But first there’s a lot of boring shit that does not involve sex swings. Sorry. All sex swings in good time.
First thing in this chapter that is not a sex swing: Eva and her mom meet with the wedding planner.
Eva and her mom continue to disagree about everything. It’s almost amusing if you pretend you’re reading Oscar Wilde, because Eva’s mom is so out of touch it almost looks like intentional satire.
“Red?” My mother gave an emphatic shake of her head. “How garish, Eva. It’s your first wedding.”
Seriously, there’s a looooooooooooot of this.
“Do we have an idea of the budget?” […]
“Fifty thousand for the ceremony itself,” I blurted out. “Minus the cost of the dress.”
Both women turned wide eyes toward me.
My mom gave an incredulous laugh, her hand lifting to touch the Cartier trinity necklace that hung between her breasts. “My God, Eva. What a time to make jokes!”
I can’t tell if we’re supposed to think she’s funny because she’s so exaggeratedly out of touch, or if this is supposed to be a daughter-mother conflict we’re supposed to… relate to? It’s so weird, because she’s so over-the-top this could work as satire, but we’re missing that vital sense of self-awareness that makes satire work, so we’re repeatedly given scenes where I think we’re supposed to be empathizing with Eva’s ongoing struggle to reign in her mother clutching her Cartier trinity necklace at the thought of spending less than the national average annual income on a wedding, excepting the dress. Somehow.
Speaking of a lack of self-awareness, Eva has some good lines where, threaded by the most tangential of connections, she just muses on how attractive Gideon is, because I guess since he’s not in this scene we might have forgotten?
I hoped I aged with half as much grace [as my mom], because Gideon was only going to get hotter as time went on. He was just that kind of man.
Is it comic relief? Are we already supposed to be laughing? Is all of this supposed to be serious? Just another day in the tonally misguided netherworld of Crossfire.
Eva decides on the spot that the wedding with be on the beach, at the North Carolina house Gideon just purchased. Eva’s mom is against it. The sun rises in the east.
“Mom. […] You can go wild with the reception, okay?” […]
Her hand tightened on mine and she looked at me with tears in her blue eyes. “I guess it’ll have to be.”
Rich people problems are hilaaaaaaaarious.
We skip to a scene where we learn we skipped the scene where Cary told Trey about Tatiana’s pregnancy. This might seem like wasted potential, but maybe we should be thankful we didn’t have to read this. Plus, Eva’s summary is full of delightfully clusterfucky details.
I’d stayed tucked away in the kitchen while Cary sat with Trey […] reading a book while staying in Cary’s line of sight.
WHO WOULD DO THIS? And don’t say she’s there for emotional support, because she’s fucking reading a book.
As for the scene we’re in now, Trey calls Eva because he needs to talk, and he’s clearly struggling with his emotions, which makes sense. On her way there, she’s also on the phone with Gideon, where they talk about how Eva’s maternal relatives aren’t invited because she Googled them and learned they disowned her mom when she got pregnant with Eva, which is evidently important information that we need to know right now, crammed into the middle of this chapter about not that.
Trey asks Eva for advice, admitting he doesn’t think he can carry on with Cary (sorry – I literally can’t think of another way to word that). Apropos of nothing, Eva works in a line about how Cary can’t be sure the baby is his until the paternity test, which by this point has been hinted at more obviously than Star Trek hinted that it’s in space. Cary knows he’s going to be resentful of being on the side while Cary cares (seriously, I don’t know what’s wrong with me today) for Tatiana and the baby. Eva says that she has no answers for Trey, but can tell him that Cary loves him more than she’s seen him love anyone, but also that she doesn’t think she could do it were she in Trey’s situation.
Because the chapter is determined to cram in as many stories unrelated to each other and the sex swing (still gotta wait), Eva also sees Anne Lucas outside the apartment building. That’s totally weird! She tells Gideon about it, he explains that he saw her the other day too, and they determine she’s totally up to something. Although the book has no idea what that something is.
“How would she hurt me?”
“I don’t know.”
But something as simple as no established tangible stakes won’t stop a Crossfire book from trying to sell that this totally matters anyway.
“Like would she break my leg? My nose?”
