Skin Trade Chapter 4

Having spent the first three chapters staring at her own navel and yammering on the phone, Anita Blake does something drastically different – she talks to someone face-to-face and DOESN’T have sex. Can you feel the electric tension?

 
TWO OF MY lovers were dead in the bed that we all shared.

  1. That must be some bed if Anita and all her boytoys can fit into it. It would need to hold, what, twenty people minimum.
  2. It’s kind of funny that she looks at two men cuddled naked in a bed and thinks of them as “her” lovers.
  3. Anita, are your feet wet? Can you see the pyramids, and are crocodiles nipping your feet? Yes, you are in De Nial!

I stared down at them. They lay in a tangle of white silk sheets.

Tangled sheets. Yup, they’ve been doing the nasty-that-can’t-be-as-nasty-as-nastying-Anita. After all, they don’t sleep – they die. You can’t thrash around messing up the sheets when you DIE. So they have to have been doing something to “tangle” the sheets before they died.

It amazes me that LKH writes this stuff and DOESN’T think that her readers just might think that dear ol’ Asher and Jean-Claude are boinking like bunnies whenever Anita isn’t around. It only makes Anita look blindingly stupid.

 
Jean-Claude all black curls and that beautiful face; a line less or more, and he’d have been too beautiful, too feminine, but you never looked into his face and thought girl.

Hard to when the comics only emphasize his creepily rocklike abs and pecs. Seriously, those damn things are like cobblestones.

Then again, the comics also show him as looking exactly like Anita except without boobs and goth makeup.

No, he was all male no matter how pretty he looked. It helped that he was naked on top of the sheets. Nude, there was no mistaking him for anything but oh so male.

Wait, I thought they were tangled in the sheets, not on top of them. It defeats the purpose of having more than one if you’re on top of them.

 
Asher’s golden waves spilled across his face, hiding one of the most perfect profiles that had ever existed.

And Anita’s seen them all, that she can make such a statement?

 
I had some memories from the vampire who had made him: Belle Morte, Beautiful Death.

Maybe I’ve forgotten some metaphysical plot points, but I thought she only had memories from vampires she’s enslaved.

Anyway, Anita prattles on about Asher’s scars and his history and how the evil Belle Morte dumped his ass because she couldn’t focus on anything but the scars. Let it be noted that Anita never focuses on anything but his scars… yet somehow she’s supposed to be BETTER.

 
He could still feel my touch, still be licked and caressed, and bitten. It was just different. It was Asher, and I loved him.

  1. Well, as long as he can feel HER, it’s all okay. Nothing else matters, as long as he can have sex with Anita.
  2. After all, isn’t that every man’s motivation in life?
  3. Licked and bitten? Yay for sensuality. She sounds like she’s talking about a caramel apple.

 
I’d learned that love could mean many things, and no matter how similar it looked from the outside, inside it could feel very different. Good still, but different.

Translation: I boink all of them but I luuuuuuuuv them all… as long as they don’t bother me. Then I hate them.

 
I was going to get some of the bodyguards to help carry the equipment bags of weapons up the stairs for me.

Because nothing is more intimidating than someone who owns dozens of firearms but can’t carry them by him/herself.

I wanted to be on the ground in Vegas while it was still daylight.

…. so I could spend the rest of the day pissing on the local constabulary.

 
If Vittorio had intended to get me out of St. Louis before Jean-Claude could wake and maybe insist on guards going with me, then fine, I’d get to Vegas while Vittorio was still dead to the world, too.

Yeah, that makes a LOT of sense. So, in order to give a big “fuck you” to the presumably well-guarded and superpowerful vampire, she’s gonna do exactly what he wants and leave behind all the people who could help her overcome Vittorio. Apparently it hasn’t occurred to her that Vittorio isn’t gonna be crashing under a bar somewhere, but would presumably be well guarded and therefore difficult for a tiny whiny klutzy woman to get to.

 
Of course, Vittorio knew that about me, if he’d been spying on me. The thought that he probably had daylight eyes and ears waiting for me in Vegas wasn’t comforting.

So she’ll deal with that uncomfortable fact by doing exactly what he wants. Our heroine, ladies and gents.

The bathroom door opened and Jason came out, wearing a robe that he hadn’t bothered to tie shut, but he’d been completely nude between the two vampires when I’d first entered the room.

