Lunatic Cafe Recap, pt 2 of 2
Posted August 11, 2008on:
Welcome back! And thus we begin the final true recap of this series. Caps to follow! Sunday is the weekend, which means it’s still the end of the week, right?? I had a major flash of Anita-vu today when I was packing up all my penguins to be shipped cross-county, and I’ve been fighting WordPress for awhile now, trying to get the look of this just right. It’s, um, better that it was.
Now, where were we?
Anita is sleeping in after the understandably tiring events of the day/night/early morning before. She thinks to herself that God should understand her missing church this once, and I am way too amused that she doesn’t capitalize “him” when speaking of God. Later that afternoon, she’s at Washington University, visiting a were-professor in the biology department where Sheriff Sausageface sent the track casts from the crime scene. Anita thinks about soft purple clouds, golden pools of lamplight, the were-prof’s messy office, and finally, the professor himself. Tall, black eyes, straight hair – but his sexily long hair isn’t a fashion statement like Richie’s, he’s just a lazy bastard. Oh, and he’s a were-rat.
Were-prof Louis thinks it’s a wolf, some kind of canine. It’s not the missing Peggy (George’s wife, the butcher) because she could control herself very well. When were-prof suggests that she ask Richie about Internal Werewolf Affairs, she just looks at him. Unreasonable suggestion, to be sure. He talks more generally about weres in relationship, ostentatiously describing Peggy’s situation and why she might not have told her husband about the other missing lycanthropes, but we all know he’s trying to draw Anita out. She understandably doesn’t take the bait. She talks about the investigation and muses that she’s lying to both the lycan community and the police dirty Mata Hari that she is.
But they can’t stay on business for long and soon they’re gossiping about what a filthy whore Raina is. Well, sort of. Raina wanted to sex up Richie on camera, but he refused. Raina’s been in some of the flicks, but Rafe the Rat King refused to let any of the wererats in on the porn ring. Were-prof continues to press her for information regarding her and Richie, and he’s starting to get on even my nerves. Dude, lady doesn’t want to talk about her intimate life, drop it. Instead, he asks if she really did kill Alfie, and she confirms it. It’s no news that Raina won’t like that, were-prof. They discuss Richie’s cluelessness, re: the assholey of Marcus and Raina. Richie doesn’t want to kill Marcus, but Marcus does not return the favor. Anita theoretically agrees that all life is precious, but admits that some life is more precious than others. Ha.
Were-prof keeps pressing for gossip, and finally she admits that there’s been weirdness between them. She thinks that she owes JC an apology for insisting that Richie was more human than he, but I think she’s giving in too easily. Hey, Richie has the humanity (I guess) to be sensitive to her weirdness about it. JC just wants to seduce her into his vampire, nipple-bearing, lace-wearing ways. She changes the subject and tells him about Ms. Blue Green the writer and asks him to ask around if any wererats would contribute. He gives her some advice on her love life, and I rejoice that this crushingly dull dialogue is over.
Guess it’s night time again, for Anita is walking “from one pool of light to the next”, returning to her car. Apparently, dressing in black is her treat for herself when she’s off work. What, no red?? No, but we do find out the color of the swoosh on her Nike Airs (blue). Thanks, Anita. She’s going armed to the Lunatic Café to “persuade” Marcus into letting her share some info with the police. Good luck on that. Anyway, something shoves her from behind, and she tumbles to the concrete. She muses that “[t]here is that moment after a really good head blow that you can’t react,” and I have to muse back that maybe you have these moments, Anita. I have never had a really good head blow for comparative purposes.
It’s Seximous Gretchen, in full possessive bitch mode, scaring passers-by and trying to beat the shit out of our heroine. Anita knifes Gretch in the throat, but it doesn’t take. Anita accepts her imminent death, but just then, a wererat knocks Gretch of her manicured toes. Gretch goes after wererat, and Anita gets to her feet. Gretch is pwning the wererat, who is doubtless were-prof Louis, and he tells Anita just to shoot before Gretch sucks him dry. Instead, Anita reveals to Gretch that Richie has asked her to marry him, and she said yes. A cunning plan! Gretch is intrigued by this info but demands that Anita put down her gun before they talk. Anita reluctantly agrees, and Gretch leaves wererat alone, Anita’s knife still in her throat.
Gretch tells Anita that she will leave her alone as long as she tells JC of this proposal that very night. Anita tells Gretch she’ll be at JC’s club before dawn. The vampire takes her guns (and already has her knife) and promises to return them once Anita has broken the news to he-of-the-nipples.
Anita limps over to were-prof, who slowly changes back to human form as he bleeds copiously. The cops are getting close, so Anita decides to haul ass out of there – hers and were-prof’s. Her stomach roils, her knees scream, black waves pass over her eyes, but she stoically bears it all to carry were-prof to her Jeep, studiously avoiding the cops. She covers his naughty parts with a coat, wipes the blood from her face, and checks her pupils to make sure she’s not too badly concussed. She gets to a parking lot and calls Richie with an abbreviated version of their adventures. I kinda want to scream – isn’t the whole problem of this book so far the telling of “abbreviated” versions of events??
