Fair warning, this chapters title isn’t about feeling emotionally touched. It’s about Ian physically touching Wanderer in increasingly unwelcome and disturbing ways. If my previous rants about Ian coming off rapey made you uncomfortable, you may want to skip this one. Because that’s the entire chapter. It’s just Ian being rapetastic. As Wanderer tells him that Melanie wants him to fuck off and she (Wanderer) feels uncomfortable. The whooooole chapter. This is supposed to be romantic people. Kill me now. Please?
The chapter starts literally at the same place the last one left off. She actually restates the question that was the very last line of the last chapter. ‘What do you think?’ She’s clearly absorbed absolutely nothing of Melanie’s information because she has no idea what he means by that, unsure what part of the conversation he’s talking about. It’s obvious to everyone that’s not an idiot that he wants to know what she thinks about him having a horrible creepy crush on her and hoping he won points with her over the whole ‘you have more of a right to exist than the human who’s body you stole’ part of the conversation.
He knew what I was. He knew I was just a tiny creature fused into the back of Melanie’s brain. A worm, as Kyle had said. Yet even Kyle thought Ian had a “crush” on me. On me? That wasn’t possible.
You know, I kind of thought this line of thinking was depressing in the last chapter, but he admitted it, Kyle pointed it out, Melanie pointed it out, and she’s still going on and on about how it’s not possible. I actually think it gets pretty insulting by this point that she still refuses to accept it. It’s not just low self-esteem, it’s also telling someone else how they’re supposed to feel. If she were just going on about why it makes no sense that would be fine, but she’s saying everyone else, including Ian, is wrong about how Ian feels. Apparently because she doesn’t understand it that means it can’t happen.
She goes on for multiple paragraphs about what Ian’s question could possibly be referring to and it doesn’t matter at all because we JUST read the conversation the chapter before. We don’t need to be reminded of what happened in it, because she doesn’t actually say what she thinks of anything, just goes over what parts of the conversation she could possibly have a thought about. In the end she just says she doesn’t know what she thinks, without actually figuring out what part he was talking about, so he thinks she’s saying she doesn’t know how she feels about him, when she’s just saying she’s confused, period.
“I really don’t know,” I said.
He nodded. “That’s understandable.”
“Only because you are very understanding.”
They go back and forth for a full page about how weird it is. And I mean they literally just say ‘I know it’s weird’ ‘yeah, it’s weird to me too’ ‘it’s so weird it’s impossible’ ‘I’m just as surprised as you are!’. Literally. A full page. And then Ian gets creepy.
“Tell me something,” Ian said after a moment.
“If I know the answer.”
“It’s not a hard question.”
He didn’t ask it right away. Instead, he reached across the narrow space and picked up my hand. He held it in both of his for a moment, and then he trailed the fingers of his left hand slowly up my arm, from my wrist to my shoulder. Just as slowly, he pulled them back again. He looked at the skin of my arm rather than my face, watching the goose bumps that formed along the path of his fingers.
“Does that feel good or bad to you?” he asked.
For anyone that doesn’t know, that is an incredibly suggestive, fairly sexual gesture. It’s a build up to foreplay. This is not a tender, sweet moment, or a merely slightly intimate one, it is a very intimate gesture and considering they just talked at length about how confused Wanderer is by all of this, a pretty fucking horrible one for him to do. The entire purpose of that gesture is to try and get you in the mood for sex.
Bad, Melanie insisted.
But it doesn’t hurt, I protested.
That’s not what he’s asking. When he says good… Oh, it’s like talking to a child!
I’m not even a year old, you know. Or am I now? I was sidetracked, trying to figure out the date.
YOU HAVE ACCESS TO ALL OF MELANIE’S MEMORIES! ALL OF HER KNOWLEDGE ABOUT LANGUAGE, TONE, INFERENCE! IF MELANIE GETS IT SO SHOULD YOU YOU GODDAMN DUMBASS!
Melanie was not distracted. Good, to him, means the way it feels when Jared touches us. The memory she provided was not one from the caves. It was in the magic canyon, at sunset. Jared stood behind her and let his hands follow the shape of her arms, from her shoulders to her wrists. I shivered at the pleasure of the simple touch. Like that.
“Melanie says bad,” I whispered.