So she’s got three naked bisexual men tangled up in the same bed, and it doesn’t seem to occur to her that maybe they’re doing a little more than watching classic movies? They’re right about the self deluded – there IS no one as blind as someone who won’t see.

 
He was Jean-Claude’s pomme de sang, his apple of blood,

We’ve seen this what, seventy times? If someone is jumping into the series NOW, they deserve to be confused.

 
Most people didn’t actually fuck their pommes de sang, and Jean-Claude didn’t either,

RIIIIIIIGHT. That’s why three bisexual men were wedged up together, stark naked and in bed. LKH needs to either stop indulging her yaoi fantasies or stop pretending that gay sex doesn’t happen between men who are sexually attracted to other men.

but Jason’s reputation had fallen to the need to make our shared master look more powerful in the eyes of the larger vampire community.

So she’s saying that being rumored to be gay kills your reputation. Nice’n’tolerant, especially in a parasitic subculture that seems to have exactly two heterosexual men (both vilified), with every other male being resolutely bisexual (which in this universe means “mostly likes men but boffs Anita because she’s so sexy”).

 
He was also going to have the fun job of telling Jean-Claude where I was and what I was doing when the vampire woke.

Because the oh-so-unselfish Anita couldn’t possibly wait for a sure thing, because she wants to get stuck by… I mean, stick it to Vittorio. Wouldn’t you feel safe if she were on your side? She’ll go off half-cocked and do random stuff because… well, for no reason, really.

 
Jason was my height, maybe an inch more, short for a man and I guess short for a woman.

Because tall men are icky! Five foot two is just the right height so a oh-so-petite woman in hooker heels can loom over him like the manly man she is.

Actually, this statement is quite telling – women are usually shorter than men, and definitely are in average. But she makes a point of saying that he’s DEFINITELY short for a man… and MAYBE short for a woman, despite being shorter than the women’s average. Apparently Anita thinks that all men are supposed to be shorter than women.

But I was just his good friend and lover, not his girlfriend, so his hair length was his own business.

Oh well, being a lover is WAY less influential than a girlfriend. Yo, LKH, there are words for what Anita is to Jason. FWB is one of them; “slave master” is another; not to mention “fuckbuddy.” But I suppose they sound insufficiently “wuvving.”

And it’s weird that she considers it a girlfriend’s business what his hair length is, and only HIS OWN BUSINESS if he doesn’t have one. Pretty much means that if he weren’t just a fuckbuddy, she would be demanding he grow his hair out to Rapunzel length cuz she likes it that way.

 
Then the look changed, from joking to serious to . . . I was just suddenly aware that he was naked, and the robe was covering precious little, and . . .

Anita must be on heavy antihistamines if she hasn’t noticed a naked penis within a ten mile radius of her. I’m surprised she hasn’t been ejected from grocery stores for molesting the long vegetables and hot dogs.

Anyway, Jason starts “flirting” which in LKHspeak means acting like a cartoon seductress, only with your genitals hanging out.

 
I couldn’t have told you what he was doing differently with his walk, but he suddenly made me aware that his day job was as a stripper.

… because of course nothing is sexier than a stripper doing a weird little “sexy walk” in a private bedroom. Does he stroke his hair and ooze along the wall while he does it?

 
Backing up seemed cowardly, and once I could have withstood Jason’s attentions, but since I’d accidentally made him my werewolf to call, he seemed to have more pull on my libido.

… which she doesn’t want, of course. She’s being FORCED to be turned on by his hawtness against her will… and is dealing with it by standing there and letting him rub against her hooker-heeled ankles. Wow, it’s so nice to have a strong female protagonist who tells people off when she doesn’t choose to have sex with them.

 
“Vittorio has set a trap for you, Anita. You’re walking into it.”

Which is quite possibly the smartest thing that has been said in the entire book thus far. Won’t last, though.

 
But Jason was a werewolf, a blood donor, and my wolf to call. I should have been master here, and I wasn’t.

When it comes to people forcing her to have sex, Anita is NEVER in control. After all, having sex with people because you want to or you like it is slutty. Having it because other people can influence you with sex magic? That’s okay.

 
“Then go,” he whispered.

Jason caught my arms. “Don’t go.”
“I have to go.”

