So, where were we?
...Right. Ruben is running away from the kids and the people he ate.
You know, it takes a lot of effort to make a rescue and triple homicide boring.
The place that Ruben is going to is called Muir Woods. I just googled it, and it is a real thing. Anne Rice gives us a condensed version of the wikipedia article on the woods, and then moves on. So shall we.
Ruben swings from Sequoia to Sequoia like he's fucking Tarzan. The wood smells nice. He howls, runs around on all fours, and then kills and eats a bobcat.
...did it, like, murder its cousin horribly or something?
Anne Rice describes the eating. In detail.
He stripped succulent muscle from bone, and crunched both in his jaws as he devoured the beast with its brittle yellowish fur, slurping up its blood, its soft innards, the rich sack of its belly, all in all some forty pounds of it, leaving only its paws and its head, with yellow eyes staring at him bitterly.
...how did the fur help him eat it? Was it, like, handing him a knife and fork? Also, I was doing great until we gave the dead bobcat bitterness at its own demise, and then all I could think about was this:
Ruben cleans up, reacts with about ten seconds of horror for acting like an animal, and then walks dreamily through the forest because emotional consistancy is for suckers.
After an hour he gets hungry again.
...WHY? YOU JUST ATE FORTY POUNDS OF BOBCAT. IF YOU WERE ACTING LIKE AN ANIMAL YOU SHOULD BE NAPPING NOW. EXPLAIN, BOOK. EXPLAIN.
He eats a salmon. He eats the eggs out of a bird's nest. He gets a drink of water. He randomly quotes either Exodus or Duteronomy (I can't be assed to look it up right now) which is that part of the bible were all the random weird things are. Specifically this is the part about not cooking a baby animal in it's mother's milk. It's the randomest quote Rice could have chosen.
I'm rapidly approaching a kind of "I don't even" event horison, after which my ability to even will be gone forever.
We get the purplest paragraph in the book so far while Ruben looks up at the stars. Honestly it reminds me of really bad wolf roleplay, where you discover there are ten zillion alternative words for "eyes" and none of them work half as well as actually just fucking using "eyes" to describe eyes.
Ruben thinks about the men he ate. Again: He cracked their skulls open WITH HIS TEETH and licked up the blood, and probably a few pieces of brain matter Rice just didn't want to write about. He wants to cry. Then he starts laughing. Then he thinks about how ugly the woods are. Then he thinks about how pretty they are. The word "divine" is used.
In other words, we're having a full on nervous breakdown.
Well, Ruben's had his violence, he's had his food, he's had a nice drink of water and he's played in the pretty woods for a while. Gee. I wonder what could be next on his "meet my male wolfy needs" list.
Ruben starts randomly dancing and singing. And I mean RANDOMLY. Only the song he's singing is "Simple Gifts" which most of us would know from "Feet of Flames" and "Lord of the Dance", or alternatively from Obama's inauguration. It's one of my favorite songs.
...it was also featured prominently in not one, but TWO Patricia Briggs novels. First in the first full book involving Anna and Charles Cornick, when Bran was asked to sing at the funeral of a guy he killed (it's complicated), and then in Iron Kissed, when Mercy and Sam are at a celtic music thing for Reasons.
I am not saying that Anne Rice ripped off Patricia Briggs, but Briggs was playing in the werewolf sandbox first and it's not THAT common a song.
So Ruben, in his full bloodstained wolfy glory, is singing and dancing in random circles, in the woods, and the ONLY thing I can say in his defence is that he is in the middle of fucking nowhere and the odds of any human being ever seeing him have to be a couple thousand to one.
Which means Anne Rice has no excuse for what happens next.
There is a random light on Ruben's eyelids! He smells something sweet buried under perfume! He turns around! And! It! Is! A! GIRL!
Who somehow found him in the middle of the fucking redwoods, alone, in the middle of the night, with nothing but a flashlight for company.
