Anita rushes home to change and read over the file on the arsonist, making her late for her super sexy date. Off Anita goes for her hot vampire date, where we are given fanfiction levels of description about her clothes and makeup. The word "blusher" is used to describe blush, which I don't think I've heard used by people who speak English as a first language under the age of 70. I will give credit: it is at least at first centered on "how do you stash a gun in formal wear" and "this is why I'm wearing a dress I am definitely going to flash in, so I can get to my gun". Because god forbid she just... flash the gun? She's licensed to carry the thing. People are already staring at her for all her scars. Just--just embrace your lack of fucks, Anita. Strap the gun to your fucking face.
Also, after about three paragraphs of "it's so hard to hide a gun in a dress which is why I need to dress revealingly", I'm wondering why she isn't just wearing something with an A-line skirt, or fit and flare, or with ruching... All of those would work great to hide a gun in a thigh holster without too much risk of flashing and easy access, but it's the 90s, I guess. Those styles didn't exist yet. Nor did jackets and shoulder holsters.
Then we get a description of her vampire babe boyfriend:
Jean-Claude's hair is black and curly, but he'd done something to it so it was straight and fine, falling past his shoulders, curled under at the ends. His face seemed even more delicate, like fine porcelain. He was beautiful, not handsome. I wasn't sure what saved his face from being feminine. Some line of his cheek, bend of his jaw, something. You would never mistake him for anything other than male. He was dressed in royal blue, a color I'd never seen him in. A short jacket of a shining, almost metallic cloth was overlaid with black lace in a pattern of flowers. The shirt was his typical frilled, a la 1600's shirt, but it was a rich, vibrant blue, down to the mound of ruffles that climbed up his neck to frame his face and spill out the sleeves of the jacket to cover the upper half of his slender white hands.I don't know about you, but I'm positively dripping.
Pictured: A hilariously ugly royal blue metallic lacy shirt.
The blue matches his eyes.
We're told like, two paragraphs later he's not wearing underwear. This has swerved wildly from "lots of action, even if some of it is hamfisted" to "time to fist some ham".
He keeps calling her ma petite and slipping in occasional French words. My French is bad. Like, super bad. I'm basically illiterate in French. Also the French I do speak is Canadian French which is a strange and different beast onto itself. It's like the equivalent of Cockney to the rest of the English language. Hilarious and sometimes indecipherable to people who don't speak the dialect and often made fun of. Despite that, I bet I speak better french than Laurel K Hamilton. For instance, he just keeps calling her "my little". To me, this stuck out. I assume it's supposed to be "ma petite cheri" but he's been calling her that since like, book two. So I did what any reasonable adult with a question does. I called my Mommy.
My mother is Very French. But again, Canadian French (I can not spell the slang name for the dialect my family speaks, but it roughly translates to "mutt" according to her). I asked her if calling someone "ma petite" was weird. She informed me it was super old fashioned, and is generally something you would call a child. If the person in question was super little it was... ok. Yeah, she could see it. It made sense, she guessed? She also proceeded to tell me some more local versions of the term. "Ma petit crotte or". Rough translation? My little golden turd. Or simply "my petit crotte" and drop the golden entirely. I know what I'm assuming Anita is a little of.
This is why the rest of the world makes fun of Canadian French.
There is also one other factor I feel the need to mention. All my sources? Canadian. Canadian French is known for (besides being hilarious and the ugliest sounding version of French in existence) being very informal. Parisian French, which is what Jean-Claude would be speaking, is very formal. So (and if someone who speaks "proper" French wants to correct me please do) him calling her this is overly familiar (when he started) and makes him sound like a grandpa. Sexy.
