Betsy takes off running, surprising herself by getting 16 blocks away in the span of 3 minutes. She slows down to obsess about Sinclair, “that Elvis-wannabe sociopath” as she still doesn’t know any of their names, and whining about dogs yet again, as two slink away from her while she stomps down the street. She’s built herself up into quite a tizzy, starting up that incredibly dumb plot line these books often do, where the heroine “hates” the obvious Dude She Will End Up With and not even the other characters buy it, nevermind the audience, until she hears a soft voice say, “See ya, world.” She looks up and sees a man younger than she is standing on the edge, waiting for her to move so he can plummet 6 stories.
Rather than allowing that, she climbs up the side of the building, calling herself “SpiderVamp” as she often refers to pop culture, often the type which immediately dates her but I suppose this one is a safe choice.
She gets to the top, where the man is staring at her in amazement. He has brutally short dark hair, a goatee, devilish green eyes, and is almost as pale as Betsy, and quite thin. He finally stutters out, “What have you been eating?” and she says let’s not go there and asks why he wanted to jump.
“I’m sick of kids dying; I’m in debt up to my tits for medical school; my dad’s got cancer, I haven’t had sex in two months; I’m being kicked out of my apartment because the owner sold his house; I have G.A.D. and my Valium has stopped working for me.
“G.A.D. General Anxiety Disorder.”
“That’s pretty bad,” I admitted. “I mean, I don’t know what G.A.D. means exactly, but that’s a pretty impressive shit list. Except the sex thing. Typical man, wanting to jump because you haven’t dipped your wick in a measly eight weeks. I once went two years.”
He pondered for a minute, then shook his head.”What about you? What happened to you?”
I crossed my legs and got comfy. “Well, I died earlier this week, found I can’t die again, my stepmother stole all my good shoes, I can’t eat any kind of food, I practically raped a perfectly nice man, met a bunch of vampires who turned out to be every movie stereotype imaginable, threw a persistent date through a stone cross, and find out I’m now one of the fastest creatures on the planet. Then I saw you.”
“So you’re a vampire?”
“Yes. But don’t be scared. I’m still a nice person.”
“When you’re not raping men.”
I really hate how one of Marc’s reasonings for wanting to kill himself, after a meager 2 months of having an involuntary dry run. Hardy-har, he’s suicidal because dudes can’t survive without sex. That is “typical man” behavior, according to MJD.
Anyway, they chat about his dad dying and leaving him with massive medical bills, and how his entire career thus far has been death and paperwork then around back to death again, an endless sea of human misery.
“How about we go get a cup of coffee, talk about why our lives suck?” Betsy says.
“You know, once I make up my mind, I usually try to follow through…” Marc replies.
“Come on,” I coaxed. “Vampires exist and you never had the faintest clue, right?”
They speak to each other a bit longer, with Marc glancing down at the street a few times, internally debating suicide or not while Betsy keeps trying to entice him to leave the roof, when finally Marc agrees to get down and go with her under one conditions–she has to make him her next meal. She also adds to the promise of not jumping, he can’t take a “leap in front of a truck or take a bath with (his) toaster or comb (his) head with a chainsaw.” He laughs and confirms he won’t cheat and commit suicide another way.
I’m really not sure how I feel about this. I mean the suicide. MJD clearly doesn’t have the depth to write about something like that as she tries to put a humorous spin on something so…not funny. And of course their eventual relationship is full of that same “good-natured ribbing” we find with everyone else too, which could be devastating to a person’s self-esteem, whether made as a joke or not.
I don’t know, it’s just not a great addition the series to have him introduced in that way, in my opinion. She just keeps taking on more and more uncomfortable, awful realities and then brushes it off like it’s nothing.
Anyway, Betsy does wind up feeding off of him, and he immediately wants more (sound familiar?), and then…well, I should probably just quote it because it’s fucking weird:
He had let go of me and was fumbling at the drawstring of his pants, tugging, and then his pants were around his ankles and his erection filled his hand. He gripped himself so hard his knuckles went white and, while I watched in total stupefaction, pumped once, twice three times, and then he was coming and I leapt out of the way.
So…yeah. He gives himself the ol’ kung fu grip (on his most delicate part of his body) and is able to climax with three violent strokes. Whaaaat the fuuuck?
Well he goes on to tell Betsy she didn’t rape that man. “If you bit someone and they wanted more…it wasn’t rape. He wanted to. In fact, it was probably that he had to,” Marc tells her, but y’know, it’s not up to anyone but the victim whether or not they would consider that a form of rape, and Marc asked her to do it. Nick sure as hell didn’t. And vampire mojo is not consent; it’s more like a roofie.
Anyway, they finally exchange names, and he laughs at Betsy for going by Betsy (“Elizabeth” has more kinds of nicknames than most). She says, ”Don’t start. I can’t help it if I’ve got unholy powers and a boring first name.” Which, of course, she does have versatility and thus chose to go by Betsy.