As she waits, Anita chills in the Jeep and manages to fill a full half a paragraph with sentence fragments. I don’t quite understand her thought process: “[Weres falling into coma-like sleeps after the change is] [j]ust like sleeping during the day didn’t help vampires much. Evolution’s way of helping us puny humans out.” Oh Anita. Evolution doesn’t give a shit about you or your species. She worries about the gas station attendant becoming suspicious if he were to notice her hanging out there, but I can’t imagine cars hanging around in gas station parking lights in the middle of the night is a terribly unusual occurrence. Missouri ain’t the meth capital of the US for nothing.
Once upon a time, she muses, she thought she’d be the preternatural Jane Goodall, and Richie reminds her of all that. Giving into JC would somehow be the ultimate act of nihilism, but a pretty sexy one. She can’t get any human boys, but it sounds like there’s not nearly as haaaawt as the supernatural ones anyway. She can’t imagine a normal dating relationship with JC but can imagine hot wet sex with him. She takes a break from angsting to be reassured that her head hurts, but it’s a brief break. She loves Richie, but he’s not human. Right, we got it. Just then, Richie appears outside the Jeep. “All the fairy tales, the romance novels, the soap operas; they’re all lies. Love does not conquer all.” That’s a flagrant misuse of semi-colon there, young lady. But clearly lust conquers angst, for she shivers at his touch. Then she sees “the thought trail behind his true brown eyes.” True? Guess she ran out of food adjectives for tonight.
Hey look, it’s Seximous Stephen the Werewolf from book 3! I barely remember this guy, but I suspect he wears tight jeans which show off his hot ass. He has blue eyes, long curling blond hair, and a leather jacket. Hmm. I can’t resist excerpting the dialogue here.
He had a strange look on his face. “Maybe you are as a dangerous as you pretend to be.”
“I don’t pretend, Richard.”
He nodded. “Maybe you don’t.”
“Is that a problem?”
“As long as you don’t shoot me, or my pack members, I guess not.”
“I can’t promise about your pack.”
“They’re mine to protect,” he said.
“Then make sure they leave me the hell alone.”
“Would you fight me over that?” he asked.
“Would you fight me?”
I’m astounded at how much space can be filled by shit we’ve already heard. When she reiterates that she could hurt him (as she said just a few freakin pages back, that she could shoot but probably not kill him if he hurt her friend, were-reporter Irving), he sees something on her face that makes him believe her. Gee, that something wouldn’t be a flashback to a previous chapter, would it? She repeats that she would hurt him if his pack got out of control, and he looks surprised and offended. But he still goes all gooey over her as he realizes that she hauled were-prof’s ass into the Jeep. In case you didn’t remember, Stephen’s eyes are “the startling blue of cornflowers”, and he looks like a china doll. Tough guy.
There’s some weirdness about JC, Richie and Marcus, through which I must admit I skim just a bit. She tells Richie that she has to tell JC that he proposed (and that she isn’t sure about saying yes anymore) and tells him why. She thinks to herself that she may not marry Richie, but she can’t let anyone (else?) kill him. Richie is confused that she won’t marry him but will kill for him. Um, Richie, I wouldn’t marry any member of my immediate family, but that doesn’t mean I’d leave them to the tender mercies of a vampire.
Blah blah, Richie wants to accompany her, Anita thinks that would end badly. She’s right, this time, and he relents. It takes a good two pages of dialogue to hash this out. Stephen will drive her; after all, he’s a stripper at JC’s club. See, I’m not making this up about the supernatural creatures being the sexy ones here!
First, it appears they go to Doctor Lillian, another lycan. Anita doesn’t have a concussion, but Lillian wants her to wake up once every hour for the next full day, so she doesn’t die in the middle of the night. Richie touches her hand, and Anita angsts. The three of them (with Stephen, not Doctor L) drive over to JC’s place, and Richie blathers some more about how much this bothers him. Oh, and his eyes are dark with more than just their color. More little lightning bolts! She lusts, and he calls her out on it, but she has a witty rejoinder ready – if lust were everything, she’d be with JC. Oh snap! To make up for hurting his fuzzy feelings, she hugs him, which apparently causes him to… well, that’s just inappropriate! They weep. She feels bad about her hesitation about marrying a musical-loving, outdoorsy, gorgeous junior higher school teacher WHO’S ALSO A WEREWOLF. He repeats his bogglement at her potential rejection of him coupled with her determination to confront JC. Geez, is it twoo wub or nothing with this guy?? It’s called caring about someone, jackass.
They love each other, he cries, blah blah. I think she’s getting as sick of this prolonged good-bye as I am at this point. True to form, as soon as Richie drives off, Anita starts ogling Stephen’s leather-clad ass (I was wrong, not denim after all). Buzz the Vampire Bouncer gives Stephen shit for being late, and he wilts like a dandelion. He and Richie ain’t doing much for the reputation of werewolves in St. Louis, are they? The seximous vamps just pour in after this – one accosts Anita as she tries to get in with her cross. It’s Robert, a vampire with sculpted cheekbones (sculpted by Picasso, I hope… who was a painter, but shut up), “too masculine to be beautiful and too perfect to be real.” Excuse me whilst I upchuck. I like to think this Robert looks like James Marsters.
Anita has some beef with Robert, which I can’t be bothered to remember. She boggles slightly that she can meet his eyes, just as she could meet Gretch’s. They argue about Anita’s cross, and Gretch suddenly appears. She wants to get this business over with, but not even the offer of one of Anita’s guns in exchange for the cross will tempt our heroine. Gretch suspects she’s doing this to back out of their bargain, but Anita assures her this isn’t so. So Gretch threatens to kill Bobby-Pire unless he lets Anita pass. Gretch doesn’t like Bobby-Pire anymore than Anita does, which is sorta touching. I wonder if they like the same red shirts.
