Last week one of my friends from high school (who’s written cool stuff for Vice and Daily Beast) won a contest to go to a podcast upfront called #hearitupfront sponsored by NPR, WNYC, and WBEZ. Longtime BBGT readers may remember I used to intern at NPR, so this was already pretty cool, but it got cooler when she got me invited to one of the afterparties after getting into a conversation with Linda Holmes (of Pop Culture Happy Hour and NPR’s Monkey See blog, where I have freelanced) and mentioning that she was crashing on my couch. I know Ariel has a way cooler “here’s what I did during BBGT’s week off” story, what with getting married and all, but please accept my offering of a surreal small world story for what I did last week so I, too, seem like an exciting person. Also I super, super briefly met Lulu Miller of Invisibilia.
I don’t know if it’s because I got a break from reading this book for a week or because this is actually the most horrifying and disturbing sex scene that has yet to appear in Crossfire, but I think this is the most horrifying and disturbing sex scene that has yet to appear in Crossfire.
The first sentence is Eva thinking about how hot her husband is (“I was dreaming of a private beach and naked Gideon”), exactly like the last Eva chapter did (“I dared anyone to come up with a more awe-inspiring sight than Gideon Cross taking a shower”), just in case this is a point you have somehow missed up until this point. Suddenly, Eva gets a call from Gideon’s stepfather, Chris:
“I’m sorry to call so late, but I’m worried about Gideon. Is he all right? […] I met with him earlier about… the things you told me. He didn’t take it well.”
Eva uses a smartphone app that lets her track Gideon to figure out he’s in their penthouse. The “where is this person” app doesn’t really bother me anywhere near as much as how I can’t remember if this has ever been mentioned before, and the next couple years of literature are gonna be super boring if the deus ex machinas we have to look forward to are smartphone apps.
Eva leaves in a hurry, just throwing a coat on over her underwear, and gets to the penthouse, where Gideon is in a drunken fury. The kind that can only be conveyed with heavy metal music. Obviously.
The elevator doors slid open and pounding, screaming heavy metal music poured in.
Just in case the symbolism escapes you, it is helpfully explained:
The song was an audible manifestation of what Gideon felt inside himself and couldn’t let out.
I love everything about this. First Sylvia Day wrote Gideon Cross blasting heavy metal music, and then must have actually stopped to think, “But I need to explicitly clarify what the heavy metal music means.” I mean… well…
- As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect. The transformation into a gigantic insect was a physical manifestation of what Gregor felt inside himself, but did not show on the outside.
- It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York. My uncertainty was not just about why I was literally in New York, but also represented what I felt inside myself.
- And in that moment, I swear we were infinite. The feeling was not a physical feeling of infiniteness, given our three corporeal bodies, but an emotional one.
Anyway, since I’ve already written about 700 words and we haven’t even gotten to the scary shit, here’s a huge goddamn red flag from heavy metal inside feelings man:
“What are you doing here?” he asked, his voice dangerously even.
“Finding you.” Because he was lost.
“I’m not fit company now.”
“I can deal with it.”
He was too still, as if he were afraid to move. “You should go. It’s not safe for you here.”
Let’s bear in mind that what Gideon is going through right now is definitely super traumatic. His stepfather has just come to him about the abuse he faced at the hands of a therapist as a child, which Gideon had always assumed he knew about and did nothing, and now is faced with the possibility that maybe he really didn’t know. This is pretty awful! And it makes sense that he might feel so awful he might not even want the people who love him right now. But at the same time, that might not really be the best thing for him, so it’s a tricky situation for Eva to navigate.
I’m taking the time to go through all of this, of course, because this is Crossfire. Eva and Gideon are the worst. Fucking. Communicators.
“It almost hurts worse, doesn’t it, when they believe you? You wonder why you waited to tell them. Maybe you could’ve stopped it sooner, if you’d just told the right person?”
“There’s always that little voice inside us that thinks we’re to blame for what happened.”
His eyes squeezed as tightly closed as his fists. “Don’t.”
If you’re wondering how their dialogue could possibly get worse, the answer is yes, because they start speaking entirely in cliches.
“I’m hanging on by a thread, Eva.” […]
“Let go. I’ll catch you.”
If you’re wondering how this could get worse, the answer is yes, because this is post-Fifty Shades erotica. Which means everything is always about fucking.
“I want to fuck you. Hard.”
The book continues to be primarily about fucking.
“I can’t promise to stop. If I take you too far and you safe word, I might not stop and this— us— will all go to hell!”
Detective Eva suddenly spots her first clue that maybe something isn’t right here.
