So, Anita has clothes on again. JC is wearing a couple of blue towels, which spawns two rather, um, interesting descriptions:
"Seeing his face free of all hair made him look more like a boy to me."
This is a prime example of a statement I wouldn't bat an eye at from another, much different character, but because it is Anita I have that odd discomfort one gets after eating something unfamiliar. I'm not sick to my stomach, per se, but I am concerned about what's to come.
Secondly, "It was the bones of his cheeks that saved his face from being utterly feminine."
Let me get this out of the way. She means cheekbones, but god forbid we just say that like a normal person! Anita is not normal. She is so special we can't hold her to the same standards as everyone else on the planet, duh. But the real meat of this sentence is that JC is "saved" from femininity, because god forbid he be feminine. He is consistently described as having huge, gorgeous eyes, long, fluttery lashes, and dresses in poet blouses that you KNOW are just stirred by warm breezes redolent of flowers everywhere he chooses to swan about, but he is MALE you guys. Nothing feminine about him! Nope! Let us all take a moment of silence to contemplate JC's giant schlong and how utterly, utterly, utterly masculine that makes him.
Asher is clothed only in the "spill" of his hair. If you've been reading along with these for awhile you know that LKH loves this word to the point where it's unhealthy. If you based a drinking game around the use of the word spill, you would be dead within the hour. Well, maybe fifteen minutes because odds are if you're reading this dreck you're already drinking.
Anita is very mature because she doesn't go for her gun, because normally during an argument she would stroke it for comfort. You all know that statistic about how guns in the home are often used to intimidate and control domestic violence survivors, right? This is not an innocuous trait of hers and it's only somewhat ameliorated by the fact that both JC and Asher are powerful vampires. Its been shown that she has the ability to coerce JC into doing what she wants, and I honestly think that she and Asher keep up this push me pull you shit because Anita isn't sure she can browbeat Asher into being her cowed slave.
"Shutting the fuck up is seldom a bad move on my part."
YOU ARE NOT GOING TO FOOL ME WITH THIS SUPPOSED SELF DEPRECATING CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. Character development never happens in this series. Ever. In fact the last chapter was such a cock block in this regard that I was even more reluctant to do this next chapter than usual.
Apparently the big issue here is that Asher rolled Anita's mind. I am not sure what the problem is. JC seems more upset about it than Anita. Asher goes on about how it seems like when vampires feed from Anita, she's the one in control of them, which is the opposite of what normally occurs when vampires feed. Did I miss something? The last couple books have all at least mentioned that she doesn't let vampires feed from her. This has been a problem between her and JC for like WAY too long.
Anyway, Anita wants the D. Asher's, in particular. Anita is hugging herself but chooses to describe it as "my arms clung to me." They're not a separate entity, Anita. They're not a macramé project imbued with the desire to show love. This isn't some shitty short story about how Anita loses her arms in an accident so she has to get transplants from a dead criminal, and then when the surgery is over she is now possessed by the dead guy's evil ghost and her arms start committing crimes she doesn't want to commit.
I would still read that over a LKH novel if you made me pick.
Asher tries to talk dirty to Anita, which means I have to read lines like "the pale spill of your back." At least he's enough of a grown up that he can call her ass an ass, though he can't help but refer to it as a "mound."
Asher points out that Anita consented to being bitten and rolled, which leads in to the most infuriating thing I have ever read:
"You told me you wanted me inside you, as I remember. And when I bared your neck you said, yes, Asher, yes."
"I remember what I said."
"Then how can you be angry at me for doing what you asked? ...How can you blame me for this?"
"I don't know, but I do. How that's unfair, or maybe not unfair, I don't know, but I do."
Look. This is very serious and I want to get this across loud and clear: WHAT YOU JUST READ IS ABUSIVE. Constantly changing the goal posts, offering consent and then claiming you didn't, allowing someone to do something to you (explicitly in this case! yes, Asher, yes) and then claiming after the fact that it wasn't consensual when it clearly was...these are abusive, manipulative actions.
I remember in one of my domestic violence trainings courses, we were given the example of a couple who practiced BDSM. The submissive was claiming that the dominant was abusing him. When you dug deeper, though, it became apparent that the submissive agreed to what they were doing, and only after the fact did he twist the situation to make it appear as if his dominant were ignoring his boundaries.
Who batters and who abuses isn't something you can accurately predict based on gender, role during sex, type of sex, etc. Also, as hard as this is, batterers often find systems and subcultures to hide in, places where they can obscure their true, predatory purpose. I have seen more than one situation where the batterer had a target group membership and was saying things like, because I am oppressed by the world, partner, you will now do anything and everything I ask, when I ask for it, without protest. That doesn't mean social justice is inherently wrong nor does it mean that BDSM is inherently abusive. It does mean that cunning abusers often see the power of appropriating parts of these philosophies and communities.
In short, Anita is an abusive, manipulative shell without empathy, fear, or the ability to feel and express remorse.
I mean this. In real life too. It's a struggle to avoid Othering people who have these traits while still being realistic about how they are likely to treat you, but I'll just say that when you encounter people like this you needn't treat them in an inhuman manner. But you should look elsewhere for reciprocity and love.
