You know, I really wish these chapters had been done by a different author, because holy hell, Musette has a great intro for a villain. She is giving Jean Claude and Asher presents that directly relate to the worst time in both their lives--when Asher and Juliana were kidnapped and tortured by the inquisition. That's how Asher got scarred up. They dribbled holy water down the entire right side of his body.--and forcing them to literally relive those memories while accepting her presents with a smile on their faces and some semblance of gratitude.
Basically, she's the kind of sadist you'd like to punt into the nearest viper pit and then forget about.
In the opening of this chapter she keeps asking Asher to come admire his gift--this being a painting of him immediately after his torture--and he tells her he gets the point, now please fuck off as politely as he possibly can. Musette then asks for her "guest gifts" which aren't ready because she's three months early.
At which point the book stops being good and starts being the Anita Blake show. Again.
I found my voice, and it wasn’t bland. “How dare you come here three months early, knowing we won’t be prepared and make demands on us?” Damian was clinging to my back a little frantically, but I was polite, for me. After what she and Belle Morte had just done, I was downright kind. “Your rudeness, will not be used as an excuse to force us to do anything we don’t want to do.”Seriously? SERIOUSLY? This is how you react to the dangerous crazy lady that your master vampire boyfriend is shitting himself over? That you have to be nice to because she is Bella Morte's direct representative? Admittedly I think some kind of gauntlet needs to be thrown, but for fuck's sake, there ought to be a velvet glove involved in there somewhere. The whole point of going off on this kind of person is to do it in a way that they can't take offense at--and to be really obvious about it. Musette is showing you how to play the game, Anita baby.
I opened my mouth to call her a heartless bitch, but it wasn’t what came out. “Did you believe that gifts worthy of such beauty could be hurried? Would you really take some poor substitute in the place of the magnificence we had commissioned?”
That reads like somebody else (with two brain cells to rub together) took over Anita's mind and used her like a muppet, but everybody reacts like it came from Anita and there is no bitching about somebody taking over her mind and/or her slapping the living crap out of whoever did it, so LKH legitimately expects us to believe the same person who said the first quote also said the second. I seriously believe that either LKH intended to remove the first quote or she forgot a couple sentences that ought to be attached to the second.
Jean Claude then flatters Musette,who basically asks if Anita isn't a beauty to rival hers, and Anita and everybody reading the book both go "Fuck the what now?" and the book just soldiers on because LKH needs a paycheck.
Anita says something about how being with the "otherworldly triplets" makes her look pretty plain and I assume she's talking about Asher, Jean Claude and either Damian or Musette. My money is on Damian. Musette asks if Anita is including Asher in the trio because he's scarred and that equals ugly in her book. Anita says she considers him to be gorgeous. Musette says Anita's lying but she isn't, and that tells Anita that unlike most vampires, Musette can be lied to.
Plot point achieved, the conversation descends further. Musette logics her way into choosing Asher as her "guest gift". She also wonders loudly why Asher left Bella Morte.
To recap what actually happened, Asher and a couple other folks came to St. Louis to challenge Jean Claude before his power base was in play. Asher wanted revenge because Jean Claude abandoned him and Juliana to the Inquisition and he's kind of miffed about that. During the actual confrontation Anita literally kissed Asher into submission and he decided that he'd gotten his whatever, the confrontation was off and he'd like to stay in St. Louie thank you very much. Also, once he got scarred he was pretty much persona non grata in Bella Morte's court, so St. Louis is much better than wherever it is the vamps are.
This segues into a question about wheither or not Jean Claude and Asher are having sex.
They aren't because Anita wouldn't like that, and Jean Claude always does what Anita wants. Seriously. Anita is literally one third of what's keeping him in power and if he loses her he probably dies. The book tries to play it off as actual loyalty but that's the real political math on that.
Asher says, basically, "Life is better here, and I don't want to go back."
Musette then shoves the chapter off the deep end.
Musette swayed her way back to stand in front of Asher. “To be least among her court is better than ruling anywhere else.”And just in case we don't get the subtle "this person treats Bella as God" she is compared to televangelists and holy rollers, and then her fanaticism is spelled out for us in triplicate. Let's make sure we get this, folks: MUSETTE IS OBSESSED WITH BELLA MORTE.
I couldn’t help myself. “Are you saying it’s better to serve in Heaven than rule in Hell?”
She nodded, smiling, seemingly oblivious to the literary allusion. “Oui, precisement. Our mistress is the sun, the moon, the all. To be parted from her, only that is true death.”
Anita then steps back into the conversation, confusingly stupid filler is thrown in when Anita objects to being called "Servant" instead of a name and Musette gets all flustered, and then Musette tricks Anita into saying flat out that Asher is not sleeping with either Jean Claude or Anita, which means he is fair game and she breaks the knives out.
Right then and there. She begins stabbing Asher over and over with a non-silver knife while Anita gets to stand there and feel all guilty for not letting Jean Claude sleep with somebody he's loved for centuries.
Sometimes reading this book makes me feel like I've dropped really bad acid.
Everybody's holding Anita back because they have to let this happen. Not letting Musette do whatever she wants will create war between St. Louis and Bella Morte. The chapter ends with Anita saying "Fuck that noise" and going at Musette anyway.