I'm Scots-Irish on my dad's side. On my mom's side, though, I'm German (Grandma's maiden name was Volkman). I've always been proud of the Irish part, and the Scots part--I get awesome lace knitting, bagpipes, the best tapdancing in the universe and an akward attempt at merchandising passed off as actual heritage. But over the last few months I've been coming to the realization that the other half of my heritage is the worst part of human history ever. From the POV of the people that did it.
It's not my fault, but that's my heritage. And it's ugly. And there's nothing I can do except learn what it was, because to do otherwise is a lot like pretending it never happened.
Of course, I didn't realize what it was until I started explaining to Mom what, exactly, a particular scene meant and I realized I was using the word "We" to refer to the Nazis.
In short: I agree with Oskar. He should have sold the car and the pin.
I have no idea what to do with this. It's still in its nascent phase.
So. Where are we in the book?
Ruben just spilled the beans to his brother. By first manipulating him into a position where he couldn't tell the cops what happened, because, you know, fuck actually trusting anybody.
(...also? If I were Jim? I'd be calling crimestoppers and leaving anonymous tips because Ruben ate the kidnapper's head.)
So Ruben goes back to his motel and paces until the change happens.
We find out it was orgasmic.
I totally needed to know that. I also needed to know that Ruben takes yet more selfies during this entire progress. Yo, Rubes? You ever get caught? That phone is going to nail your ass. Just a thought.
Ruben gets a call from Leroy stating that Marchant had ordered two orchid trees--I don't blame her, those things are gorgeous--and does Ruben want them now? Cue. the. fucking. waterworks.
Reuben felt a lump in his throat. For the first time he knew what that cliché meant. Yes, he wanted the orchid trees. That was terrific. Would Galton order any other plants that he could?
What, it's taken you twenty-three years to cry? THIS IS THE FIRST TIME YOU HAVE MOURNED A LOSS? Also, those are really non-specific orders. Given how much fucking money you are implied to have, Rubes baby, Galton could probably order more plants than you ever dreamed of.
I want him to plant Rafflesia in Ruben's bedroom. I think it'd be fitting
Ruben then sends e-mails to all the people he hasn't spoken to in the last several days. This includes his boss. Amazing that he gets to have a job where he can just vanish for days on end and nobody gives a shit. Here in Texas we call that "Getting fired", but I guess California is a little different.
Ruben also dumps Celeste via e-mail. Because that's mature.
And then Ruben hears a gunshot and turns back into the wolf and goes running off to stop somebody from murdering his wife and children. He doesn't save the wife, but does save the kids, who have the "sweetest, loveliest scent", according to Ruben's magical evil-finding nose.
A note: Evil is Ruben's natural prey. Evil, therefore ought to smell really good to him. That's why things that smell good to us, well, smell good to us. That's our body telling us that we want to eat that thing, whatever it is. This instinct is sometimes wrong (IE perfume, hairspray, deoderant) but that's why we developed attraction to scents anyway.
Also: thinking that little kids smell really good is skeevy as fuck.
The kids praise Ruben as good and "gentle". This, of course, is after he snapped their dad's throat one handed. In graphic detail.
Ruben then realizes that he needs to go back to the World's Perfect Mansion, but he doesn't want to because Laura is here, and he wants to fuck Laura a few more times. So he goes on the internet and doxxes her.
...FIRST by finding a website for tours-for-women by someone with the same first initial as Laura, and then by googling this name until he finds photos of Laura, who is a widow after her (...of course, rich) husband drowned himself and their two kids. Thus turning her into the beautifully damaged woman in the woods who was just waiting for Wolf!Ruben to come and save her from herself.
Fuck. this. book.
Again: I like stories about damaged people. I like stories about damaged people who are getting better. Who are attempting to get un-damaged and healthy, because there is not a harder fight in the universe than untangling your own fucked-up psyche, and if you are trying, well, first off even if you do not feel you are successful you damn well fucking are, and second, you are awesome.
I don't like stories about damaged people when the only point of the damage is to give Le Hero/Heroine something to rescue. If you want your protagonist to save something give them a puppy. If you want to have somebody with baggage in your story give them a gun and/or a line in the sand and let your protagonist take their back, not their victory.
Her acceptance of Ruben and her history of tragety makes her exceptional in Ruben's eyes.
I want to punch something.
Surviving horror does make you exceptional. That does not make the horror you went through okay. And what is disgusting to me is that it isn't Laura's survival that makes her exceptional. No. The phrasing makes her acceptance of Ruben the exceptional thing about her. And she has this history of damage not because it makes her an interesting character, but because it makes her damaged enough to accept a murdering werewolf as a fuck-buddy.
I understand the psychology here, and it isn't "exceptional". It's habitual. Women who have a history of attempting to rescue men repeat this pattern all the time, right down to picking somebody fucked up enough they'd go drown themselves and their kids. It's not a weakness on the woman's part if she repeats the pattern, I want to make that clear. But it's wrong to praise that brokenness as "exceptional love" because it isn't love. It's not love to continue to try to save fucked up men to the exclusion of one's own self and safety. It's co-dependancy, it's an unhealthy pattern, and it's rooted in a tying of one's sense of self to "rescuing" someone else.
Exceptional is the co-dependant woman telling the man she loves more than the whole world to go fuck himself unless he goes to treatment and gets sober. Or just plain leaving, if his actions are putting her life and the lives of others in danger. Exceptional is the act of trying to take your life back from your own history. I don't care who says it or why, or what text they use for justification, but you are never obligated to stay and save somebody else.
Anyway, Ruben continues to gather information on Laura that he can use to manipulate her into staying with him.
The text doesn't even bother trying to sugar coat this:
A terrible sadness for Laura settled over Reuben. I’m ashamed, ashamed that I want you and that it sustains me to think, just to think, that because of all you’ve lost, you might love me.
Yep. IMHO that is an open acknowledgement that he's going to push every button Laura's got to make her stick around. Ruben isn't just an ass, my lovelies, he's a pathological manipulator, a liar, and just in case you forgot, a bleeding murderer. Being deified as a saint.
Edward Cullen isn't this fucking unhealthy.
Ruben thinks about how lonely he feels, and he's got all these people around him, and he goes down the list, starting with his parents and ending with his OH NOT A MEXICAN!Housekeeper Rosy. Who have done nothing in this book except support Ruben, try to help Ruben, talk to Ruben about Ruben's problems and talk about Ruben behind his back.
Ruben then praises himself for not using his contacts to get Laura's SSI and credit reports. Instead, he settles for finding her address and driving up to her house, before pulling off into the woods and parking to sleep until he changes.
I take it back. This is Edward Cullen to a T.
End of chapter.