It turns out that Auggie is one of Belle Morte's old lovers. The ardeur is his drug and he's jonesing for a new fix. Well, I guess when you're an addict, any port in a storm...Anita's ardeur is now contageous, so she tells everybody else to keep their hands off. Everyone except Graham obeys out of self-interest, Clauida the were-rat offers to shoot him if he misbehaves.
Jean Claude is apparently racing down the stairs at a speed of general mosey. HOW DO YOU NOT KNOW YOUR PSYCHIC SOUL MATE IS NOT IN TROUBLE?
Auggie tries to sweet talk her into sex. Lil tip, guys. If your lover says "Let us drown together" running might be a good idea.
Anita prays to Mary and the ardeur lightens up. Then she makes one of those asides that make my teeth grit:
For years I hadn’t prayed during times like this, too embarrassed, but I’d finally realized if my faith was real, then it didn’t desert me just because I was outside societal norms.On the one hand, I've been there with my faith, I've done that. I've been doing studies lately on faith and trusting God (Christian blog-readers: George McDonald. Unspoken Sermons. It's free on Amazon. It is amazing.) so I get part of it. According to Mr. McDonald, distrust of God is equal to athiesm, and I probably need to stop right there because I can discuss this subject for the next hour. ON THE OTHER HAND every time LKH wanders into my faith I want to punch something. WOO HOO, Anita is SO SPECIAL God AND Mary listen to her when she's wandering around in a gray area. Only Anita never spends any time on God when she isn't deep in the shit. This is a book were we find out how many toenail clippings she made this morning, and she spends exactly zero hours going to church, or reading the bible, or doing anything faith-promoting. BUT HER FAITH IS SO PURE GOD COMES TO HER RESCUE ANYWAY. Except obviously she has faith issues, because she wasn't praying during these tricky situations. Anita is a Christian because it makes her religious items flare up whenever she comes down with a case of Bad Vampire. That's the only reason. She's not wearing a cross because it has symbolic significance to her; she's wearing it because it's a weapon. Her faith is all about what God can do for her, rather than what she can do for God (the ultimate answer is "nothing" but it's more complicated than that). Basically, her faith is as self-centered as every other relationship in her life, and her faith should not work at all. Especially the holy items as weapons bit. If holy items have power, it's because of the deity behind it, and the Deity in Christianity has a documented history of squishing anybody who misuse his things.
Basically, God in the Anita Blake novels is the magic slot machine in the sky. Put in enough faith tokens and you'll win a pony. We're one televangelism commerical away from Prosperity Gospel.
And of course, the magic sex powers trump God. Anita's sex drive is bigger than God.
So Anita switches over to the metaphysical beast inside of her and starts literally eating Auggie's face. He tries to kiss her, she bites him, she screams wordlessly, she fights, yadda yadda yadda...can I remind all of us that this is a visiting dignitary who could start an inter-city vampire war if he gets pissed off? That this is exactly why Anita should not have gone in this room alone?
LKH has written a female character that cannot be trusted to do anything on her own. She's done this on purpose. WHY.
Auggie somehow sends power into her to make her love him (?), and she keeps trying to eat his face. While praying that she won't permanently hurt him, because she loves him.
And then Belle Morte takes over the inside of Anita's head.
I think LKH writes by throwing darts at a board. Seriously. It's that fucking random. And she seriously needs to stop describing her sex objects with permutations of "like a child" because good holy fuck that is not sexy. Belle Morte is "like a child".
Am I the only person who remembers how Nikolaus was fucking scary? It's like we've inverted Nikolaus. Instead of having a child be, you know, autonomous and scary, all her bad guys are infantilized by Anita's desires.
Belle Morte and Auggie talk for a few minutes. It establishes that he tried to force Belle to love him and she threw him out because of this. Belle tries to roll the whole room and finally Jean Claude shows up. He raided Jareth's wardrobe again. He throws Belle out of Anita's mind, and Belle tells Jean that he, Anita and Auggie are probably going to have an orgy once she's gone. Belle tries to make Anita feel betrayed by revealing that Auggie and JC were lovers, and Anita is all like "Whatever. Let's fuck" and Belle is all "WTF is WRONG with you?" and the rest of us are all like "JOIN THE CLUB BELLE. WE'VE BEEN ASKING THAT SINCE NARCISSUS."
There's a memory...thing where Belle tries to show Anita something that JC and Asher did, and instead JC shows her a memory of him and Asher having sex. It goes back and forth for a while. It feels like the book just dropped acid.
Belle gives Anita the power of living memory, whatever that means, and we get to watch Jean Claude and Auggie make out as JC's payment to get to America. Whatever floats his boat. Anita goes on about how she can't resent JC for the stuff that happened in his past, she comes back to herself, Auggie apologizes, the ardeur takes over and mercifully that's where the chapter ends.