JC’s office, Anita tells us, is like being inside a domino. I’m pretty sure those white dots don’t actually go all the way through, old friend. She likes his Oriental desk (I didn’t think we said that anymore, “Oriental”) but would never admit it. There’s a black lacquer screen with an orange, googly-eyed dragon on it. And then we get to JC himself: all in black with a tall collar, a ruby pendant, shirt open to the waist, wide cuffs, black jeans, velvet boots. Velvet boots?? She pronounces the ensemble spiffy. I beg to differ; velvet boots belong with calfskin breeches. Everyone knows.
JC bitches out Stephen with “an undertaste of something dark and unpleasant” in his voice. MS Word confirms that “undertaste” is not a word. Anita insists that Stephen leaves, and JC says that he’s not really mad after all. Three drinks on these two pages! She tells JC the good/bad news about Richie. Silence ensues, and Gretch pipes up helpfully, repeating what Anita just said. JC blinks once – “ a long, graceful sweep of lashes – apparently in slo-mo. Upon prodding, she admits that she loves JC in some dark, twisted part of her soul. But how can she marry Richie if she loves him?? Tricky, JC. Very tricky. Clearly, the idea of different kinds of love hasn’t occurred to either of Anita’s main men. I’m pretty sure it’s possible to lust madly after one person and want to marry another. It’s called hormones. They’re stupid.
Two more drinks! She pours out her doubts about Richie to his romantic rival, and he laughs, a “sound that coated [her] like chocolate.” Back to food descriptors! Gretch points out that Anita loves Richie and begs on her knees for JC’s love. Oh Gretch, sometimes less is more. JC banishes her, and when she keeps slobbering at his feet, he grabs her by the throat. That’ll show the bitch. Anita thinks that he looks “elegant and scrumptious” asphyxiating Seximous Gretch. He carries her across the room to a coffin. His voice then slithers across Anita’s skin, thick and full of foreboding. That’s some ominous chocolate.
Hilariously enough, the first time Gretch shows any backbone is when JC calls her “Gretel”. The asphyxiation would have done it for me, but then, I’m more attached to my breath than a vampire might be. She refuses to go into the coffin, but JC does some hand-waving, and she starts uglifying. That convinces her to hop into the coffin. Two more drinks! Gretch must make a pretty pathetic spectacle at this point because Anita starts forward. He dissuades her from helping not-so-seximous Gretch. Three more drinks on the final pages of this chapter! Anita doesn’t like JC tormenting Gretch, the spoilsport. JC rifles through Gretch’s pockets and withdraws Anita’s guns – can’t find the knife – before shutting the coffin lid. This time, the sound of his laugh curls along Anita’s skin like velvet. JC explains that he can do – put Gretch in the coffin, not cause his laugh to curl along Anita’s skin like velvet – because he made Gretch. During this conversation, he compliments Anita on her powers of perception. Not powers of taking revenge on certain skanky hos, though.
Five drinks to start the next chapter! JC repeats several times how much he’d like to kill Richie. In doing so, he flashes her most of torso, but miraculously, not (yet) his nipples. He relents in the face of Anita’s persistence in not letting him kill her sweetie and proposes that he get equal time to woo her. He says it’s only fair – if she’d given him a chance, he might have won her heart first, after all. Um, that’s not how dating works, JC. You don’t just give equal time to everyone panting after you; you pick and choose, based on shared values and dreams and level of desire to kill innocent people.
Just then, Raina and the whole lycan gang stalk through. Raina’s auburn hair comes tumbling out, Gabriel’s grey eyes glitter, Kaspar’s wearing a feathered coat, and everyone matches their coats. Bobby-pire apologizes for letting them all in and flashes a little fresh wound. JC speaks in “a whisper that filled the room like a wind” – this answers certain questions about vampire digestion I’d always had – and Bobby-pire bleeds as JC acts threatening. Two more drinks! Anita suggests that Bobby-pire shouldn’t be the target of JC’s ire (it rhymed!) for letting Raina and co., inside. JC doesn’t respond but lets Raina molest him for a moment, though he doesn’t respond much to that either. Amusingly enough, Anita disapproves of her boyfriend of five seconds being molested by Raina.
Two more drinks for “ma petite” and, yes, the first nipple of the book! It’s Gabriel’s, one of the were-company. He’s a lycan, as noted, with silver piercings studded throughout his seximous body. Masochist much?
Creepily enough, JC does snog Raina but stares at Anita whilst doing so. Somehow, Anita’s verbal displeasure at this serves a cue for Were-Gabe to jump on Anita. I’m not quite sure if he’s trying to rape her, kill her, annoy her, or some of each, but it ends with him getting stabbed in the stomach. Anita’s cunning plan backfires, though, because he just wants more. But finally, when she aims the blade toward his heart, he rolls off her in what appears to be a post-coital glow. Two more drinks! I need it, because then Raina starts licking Gabe’s wounds.
Raina’s there to ask for vamps for the porn movies, and JC offers Bobby-pire up for an audition, after Anita convinces JC not to box up his subordinate as he did Gretch. Bobby-pire thanks Anita, who then kvetches about JC giving Bobby-pire to Raina. Geez, Anita, would you let JC maybe garner his wages? Is that too cruel, too? Well, JC gives Bobby-pire the choice: Raina or the box (my twelve year old sense of humor giggles at this).
