’ve got work in a couple of hours.”
“No, we don’t. I asked off.”
“Okay, then. I have work in a couple of hours.”
“I asked off for both of us.”
Taking major liberties because he perceives himself to be the all-powerful man in the relationship? Of course! CHECK AWAY. Cami finally flips the fuck out on him, and I’m completely with her on this one. I’m not with her on the whole being in love with Trenton thing, but we can’t win them all.
“You can’t take my hours and not ask me, Trenton. And Cal shouldn’t let you pull that shit, either.”
I’m so glad she’s calling out Cal on this as well, because he’s terrible. On one hand, though, if I were in his position I might just assume that Cami had asked Trenton to call out on behalf of both of them to save a wasted phone call, but still! He’s a dick usually!
Cami explains, quite reasonably, that she likes working, it’s her money, and when Trent offers to call Cal to tell him Cami’s coming in, she points out again that she can do this herself and would prefer it. It was crossing a line to do this without her permission. So what does Trent do in response?
“I’m not mad. I’m fucking furious. This is exactly why I don’t want to move in with you, Trenton. You don’t get to run my life.”
“I’m not trying to run your life! I was trying to do something nice!”
“Okay, but do you understand why I think you crossed the line?”
“No, I think you’re overreacting.”
It’s all well and good that he was trying to do something nice, but to not even try to see why his nice gesture could have pissed Cami off pretty much sums up everything that’s happened in this whole book. Trenton has learned a grand total of 0 lessons from his behaviour, and it’s because Cami never actually follows through on her anger. She tells him she doesn’t want to go on a date with him, he guilt trips her/tricks her/won’t leave and she goes along with it while putting on a show of huffing and puffing. So in a situation like this, why would he even take her anger seriously? There are never any real consequences for his actions. [Matthew says: I wonder if any Men’s Rights Activists are super into these books. Except they probably wouldn’t pick them up because, like, a chick wrote them. This is a more tragic missed connection than any of the almost-missed connections in this book.]
If you thought he couldn’t be worse, let me prove you maddeningly wrong:
I sighed. “I’m leaving. Move your hand.”
“Trenton, please move your hand. I want to go home.”
He winced. “Home. This is your home. You’ve been here all week. You’ve loved it! I don’t know why you’re being so goddamn stubborn about it. You were thinking about moving to Califuckingfornia with the douche canoe in less time than we’ve been together!”
There is a lot to unpack here, but I’d like to start with “douche canoe.” What in the fucking world does this mean? Jamie McGuire, no one is using this term, no one will be using this term, please never again, you… douche canoe.
More importantly, “This is your home. You’ve been here all week”? How can he not finish that sentence and immediately say, “Oh, shit, yup I’m a fucking moron. Please be on your way so I can sort my shit out before you get home from work.”
Things somehow deteriorate even further.
“T.J. lived in his apartment for two years! He was a little more stable!”
Trenton’s mouth fell open, looking like I’d shot him. “Damn, babe. Don’t hold back.”
I cringed. “I shouldn’t have said that. I’m sorry.”
He took a step toward me, and I flinched. As bad as the comparison to T.J. wounded him, my tiny reflex hurt him even worse.
He spoke low and slow. “I would never hit you.”
“I know. It was just out of habit . . . I . . .”
He walked away from me, went into the bedroom, and slammed the door. My shoulders jerked up to my ears, and I closed my eyes.”
Cami. Girl. Real talk, you need to run from this dude. He has to make every one of your problems about him, then twist them to make you feel bad so he never has to address all the things he’s done wrong. What Cami said about T.J. didn’t really make much sense, but even if it did and it hurt Trent a bit, that’s not a fair reason to suddenly make her the bad guy here. And to then take her flinching as this huge offense that causes him to storm off is pretty awful.
[Matthew says: Once again, the ONE LINE that these books would never cross is physical abuse! Because true love means putting up with literally any emotional abuse, you know! JUST NOT HITTING. Why the fuck is Trenton getting all indignant about that? Is it really such a stretch to imagine that this alcoholic manchild who gets into fights with strangers in bars, not to mention threatens fights with strangers in restaurants in front of their children, might make the leap from emotionally manipulating and controlling every aspect of his girlfriend’s life to beating her? I don’t think we can just assume that’s the one line he’d never cross, y’all.]
After a few quiet seconds, a loud noise came from behind his door, like he had pushed the dresser over, but I couldn’t tell for sure.
I would never hit you!!! But I will fucking knock a dresser over. Doesn’t that make you feel safer, Cami?
At work, Cami feels bad because it’s really slow, and she realizes that Trent wanted them to take off work because he knew how bored they’d be! Cami quickly realizes that she was wrong, and her woman-brain should have just trusted her man. Never mind that Trent could have just explained this to her and made sure if it was cool/that she didn’t want the money. Because remember, Cami told him that she wanted the money during their fight, not that she was looking forward to a stimulating day on the job.
Cami fills Hazel in on what’s going on, and she insists that Trenton made a good point when he said Cami was about to move in with T.J. but not him. Jesus Christ, what is wrong with these people?
After work, Trenton drives up before heading to Travis’ fight (Cami has a weird feeling about him going, which means it’s definitely the fight where the big fire happens! Lantern attack!) He tells her he’s a fuckup, but that’s he’s going to fix things between them.
It was warm, and I hugged my steering wheel, overcome with affection for the man who always took such good care of me.
Please, will you all join me in a moment of vomiting?