If I could ask you to remember one thing in this life, it is that some people are simply not capable of love.
JC's voice is like "the sigh of the wind outside a lonely door."
JC blames Asher for the fact that they aren't at this moment having a freaky three way together. ASHER DID WHAT ANITA WANTED. This is NOT his fault. It is Anita's. She says "I don't know about that" and is happy about sounding angry over something SHE WANTED.
I have read what, three of these now? And just when I think it can't be humanely possible to hate her more than I already do, shit like this happens.
Asher and JC discuss Anita's distaste for having vampire powers used on her, which Asher is ignorant of. And who could blame him, given how the situation played out? Anita straight up is like, lol this conversation makes me uncomfortable so I'm going to ignore it. Seriously. JC at least defends Anita's right to be uncomfortable. (dirty secret, I like JC. I know there are some scenes where he pressures Anita in to sex which I obviously don't condone but mostly he seems like the victim to me).
These relationships are so sick and stunted. I know I've brought this up several times but one of the things I hate most is the way polyamory is portrayed in these novels. Mostly, because it never seems as though any of these people even like each other, let alone love.
Anita explains that because of Asher's vampire powers she will never know if her feelings for him are genuine. Well one, she seemed to have plenty of feelings about him before now, and two....who the fuck cares? I mean sure that's a worry I can see having, especially right after being rolled, but if time goes by and she's still in to him I almost don't think it matters. It reminds me of being trans in a weird way (don't be offended, I have a tendency to rapidly and loosely connect ideas. just go with me on this for a minute) in that myself and many other trans people have gone through a phase where we're like, my god! How can I possibly know if I am truly trans? What if these feelings are just mental illness, or because I was abused, or because I am gay or a pervert or whatever? And eventually I had to let that go and ask myself, does it matter? It doesn't. Whether I am trans because of an insult to my body or because I was born too early or because I drank too much fucking diet Coke as a child, it does. not. matter. I am a trans person and a legitimate one no matter the means of my creation. So if Anita is more positively inclined towards Asher because of this...so? She already felt positive towards him and cared for him, or so I have been told by the narrative.
Asher is obviously very hurt since Anita basically lied to him about wanting to be with him. She blames the ardeur and he points out that he expressed this fear to her to begin with, that she would find a way to reject what happened once the ardeur dissipated. Basically, she has done the exact kind of manipulative abusive nonsense Asher predicted she would. She also tries to claim Asher changed the rules somehow, even though clearly if anyone changed the rules, she did. Asher tries to leave and Anita digs at him for "just walking out."
He tells her he will petition another Master of the City once Musette is gone and Anita is all, I need time to think about all the bad dirty wrong you did! Even though I said yes to it! It's still wrong! And bad! And you're bad! So you should stay here where neither I nor JC treat you as more than a stunt cock and hang your head in shame!
Asher flips out and I am 100% here for it. He points out how cruel it is to be offered a shot at a relationship with Anita and JC, only to have Anita withdraw the offer over something they consensually did. You know, when those meninist assholes imagine so called buyer's remorse, they're fantasizing about a woman that doesn't exist, a woman like Anita Blake that embodies every evil woman stereotype at such an intense, distorted level that she no longer resembles a human. She's a straw man given form, stuffed full of misogyny and sex negativity. Her button eyes are dead and glossy, one glittering with the potential for abuse, the other reflecting every buzz word MRA fucks have ever uttered. It disgusts me that LKH apparently believes that these traits, when hastily stitched together, form a heroine worth emulating.
ALSO let me just point out AGAIN that JC and Asher had a relationship that spanned CENTURIES and Anita feels she has the right to get in the way of that. Obviously her stupid homophobia and constantly shifting elaborate rules for being with her take precedence.
The way JC and Asher are talking make it sound as if sharing blood is usually an essential part of a relationship with a vampire. That doesn't mean Anita is obligated in any way to give her blood even so, but JC has every right to walk away from the relationship. That is how things work when both parties are being validated. Also if I were JC and I had spent so long respecting Anita's negative reaction to the thought of being bled and then she allows Asher to do so willingly, I would be hurt and confused. JC and Anita are supposed to have such a deep and loving connection that their relationship should be the cornerstone of the series, yet when she does consent to be bled, it's not with him.
Asher continues to be a vehicle for truth by calling Anita out for being with JC while still believing him to be a monster. She is so uncomfortable with the fact that he is a vampire that she rings him around with rules to keep that side of him separate. It's basically not possible or tenable over time, and Asher correctly tells her so.
"No, you will always find something in your men that is not good enough, not pure enough. You come to us out of need, even out of love, but it is never enough. You will not allow us to even be enough for ourselves."
Asher goes on to point out that Micah only manages to be with her by agreeing to absolutely everything Anita asks, and JC denies a huge part of himself so Anita will find him acceptable.
..."I understand now that your love will always come with conditions."
Asher leaves. JC KICKS ANITA OUT. Anita whines internally about how "vamps only get my body" and how it had seemed a good rule until now. Anita has been living by this rule all this time? So basically, lying to JC and Asher about her capacity to love them, while treating them like objects (dildos in particular?) Anita is somehow even more worthless and disgusting than I first imagined.
Tune in for the next chapter where Anita will learn from this not at all.