Raina then orders Kaspar to strip and mocks his indignity. Anita decides this is the moment to scram and looks back just to see Kaspar opening his shirt to reveal a chest “[s]oft and downy as an Easter duck.” What the hell is an Easter duck? Does she mean Peeps? Because those are neither soft nor downy, just delicious and teeth-melting.
Richie’s at her place when she gets back, and she’s relieved that he doesn’t kiss her upon entering the door. Richie’s filled the kitchen with candles, and Anita freaks out. Cooking! So domestic! Panic mode! His hair is coming loose in long, curling strands and… what? His burnt orange sweater makes “his skin look golden highlighted.” His apron says “Mrs. Lovett’s Meatpies” on it, and disappointingly, Anita does not approve. On the pretense of cleaning up, she goes to her room and clutches the nearest penguin for dear life. She locks the bathroom door to take a shower, and when she gets out, she thinks that she looks like she was hit by a train. I doubt JC or Richie or, really, any male (and a good number of females) in the vicinity of St. Louis would agree. After her shower, she can’t think what to wear – a gifted teddy is too little, so she puts on a large t-shirt with a caricature of Mary Shelley (what an odd figure to have caricatured on a t-shirt).
She’s worried about her appearance, and I yawn. She’s a right hag, all right. Richie’s taken the time to comb out his hair – he carries a comb with him? – and he’s removed the apron and candles. He apologizes immediately for the sheer gall and thoughtlessness that drove him to cook for her, but she still won’t let him touch her. He tries to lighten the mood, but Anita refuses to be lightened; well, she’s refused to be fattened too, what does she want?? She says that she’s ambivalent and he’s being pushy. She admits to herself that she’s prejudiced against monsters – gee, when you use a word like that to describe the not-entirely-human sentient beings whom you hang around with, it’s not really a surprise. She asks her to hold him, and he obliges, but soon she pulls away in favor of a higher priority, coffee in a penguin mug (which I covet). It’s girly coffee, though.
Richie sits down to eat his meal while she has her coffee, and he rises a notch in my estimation when Anita reveals that’s Episcopalian. Us of the unpronounceable denomination have to stick together. He asks about her meeting with JC, and she tries to be blasé and reassuring – hey, JC agreed not kill him! He’s understandably taken aback by the caveat and asks Anita if she loves JC. When she says that she does – well, sorta, in that weird dark twisted way, but not like she loves him – though, he’s back to dumb. How, he asks, is it different? Clearly, these people have never loved a parent or a BFF or a pair of really cute peep toe shoes. There are different kinds of love. Some are platonic and some are too expensive to indulge very often, but they’re all legitimate. Anyway. Richie doesn’t want to lose her, though, so it looks like he’s going to put up with this. You would not believe how long it takes them to get to that.
Next chapter opens with Dolph rudely interrupting Anita’s hour-at-a-time sleep. Richie radiates displeasure. Dolph starts by giving Anita shit about Richie answering her phone, which is sorta none of his business if he’s not been granted BFF status. He’s being mysterious at 1 am, and she’s the one who apologies for snapping at him. He has a skin he wants her to see, and Anita agrees, to be transported by the 12 year old Zerbowski. Dolph gives her a little more shit before signing off. Anita doesn’t give Richie room to debate her jetting off in the middle of a night whilst concussed, and only after he argues, realizes that she would be pissed if their roles were reversed. Touché.
So then we get treated to Why Anita Helps the Police Even Though It’s Not Her Day Job. Because she knows about supernatural creatures, the cops don’t, and lacking that information, a lot of people would die. She reminisces about a recent case when Dolph didn’t call her OMG right away, and things got messy. But she’s too good to bash the cops around a civvie, so she keeps it to herself. Somehow, Richie doesn’t understand this need to prevent the death of innocent people, but he goes along with it. I am starting to seriously question’s Richie’s capability for empathy here.
Anita pulls on jeans with a red sweater (told you!), but this time she doesn’t care if her face looks like raw meat. Right, that’s why Richie’s salivating at you. Zerb shows up, dressed to the nines and chats with Richie while she gets her coat. It comes out that Richie and Anita have been dating two months, and Zerb decides to drop an Awkward!bomb by relating that he and his wife were engaged after two months. Zerb also thinks it’s hilarious to delve into a co-worker’s relationship, which makes me question how firm a grasp St. Louis’s finest have on the concept of “personal boundaries”. Anita gives Richie a kiss good bye, and they get all hot and heavy right there in front of Zerb. Her hormones and the drowning deep look in Richie’s eyes convince her that they’ll work it out somehow. Honey, I know the kind of men you ogle. Maybe hormones shouldn’t be your barometer of date-ability.
Zerb then goes on to tease Anita some more about being “in luuv” (I wonder how he pronounced that exactly). Well, maybe he has an excuse; Dolph dragged him from his 10 year anniversary dinner. This may also be the reason he feels compelled to give Anita counsel to take anyone who will have her. Nice, Zerb. He’s also convinced she’s going to get married because she apparently looks like a drowning woman. Way to advocate for the institution of marriage. Zerb continues to pry, this time asking about children, and Anita panics mildly. Like me, she shudders at the thought of Anita Blake bearing spawn.
