Previously, on Save the Pearls: Eden ducked away from camp to look for a hidden Life-Band in her backpack, but then some adorable, mischievous monkeys stole the backpack! Eden chased after them and ended up falling off a cliff into a river, but Bramford was able to save the day by carrying her to safety. When the two made it ashore, they cuddled up together for a romantic nap.
Bramford and Eden are still all snuggled up when we return, while a bird (identified by Eden as Myadestes melanops) sings an “ethereal” song somewhere in the canopy. Once again, Victoria Foyt thinks that as long as Eden can rattle off the scientific names of random animals, the audience will believe she’s not a fucking dumbass. It’s a really tragic interpretation of “show, don’t tell,” but, um, I guess at least she tried?
Bramford moves his hand, and Eden basically has an orgasm right there:
He began to stir, his hand falling down the length of her back, leaving a trail of electric sparks. She gasped, as they exploded in her brain. She shut her eyes tight, drawing in deep breaths.
Or maybe she suffered a brain injury and is having a stroke. It’s pretty ambiguous.
But Bramford seems to not realize that Eden is either in the throes of either passion or brain hemorrhage. Instead, he just stands up, knocking her over in the process.
Breathless, Eden stared up at him. Mottled light played against his muscular body. His pants hung in tatters, his strong legs bursting through the seams. She didn’t know where to look. Her entire existence had narrowed to the small patch of earth they shared. Then, for no good reason, Bramford growled at her and walked away.
BEAST count: 18.
First, that italicized “beast” line has literally no reason to be there and makes zero sense.
Second, tunnel vision is a stroke symptom.
Third, Foyt flat-out acknowledges that there was literally no reason for Bramford to growl at her, so I don’t know why that bit didn’t get edited out.
Either way, Bramford’s coldness makes her feel all sad, because she thought that they’d shared “a tender connetion.” So she blames the sun and Oxy withdrawal. I don’t know exactly what the fuck Oxy is supposed to be–presumably an opiate?– but I kind of doubt that going through withdrawal would make her feel so physically euphoric. The way I understand it, opiate withdrawal is one of the least pleasant experiences possible, but what the fuck do I know?
Anyway, Bramford has started grabbing for something in the trees, and:
A minute later, he loped towards the lake, carrying a gourd.
I don’t know why I find that image so funny, but I do. I think it’s the use of the word “loped” to to describe a two-legged gait.
He uses the gourd as a vessel for water, and takes a drink. The description involves his “incredible body,” his “arched back,” and Eden “quivering.” The reason I didn’t exceprt it is because it’s so inconsequential and redundant that I can’t think of anything funny to say about it, meaning that “fair use” is tenuous at best. It’s still being counted, though.
BEAST count: 19.
With great effort, Eden averts her eyes to look at some ducks (which we learn are Dendrocygna bicolor, because Eden Is Smart), and she thinks about how beautiful the lake is. But then she remembers how far away from the camp they must be, and being seperated from her father gives her anxiety.
While Eden is stressing about this, Bramford materializes with the gourd-full of water, and comands her to drink:
Eden jumped, startled by his presence. How on Good Earth could she stay on guard when he moved like the wind?
The way Bramford moves has nothing to do with whether Eden can stay on guard. In fact, knowing that he can “move like the wind” should keep her more on guard, since he could be anywhere at any time, right?
Anyway, Eden takes the gourd, and her hand brushes him, and she gets all thrilled and turned on.
She could feel his eyes burning into her as she gulped thirstily.
The jokes write themselves.
The water is extra quenchy, and she thinks about how she’s never tasted such fresh water (must be all those microbes!) but out of habit she only drinks her “estimated quota.” Which, OK. Bramford asks her if that’s all she wanted, and Eden realizes she can have as much as she wants!
She looked at him, wide-eyed, and laughed out loud. His expression darkened, and she saw the usual disgust flood into his eyes.
I am getting so sick of this mutual loathing-yet-strange-attraction thing. That is literally all that happens in this chapter, I fucking swear.
Eden thanks Bramford for saving her, and he’s all like “we both almost died” and Eden’s like “you didn’t have to save me” and Bramford’s like “I couldn’t have done that” and Eden’s like “why would you care if I died?”
A muscle in his jaw twitched. His fists clenched, as if he wanted to grab her. Eden half hoped he would.
Because nothing’s sexier than getting violently abused!
Instead, Bramford just reaches into his pocket and. . . pulls out some berries!
“Açaí berries,” he said. “They’re relieve the oxy-deprivation.”
So that’s how we can solve the opioid crisis! How much do you want a bet that Victoria Foyt read about the detoxifying power of açaí in Women’s Health and decided that meant it was a withdrawal cure?
Eden knew about the all-purpose food used by jungle dwellers for everything from a sleep aid to beauty treatments. But she wasn’t a jungle sweller, and she didn’t want is help anymore. She looked away, ignoring him.
I mean, she just thanked him for water and he insulted her. I get not wanting to subject herself to that again.
But Bramford doesn’t accept this. He tells her to eat them, and she says “no u.” But then she tries to stand up, and she gets all dizzy, and:
The bemused look on his face only added to her humiliation
And I would bet anything Foyt thinks that “bemusement” means “condescending and amused,” because that makes much more sense in this context than “confused and bewildered.” Which is what “bemusement” is.
So Bramford eats the berries. Eden asks him how they’ll get back. Bramford tells her that they’re not going back. Eden asks about her dad.
Bramford’s eyes narrowed with a faraway look. Eden had the eerie feeling he could see into the future, maybe like El Tigre, after all. But that was impossible.