First of all, Melanie should not have to provide that memory. Wanderer has access to all her fucking memories for fucks sake! God this pisses me off. Second, you now understand Wanderer. Why are you saying only MELANIE’S side of this?! Why can’t you tell him that it doesn’t make you feel what you KNOW he WANTS you to feel, since it CLEARLY doesn’t! Is it because that might hurt his feelings so you’re instead going to put it on Melanie so it’s not your fault? At least that would be consistent with your character…
“What do you say?”
“I say… I don’t know.”
When I could meet his eyes, they were warmer than I expected. “I can’t even imagine how confusing this all must be to you.”
THEN WHY ARE YOU DOING IT TO HER?! If you KNOW you’re just confusing her why the FUCK did you think it would be a good idea?!? YOU JUST YELLED AT JARED FOR DOING THE SAME FUCKING THING YOU SELFISH PRICK!
It was comforting that he understood. “Yes. I’m confused.”
He doesn’t understand Wanderer. Or at least if he does, he doesn’t care. How do I know that? Well, HE’S STILL FUCKING DOING IT!
His hand traced up and down my arm again. “Would you like me to stop?”
YES YOU GODDAMN CREEPY LITTLE SHIT!
I hesitated. “Yes,” I decided. “That… what you’re doing… makes it hard for me to think. And Melanie is… angry at me. That also makes it hard to think.”
I’m not angry at you. Tell him to leave.
Ian is my friend. I don’t want him to leave.
Wow Wanderer doesn’t understand what’s happening here AT ALL. She can literally read Melanie’s thoughts and Melanie CLEARLY understands what’s happening here, yet Wanderer, apparently willfully so thanks to the aforementioned ABILITY TO READ MELANIE’S THOUGHTS, remains completely ignorant. But she HAS at least told Ian to stop because she can’t think with him doing that and Melanie being pissed at him. It’s too difficult for her to distinguish her own genuine emotions from the physical distraction of Ian’s rapey caress and Melanie’s anger. If he were a decent human being that would be the end of that. But he’s not.
He leaned away, folding his arms across his chest.
“I don’t suppose she’d give us a minute alone?”
Instead of accepting that Wanderer said she found his actions distracting and SHE wanted him to stop, he puts all the blame on Melanie so he can continue to claim that Wanderer wants his affection, Melanie is just a selfish bitch for not wanting him to RAPE HER.
I keep using that word, and I know he hasn’t actually tried to do that (yet), but he sure as hell has made his intentions known. He very clearly wants to sleep with her, and he is blatantly ignoring her statement that she specifically said SHE would like him to stop, not just that MELANIE would like him to stop which in and of itself should be enough since it’s Melanie’s goddamn body. He touched her in a sexual, suggestive way, she wanted him to stop, and he doesn’t want to.
Wanderer laughs and says she doubts it, which Ian apparently thinks is Melanie speaking directly. He really does seem to be pushing the idea that it’s only MELANIE that doesn’t feel that way about him and she’s just being a cockblocker. But no, that was all Wanderer.
“Melanie Stryder?” he asked, addressing her.
We both started at the name.
Ian went on. “I’d like the chance to speak with Wanda privately, if you don’t mind. Is there any way that could be arranged?”
Why would he ask MELANIE that?! As though Melanie is the one in control! Again, he is BLAMING MELANIE for the fact that Wanderer doesn’t want him to touch her and thinks that if he can just get her to fuck off, Wanderer will be all over him. Or maybe he just thinks that if Melanie isn’t getting mad Wanderer will just not protest. When, for the millionth time, WANDERER SAID *SHE PERSONALLY* WANTED HIM TO STOP!
And just for good measure one more reminder that THIS IS MELANIE’S BODY, NOT WANDERER’S, SO HE IS ASKING MELANIE TO LEAVE HER OWN BODY SO HE CAN FUCK IT!
I know there are some guys that are actually really sensitive and don’t think about sex that often or even at all, but to be completely honest when talking to a girl he’s attracted to, just about every guy in existence at least has sex in the back of his mind somewhere. The good ones just don’t let it be the ONLY thing on their minds. So, yes, I feel pretty goddamn confident every time I say Ian is after Wanderer for sex more than companionship, because he already gets companionship from her and there is only one reason to do what he did already, and it gets so much worse…
Of all the nerve! You tell him I said no chance in hell! I do not like this man.