Shakespearean dialogue here. Especially since Jason doesn’t seem able to make up his mind what he’s saying.

So then Jason grabs Anita’s hands and sticks them on his penis, which isn’t at all a disturbing and sexual-harassing way to keep someone from leaving.

He filled my hand, and he was thick and perfect again.

He must be a tiny guy if his entire body just fills one of her teeny tiny hands.

Oh wait, “he” is LKH’s obliquely blurry way of talking about a penis, because apparently the extremely explicit and sexually forward author is scared of using the word “penis.” Penis penis penis. Wiener dick prick cock wangle-dangle.

They’d tortured him with cigarettes, fire, the only thing a lycanthrope can’t heal. They’d marked up a very nice body and damn near killed him.

So he almost died from getting cigarette burns? They’re nothing to sneeze at, but they’re definitely not the stuff of impending death.

 
I drew back enough to see his face. “Sorry you tried to use your new powers over me to get me to stay home?”

Which is pretty hilarious from someone who magic-rapes entire were populations (the swans and the rats of all ages and genders got raped by her) as well as individuals (including an ardeur junkie that she readdicted… but nobody cared because she’s such a fragile flower and her well-being matters most).

But if other people use their powers to influence her? They should be sorry for being such a meanie!

 
“You know, they’re talking about trying to cut away some of Asher’s scars and see if he heals on his own.”
“He’s a vampire, not a shapeshifter, Jason. Vampire flesh doesn’t heal quite the same.”

Translation: He totally won’t be healed, because then he won’t have anything to angst about or a reason to not get involved with someone else. After all, if he got rid of his scars, he might get his self-esteem back and go out to openly have sex with people other than Anita! We can’t have that, so he has to stay scarred forever – which is presumably the reason why even though Anita’s Supermagic Black Hole has magically given Damien a facelift and JC his own bloodline, Asher hasn’t gotten some basic cosmetic smoothing.

Anyway they prattle for awhile about Asher getting his scars removed, and Anita’s doing her best to insist that the Phantom… er, I mean Asher can’t be healed. I imagine if he were going to try without her permission, she’d rush in and shoot the doctor.

 
“What if Doc Lillian cuts away part of Asher and I can’t heal it, and it doesn’t heal on its own? He just goes around with a big hole in his side, or wherever?”

That’s why you test out such procedures on a small area. But then, Anita can magically heal anything… unless she doesn’t want to, because it might deprive her of someone’s emotional dependence.

 
I shook my head. “All I know for sure is I’ve got a plane to catch, and I need to call some guards down to help me carry up the weapons.”
“You know, the guards are scared of you now.”

Because she’s so scary and freaky and weird. Ooooo, be awed by the tiny woman With Attitude.

 
“You feed off sex, Anita, and if you don’t feed often enough, you die. That’s pretty much the definition of succubus, isn’t it?”
I frowned at him. “Thanks, Jason, that makes me feel so much better.”

For someone who takes such pride in being blunt and considers anything else to be “talking like a girl,” she certainly hates having other people be blunt with her.

And because Anita has more magic powahz than anyone else, she says that there’s no problem with feeding off people – not only can she have sex, but she’ll feed off the anger of the cops and their suspects, who of course are simmering with rage at all times. Because of course Anita is just like the cops, only angrier.

I’d discovered that ability only recently. Jean-Claude couldn’t do it, and neither could anyone in his bloodline, which meant if I were only gaining powers through him, I shouldn’t have been able to do it either, but I could.

BECAUSE SHE’S JUST THAT SPESHUL. Whoops, another power I’ve magically developed for no explicable reason. Dearie me!

 
“If you feed off them without their permission, it’s illegal. I think it’s even a felony.”
“If I fed blood, yes, but the law hasn’t caught up to the vamps who can feed through other things. If I fed on sex involuntarily, then it would be covered under the date-rape psychic and magic ability law, but if I feed on anger, it’s a gray area.”

And of course it’s morally okay if it’s legal. Never mind that if she feeds off anger, or that it’s entirely possible that she’s magically provoking anger and could have injuries and death by making people artificially enraged…. as long as she can’t get in trouble for it, no big problem.

 
“What if they find out? The cops already think you’re one of us.”

