Undead and Unwed Chapter 25: Yeah, let’s just take the easy way out of absolutely everything. Plus MORE CLICHÉS! Omg, SURPRIIISE!

We open with Betsy waking up, thirstier than she’s ever been before! I knew why. Dennis, that traitor schmuck asshole, had hit me so hard if I’d been alive it probably would have killed me. At the least, he probably shattered my skull. I’m glad she finally fucking figured out that he was a traitor to the cause she’s championed for all of ten minutes, but I must argue about her allegation that he shattered her skull. She does say that while she was unconscious her body healed itself, but if it had been that severe it likely would have taken a lot more time and active healing efforts, judging by later injuries, and I have no idea why, if she woke up thirsty but uninjured, she would make such an assumption. C’est la vie, perhaps I’m getting too nitpicky in my efforts to cover this book in order to get to worse books. Although, that is kinda my job here.

I cursed myself for turning down Sinclair’s offer to share dinner. It had seemed so morally upright at the time, and now it was probably going to get me really dead. (sometimes it is so difficult typing up sentences without changing the words/grammar…I always have to double check I didn’t correct something)

I opened my eyes. I was in a windowless, cellar-like room. Cement walls and floors. Chilly as hell. Smelled like mud.

“Asshole,” I croaked. I cleared my throat and tried again. “Asshole, you there?”

“Yes,” Dennis said, with the nerve to sound apologetic. He straightened up from whatever he’d been doing and gave the chains around my ankles an experimental tug. “Sorry about that. For what it’s worth, this really is for the best.”

“Oh, okay, then I’ll just stop worrying. Jackass. Just tell me why, you jerk. Sinclair takes good care of you. He’s the good guy. I heard you and Tina have been with him for, like, forty or fifty years. So why the double cross? Were you always an asshole, or is it, like, a recent development?” I have a tendency to overuse commas at times. I know it, and I try to edit myself when I’m doing it. I’m just saying…if someone who overuses commas themselves thinks you’re using a ridiculous amount of commas, you’re probably doing something wrong.

Also, he’s been with them for 40-50 years? What the hell for? Why did he decide now was when they had to destroy that admittedly impressive subterfuge. It’s not like they even take Betsy all that seriously–during this conversation, Dennis does admit to believing Betsy is queen but still being loyal to Nostro (who doesn’t), and like…if that’s true, why the fuck would he do this? If you believe in a prophecy, why the fuck would you out yourself as Nostro’s man, rather than breaking a decades-long cover…and couldn’t Nostro have sent someone else? Just knock Dennis out too when they’re left alone, then leave him behind to say he didn’t see anything happen as he was knocked out first. Boom. You retain a valuable secret agent.

“Nostro is my sire.” Dennis said that with a simple dignity that made me want to kick him. “Everything I am is because of him. When he asked me, years ago, to go to his enemy, how could I refuse?” Again with the ridiculous amount of commas. The “years ago” mention is entirely unnecessary, as she just said that she overheard him mention his relationship with Sinclair has lasted for forty to fifty years, and even if it was deemed necessary he says it in such an unnatural way. When he asked me, years ago, blah blah, blah blah does not really flow well.

I tugged at my wrists. Nope. Don’t know what I was chained up with–titanium? cold silly putty? (yes, I had to override autocorrect to make that ‘c’ lower case)–but it wasn’t budging. Wrists above my head, ankles spread wide…and this slab was really cold.

“Let me get this straight, jackass. Nostro ripped you open like a trout and drank from you like a fountain while you were alive, and from that you’ve inferred that you owe him?”

“It wasn’t like that. He released me. He freed me.”

“He turned you into a Happy Meal, and you were dumb enough to think it was a favor.”

This implies that Betsy is very ignorant of even basic vampire tropes, as in basically every single vampire story the sired vampire always feel an unnatural pull towards their ‘master’…Claudia from The Vampire Chronicles is the only one I ever recall who actually actively resented her sire and intended to cause his demise, and that seemed to be more to the effect that as a child vampire she was a bit screwed up.