My nose wrinkled up.
“What did she say?”
Again he is attributing her response to a reaction to Melanie. She couldn’t possibly find it distasteful that he would try and banish her host body’s consciousness, the only reason she’s there at all.
“She said no.” I tried to say the words as gently as they could be said. “And that she doesn’t… like you.”
Ian laughed. “I can respect that. I can respect her. Well, it was worth a try.” He sighed. “Kind of puts a damper on things, having an audience.”
Someone please, PLEASE tell me a way to interpret that that ISN’T Ian saying it’ll be creepy to sleep with her while someone’s watching. I have tried, I have asked other people, I CANNOT see that as anything OTHER than REALLY FUCKING CREEPY! Not to mention the fact that he’s saying he respects Melanie, while also saying in the next breath that he’s going to ignore her wishes and do whatever the fuck he wants to her body, it’s just going to be weird having her watch. IN WHAT UNIVERSE DOES THAT QUALIFY AS RESPECT?!
What things? Mel growled.
I grimaced. I didn’t like feeling her anger. It was so much more vicious than mine.
Get used to it.
Even Melanie understands that Ian is not going to fuck off no matter what either one of them do. THIS BOOK KNOWS HE’S A CREEP AND IT’S SAYING HE’S THE LOVE INTEREST ANYWAY!
Ian put his hand on my face. “I’ll let you think about things, okay? So you can decide how you feel.”
She specifically wanted you to stop touching her so she could do that. This is you doing the exact opposite of that. GO FUCK YOURSELF.
I tried to be objective about that hand. It was soft against my face. It felt… nice. Not like when Jared touched me. But also different from the way it felt when Jamie hugged me. Other.
Basically, it’s not motherly love or romantic love. There’s a third option. It’s called PLATONIC LOVE.
I realized, when he smiled then, that I wanted him to like me. The rest–the hand on my face, the fingers on my arm–I still wasn’t sure at all about those. But I wanted him to like me, and to think kind things about me. Which is why it was hard to tell him the truth.
And this is the part where I switch from wanting to stab Ian in the crotch to wanting to stab Wanderer in the face. That is a MASSIVELY horrible thing to do. She WANTS TO CULTIVATE HIS CRUSH ON HER DESPITE NOT RETURNING IT BECAUSE SHE LIKES THAT HE WANTS HER! Basically she wants to lead him on so he’ll keep being so nice to her thinking he has a chance with her. Wanderer is a horrible person.
For the record though, that still doesn’t justify what Ian does to her.
“You don’t really feel that way about me, you know,” I whispered. “It’s this body.… She’s pretty, isn’t she?”
He nodded. “She is. Melanie is a very pretty girl. Even beautiful.” His hand moved to touch my bad cheek, to stroke the rough, scarring skin with gentle fingers. “In spite of what I’ve done to her face.”
They’re BOTH being manipulative douchebags here. This is literally the first thing Wanderer says to him after thinking that quote above. She’s trying to get him to say nice things about her personality. Trying to get him to think about what he likes about her to reinforce the feeling. And Ian is trying to get her to feel bad for him for feeling guilty. Since he wasn’t the one to damage her face, he just wants Wanderer to think he’s gentle and kind and guilt ridden and she should pity him.
Normally, I would have denied that automatically. Reminded him that the wounds on my face weren’t his fault. But I was so confused that my head was spinning and I couldn’t form a coherent sentence.
Why should it bother me that he thought Melanie was beautiful?
I’m sure people that LIKE this book probably think the answer to that is that she likes Ian so the idea that he’s attracted to Melanie, not her, is upsetting. I have a different interpretation given the context and that’s that she specifically stated she wants him to think good things about her. She wants him to talk about how good SHE is. She wants to cultivate his attraction to her so he will be loyal to HER, not Melanie.
“But, pretty as she is, she’s a stranger to me. She’s not the one I… care about.”
That made me feel better. Which was even more confusing.
“Ian, you don’t… Nobody here separates us the way they should. Not you, not Jamie, not Jeb.” The truth came out in a rush, more heated than I’d meant it to be. “You couldn’t care about me. If you could hold me in your hand, me, you would be disgusted. You would throw me to the ground and grind me under your foot.”
His pale forehead creased as his black brows pulled together. “I… not if I knew it was you.”