On to the crime scene! Black river, rocks like teeth of giants, bank, trampled snow, bluff across the river, more crumbling bluff, tree roots tearing at the ears, Anita destined to fall into afore-mentioned river, rocks in river… and finally, the skin, draped over a rock in the middle of the river. Dolph’s waited for Anita’s arrival to send folks in dry suits (better than wet suits, we learn) after the skin, and she shrugs. Better them than her, though there is the potential hitch of a magical booby trap that will suffocate the first person to touch it. She tells them to turn off the light so she can see, um something that might hide from the light, waiting to take a bite out of the divers.
Hey, it’s Deputy Crazypants! He tells Anita she’s going to get wet (is that a threat? Sexual harassment? Both?) as she goes near the river to stare at the skin. He pushes off from where he’s lounging, either to push her in or to prove that he’s not a wimp, and ends up falling ass over teakettle into the drink. Sheriff Sausageface wanders over right them and orders Crazypants out of the water. He tells him to help Anita off her rock, but he just glares at her, “sullen as a wet hen”. I’ve never seen a wet hen, but I do remember when my cat fell into the bathtub, so I’ll just imagine that. Anita needles people pointlessly until Dolph tells her to knock it off. Crazypants comments that he could get Anita wet, and I throw up a little in my mouth. Anita wisely decides to leap over water-slicked rocks in the middle of the night, and shockingly, lands thigh deep in freezing cold water. Crazypants laughs at her.
It’s a snakeskin with giant scales lying out in the middle of the river, but she soon realizes it’s not a shed skin – it’s more like a snake when it’s been scalped. Gross. But it’s shiny and opalescent, studded with a giant pearl in the middle of its forehead. She tells everyone what it is and discovers that Crazypants is scared of snakes. Crazypants accuses of Anita using him for bait to test the water for evil biting things, but she reasonably points out that he fell in. She shares that she’s a certified diver, the show-off.
Just as she’s reaching for the skin to unhook it so the divers can get at it, something with a round face and a screaming lipless mouth pops out of the water and starts getting grabby. Startled, Crazypants falls back into the drink. Anita orders people not to shoot it even as it grabs her. Crazypants nevertheless takes aim – and surely wouldn’t mind if he missed by a few inches – but she draws her gun and points it at him, ordering him to point it somewhere else. He calls her a bitch again, just like old times. A shot rings out, things jiggle around, and everyone converges on Crazypants to wave guns at him and have the favor returned. Sheriff Sausageface wades out and actually pulls Crazypants into the water. When Crazypants objects, Sheriff reminds him that his gun would have ripped through Anita if he’d fired at the thing grabbing her. What’s more, the thing is a person!
Well, sort of. It’s a naga, and he’s only mostly dead. Turns out it was his skin that Dolph and co., found on the rock. Gross x2. A medic orders Anita’s clothes off, just as soon as they get that pesky naga to stop clinging to her jacket. It’s a serpent creature out of Hindu legend, but Anita doesn’t know how to treat it. She strips down to her birthday suit and is wrapped in a warm blanket, treated with heated oxygen (wtf?). Dolph asks her about nagas, and she explains: snakes, can take human form, guardians of raindrops and pearls, pearl embedded in their heads. In exchange, Dolph divulges that Sausageface was the one who shot at Crazypants. Zerb proceeds to ask about Anita’s sex life, tells her how to have sex, and then tells her to “do that again” because it makes her blanket gape. I’m just reading about this, and I want to sue him for sexual harassment.
She returns home in Mrs. Zerb’s bright pink sweats, grousing to herself about the night until she sees Richie, sleep-tousled, shirtless, with the top button of his jeans undone, at which moment she pounces him. Richie murmurs that they have company, and I get two drinks as Anita is horrified to discover JC there, the filthy voyeur. Ooh, another nipple flash, this one belonging to JC, who’s wearing his shirt loose. Is he hoping for an orgy? You’ll be interested to know that JC’s nipples are exactly two shades darker than his skin. This time, JC’s laugh rolls over Anita like a wave of soft, slick, tickling dead fur. That sounded nice until the end. Gross. She observes that JC is the three-dimensional picture of a wet dream; Anita, unless you need to launder the sheets after your sexy dreams, they aren’t wet dreams. Unless you’re talking about Richie here. But no, he proceeds to button the top button of his pants as JC and Anita chat.
JC dares Richie to say that he doesn’t follow Marcus, and the air swims around Richie. The subject of the snuff films comes up, and Richie is surprised the JC knows of them. Anita gets a physical shock when Richie touches her, which I think means that the seximousity in a room has reached maximum capacity. JC tells Richie that Raina brags about Richie’s performance, and Richie explains that he did indeed sleep with Raina when he was nineteen and thought he had to follow her orders. As the seximousity rises to unprecedented levels, Anita steps between them and puts a hand on both of them. Something like cool electric liquid pours down her arm as she touches Richie, and Richie’s power cross her and crashes into JC’s perfect, cool skin when she touches him. I’m pretty sure Richie and JC have now exchanged bodily fluids. Answer power spills out of JC, and “[t]he two energies did not fight each other, they mingled inside [her]…”. Kinky.
Then Anita passes out, and I get three more drinks as everyone clucks over her. Richie accuses JC of doing something. When he laughs, the sound trails down Anita’s spine, again like soft, slick, startling fur. It’s also dangerously delicious, like poisoned candy. JC observes that something magical happened, not that any of them really know what it was, but if they could harness it, Marcus might bow to it. Surely this harnessing will involve nothing more than long games of checkers and lively discussions about global warming. One more drink, and JC quotes a sixties song. Ugh.