Also: in most vampire lore including this one, a sire has to actively turn someone they want turned…every now and again you get a “they turn just from a bite” thing, but even Betsy should be aware that Nostro would have had to give Dennis blood, as most notably and obviously Nick hasn’t turned, and there’s nothing to imply any of the random muggers she’s bitten have either. I know she’s just trying to be a bitch, but Dennis could easily point this out if he weren’t also dumb as fuck.

Dennis slammed the knife I hadn’t noticed he was holding into my upper thigh. Yow! There was a ‘chunk!’ as the tip embedded itself in the slab of stone I was chained to. It stung like crazy, but I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of yelling.

“Ow!”

Okay, I’d give him a little satisfaction.

“I’ve been stabbed before,” I sneered. “Barely a week ago, in fact (but she said one chapter ago she wasn’t undead yet a week, so which is it? Unless she’s stayed knocked out for at least a day, and knows as much…yeah no, oversight’s a bitch). And I’ve been audited, and I come from a broken home (I know she’s trying to be funny-sarcastic here, but I also come from a broken home–I’m pretty sure most people do at this point, to the point many people don’t care or think that’s a sign of strength or emotional endurance or whatever). In short–no offense, shorty–you don’t scare me.” She goes on and on in this paragraph about all the stupidity and indignity that brought her here–being hit with a case of plum wine, dragged to the bad guy’s hideout, and chained to a stone altar–and the main reason I quoted that is what comes in parentheses immediately after: did Nostro keep a hack scriptwriter on the payroll to feed him clichés.

Fuuuuck you, MJD! This shit is why I point out her many, many clichés. I probably don’t even get them all! But I try, because she seriously has the fucking GALL to try to laugh at clichés while writing a whole slew of them her own bad self. She also mentions her clothing is in tatters, claiming Dennis must have been busy with that knife. How? Actually cutting her up, or just her clothes? If cutting her too, why? She’s unconscious and would have been healed long before her probable return to consciousness…so what is the point? Just the assumption that she would throw a fit over her clothes being ruined? …Well, yeah, that does sound like something this twit would do. Touché, MJD. Although Betsy never does whine about that here, and as she’s entirely controlled by MJD…fail!

I have to comment on the fact Betsy immediately started insulting him. She claimed that he seemed apologetic initially, and she doesn’t even try to use that to her advantage. I mean, yeah, she is a loudmouth who doesn’t think before she speaks, or seemingly have much of a filter, but…come on. You know he’s been with Sinclair and Co. for half a damn century, you know he even seems to like Sinclair…you don’t even try to coax him into letting you go? Yeah, it probably wouldn’t have worked, but you could try, and it definitely won’t work NOW. So you just destroyed a weapon in your arsenal, and also made sure he would never, ever want to give you any sympathy or leverage over his actions. DUMBASS!

She follows up with her attempt at looking hard with, “You’ll have to do better than that.” And Dennis IMMEDIATELY succeeds in rattling her:

“I threw all your new shoes into the fire,” he whispered in my ear. She shrieks at him what an awful bastard he is, and he distastefully tells her something that is obviously very true, “You care about your pretty fripperies more than anything else.” Which even shuts Betsy up! He continues, You, the queen? Never. Not while I’m around to serve my master,” and Betsy somewhat confusingly attempts to agree with him:

“I agree with you! Hey, I never asked to be the queen, jerkweed. It wasn’t exactly on my top-ten list of things to do after I die. I’ll renounce the throne, okay? I never wanted it anyway. And I’m pretty sure it’s not mine.”

Okay. Let’s break this down. I agree with you, except I do think I’m the queen. I’ll renounce the throne, and I don’t think I’m the queen.

So…which is it? You believe in your queenhood, or you don’t. That’s really not something you can have both ways.

“It won’t work. They’ll never leave you alone,” he sighed. We both knew “they” meant Sinclair and Nostro. “It doesn’t matter now. You’ll die. You’ll never rule.”

