Content warning: Rape
I followed Clay into the woods. […]
“We can’t,” I shivered in the night air.
He didn’t answer. How many times had we replayed this scene? Didn’t I ever learn? […]
He kissed me.
This is rape.
The rich scent of him wafted through my brain, as intoxicating as peyote smoke. I felt myself succumbing to the smell, but a part of my brain that could still think sounded the alarm. Been here. Done this. Remember how it turns out?
I moved back, more testing his reaction than seriously resist. He pushed me against a tree, hands sliding to my hips and gripping hard.
This is rape.
His lips went back to mine, kisses deepening. I started to struggle in earnest. He pinned me between his body and the tree.
This is rape.
I kicked out at him and he pulled back, shaking his head. I scrambled to catch my breath and looked around. The clearing was empty. Clay was gone.
This is not rape! This is stopping before raping someone.
As my fogged brain struggled to process this, my arms were yanked behind my head, toppling me to my knees.
This is back to rape again.
Seriously, that’s pretty much all I have to say about this chapter. Elena does not want to have sex with Clay. Clay is using his superior strength to ignore her desires and have sex anyway. That is rape. Clear and simple.
“Hold still,” Clay said from behind me. “I’m helping.”
“Helping? Helping what?”
In the interests of fairness, I’m including every line of dialogue from this scene, so you can see the exact extent of consent given. Spoilers: there isn’t’ any. Further spoilers: Clay is not helping. Clay is raping.
I tried to pull my arms down, but he held them tight.
Specifically, he’s tying her to a tree so she can’t resist.
“This isn’t funny,” I said. “Untie me. Now.”
That’s a second repetition of her rejecting the idea of sex, just in case the first one was too vague.
Still grinning, he took hold of the top of my T-shirt and ripped it down the middle. Then he undid my bra. I started to say something then stopped, inhaling sharply. He’d taken my breast in his mouth and was teasing my nipple wit his teeth.
Ignoring her pleas, Clay proceeds to rape her.
“Is that better?” he whispered. “Since you can’t fight me, you can’t be expected to stop me. It’s out of your control.”
In the context of a BDSM relationship, this can be a useful technique to get past desiring sex but not wanting to admit it or initiate it due to mental hangups. However, in this context, it’s rape. She has not indicated once since the beginning of the novel that she’d be willing to have sex with Clay; presumably, there’s backstory and a relationship in the past, but prior consent is not an indication of present consent, and she’s clearly not consenting in this moment.
She does, however, feel lust. Lust is not consent.
“Can you still feel tonight?” he whispered, bending to my ear. “The hunt. The chase. Running through the city. […] where do you feel it?” Clay asked, his voice deepening.
[…] “Do you feel it here?”
[…]”Can you feel it?” he asked, his face coming close to mine
I started to close my eyes.
“Don’t,” he whispered. “Watch me.”
Still no consent. I’ve snipped memories and foreplay, but no dialogue. He begins to pleasure her, physically inserting his fingers into her, and she resists and fights it internally, but says nothing.
“I won’t force you, Elena. You like to pretend I would, but you know I won’t. All you have to do is tell me no. Tell me to stop. Tell me to untie you. I will.”
First of all, she told him no, twice, and he ignored her. Secondly, absence of “no” does not mean “yes”. Yes means yes. And she has yet to say yes. Thirdly, by many people’s definitions you already did force her: lack of penile-vaginal penetration does not necessarily mean sex was not had or that it’s not rape. His body parts were inside her vagina without her consent. That’s pretty much the definition of ‘forcing’ her.
“Tell me to stop,” he whispered. “Just tell me.”
I glared at him, but the words wouldn’t come to my lips.
So he proceeds to rape her with his penis.
One last bit of dialogue in this section:
“You bit me,” I whispered.
We’ll address their fucked-up backstory and the rest of this chapter separately. I don’t want to dilute the message here. This supposedly-consensual scene actually depicts rape. That’s the take-away here. He’s not a stranger, but it’s still rape. She lusts after him, but it’s still rape. He thinks she desires it, but she didn’t say so, so it’s rape. Period.