Does El Tigre, the supposedly 5000-year-old prophecized Aztec god with a Spanish name who is inexplicably worshiped by an Amazonian tribe, also have the ability to see the future now?
But Bramford is apparently just looking mysterious for fun, because he speculates that the Huaorani will realize that Eden fell off a cliff and then will somehow “figure out the rest” from there, and just see them back at camp.
Eden asks where camp is, but Bramford won’t tell her. Eden feels hurt by this and asks if he thinks she’ll tell someone (which, as she points out, is her plan). Bramford says that he knows she would if she could. Eden shoots back that she just wants to get home, and then Bramford says
“We can’t always get what we want, Eden.”
But if you try, sometimes you might get what you need.
We? What did Bramford know about disappointment? But as she took in the feline eyes and his hybrid form, Eden figured he finally knew what it felt like to be different.
First: Bramford could be talking about people in general when he says “we.”
Second: Eden realizes that like two days ago his entire lab got taken over by a revolutionary, beret-wearing black supremacist group and then blown the fuck up injuring his best friend, right?
Third: Since becoming a catman, Bramford has (1) gained supernatural strength and agility, which has saved his (and Eden’s) lives multiple times, (2) become so irresistibly sexy that Eden can’t go five minutes without getting distracted, and (3) been worshiped as a literal god. That really doesn’t sound like a terrible setback.
My only conclusion is that Victoria Foyt can think of nothing worse in the world than not being conventionally attractive. It’s quite distasteful.
But whatever, I guess.
Eden tells Bramford that she thinks he’s sorry for volunteering for the experiment (urgh). But then Bramford says that he doesn’t do regrets.
Eden’s all “but ur a catguy now lol” and he looks hurt, telling her that he should have let her drown. I agree, Bramford. Then Eden says that he should have because now her life sucks, and that Bramford was being selfish by bringing her here.
Since it’s been awhile, I’d just like to point out that Bramford literally rescued Eden from a burning building and spooky black FFP rapists.
So when Bramford gets angry with her, it’s justified.
What is not justified is how this anger manifests:
Bramford jumped on her, pinning her beneath him. His brutally handsome face hovered over hers. Eden stared, transfixed, into fiery eyes as an unfamiliar fluttering darted in her chest, like a small bird released from its cage. She kicked her feet and squirmed, but she was powerless against him.
BEAST count: 20.
And jesus fuck, there’s no way that she’s feeling something new, because she’s been all hot and bothered at him for like a billion chapters at this point. The fucking chapter started off in pseudo-post-coital bliss. I can’t.
Eden asks him if he’s going to kill her, which apparently hurts his feelings. Eden doesn’t relent.
“You’re a predator, aren’t you? You’d enjoy it. You planned this power trip all along–you can’t fool me.”
That doesn’t even make sense, Eden. You were the one who fell off a cliff because of your stupid treacherous plan. I think this is called projection.
Bramford tells her that she doesn’t know wtf she’s saying, and roars in emotional pain. Then he tells her she’s a “pain in the ass.” Literally. It’s the most cathartic moment in this entire novel.
Eden gets sassy and is like “so I’ve been told”
Then he does a non-sequitur:
“Now eat,” he said, and forced a berry to her lips. The tart juice burst into her mouth. An immediate feeling of well-being surged through her. Almost as good as oxy.
Apart from the rapey forced-berry-feeding, how fucking weak is oxy that a single sour berry can compare? Is this why she’s not literally dying from withdrawal? Is oxy a placebo? Who knows?
Bramford stood up and dropped more of the berries at his feet. Eden grabbed for them, gnawing the pulp off the large seeds. She didn’t care if she looked like an animal. When she finished, she sighed with relief.
Like, OK, I’m not sure if this is supposed to be sexual. Since it comes right after the pinning-Eden-to-the-ground and the berry-mouth-rape, and involves a man standing up while a woman is presumably on her knees in front of him, I feel like it is. But “gnawing pulp off large seeds” is maybe the least sexy sentence I’ve ever read, so there’s that.
Eden thanks Bramford, who grunts in reply. She speculates that the grunt was code for “you’re welcome.”
In any case, Eden believed it was the most civil exchange they’d ever had.
Dude, he just made you eat berries off the ground. Civility is dead.
But then Bramford makes a pseudo-canteen with a vine and the gourd, and then he grabs Eden and puts her on his shoulders. He grabs onto her thighs to steady her.
His warm hands burned against her bare flesh, giving her goosebumps
I thought about not commenting on this because it’s pedantic AF, but generally speaking hot things don’t give you goosebumps. Cold things give you goosebumps.
Bramford tells her to hold on. Despite enjoying this unexpected turn of events, Eden protests that she can walk. Bramford tells her that where they’re going, she doesn’t need to walk. By which I mean she won’t be able to walk, presumably because the terrain will be too rough.
Eden tentatively wrapped her legs around his broad back, barely able to encircle his girth. In spots, Bramford’s downy fur rubbed against her skin, surprisingly pleasant. A faint shudder ran through her.
Ok, let’s think about the logistics of this. Eden’s on his shoulders, meaning that her legs should be coming down in front of his chest like so:
(my pencil’s eraser kinda sucked).
The breadth of his back has nothing to do with how she’s sitting. Her legs don’t need to “encircle” anything. The only possible that description is the way it is is because Victoria Foyt really wanted to work the work “girth” into that somehow.
So, with Eden on his shoulders, Bramford runs toward the forest. And hahaha, she’s going to hit her head on a lot of branches like this.
To steady herself, Eden squeezes her legs around him, which makes him start purring again.
So Eden literally rides Bramford away through the jungle. And that’s where this chapter ends.