And this is what causes Betsy to infer, “Let me get this straight. You believe I’m the queen, even though your master doesn’t. And the Book of the Dead was right, but you just don’t like it? Not too pathetic,” which Dennis never argues. Like…the sentence he made prior said ‘you, the queen?’ but within seconds Betsy inadvertently picks up that must mean he does believe he’s the queen…because she will die and thus never rule…and that apparently was Dennis acknowledging he believes she’s the queen, therefore believes the prophecy, but also thinks that he can kill her and destroy the prophecy…which he believes in, and one of the most well-quoted thing about it is how she doesn’t have the same weaknesses as a normal vampire, so, like…how?

Well, he does answer my question eventually. First he has to make her mad again, saying that the whole staff knew she slept with Sinclair, and she freaks out saying they just slept together, they didn’t…y’know…’sleep together.’ Wah wah wah, argue argue argue, finally he says he thinks decapitating her should do the job well enough (they both acknowledge she’s been stabbed in the heart and all it did was ruin her shirt), and she thinks to herself that yeah, probably that would work.

She has the audacity to once again call them childish with a straight face, and they just will not stop talking. She even goes on a dumb tangent about his hair, “Anything’s better than lying here freezing my ass off and smelling your mousse. Suave is all wrong for your hair type, by the way. It’s so fine and girly, you should use Aveda products.” I have no idea whether or not that is actually good advice, but it certainly is a stupid, dare I say…childish, thing to be bringing up right now. Oh, excuse me, MUCH HILARITY, SO AMAZING. Nah. Just because your main can be an obnoxious, whiny twat who can’t maintain interest in anything beyond herself doesn’t mean your main should be an obnoxious, whiny twat who can’t manage interest in anything beyond herself, y’know? Sometimes it works, and it’s funny. A lot of time, it just makes reading from her perspective infinitely tiresome.

And a-fucking-gain, they keep talking even though Dennis has already thought of a death which may take and keeps mentioning how he’s totally gonna cut her head off. He does reveal he set the mansion on fire, and she thinks of how tragic it is to have lost such great Victorian antiques he’d apparently decorated with, then all the human harems who must have been trapped inside, what this may mean for Tina and Sinclair, and twice she mentions her damn shoes. Twice. She’s aware enough to acknowledge how Sinclair and Tina lost their home, and that his and Tina’s ladyfriends as well as Dennis’s men likely just fucking burned to death, but she makes it entirely clear what she truly cares about, and my shoes, AND MY SHOES!

For some reason she decides this is “all her fault,” that if she hadn’t showed up perhaps they would still be in a war as they have been for years and years; perhaps they would have stayed at an impasse for another five-hundred years. But for me. It was all my fault. And I’d never get the chance to make up for it.

Again, WHAT THE FUCK? How is it her fault for merely existing? It’s called gaslighting, boo, and you need to be vigilant and not fall for it! Seriously…nothing she has ever said or done in the entire around a week that she’s been undead was really enough to claim it’s all her fault. She merely died and came back strong; she didn’t ask to be queen, and just a few pages ago she even said as much herself. Maybe her open rebellion and mocking of Nostro would have inevitably caused conflict, but the conflict is with her and her alone: she’s not responsible for any of the actions Nostro takes any more than I am.

“You fucker,” I said helplessly.

“All’s fair in love and etcetera,” he said lightly. “I’m afraid I can’t wait much longer for Nostro (is that what he’s been doing? First I’ve heard of it, and like I said, he keeps threatening to behead her any minute anyway, assuming MJD didn’t embrace the “bad guy talks too much and thus causes his own failure” James Bondian cliché that she herself will call out later). Best to dispatch you and commence the celebrating. Also–aaagggkkk!”

Personally when overusing letters, I make sure I don’t use “K” three times, but maybe that’s just me overthinking? I dunno, really. You tell me.

I stared. There was a long metal blade sticking out of the side of his neck. Just as my eyes had adjusted to what they were seeing, Tina wrenched the sword out of Dennis’s neck and swung again. He ducked away from her. She instantly turned and smashed the sword down on the chains between my ankles. And again. And–

“Watch it!”