JC refuses to leave as long as Richie is there, which doesn’t seem quite their deal. Equal time, not time at the same time. Anyway, four more drinks! JC won’t let Anita commit her body to Richie without also committing to him, which goes way beyond equal time. I wish someone would call him on his shit, but Anita continues as if his reasoning is perfectly logical. JC admits that he may just lust after Richie as well as Anita and agrees that he does sound like a filthy rapist. It turns out Richie and JC have their own agreement, “exploring their mutual powers”. How is this in any way not very gay? Anita may be thinking the same thing, for she kicks both of them out. Oh, but JC must have a good-night kiss. Equal time, not equal physical acts, jerk.
Two more drinks to steady me for this. Anita thinks that JC’s request is perfectly reasonable, but I think this is all just an elaborate set-up so she can make out with the vampire and still feel smug. She tries to put him away but ends up molesting his fine abs. Drinks for me. Richie steps forward and starts getting feisty, so Anita kicks them both out. No kiss for anybody! Just as JC starts crowing, though, Anita revokes his invitation, and he gets slammed out the door. Ha!
About an hour later, Anita’s sleep is interrupted by Ronnie, who’s called to tell her that she found pictures of George Smitz, he of the missing lycan wife, with another woman. Ronnie suspects he offed Peggy himself, especially because he was seen buying silver bullets at a gun store near her shop. Ronnie wants to confront him at home, sans cops, and Anita reluctantly agrees to be ready when Ronnie comes by to pick her up. A moment later, Richie calls to report Jason missing – the one who nuzzled her tummy at Lunatic Café. Anita theorizes that Smitz may be behind all the killings and asks Richie to send some scary-looking lycans her way to tag along for this exciting confrontation. Richie thanks Anita for her help, and Anita says she’ll take payment in carnal favors, which seems like a strange thing to say for someone who doesn’t have premarital sex and isn’t married. I wonder how strict her definition of “sex” is.
Hilariously enough, Richie sends over were-masochist Gabe and were-bitch Raina as Anita’s back-up. Anita is a little creeped out that Raina is wearing fox fur, which is kinda funny. We discover that Anita doesn’t wear fur on moral grounds, but I wonder if she knows that her beloved leather jacket is just a fur coat with the fuzzy part removed. Gabe molests Ronnie on the way over, and Anita should know by now that her threats of violence just turn him on. She needs to threaten to rub him down with velveteen or something. Anita reveals why they’re there, and Raina gets riled up but allows Anita to handle things, to a point. As Gabe passes her the pictures back, Anita realizes that he was the were-leopard from the snuff film. Gasp!
Raina proposes that she and Gabe go in the back way, and we are treated to a sight of her burnt pumpkin fingernails. George lets Ronnie and Anita in and asks for their coats. Pale yellow walls, pale yellow furniture, yellow silk flowers, and yellow everything else. George gets sappy pretty quickly, which is a little bit funny for a guy wearing a butcher’s apron. Ronnie shows him the pictures, and he turns purple and rants. Just as he starts getting uppity, Raina appears from the back way, wearing a brown silk teddy under her coat. Wow. She starts her own unique brand of interrogation, which involves her “high, tight breasts” (ow?) pressed up against him and her long fingernails going Wolverine on his ass.
Having thus far resisted Anita’s blandishment, George confesses almost immediately after Raina cuts his apron up a bit. Peggy’s out back under the shed, but he doesn’t know who Jason is. Anita ponders this information, then has an idea and needs a ride to the hospital. But just then, Sociopath Eddie drives by! I feel like a sociopath would drive something more exciting than a green Mazda, which shows what I know. Turns out Eddie’s been following Raina. Anita jumps in his car and leaves the others to fend for themselves.
Standing guard is a cop who Anita immediately writes off as a rookie because she’s tough and has a low voice. Her eyes are blue and cold as a winter sky, much like Eddie’s. Did Eddie change into drag as Anita was leaving his car and mounting the hospital stairs?? The officer tells Anita she has to wait until Dolph arrives to question the naga, and after some bickering, Anita reluctantly agrees to wait (she’s doing this a lot lately). There’s some random hostility between Anita and Dolph, which is quickly set aside as they enter the naga’s room. Anita thinks that the blonde cop’s tough look needs work. There’s a doctor in the room as well to monitor the patient.
Naga says that witches did this to him and something about being drugged by woman, eyes, ocean. Whatever. He makes a noise, and before he’s drugged back into serenity, he begs Anita to stop the guilty parties from continuing this icky skinning scheme. The hostility between Dolph and Anita returns as they leave the room; he had Zerb check Anita out (har har), and the only missing persons case she’s connected to is a woman named Dominga Salvador, whom I feel I vaguely remember. Ah yes, Anita killed her via zombie, and if the cops found out, she could get the electric chair. Just as things threaten to get awkward, Anita’s beeper trills. It’s Richie, reporting the wererat Louis never showed up for his classes. He was going to meet Writer Elvira, Anita recalls – who has blue green, ocean colored eyes! Gasp! Anita tells Richie she thinks she knows what happens but needs his permission to tell the cops; he grants it, even though Marcus had explicitly forbidden this. Double gasp!