And obviously they’re right. Anita Blake: Supernatural Overlord.

“What happened to the girl I met a few years back who believed in truth, justice, and the American way?”
“She grew up,” I said.

What a charming attitude – if you believe in truth, justice and the legal system, you must have the mentality of a little kid. When you’re Grown Up Like Anita, you obviously would be contemptuous of everything and know that the correct way things go is: The Strong Bully And Enslave The Weak.

 
His face softened. “Why do I feel like I should apologize on behalf of all the men in your life for that?”

Nah, she was a bitter, poser-cynical bitch from the start. Nothing’s really changed except that now she’s boffing all the men while being a bitter poser-cynical bitch.

 
“Jean-Claude can divide my ardeur up among all of you while I’m gone. He’s done it before when I’ve worked with the police.”

So why exactly isn’t he doing this on a regular basis? Wait, I know – it allows her to “starve” until she just HAS to have sex with random weres and vampires. Bye bye, responsibility!

 
“Yeah, but that’s only a temporary measure, and it works better if you’ve had a really good feeding before he tries it.”
“You offering?” I asked.
He gave me a wide grin. “And if I say yes, what then?”

Then they have screaming thrashing sex on a couple of dead bodies, while the author giggles about how naughty and transgressive she is.

Nah, that doesn’t happen. But it wouldn’t have been surprising.

So then Anita starts freaking out because Jason is trying to delay her long enough for Jean-Claude to wake up… which means that logically it can’t be that long until sunset, since a boinkfest for Anita (once you cut out all the purple prose) probably takes about five minutes tops. After all, she likes getting plugged by soda-bottle sized penii with no foreplay and instant orgasms.

And she’s freaking out because even as she blithely tethers all the vampires and weres to servitude and one-way monogamy to her, she’s horrified to realize that eeeeeeks Jean-Claude is influencing her in turn. So of course, she’s determined to rush off and endanger herself and others…. because she’s all creeped out by Jean-Claude wearing down her “independence.” So she’s basically living with a harem but doesn’t want them to ever have an opinion or viewpoint that differs from hers, and she DEFINITELY doesn’t want any of the guys she “loves” to have any emotional ties to her.

“Now I am going, because I don’t know if I could go if he woke up and told me to stay. That’s not cool. I’m a U.S. Marshal and a vampire executioner. I have to be able to do my job, or what am I?”
“You’re Anita Blake, Jean-Claude’s human servant, and the first true necromancer in a thousand years.”

That pretty much sums up the series. She claims to be a marshal and a vampire executioner (which sound badass), but those little titles are disposable. They don’t matter much, because she’s a superspeshul necromancer and JC’s human servant (who treats him like her bitch).

 
“I’m afraid, too, Jason—of Vegas, and Vittorio, but I’m beginning to be afraid to stay here.” I wrapped my hand around the door handle and said, “When he’s awake, when he looks at me, I’m having more and more trouble saying no. I’m losing myself, Jason.”

Boohoo. When was the last time she said no?

This is another contrived moment of wangst where Anita whines about something she’s done which is totally not her fault but which brings consequences. In this case, she moved in with more of her harem and now is wangsting about how BOOHOO she’s actually LIVING with them and they’re having some influence on her. They don’t just pop up to sex her when it’s convenient, and allow her to stay in her bitter little bubble of solitude.

“Problem is, Jason, that you’re one of the people I’m losing myself to. It’s not just Jean-Claude, it’s all of you. I can fight one or two of you, but I can’t fight six of you. I’m outnumbered.”

Six? Where are the other two dozen? Or is she just talking about the six she’s actually in the same building?

 
If I hadn’t been convinced that Vittorio wanted to kill me and mail my head somewhere, I’d have looked forward to the trip to Vegas. I needed some distance between me and the men in my life.

It would be more exact to simply say that her men need some distance between her and them, since hooking up with Anita drains away whatever personality, life and independence any of the characters have.

And given that Anita collects men like Pokemon cards and then whines about what a pain it is to deal with them, it’s hard to sympathize with her problematic personal life. Evidently LKH thinks that the ideal relationship involves a sbort whiny woman having sex with lots of men and claiming she loves them all, but not being required to give any kind of emotion to them. Don’t you just dream of such a relationship?

Next Chapter: Maybe something other than talking will happen.

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