Previously on Obsidian, Daemon holds Katy immobile and threatens to keep her under week-long house arrest unless she agrees to strip down and go swimming with him.
Note: all direct quotes are either in bold or block-quotes. If something’s in quotation marks but not bold or block-quotes, it’s paraphrased snark.
The chapter doesn’t start off gently.
I had to hang out with Daemon today.
Even though I couldn’t stand him, and I actually think he might be the first person I ever hated, he was . . . he was a god. Who knew the kind of girls he was used to seeing in bathing suits.
WHAT DOES THIS EVEN MATTER.
Even though I wouldn’t touch him for all the money in the world, I was big enough to admit there was a part of me that wanted him to want me.
Okay, I appreciate your honesty and self-awaDON’T GO. JUST DON’T GO.
Having resigned herself to her “fate,” Katy deliberates over her three bathing suit options: Victorian, slightly prudish, and sexy red scraps. “I could have chosen a tent and I’d still feel uncomfortable,” she tells us, seconds before deciding that oh yeah, the red bikini is totally the best choice for this situation.
I wanted to be exciting and bold. Maybe I even wanted to shock Daemon, prove him wrong.
I understand the desire to prove someone’s sneering assessment of you wrong, but not when (a) that assessment is “You’re probably shy about your body,” (b) that assessment is 100% accurate, and (c) that someone is a manipulative, controlling, threatening asshole who uses sex to make you uncomfortable and is literally coercing you into being alone with him in a state of undress. Choosing the bikini isn’t giving him the finger; it’s playing right into his clammy, grasping hands.
Katy covers the “tiny scraps” of her bikini with a modest outfit “to hide [her] audacity” from her mother, who’s lurking in a Nonchalantly Concerned Parent fashion in the kitchen. Mom’s mom-sense tingles at the sight of her, though, prompting a series of delicate questions feeling out whether or not Katy’s emotionally well.
Tell her, I whisper-shout into the book, because I sometimes think that maybe I really can prevent stupidity in novels, tell her the truth.
She took a deep breath. “Are you excited about today?”
My stomach dropped as I faced her. Part of me wanted to throttle her for helping trap me in Daemon’s plans, but she didn’t know any better.
Tell her. She can know better now.
“Yeah, I guess so,” I lied.
Mom leaves with an implied warning not to wind up pregnant, ha ha, and two seconds later Daemon’s pounding on the front door, ready to whisk her away to a super-secret swimming place so deep in the woods that vehicles can’t reach it and most locals don’t know about it. The swimming hole of choice for local murderers and rapists, I gather.
He marches her into the woods opposite her house, and apparently she does have a smidge of sense, because she’s only half joking when she asks, “Are you taking me out to the woods as a trick?”
He glanced over his shoulder, lashes hiding his eyes. “And what would I do out here to you, Kitten?”
I shivered. “The possibilities are endless.”
“Aren’t they?” He made his way easily around the thick brush and vines tangled together on the floor of the woods.
Just a reminder: Daemon has done absolutely nothing but ridicule, intimidate, manipulate, and threaten Katy. And here he is, casually acknowledging how easily he can perform violence against her once he’s taken her to their remote, unknown destination.
Here’s Katy’s reply:
I was having a hell of a time not breaking my neck on the many exposed roots and moss-covered rocks. “Can we pretend we did this?”
She doesn’t acknowledge or react to his implicit threat at all; it’s as if he’d never spoken, or she hadn’t heard him.
I hate it when books do this, guys: make their female characters ignore the legitimately creepy, threatening, and/or abusive words and actions of male characters. By not reacting, Katy’s telling the reader—teaching the reader—that there was nothing she needed to react to; that what he said wasn’t in the least alarming.
But it is.
It is very fucking alarming.
But they’re still venturing forth into the secluded depths of the forest, him leaping gracefully as a deer and her apparently incapable of putting one foot in front of the other; he extends a hand to help her over a fallen tree, she accepts his hand, and a jolt of static (sexual excitement, alien power?) tingles over her skin.
Half an hour later they arrive at Murder Lake, which is gorgeous. Katy grows momentarily omniscient for our sake, and can “tell from the stiff set of his shoulders [that] this place was special to him,” and she gets all giddy because this super hot guy is taking time out of his day to show her his top-secret assholes-only hideout. (Has she forgotten that Dee blackmailed him into bringing her?) She gently rests her hand upon his arm and thanks him for bringing her here, and WHAT. NO. DO NOT THANK HIM. He coerced you into coming by threatening to lock you inside your house for a week.
