Chapter 16: Eva
This chapter opens up with Eva and Gideon in couple’s therapy, which is great because 1) at least this book is trying to show that these two have serious issues and that therapy is a useful thing that really helps people, and 2) it really puts all the ridiculous shit in this story in perspective.
“We, on the other hand, can’t seem to catch a break.”
Why, yes, it does seem that way, doesn’t it.
Immediately working against any positivity the book might garner by putting these two in therapy (which they sorely need), somehow during this entire scene no one brings up the terrifying event two chapters ago where Gideon drunkenly forced a protesting Eva to drink alcohol during a fight they also had sex during. Sure, maybe it’s uncomfortable for people to bring this up, even in therapy, but this is just another therapy scene where Eva and Gideon only talk vaguely about their problems. This is not only boring, but also a problem because it means the book is still not acknowledging actual problematic events as problems. Such as – and I really want to emphasize this point, because the book won’t for some goddamn reason – the time where Gideon drunkenly forced a protesting Eva to drink alcohol during a fight they also had sex during.
He turned his gaze to Gideon. “Do you feel the need to maintain a certain distance from Eva?”
My husband’s mouth curved wryly. “There is no distance between us, Doctor.”
I get that Gideon isn’t the most emotionally-tuned person in the world, but remember that time that Gideon hid literally murdering someone from Eva? Where the hell is his bar for “distance”?
Eva immediately calls bullshit on Gideon for thinking this way, but can we also call bullshit for having to sit through three and a half books of zero personal growth from Gideon?
“She wants me to dump everything on her that’s an irritant to me and I won’t do that. Ever. It’s bad enough if one of us has to bother with it.”
I narrowed my eyes at him. “I think that’s crap. Part of a relationship is sharing the load with someone else.” […]
“How does he push you away?” Dr. Petersen asked.
I looked at him. “Gideon . . . separates himself. He goes somewhere else where he can be alone. He won’t let me help him.”
“‘Goes somewhere else’ how? Do you emotionally withdraw, Gideon? Or physically?”
“Both,” I said. “He shuts down emotionally and goes away physically.”
I’m not saying this isn’t all relevant and could be an interesting story, but if I put all four Crossfire books in front of you and asked you to make an educated guess which one this quote came from, you’d probably have absolutely no idea. Which is a problem, because…
Eva negates her points about how the two of them should stop making their own assumptions about their relationship and open up to each other by making an assumption about their relationship.
“He doesn’t need space,” I said to Dr. Petersen, “he needs me”
Dr. Petersen throws down some therapist knowledge.
“Gideon, you may be using sex to keep Eva at an emotional distance. When you’re making love, she’s not talking”
Why does he just assume that? I mean, it’s a pretty safe bet, since both Fifty Shades and Crossfire have sex scenes where the man won’t stop talking and the woman has zero voice whatsoever (which is pretty problematic but more on that, oh, literally any other chapter). But isn’t it still weird that he knows that Eva isn’t particularly vocal in bed?
“How do you push?” Dr. Petersen asked quietly.
“I have my ways.”
Dr. Petersen turned his attention to me. “Has Gideon ever gone too far?”
I shook my head.
“Do you ever worry that he might?”
His gaze was soft and capped with a frown. “You should, Eva. You both should.”
At least someone in this damn book said it. But the scene abruptly ends there, because it’s much more important that this scene ends with a dramatic sting than the characters actually unpack things with the “wait, wtf” that would pretty obviously have followed a statement like that.
Anyway, Cary’s problems!
“I don’t know if it’s hormones or what, but Tat is a raging fucking bitch right now. Nothing is good enough. Nothing makes her happy, especially being pregnant. What shot has the poor kid got with me as a father and a self-centered diva who hates him as his mother?”
Oh, Cary, you charming rogue, you.
What’s frustrating is that Cary’s subplot is easily the most interesting thing that’s happening in this book, because it’s the only one with any semblance of unpredictability. Any Eva/Gideon storyline we know will just flit back and forth between them not getting along and getting along and they’ll ultimately be pretty happy with each other, any of the antagonists we know will eventually fail because Gideon is the GREATEST BUSINESSMAN EVAR (once their subplot manages to actually progress, since it has to be balanced with 8000 other antagonists), but Cary’s love polygon (can you keep track?) is actually a pretty big question mark, and there’s something satisfying about not knowing where the hell it’s going to go.
Unfortunately, the book pretty clearly has no idea where the hell it’s going to go either.
“It’ll all settle in, and then she’ll get that glow and be happy.” I took a sip, hoping like hell everything I was saying would come true.
We’ve yet to have a Cary’s baby subplot scene that doesn’t end with all the characters doing anything more than just hoping it’ll work out. Which is sort of a not-very-engaging way to progress a plot. It’d be like if the movie weren’t Finding Nemo but Hoping That Nemo Thing Works Out Somehow.
“Have you told Trey yet?” Cary shook his head.
“He’s the one sane thing I’ve got going on right now. I lose him, I’ll lose my mind.”
“He’s stayed with you so far.”
I’m really curious what kind of internal monologue we’re supposed to be believe could possibly lead these characters to think that, “Hey, during our months/year-long on-again/off-again relationship, I impregnated a woman who is having my child and I’ve kept this information from you for a few months” could go over well.
Like most of the book’s subplots, it really doesn’t matter what happens to the minor character because it’s really only there so that Eva can learn something about her own problems.
“Gideon doesn’t tell me what’s going on with him a lot of the time. He says he’s trying to protect me, but what he’s really doing is protecting himself.”
And it took saying the words aloud to really make them sink in for me.
The chapter ends with a mostly dialogue-free, weirdly compelling sex scene that – for once – shows instead of tells.
the mattress shifted under the weight of the man sliding into my bed.
I came hard, crying out. He wiped his lips on my inner thigh and rose, a seductive looming shadow in the dark of night. He mounted me, thrust hard inside me. […]
When I woke again the sun was up, and the place beside me in the bed was cold and empty.
It’s pretty over-the-top, yeah, but it’s so rare to come across a scene that doesn’t include Eva going “and that’s what that sex scene means!” that I feel weirdly compelled to mention this book did not make a basic storytelling mistake. Aside from how we still have no compelling reason to spend more time with these people and their unwavering characters and cyclical narratives.