Tempted Chapters 6 & 7

Chapter 6

Emotional trauma is one of those things that really shitty authors love to trot out and staple to their characters. I understand it, to a certain extent. They don’t want to physically scar or disable their protagonist but they want them to carry some sign of the badass. So they give them emotional trauma and call it a day.

Emotional trauma is a real thing and it can suck worse than physical because there’s still a bit of a stigma attached to mental illness. That’s in the real world though. In the world of novels emotional trauma is always worse because the author says so and they want to believe that their dog’s death is just as bad as getting beaten with a cricket bat. They always seem to forget that physical injuries can have emotional impact too. Let me use Zoey’s grandma as an example.

Here’s a woman who’s elderly, probably survived her husband’s death years ago, and lives alone on a farm. She should be able to relax and enjoy her retirement years as she pleases. She raised a fully functional daughter, who she hates because of her religious choices, and manages a lavender farm. But her granddaughter has roped her into fighting off the forces of evil. How frightening would that be?

What kind of toll would it take on grandma, already able to feel the breath of the reaper, to start taunting death by standing against Kalona and Neferet? To have lived long enough that time has sapped your strength and now you need it most, would it be tempting to give up when the balance of the world comes down on her tired, possibly arthritic, shoulders? To shove the responsibility off on someone else.

This is PCK’s universe though and grandma is fine. Sure she had a car accident but grandma doesn’t have feelings about it. She’s a puppet with Real Damage Action and you can hear her spout one of her two hundred prerecorded Supportive Dialogue lines when you press her bun! Only Zoey gets to have feelings and maybe one or two of the supporting cast which is why these people are cardboard cutouts.

Back in the current chapter, we’re still with Zoey. That makes five chapters out of six chapters focused on Zoey. Now I can see why PCK would need to label each of them. When we spend so little time with any one character, it’s easy to lose sight of who’s perspective we’re following. We pick up exactly where we left off last chapter, with Heath showing up with snacks.

“Thanks, Heath.” I suppressed a sigh as Heath walked over to me and, grinning, offered me some nacho cheese Doritos and a can of brown pop.

So that’s where Zoey’s suffering comes from, suppressing sighs. Why the hell did you make this a new chapter, PCK? Why not pick up after Heath’s arrived so the chapter break feels natural. Something like “Zoey munched quietly on the snacks Heath had brought while he fawned over her. She bore this with muted disdain.”?  Zoey asks where Erik is and PCK tries to convince us he’s an asshole when everyone says that he’s still outside rechecking the grounds for ravens. How dare he not trust Stevie! The same person who decided that she would save one of the ravens and hide it from everyone. If this were a zombie movie, Stevie would be the person nervously checking the bite hidden under her sleeve and accusing everyone else of being infected.

I get it, PCK. Erik is a dick for not trusting Stevie instead of being cautious like a sane person. Why don’t you just have Zoey stab him in the heart right now and get it over with? Stevie then tells Dallas to get over here and debrief her. He says he already did and she demands he do it again because she’s lost her mind.

Dull story short, they found three bodies out there, ravens who’d been shot by Darius. Again, if these things can be killed by bullets how the hell are there so many alive now? I know the Native Americans probably didn’t have such handy weapons as the semi automatic rifle or even the good old double barreled shotgun but an arrow or even a stone could probably kill these things just as easily.

Anywho, Stevie wants to know what they did with them and they say they put them in some dumpsters. Stevie doesn’t like that and says they can’ t leave them in there. Zoey gets suspicious and asks why, they’re evil half immortals who’d kill in a heartbeat. Stevie says they’re also half human and deserve more respect than that.

There was something about the look in her eye—about the sound of her voice—that really bothered me. I answered her with the first thing that came into my mind. “It takes more than an accident of blood to make me feel sorry for someone.”

Allow me to translate that. ‘I don’t care about anything human so half human means even less to me.’ And this is our hero, folks. I may hate Stevie’s ridiculous country bumpkin routine but at least she’s a bit likeable. That’s more than I can say for Zoey. Zoey realizes that maybe Stevie identifies with them because she didn’t have her humanity for awhile. Gee, ya think?