I laughed without humor. “How would you know? You couldn’t tell us apart.”
Oh don’t get so high and mighty. You couldn’t tell people apart at first either. Said we all looked too similar. How the hell are you claiming a moral high ground here?! And yeah, he probably WOULDN’T be attracted to her in bug form, but to be fair he couldn’t communicate with her in that form either. So it’s not just that he wouldn’t want/be able to have sex with her. I don’t really think that’s a terribly fair accusation on her part.
“That’s not true at all,” he disagreed. “It’s not the face, but the expressions on it. It’s not the voice, but what you say. It’s not how you look in that body, but the things you do with it. You are beautiful.”
He moved forward as he spoke, kneeling beside the bed where I lay and taking my hand again in both of his.
Yes, because physical affection is DEFINITELY how you tell someone that you love them for their personality, not their appearance.
She goes on to ask if he’d feel the same if she’d come there in the body of an old woman or a man, and Ian says SHE is a woman, I think to question why she would ever take a man’s body, but it’s not terribly clear since he’s definitely NOT saying he would switch teams for her. Wanderer says that he’s right, she does consider herself female and makes a point of always taking a female host. But she says she could be in a male body and it wouldn’t make a difference. Again though, I don’t think this is an entirely fair statement on her part. While some people are able to fall in love with just anyone, there IS a physical component to the emotion for 99.5% of people. Specifically because the emotion’s biological origin is about finding a mate, not just someone to hang out with. But it’s not purely physical either. While he may not be attracted to Wanderer in a man’s body, he may not be attracted to Melanie in HER OWN body either. So it IS just as much about Wanderer as it is her host body.
“I wouldn’t want it without you.”
“You wouldn’t want me without it. ”
This is harder to retort, but I would still like to say that that’s only a half truth. He could still have fallen for her in the body of a less attractive female.
He touched my cheek again and left his hand there, his thumb under my jaw. “But this body is part of you, too. It’s part of who you are. And, unless you change your mind and turn us all in, it’s who you will always be.”
Again with the touching… But again, also only partially true. She could just as easily decide to simply let herself die and give Melanie back her life. Or take over the body of someone else.
Ah, the finality of it. Yes, I would die in this body. The final death.
And I will never live in it again, Melanie whispered.
It’s not how either of us planned our future, is it?
No. Neither of us planned to have no future.
This is actually a relatively effective conversation. But I would still like to point out that Wanderer could just have her ‘final death’ and let Melanie have her life. The options here are that Wanderer never has a normal life anywhere ever again and dies in this body, and Melanie dies never regaining control over her body, or Wanderer gives up her host body and Melanie gets to live her life as herself. Wanderer has no future either way, so personally it’s kind of selfish of her to not even consider that, whether she has the guts to actually DO it or not is one thing, but to not even think about it? Again, apparently Wanderer’s existence is more important than Melanie’s. This book is pretty mean to Melanie.
“Another internal conversation?” Ian guessed.
“We’re thinking of our mortality.”
“You could live forever if you left us.”
“Yes, I could.” I sighed. “You know, humans have the shortest life span of any species I’ve ever been, except the Spiders. You have so little time.”
“Don’t you think, then…” Ian paused and leaned closer to me so that I couldn’t seem to see anything around his face, just snow and sapphire and ink. “That maybe you should make the most of what time you have? That you should live while you’re alive?”
AGAIN, Ian is stating here that she should let him fuck her since time is fleeting. This is jackass pick up artist levels of awful right here. He’s also presuming, again, that Wanderer wants to be with him and only isn’t because of Jared and Melanie, which is not even close to anything she has actually stated at any point. AND he’s saying that living means fucking.
And then the creep kisses her. I WILL POINT OUT ONCE MORE THAT WANDERER ALREADY TOLD HIM THAT HIM TOUCHING HER MADE HER CONFUSED AND SHE WANTED HIM TO STOP. WHY DOES HE THINK KISSING HER WOULD NOT MAKE THAT A MILLION TIMES WORSE?! NOT TO MENTION THAT HE YELLED AT JARED FOR DOING THIS EXACT SAME GODDAMN THING!
It wasn’t like kissing Jared. With Jared, there was no thought, only desire. No control. A spark to gasoline–inevitable. With Ian, I didn’t even know what I felt. Everything was muddled and confused.
