Good news! It’s the last chapter of Captivated By You! Are you surprised, because it doesn’t seem like the story has been leading up to any kind of ending at all? Us too.
Chapter 20: Eva
We pick up at Eva’s mom and stepdad’s place, where Eva (and Cary, for whatever reason) are staying while Eva and Gideon are staying away from each other. You might recall that this conflict – which is now the all-consuming focal point of the entire narrative moving as we move into the climax – began all of one chapter ago. Which means that, in terms of the things that helped get us to the end of this story, the first 317 pages of this book were completely irrelevant.
Eva talks about her situation with Gideon and her feelings towards it with Cary (Seriously, why is Cary hiding out at Eva’s parents’ place? Aside from how it’s been unclear why Cary’s doing anything that he’s been doing for most of the last two books). She tells Cary that she wants to talk to Gideon soon, but thinks they both need a little time, which is a fair contender for understatement of the year. As you might imagine, the story is trying to capture big, serious emotion here, and there are some fantastically awful attempts at it:
- I spent every minute— waking and sleeping— feeling like someone had hacked out my heart and left a gaping hole in my chest.
- [Cary] muttered. “Personally, I like hiding. Just taking a fucking break and forgetting about all the crap.”
“But the crap’s always out there waiting for you.”
- I was a fucking mess, a zombie in the vibrantly lively city of New York.
Eva mentions that Mark asked her to move to Cross Industries with him, but isn’t sure about working with Gideon, despite having almost come to the decision on her own. Cary may or may not be in the same book.
“Are you going to work for Gideon?”
“I don’t know. I wasn’t kidding when I told him I was halfway toward making that decision on my own. But now… I kinda want to apply elsewhere just to spite him.”
Cary lifted his fists and shadowboxed. “Show him he’s not the boss of you.”
Eva argues that she loves her job and could just stay there, but she might not love it without Mark there. In a true testament to how much of a disjointed mess this story has become, Cary has to remind her that there are other
characters friends at her job too.
“I wouldn’t have Mark, and he’s the reason I love my job. Would I still want to be there without him?”
“You’d still have Megumi and Will.”
Even with this kind of embarrassingly basic information reminder, I don’t even remember who Will is. Cary could have said, “You’d still have Megumi and 빅뱅” and this would have had the exact same impact on me.
Just in case you feel like I’m being nitpicky about how awful the writing is in this conversation, it ends with this:
“If this were a romantic comedy, it’d be called Love Actually Sucks.”
“Maybe we should’ve stuck with Sex and the City.”
“Tried that. Ended up Knocked Up. I should’ve gone for being a 40-Year-Old Virgin, but I had way too much of a head start.”
“We can write a manual on How to Lose a Guy in 10 Weeks.”
Cary looked at me. “Fucking perfect.”
Is it, Cary? Is it fucking perfect? What’s the fucking perfect part, Cary? That these aren’t even puns, just references to thematically similar stories? Is that really fucking perfect?
The next morning, Eva meets up with Angus to drive her to work, where she gets an update that Gideon is, indeed, suffering. Once Eva gets into the car, this prompts her to text him “I love you”, to which he calls her. To her (and this book’s) credit… she actually calls him out on how bad his manipulative and controlling shit is.
“I believe that you’re sorry we’re not together now. But I also believe that you would do something like this again. I’m trying to figure out if I can live with that. […] I’m afraid that if I make this compromise, if I stay with you knowing how you are and that you’re not going to change, I’m just going to resent you and, eventually, fall out of love with you.”
Now, as you know from Gideon’s therapy scene from the last chapter, there’s a very big counterpoint to criticism that Gideon’s manipulative and controlling character hasn’t changed over the last four books:
“I told Dr. Petersen. About Hugh.”
“What?” My head snapped up. […]
“He said some things . . .” He paused. “They made sense to me. About me and the way I am with you.”
But here’s the thing. Yes, this is a big moment of character growth for Gideon, who was previously very aggressively opposed to the idea of therapy and, by extension, taking a real look at the person he is. But this is still just a point in the plot. Unless it leads to an actual change in how Gideon’s character behaves, it’s meaningless. And, right on cue, in Gideon’s very next line of dialogue, he continues to have not changed from being manipulative and controlling:
“You have to stick with me. You promised.”
But on the plus side, there’s some over-the-top imagery to make up for that:
Tears poured down my face and splattered onto my chest, sliding down beneath the neckline of my dress.