She spun and ducked, and Dennis’s blade went whistling over her head.

Good thing Tina was smart enough to remember that she was actually in a freaking battle with another superbeing and maybe should concentrate on that, as watch it always makes me think it’s Betsy panicking about a sword coming so close to her extremities. Watch out is the more common phrase for someone to, y’know…watch out for something behind them. Watch it denotes that the speaker is frightened of or offended by whatever action you just took, Just sayin’. Sorry, I hate that phrase too.

I also want to point out yet another tragic misuse of story MJD just pulled off. She gives Betsy ample, valid reason to think that Sinclair and Tina may be dead. But within ONE SENTENCE, Tina shows up swingin’. She destroyed any sense of adversity and pain this may have caused Betsy, because she only had to wait ONE SENTENCE to have one of them show up. What was even the point of throwing that in there, if you’re just going to immediately undermine the claim?

I guess Tina cutting at the chains helped, because Betsy is able to struggle out of them now. However, she does almost break her wrists, and the chains dig into her flesh to the point in which she says her chains and her flesh were both tearing. She starts shouting at Dennis that he’s really gonna get it now, when she turns around and sees Tina on her knees, offering Betsy his severed head. Heh.

They start a conversation, with Tina apparently “shaking the head like a maraca,” and Betsy asks her to throw it aside so she isn’t so distracted/grossed out.

She dropped the head and I yanked her to her feet and gave her a hearty smack on the mouth. “That’s for that whole nick-of-timing thing you seem to have going on.” I kissed her again. “And that’s for cutting off the bad guy’s head.” Mwah! “And that’s for being so cute.” Mwah! “And that’s for not being dead.”

“Sure,” she said, fending me off with an elbow. “You’re all affectionate now, when there’s no time. Let’s go.”

No time for what, exactly? Was Tina going to try to leverage some sexy-time with the queen, who continuously reminds us throughout the series she’s “as straight as a ruler,” although she does start following that up with, “Still, rulers can become curious,” or something to that effect.

Sure, Tina could have just meant they don’t have time for kisses, but still I’m going to point out a trope I see a lot in both books and real life…to get it out of the way, I am very much pro-gay rights. None of what I am going to say is intended as homophobic, but y’never know how people will construe, or rather misconstrue, what someone is trying to say, intentionally or unintentionally, and I know this is kind of closing in on a hot button issue. And I’m only bringing it up because there are multiple instances where Tina essentially starts sexually harassing Betsy, and I’ve experienced the same thing as a mostly straight woman.

I have bisexual leanings. There have been women I’ve developed a crush on. But sex partners, I’m into dudes. I haven’t really experimented with women outside of one time in high school, but as far as I know I’m more “straight, but not narrow” than a true 50/50 or 60/40 or whatever the eff bisexual. I find women attractive, hell, more attractive many times, but actual sex acts speaking, I’m into dick. Sorry if any or all of that was TMI.

Not to be one of those people, yeah, I have had multiple gay friends. I fully support gay marriage, and in fact wonder why we don’t just call it “marriage” instead of “gay marriage.” Needing that emphasis does not lead one to believe that the institutions are entirely equal, still.

But I’ve had this experience more than once in real life, and I often see it in fiction as well, where one woman is basically sexually harassing another woman, sometimes even the other one points it out as uncomfortable, and no one thinks it’s a big deal. Like a woman can’t truly sexually harass another woman, I guess? I don’t know. It’s seen as harmless and/or amusing.

I had a friend–let’s call her Gwen–at an old job I used to have. I met her as a coworker, and we also hung out fairly frequently outside of work, sometimes with another friend we’ll call Alexis.

Gwen was apparently very attracted to me. She would tell me often, making assertions like she’d never wanted another woman so badly or whatever. She would randomly throw in things she wanted to do to me mid-conversation. At first I just kinda laughed it off and reminded her that I wasn’t really female-oriented beyond physical appearance (I still often think a woman’s body is more appealing than a man’s, but I don’t have fantasies about fucking one, attractive as she may be). It started to make me uncomfortable and I told her I was uncomfortable, but still she would bring it up, always deepening her voice and speaking like maybe how a sex line worker may speak? I dunno, it’s the best analogy I can think of at the moment.