Zoey and Angela start patronizingly telling Stevie they understand and blah blah blah. Stevie says they don’t but she’s not talking about it right now. Stevie says she’s going to look for Erik and send him in. As soon as she’s gone Zoey says that’s not how Stevie usually acts. Angela, sensing that their god is angering, says she’ll pray for Stevie. Yes, Zoey, please show her the way back to the light that is you.

Zoey doesn’t want to deal with it right now. It’s funny how these protagonists cause their own problems by being  procrastinators. It makes me wonder if that mirrors the lives of PCK. Heath says she needs some sleep so he walks her to Stark’s room. Heath thinks that Zoey will be splitting with Erik soon as she doesn’t like bossy guys. Zoey says she’s not discussing it with him but confirms, in the narrative, that she doesn’t like bossy guys. Unless they’re, like, really hot like Kalona.

They babble about Stark and Erik and love and blah blah blah, shut up already PCK, blah blah. Heath tells her to come here, he has something for her. He gives her a hug and it makes Zoey feel calm and secure. Heath asks where does he fit in with all this, meaning the other two guys. A fair question. Zoey doesn’t know and Heath says not to worry, he’ll always be there for her.

“Why?” I asked, still cradled in his arms. “Why are you still here, still willing to be with me even when you know about Erik and Stark?”

Uh, because he’s brainwashed by magic? Zoey seems to be in the business of forgetting things. Heath says it’s because he loves her and he can give her something none of the vampires can. So he holds her and tells her everything will be alright and Zoey says that was the moment Heath became her “consort”.

Chapter 7

Back with Stevie who’s not such a limp-dicked whiner, she’s throwing a tantrum because she feels like she’s screwed up. Which is shockingly normal. I say shockingly because I didn’t know PCK could write people doing human things. They must have employed a ghost writer. Perhaps the elder Cast forced one of her students to fill in some of the chapters so she could get back to drinking heavily.

Stevie is feeling both guilty and stupid for taking in the raven. She wonders why she didn’t call out to Dallas and had them finish it off. Probably because you could do it yourself with magic, Stevie.

But he’d spoken. He’d sounded so human. And she hadn’t been able to kill him.

I almost want to give Stevie a hug for that. It’s a cheesey line but in this series it’s refreshing. I like seeing character driven stories where people have emotions. Stevie shoves it out of her mind and calls out to Erik. Like Zoey, or the devil if you prefer, he appears when you speak of him. Stevie wants to know why he’s not inside and he says he was double checking.

They look at the sky and Erik says it might rain which will hide the raven blood. This reminds her of the trail her pet raven left and decides to cover it up. She sends him inside while warning him Zoey doesn’t need to be bothered by boyfriend troubles right now. He says that they’re together and can’t fathom how him looking to talk to her could be construed as bothersome. Stevie thinks that Zoey will eat him alive and spit him out. No, Stevie, Zoey’s kind kills and eats after mating. They don’t waste calories.

“For a smart guy, he sure makes some stupid choices,” Stevie Rae said softly as she watched his broad back disappear. “’Course me sayin’ that about him is what my mama would say was a hog callin’ a skunk stinky.”

You can stop with the countrified aphorisms any time, PCK. I’m pretty sure that they’ve heard the one about the pot calling the kettle black in rural Oklahoma. Then Stevie starts thinking about how she reacted to the ravens being in the trash. Zoey was sort of right in that Stevie understands, having been a monster. She thinks treating life so casually is dangerous. Why it just might lead to someone pushing people into traffic and killing them without feeling guilt.

Stevie covers up the blood and then grabs some stuff from the nearby greenhouse. Then it’s off to the shed so she can minister the wounded raven. She sees him and starts thinking it would be better to let him die and that it’s not playing god to let him go. Then he talks and Stevie can’t just let him die.

Stevie decides that, even though he looks like a monster, he sounds like a regular person in pain and hopeless which she knows about. The chapter ends there which means that next chapter will be Stevie applying bandages to him and making him all better.

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