Chapter 14 starts with what seems to be a resolution (of the legislative kind) regarding vampire behavior drafted by Osiris, basically saying that vampires pledge not to kill anyone when feeding and that all beings are created equal, etc. It draws from the Declaration of Independence, because apparently that’s the only legal/constitutional statement worth making, despite the fact that NONE of the vampire lineages are American. Oh, also, it’s called the “Human Declaration of Independence” rather than American, because apparently humans are all American. Is it any wonder the rest of the world thinks we Americans are egocentric maniacs?
The document actually reads like an official document, without any “holy gawd” or “fuckadoodledoo,” even. I’m impressed. I’ve no idea why this document is significant or why Osiris drew it up, however.
Gillian and Aleksei are reviewing the document together and she remarks that Osiris is “older than the gods themselves.” Um…did she forget that Osiris is the name of an Egyptian god and therefore ostensibly he’s regarded as a god? I feel like there’s a lot of these boneheaded comparisons in these books.
They’re extremely turned on by each other and Aleksei develops a troubling condition in which his “groin [is] tight and heavy.” I’m really surprised she didn’t say “corpuscles engorged his erectile tissue” or something. She wanders away and Tanis comes in looking disheveled and only wearing one shoe. (???) Apparently Jenna has been banging his brains out. To my utter shock, neither Rachlav makes any dickbag remarks about needing to teach their women lessons or ANYTHING. It’s like they’ve been replaced by pod people. What am I going to snark now?
But, yanno, they’re still calling her by the obnoxious diminutive pet names, so there’s that.
Gillian is debating what to do about Dante the rapist ghost, who, you might remember, is trapped in some stones in a way that’s still not quite clear to me. She says she “can’t keep him locked up forever,” to which I wholeheartedly disagree. He repeatedly raped you and manipulated the shit out of you. He is clearly, unrepentantly bad. If he were human, maybe I’d feel differently, which makes me conflicted, but then again he is obviously a fucking psychopath, and you can’t fix psychopaths.
They also have to deal with Grace, the ghost who helped kidnap Tanis (or something? Her role was unclear). Tanis argues that they can’t let her go because she was a traitor and she’ll go back to Dracula if they do. Which is a good point, but what the fuck with the double standard? Release the rapist whose affiliations are completely unknown (he might well be working for Dracula too), but keep the ghost who was obviously–at least in my mind–manipulated through her infatuation with Tanis locked up?
Gillian calls Team Shit for Brains in to deal with Dante–why she needs all of them, I dunno–and then flits out of the room again. Aleksei and Tanis have brother talk about Gillian still being a “spitfire,” and STILL no paternalistic bullshit. Could it be that someone told Gryphon to knock that shit off, and she actually listened? COULD IT?
This is a very talky scene with a lot of short conversations, which I wouldn’t hate if they actually moved the plot forward. Well.
In a phone conversation, Helmut expresses concern that Osiris’s declaration could lead to open war if someone violates it, which could be messy. It’s a good point but…isn’t there already a war? Like, right now? The whole Dracula thing? O…kay. Gillian says she knows, dammit, because she’s a soldier. Then there’s this:
“You are a healer. Do not forget that part of yourself.”
That got her attention. “Healing what? What exactly have I done? Helped a Werewolf with a mild neurosis? A Vampire or two with fangxiety? Oh, and let’s not forget the Ghosts. Let me see, the last two Ghosts wound up with one molesting me and one being a spy for the enemy. Yeah, I’m doing just great with that healing thing.” Now she sounded bitter and her agitation was enough to get Aleksei’s attention from downstairs.
“You are an angel, piccola. You have helped me more than you will ever know.”
Come on, Aleksei. The one time Gillian has a flash of self-recognition and you have to bend over to lick her ass with bullshit praise. She is the worst therapist, seriously. If she’s having a crisis of confidence, she ought to have one.
Oh, let’s also not forget fangxiety.
Nothing will do but Helmut join Aleksei in licking Gillian’s ass. Since she’s demonstrated nothing but complete incompetence thus far, the narrative has to work extra hard to insist that she’s the most amazing sentient being to ever walk the planet.
Gillian expresses concern that she can’t be a good soldier and a good therapist at the same time, which I’ve been saying from the absolute fucking beginning, but Helmut basically says “get over it, you’re fine, get back to work.” That’s the end of that brief moment of insight.