Anita calls Bert the Boss to get the time and place of the meeting – which he knows because Louis or Elvira set up the meeting through him – and Bert is surprisingly okay with the possibility of her missing work tonight. She tells Dolph and Zerb everything and takes them to Elvira’s house despite her misgivings about the lack of violent tendencies on behalf of the cops. As they pull in, Anita observes that Elvira’s vivid green Grand Am matches her eyes. Shouldn’t that be vivid blue green? The lady herself answers the door, clad in a bright green robe with matching nail polish, perfect make-up, and a scarf slightly bluer than the robe. When Dolph asks about Louis, she stands there “like a pretty smiling wall”. Anita yanks Elvira’s robe “tight enough to know she wasn’t wearing a bra.” That’s sexual harassment, Anita, and I don’t have to take it. When Dolph tells Anita to back off, she decides to ameliorate the situation by threatening to kill Elvira.
He then tells Anita to take a walk, which she promptly does, in the direction of the other side of the house. She plans to break in and call for help from inside; as Dolph just explained, that would be a legal reason for the cops to break in. I like a woman with marginal respect for the rule of law. Anita can’t do anything sissy like decipher a spell, but she can break through them with sheer brute force, as long as her power is greater than the layer of the spell. Well of course it is! She’s Anita! Instead, though, she just kicks down the damn door and stumbles on in. She heads toward the basement after Elvira impotently threatens her, but Dolph calls her upstairs. She complies and finds a ginormous wolf and leopard cornering her compadres. The leopard snags Zerb (huge loss), but Dolph and Anita tear it off him. Zerb’s intestines bulge out. Ew. In the scuffle, blonde cop arrests Elvira, who’s crying for her downed zoo. Neither Blondie nor her partner want to touch Zerb, in case he’s contagious with the lycan.
Next chapter opens at the hospital. Mrs. Zerb comes by just as Zerb is pronounced stable, and Anita returns home. Louis was indeed in Elvira’s basement, and the lady herself confessed to having taken the skins of two lycans and the naga – but no Jason. Anita’s convinced there’s someone else in on this, but Elvira doesn’t give up her partner. Using magic to kill someone is an automatic death sentence, unless she coughs up some more info. Richie’s there when Anita gets home, to chat about current events. He complains that she didn’t mention she was hurt, but before she can respond, a dude named Willians from the Audubon Center calls her to report that he’s recorded some hyenas which he fear may be were-hyenas. It takes me awhile to place him; I guess he’s the caretaker who was at the first crime scene. Anyway, he says he told this to the cops, who didn’t understand, and then as they’re speaking, he hears a knock at this door. Anita warns him to respond, but too late!
Silence. Then someone picks up a phone, breathes heavy, and then laughs when Anita threatens him – it’s Deputy Crazypants! He hangs up, and she calls the local police department. Luckily, she’s able to convince one Chief Garroway that it’s a matter of life or death, and he agrees to send a car. She frets about her coats and about Richie driving her – this is, after all, the night of the full moon – but off they go, though not before some furred shape slides behind his eyes. He should probably get that looked at. Might be roundworm of the brain or something. They get out to Anita’s car to see Sociopath Eddie there. He’s bored tonight and wants to help Anita kill whomever she’s off to kill, so they hop in the Jeep and speed away.
And they find Williams the Caretaker dead, with his hand wrapped around a .357 Magnum Anita knows he didn’t fire. Deputy Holmes, the small blonde, and her partner are also dead. Richie also knows he didn’t do it; evidently Richie knows Williams from the Audubon Society and knows that he’s just a hippie. As they chat about killing Crazypants, Anita’s beeper goes off. She leaves, tells Richie not to eat the evidence, and calls the mystery number from Williams’ phone, only to discover Kaspar the Were-swan on the other line. He’s found Jason! And he needs Richie to take him off his hands because what’s a swan supposed to do with a werewolf at the full moon? Richie’s eyes are turning “pale golden yellow, the color of amber”, which confuses me – I’m pretty sure amber is a darker, orangey-brown kind of color. Not unlike burnt pumpkin, perhaps. When he flashes a smile at her, his teeth are pointy, and he says he’ll have to stay there with Jason to keep him under control.
Kaspar lives just up the road, and wouldn’t you know it, his house matches the rest of him – all white and pastels. Once inside, Anita notices that she has the same couch as he does. More importantly, Sausageface and Crazypants are there, along with some random dudes! Oh noes! Guns are flashing everywhere, and Kaspar sits preening on the couch. Not literally. Somehow, I doubt he’s going to survive to enjoy his ill-gotten gains. Strangers are in the living room, not doing much besides flashing more guns. Kaspar explains that he’s cooperating with these guys because he was jealous of cooler lycan powers. Insanely jealous! Richie asks after Jason, and Sausageface ominously promises to take them to him. Crazypants is assigned to pat them down, and despite Sausageface’s instructions that he treat Anita like a lady, he rubs his palms over her nipples. Drink for me! She breaks his nose with her elbow (that’s some nice aim), and Dark-Haired stranger stands and points his gun at her. Now now, stranger, Crazypants did just commit battery. Crazypants reaches for his own gun, but Sausageface threatens to shoot him if he does so. Sausageface begins to realize that his partner deserves the nickname I gave him, but when do characters ever listen to me?
