You read that right, and it is just as awful as you’re already thinking.
One With You: Chapter 14
You may recall that the last chapter ended with Eva suddenly losing consciousness.
My wife lay deathly still across my lap, unresponsive to my desperate examination.
Oh man, this really sounds like Eva just got shot! Unless it’s just written very misleadingly so we would think that she’s totally dead before we reveal it was actually something stupidly opposite, like, I dunno, Gideon just tackled her SO HARD that she passed out?
No blood on her gown or skin. […]
“One of the photographers had a gun and opened fire. Clancy got him.”
“Was anyone hurt?”
“Monica Stanton went down.”
“It doesn’t look good. You grabbed Mrs. Cross and Mrs. Stanton moved into the way.”
Wow, this chapter just super buried the lead, there. Not “the lead” as in “the lead character”. Because that was obvious.
Anyway, it looks like we’ve got a totally different ending to the Crossfire series coming up than I would have guessed.
My wife’s mother was dead.
How was I supposed to tell Eva? And after I did, ho could I keep her safe until we knew what the hell was going on?”
Luckily, this is still the same Crossfire we know and love (?), so – rest assured – Gideon has the worst plan ever.
“False alarm,” I said gruffly, my grip on her too tight. “A car backfired.”
“I’m sorry [about tackling you]. I overreacted.”
“For real?” She tried to sit up. “I thought I heard multiple shots.”
“The death of a few cameras, maybe. A few people got startled, dropped their gear.”
Ok. Wow. Let’s unpack how, even by Crossfire standards, this is incredibly fucked up.
- Gideon is lying to his wife that her mom just died. I don’t have to explain why this is bad, right? Like, at all, right?
- So we’re really going with “Gideon tackled Eva out of the way of the shot, but tackled her SO HARD so lost consciousness and had to be hospitalized”? That’s the rational explanation we’re going for with the Eva-got-shot fakeout?
- “I thought I heard multiple shots.” “Oh, people dropped their cameras.” THAT DOESN’T EXPLAIN THE GUNSHOTS SHE WAS JUST TALKING ABOUT THO? Do cameras falling and breaking sound like gunshots in this universe? On top of how profoundly weird it is that Gideon’s cracking jokes during this lie about how her mom is now dead, this joke doesn’t even make sense.
- Seriously, Eva’s mom was just shot and Gideon is lying to her about it and this is really the ending of a story about how these two are perfect for each other. What is happening.
My gut knotted. I’d promised to never lie to my wife and I knew this lie was going to hurt her badly. Hurt us. But… God. How the fuck do I tell her?
Gideon starts piecing together a plan where he gets Eva’s dad, Cary, and their therapist to the apartment so she has her support network there when he tells her what really happened. The catch is that Eva’s dad lives on the opposite side of the country. The catch is also, dude, you just lied to your wife about her mom having been murdered, but the book is less concerned about that particular catch.
This also means that most of this chapter is Gideon trying to prevent Eva from checking her phone, trying to get her to go just take a relaxing bath, and go to sleep. It is just as fucked up as it sounds.
“You should sleep, then.”
She shot me a heated look over her shoulder. “I’m not that tired.”
Jesus. Being gutted couldn’t hurt worse.
Hey, Gideon. My boy. You know what probably could hurt worse? Finding out that your spouse lied to you about how your mom just died. Just throwing out some ideas here.
Lucky raced in so fast, he ricocheted off the door before barreling into my feet. I picked him up, rubbing the top of his head.
This was one nightmare he couldn’t wake me from.
Wow, we’re really sticking to this whole Magical Nightmare-Stopping Dog thing, huh? There’s probably a more heavy-handed way that subplot could have been resolved, but I honestly can’t think of anything.
As people start gathering, pretty much everyone has a turn telling Gideon something along the lines of, “Holy shit, you fucked up, dog.” Of course, this is Crossfire, so every single one of these very normal responses is dismissed with Gideon explaining that they just don’t understand their love. Again, it is just as fucked up as it sounds.
“She doesn’t know. […] I haven’t told her.”
“Gideon.” [Angus’s] eyes were wide with the same dismay I felt. “You cannae-”
“What good would it do?” I snapped. “We don’t have answers.”
“Why torture her?” [I asked]
“I need you to come to my home, [Dr. Petersen]. I need your help. I don’t know how to tell Eva.”
“How to…? I’m sorry, Gideon. It’s late and I’m confused. I assumed she was with you when it happened.”
“She was right by my side, but I knocked her down to get her out of the way. Knocked the breath right out of her. She passed out and when she came to, I told her it was a false alarm.”
“Oh, Gideon.” He sighed heavily. “That wasn’t wise.”
“It was the right decision. There’s nothing she can do about what happened.”
“You can’t protect her from everything, and lying is never a solution.” […]
“Don’t tell me what would be best for her right now,” I said coldly.
DUDE. GIDEON. DUDE. BRO. DUDE. JUST STOP. DUDE. JUST STOP. STOP. DUDE. BRO. STOP.