Unsurprisingly, he manages to piss her off twice before he can even shimmy out of his jeans and whip his shirt off (“Dayam,” Katy thinks while air-humping in his direction), and only the sight of his muscles “flexing and stretching” can shake her out of her anger.
Her hand is just beginning its inevitable dip into her pants when Daemon asks why she’s not catwalking her bathing suit around the lake yet, which reminds Katy that oh yeah, the bathing suit she chose consists of just a few crimson threads and that perhaps was a terrible decision. Daemon makes a jab about her being shy, then settles in to enjoy the show.
Good God, he wasn’t going to turn around or anything. And there was a challenge in his stare, as if he expected me to chicken out. Maybe that’s what he wanted—expected.
No, Katy, what he wants is to insult you until your hurt pride demands that you prove his insults wrong; he wants you to seek his approval, put on a little striptease, and get a bikini’s width away from naked with him.
Practical, boring Katy would’ve gone into the lake fully clothed.
I didn’t want to be her. That was the whole purpose of the red bathing suit. I wanted to prove to him I wasn’t easily intimidated. I was determined to win this round.
Aaaugh. This is what losing looks like. Winning would require you to stand up for yourself and do what makes you feel comfortable, regardless of this asshole’s threats and manipulations.
Daemon is literally negging Katy, guys. “I bet you’re gonna wear your grandma’s one-piece,” he’d sneered at her in the last chapter—and sure enough, she decided she needed to dress up extra sexy to gain his approval. “You sure are shy,” he jabs when she doesn’t immediately reveal her bathing suit—and, right on cue, she decides she “wanted to prove to him” that she wasn’t shy at all, to gain his approval.
This manipulation isn’t blatant; a lot of people won’t recognize it when they see it. But just for the record, it’s happening, and it’s disgusting.
As if all this isn’t bad enough, before Katy can start stripping, Daemon opens his fucking mouth again:
Daemon looked bored. “I’m giving you one minute to get in here.”
And then he begins counting down the seconds she has remaining to get into the lake of her own free will. And no, he’s not counting down in a playful way. He’s not smiling, he’s not teasing. His expression is cold, and he’s moving slowly closer to her, ready to grab her and drag her in if she doesn’t obey within his time-limit. What the hell am I reading.
Katy strips quickly and poses for his visual probing before slipping into the water a careful distance away from Daemon, who’s doing his best impression of a hunting crocodile:
Daemon eyed me from a few feet away, his cheeks above the waterline and his breath blowing the occasional bubble to break the surface tension. Something in his gaze beckoned me closer.
“What?” I asked after a stretch of silence.
“Why don’t you come here?”
“NOPE,” Katy intelligently replies, and hauls ass toward some boulders in the middle of the lake. And Daemon, watching her chilling on the rocks, looks “curious, almost confused,” and says, “Well . . . what do we have here?”
This nausea I’m fighting off believes that Daemon just tried to use alien mind-control powers on her, and she’s just special enough to resist them (thank god). What the fuck was he going to do to her, if she did obey him?
“You’re not what I expected,” he said in a hushed voice.
“What does that mean?” I asked as he made a grab for my foot, and I moved my leg out of his reach.
And what the fuck is he trying to grab her foot for? This isn’t a flirtatious date; he’s told her repeatedly that he doesn’t want to be here with her. So why is he grabbing at her? And Katy, why are you placidly avoiding him rather than introducing your heel to his face?
And then he does it again. Katy narrates, “I shifted again as he reached for the other leg,” and then she “scooted back, completely out of his grasp.” And she’s NOT ALARMED. She doesn’t give any sort of emotional reaction to this AT ALL. “This behavior is totally normal for sexy cruel threatening guys, nothing to be worried about,” Katy’s lack of response is telling readers—telling young adults who perhaps don’t know better.
Guys, I’m sorry that this snark is less lolarious than my Throne of Glass one; it’s just that this book is rapidly reducing me to a wraith of feminist fury. Please god let the plot kick in soon so we can get some chortles.
After a cryptic comment about how she’s not like Dee’s Daemon-approved friends, Daemon succumbs to his crocodilian instincts and submerges. Finally, Katy can enjoy a minute of precious, molestation-free silence. A minute that turns into two, and then several, still with no sign of his asshole face surfacing for air.
You’ll have to excuse me if I, unlike Katy, do not immediately swan-dive into a panic at the possibility of his death by drowning.