Crazypants tells Anita she’ll die tonight; clearly, he hasn’t read ahead and discovered the dozen books that follow this one. Sausageface decides to finish the patdowns himself and kindly asks after Anita’s injury. He’s making nice, but Anita won’t have any of it. He takes about a jillion weapons off Eddie, but unlike Anita, Eddie keeps his mouth shut. Sausageface has a proposal: he and the others are going on a hunt (of Jason, I assume?). If Anita and co., can escape then, they’re free. If they try anything funny before the baddies release them, they get shot. Jason’s curled up in a cage, and contrary to Kaspar’s assurances, he hasn’t changed yet. Eddie and Richie get their own cage (can I ‘ship them now??), and Anita’s slated to be put in with Jason. Richie protests, but Kaspar says that putting Anita in danger is basically the whole point.
Anita decides she’ll die if she’s put in the cage, and it’s slightly less unpleasant to die by gunshot wound than werewolf mauling, so she refuses to climb in when Sausageface tells her to. The other stranger, Bearded Man, points his gun at her, but she isn’t swayed. Dark-Haired Stranger tells her they’ll shoot her and then put her in the cage, and that finally persuades Anita to get in. Anita warns them that she called Garroway, and people start chattering. Richie offers to take Jason’s place, but Kaspar refuses. His final words in this scene are wishing that it was Gabe and Raina in those cages instead of Jason. Something monstrous and unfriendly moves behind Jason’s eyes, and I begin to suspect that brain roundworm is endemic in St. Louis lycan circles.
As Jason starts freaking out a little, Eddie actually does something and starts picking the lock on his cage with a little lockpit kit Sausageface failed to find on him. Jason’s roundworm goes back into hiding because the next time Anita looks at home, his eyes are the “innocent blue of spring skies” but nobody’s home. Dark-Haired Stranger returns and orders Eddie to step away from the lock, and eventually Eddie throws his tools out the cage, per Stranger’s armed request. Jason growls, but Richie turns on his Therapy for Lycans voice.
Jason turns to look at Anita with raw need in his face, and Richie tells her not to run. It excites him. As Jason nears Anita, his eyes turn green, and then he starts nuzzling her and molesting her coat. More nuzzling, and then he tries to get to first base, but Anita stops him short. He licks her tummy instead. Richie (or so I assume; the speaker is never identified) tells Anita that it’ll be better if he can channel his energy into sex instead of violence, but judging by those films, that’s a pretty blurry line with this sort. He also counsels her to keep him away from the killing zones, her stomach and throat. She pulls him up, and he starts molesting her face. But then Richie goes back on his own advice and tells Jason in his most commanding were-voice that Anita is his, so back off. Jason starts battering her around the cage and tries to disrobe her but seems to get himself under control. Dark-Haired Stranger curses and leaves. When Anita looks at Richie, he looks different, and she thinks he’s hanging onto his humanity with a string. “A weak, shiny string.” Why shiny, I wonder.
The rest of the baddies return to bitch them out for keeping Jason under control. They want Anita to come over to the bars so they can slice her; no lycan can resist blood. When she refuses, Sausageface points his gun, loaded with silver bullets, at Richie and threatens to kill him. What a quandary! I discover that there’s one more stranger in this scene than I thought. Anyway, Sausageface unwinds her bandage and allows Crazypants the honor of slicing the stitches open. Ew. Then he re-opens the wound, EW! Eddie is casting significant looks at Anita. She resists and breaks out of Bearded Man’s grasp (one of the two strangers holding her arms). Sausageface takes over, and when Bearded Man hovers a little too close, Anita pulls the trigger on his gun and shoots him in the stomach. She fires again, and Dark-Haired stranger blows up. The other stranger, Grey Hair, is slouching at an odd angle, probably killed by Eddie, who’s wielding someone’s rifle. Sausageface tells him to drop the gun or Anita gets it, and she tells Eddie to shoot him. He does, and Sausageface drops like a stone.
Eddie orders Crazypants to open the cage as Jason starts licking Anita’s wounded arm. Gross. As Crazypants opens the door, Jason screams at Anita to run, and she follows his sage advice. Crazypants closes the door again just as Jason were-ifies and is soon thereafter stabbed by Anita, who promised to kill him if he hurt Williams. Williams lies dead, and Anita’s needed to work some stabbin into this day. Richie kvetches at Anita for stabbing Crazypants, which seems faintly ludicrous to me. Dude would have done her in eventually; we all know it. Eddie and Anita blow that popsicle stand, but not before the police arrive.
The cops don’t throw them into prison, Eddie flashes a fake ID, Anita gets good press, and Eddie is mysterious. Anita visits the Lunatic Café, and Marcus tells her that no one meant for Alfie to kill the woman in the snuff film. She is understandably skeptical, but she doesn’t tell Eddie who starred in the film after all. Anita gets Richie a gold cross, and he gets her a musical penguin, gummy penguins, and a small velvet box with a note in it, “promises to keep”, instead of a ring. Ha ha. Jerk. JC gets her a glass sculpture of penguins. Geez, guys. That’s the kind of thing you get someone when you don’t know what else to get them. Everyone gets me penguins; it’s not original (though always appreciated). Richie doesn’t understand why she killed Crazypants – again, with the severe lack of empathy. She gets a swan skin (the swan skin, she says, but what swan skin? Kaspar’s?) mounted and hung behind her couch. Richie doesn’t like it, and it does seem like an odd trophy for someone who doesn’t wear fur.