“I doubt she’d resort to violence,” he said dryly. “It would be more fun for her to play mind games. Showing up where you are. Letting you catch glimpses of her.”
Oh no. Not the dreaded “sometimes you see me for a little bit” torture. Whatever depths will this villain plunge to next.
As long as the topic of Gideon’s craaaaaazy exes is up, Gideon also explains that Corinne is getting a divorce. I invite you to compare Eva’s completely reasonable reaction to “Corinne is getting divorced”…
“She’s getting divorced?”
…to Gideon’s “I WILL NEVER EVER CHEAT ON YOU” RESPONSE TOTALLY OUT OF FUCKING NOWHERE:
“Don’t take that tone, Eva. It doesn’t make a damn bit of difference to me if she’s married or single. I’m married. That’s never going to change, and I’m not a man who cheats.”
Like, wouldn’t the fact that he brings up that he’s not a cheater when prompted by a conversation not about cheating be 100% more worrisome that he might be a cheater?
Eva then describes the universal experience of women:
“Isn’t it enough that you’re hot, and have an amazing body and a huge cock?”
He shook his head, clearly exasperated. “It’s not huge.”
“Whatever. You’re hung. And you know how to use it. And women don’t get awesome sex very often, so when we do, we can go a little nuts over it.”
Gideon sat back, slouching. Scowling. “At some point you’re going to get sick of hearing what an asshole I am.”
Your words, book. Not mine.
Gideon suddenly opens up a bit about his revenge sex with Anne Lucas to get back at the Dr. Hugh Lucas who molested him. It’s unsettling. Possibly in a way that could have been a good kind of disturbing if this weren’t in the same chapter as Eva’s Cartier necklace-clutching mother and “Women go a little nuts over the great sex we never get! Haha, women!”
“She reminds me of Hugh sometimes,” he said in a rush. “The way she moves, some of the things she says . . . There’s a familial resemblance. And more. I can’t explain it. […] Sometimes the line between them blurred in my mind. It was like I was punishing Hugh through Anne. I did things to her I’ve never done with anyone else. Things that made me feel sick when I thought about them later.”
I don’t actually have much to say about this. It should be interesting to learn how Gideon’s fucked up, but his character is so repulsive for so many other reasons that this is basically the character development equivalent of your roommate who lets all their dirty dishes pile up in the sink for weeks, and then wipes the counter.
By this point, there’s just no way Crossfire will ever sell me on Gideon as a not-repulsive person, no matter how insistently Eva constantly spells it out for us:
that was why I trusted him. Because it was never a question of whether I would submit, but when I was ready to
…which comes less than a page after a completely contradictory line like this:
He released me, his eyes now so dark they were like sapphires. “Are you wet?” […]
“Why don’t you find out?” I teased.
“Show me.” [with] authoritative bite in his command
But maybe it’s all worth it for how hilarious what comes next is, because, guys, we have arrived:
“Turn around,” he said quietly.
Something about his voice . . . the way he looked at me . . .
I looked over my shoulder.
And saw the swing.
Okay, guys, we all know what’s up at this point. We’re equal parts curious how hilariously awful this sex scene is going to be written and curious what this actually entails. Luckily, Eva, describer of things, is here for you:
It wasn’t what I expected.
Fortunately we also get the sexiest thing of all: WALLS OF DESCRIPTION
The only object in the room was the swing itself, suspended from a sturdy cagelike structure. A wide, solid metal platform anchored steel sides and roof, which supported the weight of a padded metal chair and chains. Red leather cuffs for wrists and ankles hung in the appropriate places.
Gideon wants to be sure that Eva remembers their safeword in case she stops feeling comfortable, which makes her feel like “he loved me so much there were no words for how he felt”, because apparently in this book men get points for meeting the minimum requirements for being a decent person. Gideon lifts Eva into the seat and secures her ankles, and then we get this supremely goofy sentence because this book won’t use the word “vagina”:
The wide head slid through the slickness of my desire, then nudged against my exposed clit.
Apparently the sex is great, but the description mostly makes it sound like anything but:
The sound that ripped from my throat was inhuman […]
“Fuck,” he hissed. “Your cunt is so good.”
Because even when the book pulls out something as new and novel as a sex swing, it still boils down to Gideon saying, “Your cunt is so good”.