We also learn that Angus finished searching the Lucas’ residence and found a flash drive of evidence of their secret crimes. That they have for some reason. Surprisingly, none of the evidence is about Gideon, but about his brother, Christopher. I don’t want to say that the rest of the book never explains what the files actually say about what the Lucases did to Christopher so this entire subplot doesn’t matter, but… the rest of the book never explains what the files actually say about what the Lucases did to Christopher so this entire subplot doesn’t matter.
The next morning, Gideon gets ready to tell Eva, aware that the news is starting to break.
The thought of what had to have been posted online already filled me with helpless fury. Graphic crime-scene photos. Conspiracy theories and wild speculation.
Graphic crimes and wild speculation on thinly-evidenced theories? In Crossfire? What a horrible twist!
Eventually, Gideon tells Eva they need to talk and she immediately knows something serious is up.
“You’re starting to freak me out.”
“I know. I’m sorry.” I touched her cheek. “I don’t mean to drag this out.”
Oh, now you’re just being a dick, One With You.
So… there’s two ways this can go, when you think about it. We’re gonna call them the “What SHOULD Happen” option and the “Educated Guess” option.
- What SHOULD Happen is that we’ve had five (FIVE.) books of Eva and Gideon’s shitty, manipulative, abusive relationship, and it has never gotten better, and it needs to end. They’ve gotten married, and they fight less, but Gideon is still mostly terrible to Eva for self-obsessed and petty reasons. For instance, I dunno, this whole thing that is happening right now. As much as he keeps insisting this is all “for” her, it rings in much the same way that the killer in a slasher flick explains that all the murders are “for” the girl he’s secretly been obsessing over the whole time. Between that and a basic understanding of narrative structure and that the events should lead to some kind of logically subsequent climax, this series should take this moment and end it with one thing and one thing only: Eva dumps Gideon for good. Which would seem like an entirely fair response to him lying to her about her MOM. HAVING. BEEN. SHOT.
- But having read five (FIVE.) books in this series, we can make an educated guess that… this won’t matter. Nothing in this series ever matters. Not one fight or subplot ever has lasting consequences, and there’s no reason to assume this will be an exception. Eva will anticlimactically forgive Gideon, the reader will be told that it is BECAUSE OF THE POWER OF LOVE, and this will be totally swept under the rug like every other 2-to-4-chapter-long plot point that has sustained this meandering, directionless swill for five (FIVE!) books now.
Guess which one it is.
“You were right about the gunshots you heard. One of the photographers opened fire on us last night. Your mother was hit.” I paused, struggled to say the words. “She didn’t make it.”
Eva stared at me, her eyes big and dark in her suddenly pale face. […] The fear I’d been fighting all night swamped me. I’d expected anger and tears. A violent explosion of emotion. Instead, she seemed disoriented. Almost lifeless. […]
“Why didn’t you tell me?” She looked at me blankly. “Why lie to me?”
I started to explain, then hesitated. Finally, “To protect you.”
Her gaze left my face, drifted off to the side. “I think I knew something bad happened. I think that’s why I’m not surprised. But when we left … Was she…?”
“She was already gone, Eva. I won’t lie to you again— I didn’t know whether anyone had been hit when I got you out of there.”
This doesn’t get fully resolved in this chapter, but Eva literally never gets upset that Gideon lied to her about this for the rest of the book. Not that Crossfire usually bothers fully resolving anything, but you know what I mean.
Gideon does get that he fucked up pretty bad, to be fair. And we get a hint at what direction the conclusion of this series is going to go in: Eva’s mother’s death is the catalyst for resolving every single subplot somehow.
I had just backtracked on all the progress we’d made by not telling her about Monica’s death the moment I knew. If mending things with my family now would somehow help her forgive me for the lie I’d told, then it was worth whatever it cost me to make the effort.
The ending of this book gets even more absurd when the police show up to explain what they’ve learned about Monica’s death. You know that crazy backstory this book suddenly introduced about Monica’s secret past of stolen identities and violence? You wanna guess whether Monica’s death has anything to do with that or something completely new the book pulls out of its ass right here right now? You can probably guess.
She pulled out a mug shot and set it on the table facing us. “Do either of you recognize this man? […] His name is Roland Tyler Hall. Have you ever had contact with this man, Mr. Cross? Ever recall speaking with him?”
“No,” I replied, searching my memory and coming up blank.
That’s right! This is ANOTHER COMPLETELY NEW CHARACTER.
Admittedly, there’s a chance this guy got mentioned in one chapter a few books ago or something like that and I don’t remember at all. Crossfire has roughly four hundred thousand minor characters. And it chose to either come up with a completely new one to push this story into the climax or it chose one of the completely unmemorable ones. Which is… a bit of a fuckup.
The chapter (finally) ends with the reveal that this brand fucking new character was obsessed with Gideon. I’ll give you a small spoiler about the rest of the book: nope, turns out he isn’t even involved in any of the ongoing subplots. Not even the one about the person who just got murdered.
Like I said, nothing in Crossfire ever has meaning.