It's over here. I recommend it.
So in the next chapter Anita goes back out to the parking lot. We've entered and left this reception, what, three times each? One murder, one meltdown, and one attempted sexy thing involving Nathanial.
This is not riviting. STOP TALKING AND DO SOMETHING.
Anyway, who should Anita run into but her old friend Ronnie. Ronnie used to be awesome, but she stopped because
Seriously. At this point my head cannon for this series is everything after Obsidian Butterfly is a brainwashing session, only instead of using addictive drugs Jean Claude is using the Ardeur to break Anita's resistance, and his already-washed followers to feed her the stuff he wants her to internalize. Everybody Anita's demonized since are the people telling her HELLO THIS PERSON IS NOT HEALTHY OR SAFE TO BE AROUND.
Oh, and Ronnie is fighting with her boyfriend the wererat, because apparently Louie asked her to marry him and she said no.
GASP! A WOMAN TELLING A MAN NO WHEN THEY ARE IN A HAPPY RELATIONSHIP! BLASPHEMY!
We'll come back to that. Anita and Micah and Nathanial are now going to fight over how Anita didn't kiss Nathanial right because she was embarissed to do so in front of all her cop buddies. Well, she kissed him in front of Jessica Arnet. Yeah, but that was just to prove that Nate was hers. She was marking her territory, ya'll. Nate's actual feelings totally don't matter because she doesn't want to be in love with him, but it's fine for her to sleep with him because Fuck If I Know.
Can this woman please enter into one fucking relationship because she wants to? PLEASE?
And then everybody is all like "Well, let's feed the ardeur right now" and Anita is all "WE ARE AT A WEDDING RECEPTION" and they're like "So?" and she's like "HAVING SEX IN THE PARKING LOT WOULD BE TACKY." and they are all like "SO?"
So basically we have a bunch of under-socialized, manipulative idiots slowly breaking down all of Anita's bounderies because HOW THE FUCK SHOULD I KNOW. There aren't even reasons for this shit. It's basically "Inhibitions? Morals? THESE ARE BAD! LET US HAVE A WANTON ORGY IN THE NEAREST VEHICLE IN THIS PUBLIC PARKING LOT!" while the plot is enjoying its vacation to Bermuda. There certainly is no member of the plot family here.
Then Jason drags Anita off and berates her for playing with Nate's feelings the way she is. This is relatively acceptable RIGHT UP UNTIL he starts going "He doesn't want anyone else, can't you understand this?" and Anita kind of stews in guilt, and everybody involved in this chapter is a terrible person. Anita sucks for stringing Nate along when she clearly has no intention of being in a permanent relationship, Nate and Jason suck because they're trying to manipulate Anita into a relationship she doesn't want, and Micah sucks because he just does.
End of chapter
At the start of the next chapter, Ronnie has driven off without Louie, so we're gonna get an info dump about how horrible it is for poor Louie to be in love with Ronnie and she doesn't want to marry him. Just like with Anita and Nate! Oh, dearie dearie me, how horrible of these females to not want to be in a relationship with hot men. They both surely need to shape up and submit their emotional desires to the feelings of their partners.
“She says she doesn’t want to marry anyone. She says, if she married anyone, it would be me, but she doesn’t want to. She doesn’t want to.” The pain in his voice was so raw, it hurt to hear it.
Maybe she's seen too many bad marriges. Maybe she's come out of bad relationships and she doesn't want to risk getting pinned into another. Maybe she's got some plan on the side. Maybe she's being blackmailed. IT DOESN'T MATTER. THE FACT THAT YOU LIKE SOMEONE DOES NOT OBLIGATE THAT PERSON TO CONFORM TO YOUR DESIRES.
Real love is not that "I'll hold onto you forever" nonsense. That's obsession. Love is letting go and letting the other person be whoever that other person is without placing unreasonable demands on their life or behavior.
And then, of course, the conversation segues into "Maybe Ronnie stopped being your friend because you're living with people and she's not."
Yeah. That's totally it. I'm sure. It couldn't be because most of Anita's boyfriends are toxic, and they are slowly making her toxic too.
Oh, and DO SOMETHING. DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO SOOOOOOOOOMEEEEEEEEETHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING.
They see Louie into Jason's car, because having Louie and Anita together when the Ardeur rises would be bad, and Anita starts thinking about Nate...and this goes into Treasure Island, which she's reading to Nate and Micah, and then we start talking about how Nate cried when Charlotte died in Charlotte's Web, and then we start talking about werewolf movies because Fuck If I Know.
This takes up three whole kindle pages. One of which is a discussion about werewolf movies, and how werewolves react to werewolf movies, and how the other shifters feel left out, and there's this one really obscure movie that nobody knew about until Anita found it and now they're going to have a marathon--
They get into the car and Anita is all like woe is me, and the phone rings. It's Marianne, Anita's witchy friend from Tennessee. She got some kind of premonition and has decided that Anita absolutely needs to have a Tarot reading. Done over the phone.
So even understanding that my reading style is different from "normal" readings (I guess. I've never really talked to anybody else about Tarot) this next part is PAINFUL for me to read. Technically most of those cards could work that way if you squint at them sideways and then define them by the "Baby's First Tarot Deck" book that usually comes with the kind of decks you buy at Barnes and Noble (Barnes and Noble has a few really good decks, but the books that come with them usually contradict each other and universally suck.) but for fuck's sake, don't change the definitions between paragraphs.
Basically, everything about this passage pisses me off in unfunny ways.
And the gist of it all is...Anita, your life sucked before, but now it's wonderful and fine and you have a wealth of lovely men in it, so you need to shut up and stop pushing for your morality and just enjoy it, and then a bunch of random stuff on the dead woman because Marianne pulled the eight of swords out of the deck and OF COURSE THAT MEANS MURDER (...okay, that's actually a really good meaning for that eight.)
(Seriously. I am biting my tongue SO HARD trying not to rant on this.)
Yeah, LKH could literally stack the deck for this reading scene and we get Anita Needs To Love her Menz and murdery gobbledeegook. Obviously, she didn't get along with that tarot deck she bought.
The chapter ends with everybody going inside.
I'm now going to go do a shot of something high proof and try to finish the Table of Contents for the omnibus.
Also: Plot. Let me know when we find it, plz.