They banter; it's actually not awful, aside from the fact that she is so incredibly turned on by his mere presence that they had to get her a fresh chair twice now. As part of being Jean-Claude's human servant, he can now taste food through her, and he hasn't been able to taste food for ages, so, this is great for him. He missed food. Strangely, we are told very specifically that this isn't a fetish, but it leads to this exchange:
"No, no more of this tasting shit. I've gained weight. I never gain weight."I'm not sure if this is "my body doesn't do this, so no, it means I'm doing something wrong" or "but I'm getting faaaaat" followed up with her actual weight to reassure us she's not. Anita is about 5'01, 5'02. Same height range as me. At my smallest adult size, I was about 115 lbs, and that wasn't healthy. I mean, she could have a super slender delicate frame, but given the fact that she goes around punching vampires and I think her tits are waxed poetic about, I don't think she'd be that delicate. I am now curious how she was going around staking vampires before getting super powers, like, at that size wouldn't she get dizzy halfway through? Presumably she's mostly muscle, which is actually heavier than fat, so, where are her organs? Does she have hollow bones?!
"You have gained four pounds, so I am told. Though I have searched diligently for this phantom four pounds and cannot find them. It brings your weight up to a grand total of one hundred and ten pounds, correct?"
"Oh, ma petite, you are growing gargantuan."
I looked at him, and it was not a friendly look. "Never tease a woman about her weight, Jean-Claude. At least not an American twentieth-century one."
They spend 20 minutes "negotiating" what to get for dinner--which: really? How large was that menu? They started off agreeing on the entree, so it was what? "I want an appetizer." "I don't." "Fiiiine. Soup or salad? I want soup." "Well I want salad."
Like..? How did that take 20 minutes? It's implied this whole time was negotiation over it. That sounds tedious. However, unlike in 50 Shades, we don't have to actually see said negotiation, so, not so bad I guess.
We then get this:
"Would you like wine with dinner, then, sir?"
He never missed a beat. "I do not drink wine."
I coughed Coke all over the tablecloth. The waiter did everything but give me the Heimlich. Jean-Claude laughed until tears trailed from the corners of his eyes. You couldn't really tell it in this light, but I knew that the tears were tinged red. Knew that there would be pinkish stains on the linen napkin when he was done dabbing his eyes. The waiter fled without having gotten the joke. Staring across the table at the smiling vampire, I wondered if I got the joke or was the butt of the joke. There were nights when I wasn't sure which way the grave dirt crumbled.
But when he put his hand out to me across the table, I took it. Definitely, the butt of the joke.
Pictured: A very unimpressed puppy
Wat. I don't even know. That waiter better be getting such a good tip. Jean-Claude was drinking wine when Anita got there, and now he has to deal with these two laughing like jackals. Jean-Claude now isn't ordering anything, so the bill will be smaller, and therefore his anticipated tip. Anita was rude, and has probably flashed him when he had to get her a new chair because she soaked the last one, and they took forever to order. Unnamed waiter dude, you are not being paid enough to deal with this shit.
Also yeah. Vampires cry bloody tears in this world. Which he is dabbing away with the table linen. I mean, blood happens, but this seems like it could be a potential biohazard. The blood tears, not him using the napkin specifically. What if a vampire goes to a sad movie? These are questions I will never get answers to.
They order dessert, continue eye fucking and antagonizing each other before Van Damme notices some vampires walk in. Well, one vampire and one human servant (not her own), dressed all fancy in white. Because Anita and JC are in black/dark colors. Subtlety. They vaguely menace at Van Damme and Anita, who nearly shoots the human in the middle of a fancy restaurant, because that's how she do, and go off. They were sent by members of the vampire council, there about a vampire they killed a book or two ago who was hella old something something be scared of them for reasons. Anita and JC are In Danger because they killed a former council member and now anyone and everyone that they care about is also maybe in danger. OH NO ANITA JUST ADOPTED A BUNCH MORE DOGS AND SOME CATS!
They go out to Anita's car, and Jean-Claude's ex is there. Asher, super hot vampire dude with horrible scars over half his face. He and Jean-Claude used to have a threesome going with Asher's human servant before she got inquisition'd. He wanted to murder Anita as revenge, because he blames JC for... reasons? Either way, he's there to drag them to the council and has been promised revenge. It's all very overwrought and melodramatic.