Marc comments that, “The list is surreal…vampire, undead, denizen of the night, unholy thirst, man-raper, and–Betsy?”
He ends up asking her last name, too, and breaks out in hysterical laughter, as her full name is Elizabeth Taylor. She mentions this and how much she hates it so many times, throughout the series, and I have to say…of course, she’s a Hollywood legend, but she’s not exactly brimming with popularity anymore…and I’m not sure if her legendary status pulls in the younger crowd, these days. But I dunno, maybe she’s more timeless than I believe, or maybe future readers will have to Google why does everyone find that completely normal name so funny oh it’s because an actress had that name, uh…so?
He laughed, as everyone does when they hear my name. It was the laugh that made us friends, which I thought was just fine.
Chapter 13 begins with Marc “just finishing his second plateful of ham and eggs,” telling Betsy she needs a sidekick. Betsy says she already does, he says, “I mean a badass, not someone from the secretarial pool.”
Betsy, of course, chews him out a little, as a just-laid off former secretary herself. “First of all, do not mock secretaries or their pools. They’re as badass as can be–you think management runs a company?”
And, whatever. She goes on and on about what secretaries do until Marc distracts her by waving down the waitress to get a third meal. They get on with it, discussing Marc’s actual misery and why he can’t leave the children’s hospital he works at.
They talk and talk, til Betsy pulls her sunglasses down (fluorescent lighting is apparently a bitch after becoming a vampire…well, even more, anyway) to work her vampire mojo and:
“…I’m glad you’re feeling better, but if you should relapse you won’t. Kill. Yourself.”
“…I’ll do…whatever. The hell. I want. But thanks. Anyway.”
I stared harder. Come on, vampire mojo. Do your thing, “Don’t. Kill. Yourself.”
Marc is about to tell her he’s gay when Sinclair walks in and Marc gets all enraptured with him, giggling and squealing and OMG-ing like a cheerleader when Sinclair heads towards their table, and she finally figures it out. I do kinda like the following exchange:
“I just assumed you were straight.”
“Because you are. I always assume everyone is gay.”
“Well, statistically that’s pretty dumb.”
Sinclair gets to the table and finally tells her his name. She immediately starts calling him “Sink Lair,” because she’s 5.
He explains how vampires tend to band together (for protection and a sense of security) with the strongest in charge, and says Nostro is basically akin to a “tribal chief.” He asks Betsy to align with him, giving her protection while also attempting to discover why she’s so different from the rest–the holy water should have been agonizing, and all it did was make her sneeze. He also mentions that he was born the year World War II began, though I’m not entirely sure if he’s including his human life, or if they don’t while calculating their age.
Betsy is suspicious of him offering to help her (not even 72 hours and already has a price on her head. Sinclair makes Marc go to sleep so that they have privacy, and she rants about pretty much the whole time. When she mentions the fingers-in-the-mouth thing Sinclair says to her, “I am tempted to put something else in your mouth this instant.”
Betsy continues to turn down his offer of help, until finally he says, “We will speak again. There will come a time, Miss Rogue, when you will badly need my help. I will gladly give it. I hold no grudges. Provided that you let me put something in your mouth again.”
Chapter 14 is mainly Marc examining Betsy after-hours in the hospital. He does tell her that his suicide is never going to happen, “I have an anxiety disorder, not suicidal ideation. And people like me almost never kill themselves. We’re too anxious about death,” completely discounting the fact that he was on a roof and prepared to jump once, what’s stopping him from trying it again? But whatever, Betsy believes him.
Jessica is with them, basically spinning in circles on an office chair and making sarcastic comments. At first she did not get along with Marc, as she’s jealous of Betsy having any other friends outside of her, but eventually they “decide to share her.” They both want Betsy to use her “powers” to fight crime–Marc is even gathering up files he has on kids who should not have been sent back to their parents, but Betsy still doesn’t want to feed; she hates that act of blooddrinking, although she looooves the taste.
But yeah, most of the chapter is just a random conversation as well as the exam, which deems Betsy “incompatible with life.”
They leave using the alleyway, when Betsy senses danger–but too late. A female vampire attacks, shoving Jessica into the snow which renders her unconscious somehow. She grabs Marc, they have a little conversational standoff, and then she bites Marc–but without any of the gentle care Betsy did. She rips out an inch of skin with her teeth and drinks from him, causing him to scream and scream. Betsy can’t or doesn’t do anything to help, until she asks her just what the hell she wants. Of course, she’s been sent by Nostro, and he told her to get Betsy to go with her no matter the cost. She starts telling Betsy whatever horrors she plans to do to Marc and Jess, but just kinda shrugs and says okay, as long as she leaves her friends alone. The vampire is shocked, having expected a fight, but does let Marc go. She attempts to introduce herself:
“I am Shanara.”
“Shut the fuck up, you cunt.” Betsy claims to have never used that word before, and is delighted when Shanara looks shocked, like she’d been slapped. The chapter ends with Betsy leaving Marc to take Jessica to the ER.
UP NEXT: Pretty much vampire politics, really.