And what she’s saying here is that she doesn’t feel like she wants to respond to the kiss. She doesn’t like it. It doesn’t make her feel desire or loving like kissing Jared did, it only makes her feel weird and uncomfortable. Probably in part because Ian is constantly ignoring her wishes and taking advantage of the fact that she won’t make him back off.
His lips were soft and warm. He pressed them only lightly to mine, and then brushed them back and forth across my mouth.
…What the hell kind of kiss is that? Fucking eskimo kiss only to her lips instead of her nose? Is that supposed to be romantic?
“Good or bad?” he whispered against my lips.
Bad! Bad, bad!
“I–I can’t think.” When I moved my mouth to speak, he moved his with it.
“That sounds… good.”
His mouth pressed down with more force now. He caught my lower lip between his and pulled on it gently.
I CANNOT STRESS AT ALL HOW HORRIBLE THIS IS! His reaction to her uncertainty is to ASSUME THAT MEANS SHE LIKES IT SO HE SHOULD DO IT AGAIN! I WILL ALSO POINT OUT THAT SHE IS SUPPOSED TO BE EXHAUSTED AND SEVERELY INJURED RIGHT NOW SO HE IS TAKING ADVANTAGE OF HER WHILE SHE IS WEAK!
Melanie wanted to hit him–so much more than she’d wanted to punch Jared. She wanted to shove him away and then kick his face. The image was horrible. It conflicted jarringly with the sensation of Ian’s kiss.
“Please,” I whispered.
“Please stop. I can’t think. Please.”
This section just makes me feel depressed.
He sat back at once, clasping his hands in front of him. “Okay,” he said, his tone cautious.
I pressed my hands against my face, wishing I could push out Melanie’s anger.
“Well, at least nobody punched me.” Ian grinned.
She just literally begged him to stop kissing her and he’s acting fucking PROUD of himself! MY GOD this guy is a douchebag!
She explains that Melanie was certainly angry enough to do more than punch him, and that she was so angry it was hurting Wanderer’s head. But that since she wasn’t overwhelmed Melanie couldn’t take control. Awful convenient, these rules.
Calm down, I begged her. He’s not touching me.
Has he forgotten that I’m here? Doesn’t he care? This is me, it’s me!
No Melanie, he does not care. He basically said so earlier in the chapter.
Melanie is so deeply upset by this violation that she tries to remind Wanderer that she has a crush on Jared to get her to tell Ian to fuck off. She’s trying to remind Wanderer that Wanderer is in love with her boyfriend because she would rather deal with jealousy towards Wanderer’s crush than have Ian keep trying to have sex with her. That is how violated she feels right now.
“She’s talking to you.”
“Yelling at me,” I corrected.
“I can tell now. I can see you concentrate on the conversation. I never noticed before today.”
“She’s not always this vocal.”
“I am sorry, Melanie,” he said. “I know this must be impossible for you.”
Remember, Ian was mad at Jared because his kissing Melanie might fuck up Wanderer. He apparently does not think that he shouldn’t be allowed to kiss Wanderer based on what it does to Melanie. This is a massive double standard based solely on his desire to be with Wanderer and his jealousy towards Jared. It’s terrible, and he is a horrible man. He is a horrible love interest. He is a horrible human being in general.
Tell him I don’t want his apologies.
Ian half smiled, half grimaced. “She doesn’t accept.”
Ian asks about Melanie taking over, she says it’s harder and harder and that she tried to let Melanie take over against Kyle but failed. That ‘the door seems to be locked’ unless she’s completely emotionally overwhelmed. Ian asks if all Jared did was kiss her and Wanderer confirms. This makes him flinch and I admit I take joy from his pain at this point.
“What?” I asked. “What’s wrong?”
“When Jared kisses you, you are… overwhelmed by emotion.”
I stared at him, worried by the expression on his face. Melanie enjoyed it. That’s right!
He sighed. “And when I kiss you… you aren’t sure if you like it. You are not… overwhelmed.”
“Oh.” Ian was jealous. How very strange this world was. “I’m sorry.”
Apparently Melanie does too.
“Don’t be. I told you I’d give you time, and I don’t mind waiting for you to think things through. I don’t mind that at all.”
If that was true you wouldn’t have kissed her you fucking prick!