"You've finally given me what I need to hurt you, Jean-Claude. You love someone else at last. Love is never free, Jean-Claude. It is the most expensive emotion we have, and I am going to see that you pay in full." He stood in front of Jean-Claude, hands in fists by his side. He was trembling with the effort not to strike out. Jean-Claude had stopped crying, but I wasn't sure he'd fight back. In that moment I realized he didn't want to hurt Asher.
Guilt is a many splendored thing. Problem was, Asher wanted to hurt him.
I stepped between them. I took a step forward. Asher was either going to have to step back or we'd be touching. He stepped back, staring down at me as if I'd just appeared. He'd forgotten me for just a second.
"Love isn't the most expensive emotion, Asher." I said. I took another step forward, and he retreated another step. "Hate is. Because hate will eat you up inside and destroy you, long before it kills you."
"Very philosophical," he said.
See what I mean by overwrought? Although I will give credit to Anita. I enjoy how few fucks she gives. She will murder you if she thinks she has to, and she won't lose too much sleep over it. It's one of her main character traits, and it's consistent so far. Although she is going to start losing sleep because she's not more bothered, and that will become a weird and vicious cycle."Philosophy's great," I said. "But remember this: don't ever threaten us again. Because if you do, I'll kill you. Because I don't give a fuck about your tortured past. Now, shall we go?"
We find out in the car that the vampire council members that have popped up have taken over JC's stomping ground and wrangled his people. So all their people and toys are hostages which really leaves them with their hands tied. The vampire council think since he killed the other guy and didn't take his place he's trying to start a new council. A cooler one. One where they have smoothies. The reason he didn't join the council is because he knew he wasn't strong enough to not get his ass murdered. Asher believes him, and alternates between angsting and trying to be coy with Anita in the back seat. It's like he's a surly teenager hitting on his dad's new girlfriend.
This is all naturally a test of the two: they don't want them dead, because they're afraid they'll be seen as martyrs. They just want them, you know, physically and emotionally scarred into submission. Because that can't be turned into anything sympathetic either. Still, today, probably not going to do anything too horrible, they want to see what they've got. Because the ruling group of vampires can't start a smear campaign and kill him when he's disgraced and they brought no one here to see what the hell they're going to do to these two.
Before going into the Circus of the Damned--oh, yeah, that's the name of the place. JC also owns a strip club called Guilty Pleasures. Anita takes a moment to marvel at how pretty JC and Asher are, and wonder how one vampire found both of them at the same time and place when they're not related.
Asher, horribly scarred, stretches out his scars trying to make himself more gross and asks "DO YOU THINK I'M SEXY NOW ANITA? HUH? DO YOU?"
And Anita just kinda shrugs. "I dunno, I'm into hair and eyes, and your hair looks like some spun gold fairytale shit, and you have very pretty eyes."
Asher rips his shirt open to show his torso and scars off: "STILL THINK I'M BANGABLE?"
"Yeah. I'd still tap it."
"IT GOES DOWN TO MY PENIS, ANITA."
"Listen, I already said I would hypothetically ride that shit, why are you trying to sell me harder on it?"
Asher, confused because everyone has looked at him like he was disgusting and scary since this happened (holy water wounds, man, they are the worst) and vampire skingrafts aren't an option, is confused and distressed. He manages to get Anita a bit spooked at one point, but that was because he was So Angry, which also confuses him.
So he screams "NOBODY UNDERSTANDS ME" and flies away.
You might think I'm exaggerating the scene in my rewriting it here, and I am, but barely. He literally tells Anita his dick is scarred too and flies away in rage because she isn't bothered by his scars.
I'm 69 (heh) pages into this book, and I have lost track of how many people Anita Blake has threatened to harm or kill. It's been like, maybe 8 hours so far. There are also the werecritters, the whole fire thing, and vampire murders going on too. After 50 Shades and Wheel of Time I don't know what to do with all these things happening in less than 800 pages.
Tune in next time to see who Anita shoots first!