Eva gets to work and talks with Will, the character that both Eva and myself totally forgot existed, and he continues to be a total blank space of a character. Even from context I can’t figure out who this guy is:
He was such a happy guy, anchored solidly in a relationship that worked. I was so envious of that serenity.
No, seriously. As Eva and Will’s conversation goes on, I still can’t remember who the fuck he is, and he doesn’t have a sliver of individuality to help me remember.
“Heard you guys landed the PhazeOne campaign. […] I’m dying to get my hands on that system, you know. The tech blogs are wild with rumors about PhazeOne’s features.”
I would love to say that “wow, that video game system sounds like it has great specifications” rather than great, I don’t know, video games is a shallow portrayal of the average video game aficionado, but, nope, this is pretty accurate and video game culture is just that awful. Congratulations, book. In trying to give this minor character an ounce of personality, you chose to make him a totally average participant in modern Western civilization’s most banal subculture.
Will suggests getting lunch, but Eva has plans with Mark and his partner (which rules out Will being Mark’s partner, which was honestly my best guess up until this point), so Will suggests getting drinks after work with their significant others, which Eva realizes is an opportunity to bring Gideon back into her life. So I guess Will is actually the hero of this story, whoever the fuck he is.
Eva goes to lunch with Mark and Steven. Mark explains that because LanCorp is being so insistent that Mark head up the campaign for their PhazeOne video game system, the company offered Mark a promotion and a raise if he would stay instead of take the new job at Cross Industries. Mark talks about how he feels bad, knowing that if he leaves, they’ll almost certainly lose this huge client, but Steven and Eva assure him this isn’t all on him. Eva also announces that she can’t work on the PhazeOne campaign because she feels it’s too much of a conflict of interest given her husband’s company’s upcoming rival video game system. The scene ends with no resolution whatsoever, and this is the last we see of it in this book, so, uh, hopefully that’s enough to hook you for the sequel.
The chapter jumps ahead again. Hopefully you’ve accepted into your heart that this chapter will never end.
Another night at my mom’s. She’d finally gotten suspicious, considering it was our fourth night in a row at her place. I confessed to arguing with Gideon, but not why.
What was she thinking for the previous three days? “I bet there’s no particular reason why my adult daughter who has her own place in this exact same city is staying at my apartment on zero notice, and also her roommate for some fucking reason.”
And really, I had to give Gideon credit for doing his best to give me the space I’d asked for. He could’ve caught me in an elevator or the lobby of the Crossfire. He could have told Raúl to drive me to him instead of wherever I directed. Gideon was trying.
I love how Crossfire equates “trying” with “not actively stalking”.
Cary asks Eva how long her stalemate with Gideon is going to go on for, while Captivated By You asks itself how long its stalemate with half-assed metaphors is going to go on for:
“When do you decide you’ve got something more to say?”
I thought about that a minute, absently watching Harrison Ford hunt for answers in The Fugitive
They also talk about Cary’s situation with Tatiana, their baby, and Trey. Eva points out (again) that nobody is happy with the current situation.
“I know you want to put the baby first and that’s the right thing to do. But Tatiana’s not happy. And you’re not, either. Trey’s definitely not. This isn’t working out for any of you.”
So she proposes… whatever this is:
“Be happy with Trey. Make him happy. And if Tatiana can’t be happy with having two hot guys looking after her, then she’s . . . not doing something right.”
I mean, yes, that probably is the best solution, but maybe there was a way to word this that didn’t make it sound like Cary and Trey were starting a hot gay male couple nannying service? Actually, that does sound kind of awesome, but presumably you get my point.
Late that night, Eva wakes up when Gideon calls to talk about having a nightmare. This isn’t as ridiculous as it sounds, since we’ve seen the terrifying nightmares Gideon gets over the course of this series. Not that it isn’t ridiculous, because the book desperately tries its hand at symbolism:
“I dreamed about my father at first. We were walking on the beach and he was holding my hand. […] I saw you up ahead on the beach, walking away from us. […] I pointed you out to my dad. I wanted you to turn your head so we could see your face. I knew you were gorgeous. I wanted him to see you. […] He laughed, [only] it wasn’t his laugh. It was Hugh’s. And when I looked up again, it wasn’t my father anymore. […] He told me you didn’t want me, that you were going away because you knew everything and it made you sick. That you couldn’t get away fast enough.”