Apparently she’s still actively working as a therapist despite this whole war thing, and she wants to start a “Ghost Group for Shattered Spirits.” I’ve always thought therapy for paranormal beings was an interesting premise, but in execution I can’t think of it as anything more than fucking stupid. This one in particular is dumb, because it’s been established (as much as anything is established in these books) that ghosts are supposed to be bound to the places they haunt. This is even mentioned on the next page. But whatever, gotta stick something clever in there to show Gillian doing her job.
Gillian mentions needing Trocar to release the spell he used to bind Dante to the stones, and Helmut says, “Be careful, Gillian. He is a Grael.” Motherfucker, you’ve been traveling with him for however long and you’re just now cautioning her? Also, what the hell does that even mean? Why the caution? Who knows.
She’s apparently setting up an office in the guest house she first met Aleksei in at the beginning of the first book. I can only assume this signals another shift away from Dracula toward more boring random therapy sessions.
Kimber reports in and says Trocar’s coming and the head of the Russian sex trafficking/pedophile ring has been caught. Blah blah.
She thought briefly about another woman she’d heard of in America: a legendary zombie raiser from Saint Louis who kept company with another Master Vampire. Gill wondered if that woman ever had doubts about herself and her abilities. Somehow she didn’t think so.
Oh, Gryphon, you are priceless. ❤
Also I have news for you: Anita doesn’t question her actions because she is a fucking psychopath.
Now we’re at mirror gazing and back to patronizing remarks from Aleksei. Gillian is still 30 for now, but she still fills out her uniform “admirably.” Wtf? Now, I’m turning 31 in a couple of months (for real, as I haven’t skipped three years of birthdays like Gillian apparently has), and I don’t think I’d say I still look good for 31 or whatever. I’m 31, not 75. It’s not as though being on the “back side of thirty” is over the hill, and she’s still somehow managing to strap her sagging bits into a pleasing form.
Apparently she doesn’t see what Aleksei sees in her, despite the narrative telling us how gorgeous she is, repeatedly and often. Hey Gillian, I have a book for you.
Aleksei pops in on the brain phone and says, “Perhaps it is your short temper that intrigues me and your lovely petite body which I desire pressed against me, piccola.” Ah yes, we’re back to this shit again. “Sure, honey, I love that you’re small enough that I can physically control you and you have no ability to regulate your own emotions so I can control that too.”
We’re told again that she’s commitment-phobic and she worries that she’ll get into this relationship and discover she doesn’t actually want this, to which Aleksei responds, “You are thinking too much again, bellisima. We will get through this together but you will not run from it.“
This is single-handedly the creepiest statement ever made in these books. Possibly even the creepiest thing that’s ever happened in these books, even worse than the spanking. In what way is this not a threat? How am I supposed to read this?
OH MY GOD IT GETS WORSE
She wanders out into the hallway and finds a painting of herself in the dress she wore in the first book. Here is the description.
What pissed her off was that the image was lying on the bed in the master suite she’d just vacated. The eyes were liquid and filled with need, legs bare of hosiery or shoes, skirt almost indecently draped over her thighs. The painting was of her, of a woman waiting for her lover and knowing beyond doubt that he would come.
I retract my previous statement! THIS is the single creepiest thing that’s happened in these books. IS THIS SUPPOSED TO BE FLATTERING?
Anubis, who’s filling in for Gaslighting Gremlin, shows up and is like, “Oh yeah, that Aleksei’s a pretty good painter huh?” He tells her, “Little sister, you are not angry about the painting, you are angry about your insecurity in your feelings for Aleksei.” And also, “You look like a woman in love, Gillian. That is what bothers you. That is obvious to everyone but yourself.“
ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS RIGHT NOW
My reactions to this chapter ranged from eye rolling to giggling to horrified to shaking my fists at my screen and making the people next to me in the coffee shop give me strange looks. Maybe it’s just because we haven’t had a gratuitously awful statement in a while and my numbness to it has worn off, but what the actual fuck? He painted her without her knowledge in the old-ass vampire version of a sneaky sex photo without her consent, obviously before they were even together, and then had the fucking gall to hang it in his house where he knew she’d see it? That is fucking awful! And then when she gets mad about it, fucking Anubis rolls in to laugh at her and tell her why she’s really mad, like she doesn’t actually have a right to be horrified and livid by such invasive behavior. I can’t. I can’t even.
RUN FOR IT GILLIAN
RUN FOR IT
But of course you’re not going to.