Even Alexis started bringing up that she was uncomfortable as clearly I was uncomfortable–and I hadn’t even expressly said so to her. She would even often try to neutralize it, make a joke or something, until suddenly Alexis wasn’t with us so much…whether that was her choice or Gwen’s, I don’t know.

Anyway, it got to the point Gwen and I started drifting apart. I wanted to be around her less and less, because more and more she would hit on me mercilessly, although she was very comfortable calling out any male-on-female sexual harassment she ever witnessed or heard of–even if they were doing essentially the same thing she was. Heck, I’ve experienced or read that exact thing multiple times–it’s okay for women to come on too strong to other (straight or not) women regardless if they’ve expressly asked them not to, but a male doing the same (or even doing it once and backing off) is put through the wringer.

I am not defending men or demonizing lesbians–I do not think in any way, shape, or form all lesbians must behave this way or anything, as that is staunchly ridiculous. I think that women ought to follow the same social niceties as anyone else–if you’re hitting on someone and they ask you not to, knock it the f off. Don’t take the absurdity up to 11–that indicates that you do not respect the other woman.

I would point out that I had a boyfriend at the time and would never cheat on him (ironically, the relationship ended a bit later because he cheated on me in an INCREDIBLY, exceptionally cruel and awful fashion) even if I was attracted to Gwen, which I was not. She was several years younger than me, and it showed. I had absolutely no interest in her beyond friendship, and she knew that, and she seemed to be okay with that…except for when she would start flirting and flirting and describing her desires and obviously and statedly making me uncomfortable.

Later on, after I had stopped working at that store and after we’d drifted apart (for some reason!), Gwen came out as…let’s say Glen. Any time I shopped at that store (which is the only decent clothing store left in my town, unless you like Walmart’s incredibly thin faux-whatever outfits that last two weeks at best), Glen would hit on me. After he’d transitioned, he deepened his voice to whisper at me (in the damn checkout line) that he had a penis (well, as far as I’ve been told it’s an exaggeration of your clitoris? But whatever, it’s meant to functionally be a smallish penis), and that sure it wasn’t very big (yet? Idk if they ever enlarge them later) but still, he has a penis now so I should finally succumb to all of his advances.

I still wasn’t interested, and heck I was in another relationship by this point but yet again, he had no respect for my boundaries or my relationship. Again. And, like…come the fuck on. If someone says no, it means no. You should not have to repeatedly say no to them to get them to stop. Yeah, I could have stopped hanging out with them sooner, which eventually I did anyway, but I did like and appreciate Gwen…as a friend. Or Glen, I’m not sure how to refer to someone before/after, in discussing something about them before they had transitioned, do I still refer to him as Glen in that case? Or do I say “Gwen” and point out that later he became “Glen,” or whatever? Should I have referred to him as Glen all along, even when I was describing my tomboy lesbian wannabe suitor while he was she..I respect transitioning and am happy if someone who has felt they were born in the wrong body does so. I don’t always understand all of the rules, mostly in terminology I guess.

Whatever, the point of the story is that this person was hitting on me to the extreme and thought it was okay because she was a woman, and then keeps doing it afterwards now that he’s a man…because he was a woman, I guess? He’s against sexual harassment in the form of men on women, but still gets a pass because I knew him as Gwen…? I don’t know! Point is, this has happened to me, someone I know, or someone in literature I’m reading more than once, and I wanted to just point out how unacceptable that kind of behavior is.

I know most do not go out of their way to superduper flirt with someone to the point of causing discomfort, or that if they do it’s because they’re speaking to a closeminded asshole and are using whatever weapons they have to annoy/fight them or whatever. I expect most people must realize “NO MEANS NO”…means no…but there are some who apparently do not believe it applies to them, because (circumstances). I’m really not trying to be offensive or closeminded myself, I am just relating an experience I had and pointing out (some of) why the other person was behaving inappropriately.