“I want to punish you,” he snarled, gripping my face in both hands. “You did this! You brought this on.” […]
The first hint of wariness rippled through me.
And promptly ignores it by comically stripping down to her underwear.
Desperate, I yanked at the belt of my coat, my urgency giving me strength. I tore at the buttons, sending them rolling in every direction.
I’m gonna be honest with you guys. I have no clue what the actual fuck is going on in this scene, because it is full of Eva and Gideon swearing at each other but also grabbing at each other, yet it is not supposed to be hate sex, which I’ve never seen one of these books fail to do quite so badly before.
“Bitch,” he hissed […]
“I’m your bitch,” I shot back, feeling the tears well and fall.
At one point Gideon ties Eva by the wrist to the inside of the elevator and closes the doors. Eva manages to get the door open, and then suddenly Gideon is running around naked.
Gideon strode through the living room toward the foyer . . . completely naked.
No, seriously, this reads like a goddamn fever dream.
Gideon also forces Eva to drink alcohol while she’s tied up in the elevator, even after she protests, until the liquor starts to hit her and she drunkenly stops fighting. This is actually what happens, in this actual book about how these two people are victims of abuse, but found love with each other. Yay.
“I’m going to bruise this sweet cunt, Eva.”
To reiterate: yay.
Just in case this chapter wasn’t enough of a batshit insane nightmare between the emotional and physical abuse and the terrifying lack of self-awareness, it then ends with cartoon penis physics.
Gideon held me up with his hands, with his erection. […] Gripping my hips, he pumped me onto his ejaculating cock, coming hard and forever, filling me until semen slicked my sex and inner thighs.
And since it wasn’t ridiculous enough that Gideon’s penis turned into, like, a semen firehose (don’t Google that), when they wake up the next morning, it also just ignores how male anatomy works.
He kissed me until he came in a hot rush against my skin. Not once but twice.
What’s your favorite part? Where Gideon somehow experiences multiple orgasms without a refractory period, or how both are the result of premature ejaculation? Eva tells us her favorite is the latter, for some goddamn reason.
knowing I could bring him to orgasm with just my kiss . . .
Said no woman ever.
As Gideon sleeps off his hangover (slash whatever terrifying medical condition has done all these things to his penis), Eva decides neither of them are going to make it into work that day. She gets in touch with Arash, who says he’ll send over some mysterious legal documents later, and Angus, who goes to pick up “hangover cure”. I don’t even care how the book wants me to believe this exists; it already a firehose penis at us.
Angus expresses sympathy, and Scottishness.
“If you don’t mind me asking,” he asked, his Scottish burr more pronounced, “does this have something to do with Mr. Vidal’s visit last night? […] Ach, that’s why, then. The lad wouldna been prepared for that.”
Eva continues to try to clean up the apartment and rethink her life.
We were going to have a conversation about him trying to kick me out.
Obviously, this doesn’t happen.
Gideon’s stepfather calls again to see how things turned out. Eva gives him an incredibly tame version of the story, and he gushes over Eva.
“We all have to live with it. It’s not your fault, Chris. Doesn’t make it easier, I know, but you need to keep it in mind or you’ll beat yourself up. That won’t help Gideon.”
“You’re wise beyond your years, Eva.”
Which raises an important question, actually. If our main character is already so perfect and has so little apparent character growth left to accomplish, why exactly is this story still going? So she can… keep being good at stuff?
Eva also calls her mom and agrees to meet up that weekend to make wedding plans. And thus Eva’s mom’s entire subplot comes to a close.
Gideon wakes up, and the book proves that, once again, no one in this story is paying any attention to the events of the story.
“You’re not mad.”
“Why would I be?”
Because of the last 19 pages of this chapter, maybe?
Arash has the legal documents delivered, and it turns out that Gideon is surprising Eva by buying their honeymoon house! Even though it’s nowhere near New York.
“It’s a quick hop down by jet.” He tipped my chin up with his finger and pressed his lips to mine. “Don’t worry about the logistics,”
And this is why nobody is ever going to do jack shit about the environment.
Gideon makes a big deal about signing the papers with “his pen”, which we learn was his father’s pen.
“He signed everything with it. He never went anywhere without it tucked in his pocket.” He raked his hair back from his face. “He destroyed our name with that pen.”
Once again, Eva sheds light on this cryptic mystery.
I set my hand on his thigh. “And you’re building it back up with the same pen. I get it.”
The elevator doors slid open and pounding, screaming heavy metal music poured in. […] The song was an audible manifestation of what Gideon felt inside himself and couldn’t let out.