“That’s not true!” I sat up in bed.
Eva’s reactions are the only tolerable part of this scene, because, as is the case with most things in this book, they’re hilarious:
I could picture the scene so clearly in my mind.
Probably because he’s going into three pages of detail.
They talk about their feelings, and once again prove my earlier point about how no one in this book ever learns from their mistakes:
“We make love and I think we’ll be okay, because we have that and it’s perfect.”
“It is perfect. It’s everything.”
Yo, if it took us four entire books to reach the conclusion that Eva and Gideon feel most secure in their relationship when they’re banging, we could have saved a lot of time.
They talk about fighting for each other and earning each other and making little steps and decide to meet at an all-night cafe and Gideon almost jizzes his pants.
Not making this up.
“I’m going to kiss you,” he said roughly. […]
I moaned as euphoria sparkled through me [and] whimpered in protest when he pulled away […]
“You’ll make me come,” he murmured
Somehow this isn’t the first time I’ve had to question why this book thinks premature ejaculation is romantic.
Speaking of misunderstanding what is and is not romantic, the book continues to make even so much as a kiss sound fucking awful:
The hot stroke of his tongue into my mouth was like a sweet, slow fucking.
And also perpetuates the trope that male mental illness and anguish is sexy, for good measure:
He was unbelievably more beautiful, the expertly sculpted planes of his face honed further by his torment.
They go into the cafe, and try to reinstate some normalcy by talking about the Mark-LanCorp-PhazeOne campaign thing, which even Gideon points out is pretty dumb.
Gideon nodded grimly when I finished. “I’m not surprised. An account like that should be handled by one of the partners. Mark’s good, but he’s a junior manager. LanCorp would’ve had to push to get him. And you. The request is unusual enough to give the partners cause for concern.”
Eva also suggests going out for drinks with Will and his girlfriend Natalie (who?) the upcoming week, and Gideon thinks it’s a great idea. Eva muses on this “small step” and how they “would start with those and see where they took us”, despite how going out for drinks with Eva’s friends is exactly what was happening throughout this entire book.
It was a new day, bringing with it a new chance to try again.
The book ends with those words that were apparently supposed to sum up the epic yarn that was Captivated By You. You know, the story that created a completely new conflict in the last two chapters that became the entirety of the climax, while all the other subplots that actually comprised the first eighteen chapters in this “oh shit, I spilled an entire bucket of Legos” clusterfuck of a story got left hanging. Seriously, though, just how much nothing happened in this fourth Crossfire book?
Let’s take a look at how much all of these subplots actually progressed between the first and last page of this book. Let’s go over, as I can best remember, how much actually happened in the 356 pages of this book for each subplot:
- Cary+Tatiana+Trey: Cary told Trey that Tatiana was having his baby.
- Brett, the rockstar ex-boyfriend: Brett told Eva he still has feelings for Eva. Again. Also he has a sex tape.
- Corrine: Corinne told Gideon she’s going to write a book about them.
- Christopher Vidal, Gideon’s brother who manages Brett’s band’s label: Christopher accused Gideon of trying to ruin his business and got punched in the face.
- Megumi: Megumi reappeared and revealed she was in a physically abusive relationship. Then she felt better about it.
- Mark: Mark got offered a new job and isn’t sure if he’s going to take it.
- Eva’s remarried mom and still-single dad, who just had an affair: Her dad was sad.
- Gideon’s remarried mom and stepdad: Gideon’s stepdad learned about Gideon’s childhood abuse and tried to reach out to him about it.
- Dr Anne Lucas: She revealed to Gideon that she’s trying to break him and Eva up. She walked in front of Eva once.
- The Russian Mob: Eva found out that her stepdad’s security guy has connections with the Russian mob. Gideon’s okay with it.
THAT’S IT. NOTHING ELSE HAPPENED.
Nothing actually happened for any of these. Those are the only things those subplots actually accomplished in this book. I probably spent more time writing up that summary than any one of those characters spent time being in this book. And I’m sure there are a ton more that I’ve forgotten that barely managed to progress as well.
I’m sure that all of these are just in a holding pattern until we get to the final book, but given how even the main Eva+Gideon plot of this book only managed to go from “Eva and Gideon are married, but have problems” to “Eva and Gideon are married, but have problems”, what was the point of this book?
Just kidding, we all know it was the sex swing.