Like Tina sometimes does! Let’s get back to that, huh? I really didn’t mean to take up so much space with that. Tina says she and Sinclair split up upon arrival, which means Sinclair must have run into Nostro because Tina found Betsy. Except it could also mean he’s still just looking for whichever victim/abuser he comes across first? But since MJD is the one writing, of course Tina is right. She also mentions, “The only reason I got back here in time to help you was because I told Nostro’s people you were the foretold queen,” which, I dunno, just strikes me as a wee bit odd. In that they’ve already been told as much and didn’t switch sides or show neutrality before! But whatever, do you expect an author to pay close attention to her own first-novel-in-a-series?? Ludicrous! And editors? Are sooo, like…1992. Somewhere in the 90s, anyway, judging by LKH and MJD and Charlaine Harris and so many more.

Actually, I do find it strange that she gets away with it so quickly…and yeah, she does start crediting “the best editor in the biz,” (hers…HA!) in her acknowledgement pages. But that is just laughable, as it gets worse and worse and worse, and if you read most serieses back-to-back like I (most people?) do they stand out so much more. Either she has an editor who entirely sucks at her(/his? I think it’s a her…but I don’t think it’s important enough to find a later book to read the name, or even Google it) job, or she somehow gained the power to demand no one edit her precious words like LKH, but much, much sooner. Either way, it’s dumb as shit! Editors ARE important, people! Yeah, they might suggest alterations you don’t like, or maybe hurt your feewings from time to time, but they remain important nevertheless. I would assume you still have the right to outright ignore a suggestion, or at LEAST object to it, and, y’know…oftentimes your writing only becomes BETTER when edited.

I would be comfortable saying that’s probably more true than false. And I would say it’s the author’s responsibility to keep shit straight. Take notes! Reread yourself! I don’t care WHAT you do, but for the love of god TRY TO HAVE SOME CONTINUITY!

It is important, it really truly is. Even people who only read a work once are bound to notice at least some of the random changes. If it’s ignorance–there are points where I feel she simply decided against how something happened and just changes it in the next book DOODEDOO NOTHING TO SEE HERE! As if we are all idiots. In fact, there’s an entire book where she retcons everything before it. She even QUOTES WIKIPEDIA (twice! At least twice) in one of those stupid opening quote pages some authors feel the need to do to seem profound or whatever. The time I’m referring to being a quote about what “retcon” means. Even points out it stands for retroactive continuity, as holding your readers hand and treating them like children is definitely the proper way to both success AND respect! Well, maybe she’s trying to imply you’re still here?! Well, I guess you’ll swallow anything I put forward then, sooo…ENJOY SUCKAAAAS!!!!

Betsy asks how they escaped the mansion inferno, saying Dennis was pretty convinced they were all dead. Tina says, “The underground tunnel, of course,” which really paints Dennis as exceptionally stupid, as he very definitely knew about that tunnel and apparently never bothered to emphasize how Sinclair’s apparent “super(even for a vampire)strength may be cause to block it well…this is not one of those vampire stories wherein the slightest brush of fire entirely immolates the poor, dumb vamp. They can be burned and survive it. They heal burns. Dennis knew about the tunnel and knew this, and yet he was convinced they’d all just succumb to their fiery deaths. Tina does mention that there was an obvious attempt to block it, but it was almost entirely a failure. So I take it either he did tell Nostro and Friends about it…or, and this may even be more likely if it was truly such a bangup job, he tried to do it himself in the very little time he had, especially considering he was kidnapping someone they’d definitely fight to save and could come back any minute. TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE but oh well, whatever, who can possibly move a few boards away?

Tina struggles to tell Betsy that there was one death. Betsy keeps interrupting and interrupting, until she finally manages to interject, “Karen’s dead, Betsy.”

Y’know, Karen. The British former prostitute who Betsy had one entire conversation with, mostly involving Karen disrespecting herself and her own, former, occupation. The character so important, I feel it is necessary to describe who she even was.