And yes. She's in a long sleeved blowsy white nightgown. And she's pretty. And she's not at all afraid of Wolf!Ruben, even though he's a bloodstained werewolf singing old Celtic songs to himself in the middle of the fucking woods.
And she's small and fragile and pretty and oh, just so precious. And she's holding a lantern. And he mentally begs her to not be afraid because Ruben hasn't had sex yet, and he'd rather like to.
He starts singing again, watching her. And she watches back, instead of going to get a shotgun. Because...Ruben has saved a lot of people tonight, so it's time for him to get the door prize.
That's a girl, by the way. And sex.
She's got premature gray hair, blue eyes, and absolutely perfect, wrinkle-less skin.
Yeah. Hey, Anne? Since this is going to be Ruben's prime love interest for the rest of the novel, what purpose did Celeste serve? Other than to justify him sleeping with Marchant? Are we really going to throw away the woman so devoted to Rubes that she'd overlook him sleeping with a woman who was then IMMEDIATELY MURDERED afterwards?
Well, we're going to have some kind of preliminary conversation before we go into--
Deep in the pit of his loins the desire rose, surprising him in its intensity. He was growing hard for her. Did she see that? Could she see it? That he was naked, unable to conceal his desire, excited him further, strengthened him, emboldened him.
...I'm going to go get tequila. I can't do this without tequila. Anybody else want tequila?
Also: PLEASE CHANGE RUBEN BACK BEFORE THEY START FUCKING. PLEASE. I HAVE A LOT OF TOLERANCE FOR INTER-SENTIENT-SPECIES RELATIONSHIPS BUT YOU USED THAT UP ABOUT FOUR MURDERS AGO.
And of course, Random Chick just stands there and watches this gigantic werewolf walk up to her house with an enormous, visible hard-on.
Random Chick has not said one. fucking. word. Not this whole time. She hasn't run away, so Ruben takes this to be assent and takes the lantern away from her.
HE. DOES. NOT. KNOW. HER. NAME, and yet he romantically takes her into his big wolfy arms and thinks about how all the beast knows is imperatives. Not making that up. The paragraph flows Lantern, hot paws, romantic taking into arms, imperatives. I think this is supposed to be meaningful. Somehow.
He touches her lips with a paw--THIS IS IN THE TEXT--and then picks her up and carries her off to bed.
A bed that he has never seen before. Because it is in her house, and he's never been in her house because he only met her six paragraphs or so ago, while he was having a mental breakdown and dancing and singing in the rain.
He teleports into her bedroom. I. SHIT. YOU. NOT.
A small bedroom materialized around him. He made out an antique bed against the wall, with a high back of golden oak, and white covers that looked as soft as foam.No transitional phrases. No description of the inside. Just "Hey, this smells nice and the girl isn't struggling--BEDROOM!"
Random Chick puts her hands all over Ruben's face. The book is careful to point out her facination with his mane and fangs.
He kissed the top of her head, and he kissed her forehead, hmmmmm, satin, kissed her upturned eyes and made them close.
The flesh of her eyelids was like silk. A silk and satin little being, hairless, fragrant, petal soft.
How naked and vulnerable she seemed; it maddened him. Oh, please, my dear, do not change your mind!
THIS. IS NOT. OKAY. OH MY GOD IS THIS NOT OKAY.
I know I like to be sarcastic with the chicks-as-the-door-prize trope, but WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS? WHAT THE FUCK AM I READING? The hero killed a bunch of kidnappers and is now LITERALLY BEING DIVINELY REWARDED WITH A GIRL.
WHO WAS NOT IN THE BOOK AT ALL PRIOR TO THIS. THIS IS JUST RANDOM GIRL FOR SEX.
They start to kiss. Ruben still hasn't changed back. Random Chick says "Gently", and Ruben gives what has to be, hands down, the best piece of WTF dialogue in the book so far:
“Oh, beautiful, beautiful,” he said. “I won’t hurt you. I would rather die than hurt you. Tender stem. Little stem. I give you my word.”What.
The chapter ends on that lovely note.
If I give myself liver failure will the pain stop?