He wants to know how much of her love for Jared is her and how much is Melanie. Wanderer doesn’t know why it matters, and frankly neither do I because it doesn’t change the fact. He’s the one that said the body is a part of who she is, so what she feels because of the body is too. But again, this is him trying to justify his shitty behaviour. He holds her hand again because he doesn’t seem to take ‘please stop’ very seriously.
It was very quiet for a minute. Even Melanie was still. That was nice.
Then, as though a switch had been flipped, Ian was his normal self again. He laughed.
“Time is on my side,” he said, grinning. “We’ve got the rest of our lives in here. One day you’ll wonder what you ever saw in Jared.”
I cannot adequately express how deeply, deeply terrible this is. He’s telling her that eventually Stockholm syndrome will kick in and she’ll be his. He’s not accepting that she has feelings for someone else and he should move on like a FUCKING adult, he’s saying she’ll eventually cave because she’s fucking STUCK WITH HIM. It’s CREEPY, it’s HORRIBLE, and it makes me hate this book more than I already did which I didn’t think was even POSSIBLE!
Jamie interrupts thankfully so there can be no more creepiness. He asks if she’s hungry and she says she’s fine and asks about school and blah blah stuff that doesn’t matter at all. Until he gets to the part about Jared. And I find myself so happy about what comes next I kind of wonder if that wasn’t the point to this whole chapter and Meyer actually pulled this off effectively. But I won’t get my hopes up too high that we were actually SUPPOSED to find Ian creepy. Though I would give props if that’s where it ended up.
“Guess what? Jared was saying at lunch that he didn’t think it was fair for you to have to move out of the room you were used to. He said we weren’t being good hosts. He said you should move back in with me! Isn’t that great? I asked him if I could tell you right away, and he said that was a good idea. He said you would be in here.”
“I’ll bet he did,” Ian murmured.
“So what do you think, Wanda? We get to be roomies again!”
“But Jamie, where will Jared stay?”
“Wait–let me guess,” Ian interrupted. “I bet he said the room was big enough for three. Am I right?”
“Yeah. How did you know?”
Oh don’t be such a sore loser Ian. You WERE just kissing his girlfriend. And you’re not even dating the other occupant of the body, so it really was completely fair of Jared to pull this stunt. You were being a douchebag, he retaliated in kind. And I find myself liking Jared again in this moment.
The implication that Jamie wants MELANIE there, not Wanderer, comes across, but unintentionally so on Jamie’s part. Simply so Wanderer could feel lonely and ‘woe is me’ again. Jamie apologizes and corrects that he wants the FOUR of them to be together as a family. All the while coming off as a naïve 6 year old.
Jamie crawled up the mattress, worming his way around Ian, to put his arms around my neck.
He’s a teenager. This doesn’t feel like something a teenager would do.
“Sorry. Don’t be sad.”
“Don’t worry about it.”
“You know I love you, too.”
So sharp, so piercing, the emotions of this planet. Jamie had never said those words to me before. My whole body suddenly felt a few degrees warmer.
“Will you come back?” Jamie begged against my shoulder.
I couldn’t answer right away.
“What does Mel want?” he asked.
“She wants to live with you,” I whispered. I didn’t have to check to know that.
“And what do you want?”
“Do you want me to live with you?”
“You know I do, Wanda. Please.”
Jamie, like Jared in the last chapter, makes a point of actually asking what both women want. Rather than Ian simply trying to force what HE wants on both women. I just like making comparisons at this point so you all understand without a doubt that Ian is a massive douchebag.
When Wanderer concedes, Jamie shouts his excitement and bounces around. He says he’ll go get her something to eat and wants to know if Ian wants anything as well. Ian tells him to tell Jared he’s shameless. Hypocrite.
Ian rolls his eyes and Wanderer feels the pang that she’s not the one wanted again because she can’t accept that Jamie now sees her as part of his family. Because then she couldn’t feel depressed and garner pity. She wants Ian to keep liking her because he’s the only one that likes JUST her. He doesn’t give a SHIT about Melanie. Jamie loves them BOTH and that’s not good enough.
This chapter made me feel like I was at a party watching a guy feel up a drunk chick only without the ability to go over and punch him in the face and call her a cab.
Till next time. Check out The Llama’s review of this chapter!