Betsy surprises me by not immediately asking but what about my shoes?! And even speaks with some (unearned) pain at her demise. She bounces back immediately and basically whatever’s it away, though, so don’t get too comfortable thinking she’s a decent being.

“So…you guys got out and came here. Piece of cake, right?”

Tina snorted. “Dennis left too quickly with you–a rather large error in judgment, which I’m happy to say cost him his head. Eric and I got out and came straight here, yes. I was prepared to fight my way in, but instead told everyone I ran across that I was there for their salvation and our queen. And, for a wonder, no one tried to stop me. That tells me they might be ready. If I show you to them, they may yet turn on him.”

Which personally I think is a pretty dumb conclusion to immediately jump to. The more likely-seeming explanation is that they’re just trying to keep their head down, not wanting to fight SuperSinclair or who we are later told is the most efficient and deadly little warrior of all time or whatever, Tina. I mean, they left her alone but it sounds like they just ignored her. Told her nothing, nothing about where Betsy is, seemingly nothing at all. Let her do her thing without interfering. Not take an active side if they are safely able to do so, rather than fighting her off and dying or being punished/exiled/killed for obviously taking the wrong side. I don’t think most of them are entirely loyal to and admiring of Nostro, but that doesn’t mean shit about whether or not they might support Betsy as a ruler.

Also, they have already seen her. She’s been kidnapped and taken to wherever Nostro wished, once to that mausoleum which was described as full of vampires (surely not all of them, but:), the other she was brought directly to his house, also full of vampires. Perhaps all of them?! Seems likely most, if not all.

Anyway, Tina hauls Betsy up the stairs and says she’s “going to have (Nostro’s) balls for breakfast.” They get to his ballroom (is that a pun?) where at least thirty people were fighting and kicking and punching and clawing at each other. Nostro and Sinclair were probably in the middle of it. Tina drops Betsy’s hand and wades into the melee, and Betsy runs outside, not telling us why. She’s whining to herself of why he has to have such a big property, then runs into a cute little redhead obviously trying to avoid the fight. Which indicates I was probably correct in assuming that some of them are so defeated, they will not take either side and hope the victor shows mercy, whoever it may be. Regardless, Betsy grabs her by the arm and shrieks at her:

“Where are the Fiends?”

“Please–don’t–don’t hurt me–”

“The Fiends, twit! Where does your boss keep them? I know they’re locked up around here somewhere.”

After a lengthy description of what this girl looks like–fourteen and all of eighty pounds, which Betsy feels awful she’s stuck in adolescence forever, at least for that moment. A butterfly could fly by right now and she would entirely forget this girl, her plans, the fight going on, whatever. And probably try to capture it to put in her shoes–one pair later on is described as having a clear sole with a butterfly inside. The girl finally tells her that the Fiends reside in a cage behind the barn, and then continues begging Betsy not to hurt her.

“Relax, cutie. This is shaping up to be your lucky day. You’d better stick with me. It’s dangerous in there,” which could have been fine advice save the fact Betsy is certainly going back in there, and this girl is obviously scared out of her damned mind. Although she does follow that up with something just as dumb:

“Oh, dangerous? Tell me! I thought the Korean War was bad.” … “I’m–I’m Alice, by the way.” She seems by all indications to be entirely serious that a fucking actual war is worse than what was described as around thirty vampires duking it out, scratching and kicking at each other. Yeah no. That is so fucking insulting. An actual war with several thousand people fighting and dying is worse than a relatively small melee. FUCK YOU! Again, she insults the memories of thousands upon thousands of people’s suffering by equating it to some miniscule bullshit. At least this time there’s a scuffle going on–remember, earlier she stated that a bunch of feral-types (the Fiends) jumping out at her and scratching at her for a few seconds was worse than World War II. Megafuck you.

Alice shows her the Fiends, and Betsy asks why they are feral. She tells her that they are vampires who were never allowed to feed after their first rising until it drove them mad and animalistic. “All they know is hunger.”

Meanwhile, Betsy chewed on her own wrists and offered them to them–very fortunately (for her) this doesn’t cause a riot and get her damn arms ripped off. She did show them her glowing cross yet again before biting her wrists open, but, like…they’re feral. There are at least a half dozen of them in there. She has two wrists, and therefore can only feed two at a time, but doesn’t even think that they may not have the patience to wait their turn? That. is. SO. STUPID!!!!

Well, she tells us she feels sorry for them, that they had once been people and were reduced to this. She asks whether they’re fixable, and Alice stutters out Nostro wouldn’t ever let anyone try, if ever anyone even wanted to. Betsy offers to leave her outside, and she decides she must go inside, so I guess it’s not entirely Betsy’s fault she’s running headfirst into danger.

“You’re so brave…and strong. And it must be right (that she’s queen, I guess), for how can you–”

“Today, Alice, could you answer my question today? (so gracious!)I still have to save my new friends, kill Nostro, and get home in time to set my VCR to record Martha Stewart.” Hahahaha. I know Martha Stewart was popular, but I found even that reference pretty lame. But even lamer, a VCR?! In 2004? Yeah, okay.

Alice very stupidly and abruptly decides, “I’m your servant. Forever and ever. Because you were nice and because you would have let me stay outside. Even if I won’t. Stay outside, I mean,” again showing off what natural dialogue MJD writes! Not to mention, Alice is so beaten down that she will immediately declare lifelong allegiance and fucking servitude to the first person who says “Naw, it’s okay if you’re a bit of a wimp.” I know she looks fourteenish, but reality is she’s got to be over 50-60 years old, maybe older depending on when she apparently witnessed the Korean War…we are never told her actual age (that I recall), but she’s definitely old enough to be Betsy’s grandmother.

It’s so weird when vamp novels do this. Sometimes turning someone on the young/youngish side keeps them perpetually immature and even childlike, other times it is a mortal insult to expect that kind of thing. I know that varies from series to series, but logically they would still grow mentally, even if physically they’re a bit fucked up. And hey, she was maybe fourteen when that was still considered essentially an adult. I violently disagree with that mindset, or gross old men trying to date someone that age (I had a friend who was dating 40 year olds around then, and it was weird AF), but it was still a thing to the point she may feel like an adult. Even if she doesn’t feel so physically, a lot of fourteen year olds have already gained what is essentially going to be their adult bodies (unless that’s a newer thing? I don’t see why it wouldn’t be pre-1950s) so, like…why is this a thing? Why does a vampire who looks fourteen but is in fact several decades older still act like a fourteen year old? Am I the only person who thinks that shit is dumb?! Sigh.

“Swell. I think.” Would I ever get used to people instantly throwing me their allegiance? Lord, I hoped not. “Here’s the plan.”

That is what ends the chapter, again ending at a conversational point intended to…lure you to turn the page, I guess? I don’t fully “get” dramatic chapter endings. They can be done well, for sure, but when you use, abuse, and overuse them, it starts to feel tiresome, or tedious, or all-around stupid. Times like this, we are pretty certain what’s coming up–either continuing a conversation, which admittedly would be worse, or jumping slightly ahead in time, which is still irritating…to me, anyway.

C’est la vie, I believe this is my longest review yet, despite the prior chapter being twice as long, and thus I believe I’ve pretty much covered it thoroughly enough to just end this thing. Betsy has a plan, and soon we shall see whether or not it works…even though we know this is the first of fifteen books told from her perspective, so that kinda ruins the suspense! Hell, even as a first/only book we probably can figure out she’s going to succeed. Rarely does a story break from that, and certainly even more rarely-if-ever does a shitty attempted romance novel.

UP NEXT: An entirely too quick resolution followed by an entirely too quick quasi-“romance”…followed by an epilogue. It’s almost done, it’s almost done! Three short chapters and an epilogue; perhaps my next post will be the final post I make summarizing Undead and Unwed. And then onto Undead and Unemployed, ahoy!

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