Content notes: I talk about sexual assault and metaphysical and emotional manipulation leading to such.
We’re all here because I have ongoing issues with the Anitaverse but lack the common sense necessary to stop reading the series even though it has actually repeatedly set off some of my bad brain stuff. As for issues… well, they’re largely things like Nathaniel basically bullying Micah into changing his sexuality to suit him – and succeeding. Anita casually mentions it at the start of this chapter and it is… not great:
If I’d been by myself, I’d have used the shower in the room I shared with Nathaniel and Micah, but it seemed a little awkward to use their shower when I was planning on getting a different man out of his clothes. Also, I wasn’t sure where they were on their date, and since Micah was still working out his issues about it being just the two of them without a girl in sight, I didn’t want to crash their rendezvous. Nathaniel was for Micah what Kane kept trying to make me for Asher—the one person who had changed his sexual orientation, except in this case Micah had been heterosexual until he fell in love with Nathaniel.
While the Rafael rewrite came out of nowhere for me, I was there for Hamilton edging Micah away from “heteroflexible” to “bisexual for Nathaniel specifically and primarily”. Sexuality can be fluid and may even account for what Micah goes through because Nathaniel is VERY attractive (I’m assuming from my mental image of him), but how Nathaniel goes about it is disgusting. Nathaniel emotionally and sexually manipulates Micah – who repeatedly was like “I love Nathaniel romantically and also am not sexually attracted to men” – into giving into him. He did things like basically mope around like “If you really loved me, you’d fuck me” and moan about how his needs weren’t being met and how Micah’s horrifyingly massive penis wasn’t being put to good use… until Micah caved.
Nathaniel canonically does not respect other people’s sexual boundaries.
He “rolls” – a form of metaphysical mind control action – Damian and Anita in Crimson Death and goes against Damian’s stated refusal to engage in penetrative anal sex with a man. He rapes both Anita and Damian. The novel refuses to call it that – in the same way that Hamilton refuses to acknowledge that the first sexual contact Anita and Micah have in Narcissus in Chains is sexual assault and Micah ignores Anita’s “No” – but that’s what that is.
To frame it is Micah simply changing his sexuality for the man he loves is just… disgusting. Because Nathaniel refused to respect that Micah could be romantically entwined with him without wanting to go to poundtown on him and kept pushing him until he caved. That’s not acceptable, but Hamilton frames it like it is.
Anyway, this chapter is very much like The Shower Chapter. If I’m remembering the sporkings I’ve seen already correctly, this chapter primarily revolves around the shower they’re going to take and I’m not sure that they even actually get to take it before the chapter ends.
It starts with a conversation about how wereanimals somehow don’t notice nudity and so Anita should be fine:
“What’s wrong?” Rafael asked.
I realized that I’d stopped moving forward, so he was a little ahead of me with our arms stretched between us. “Showers are a little crowded for romance.”
He looked up as if he’d only just heard the water and the male voices raised in good-natured shit giving. It was Claudia who said, “We are wereanimals, Anita, we don’t notice nudity.”
I looked up at her. “You all keep saying that and most of the time it’s true, but all it takes is one guard noticing the naked girl in the room and suddenly it’s awkward as hell.”
There are few born shapeshifters in this universe. Outside of tiger shifters, the majority of shapeshifters Anita comes across in the series are former-humans born in the United States and who have the hangups this country forces on us.
Functionally, these are all primarily characters raised and socialized as humans. And humans in the United States are burdened with taboos about nudity and sexuality that conflates nudity with being sexual. It doesn’t matter what they are now because of how multiple cultures are really weird about non-sexual nudity… once in the US and adapting to the weird anti-nudity culture here.
For Claudia to insist that wereanimals “don’t notice nudity” isn’t just ignoring established canon – back in Danse Macabre Anita had guards who’d ogled her and who made her feel uncomfortable when she was vulnerable and naked – it’s incorrect beyond that.
Continuing the shower conversation is the reveal that while none of the guards will go for Anita if she and Rafael get freaky in the showers, them fucking might make it open season on the other female guards.
“Probably not, but the other female guards might have a harder time in the showers.”
“I won’t have any problems,” Claudia said.
“They’re afraid of you and me for different reasons, but they’re not afraid of most of the other female guards. Also do we want to encourage everyone to have sex in the public showers here?”
If you’ve hired people who cannot be trusted not to rape the women they’re working with… you have failed as an employer and I hope you have good lawyers.
I’m just saying.
Despite Anita doing aegyo in the previous chapter, Rafael calling her cute after she worries about booting the guards from the communal showers gets her hackles up (understandably, because he is being condescending as hell) gets Anita’s hackles up:
“It just seems, I don’t know, high-handed to kick them out of the group showers.”
Rafael laughed and kissed me on the forehead. “It is adorable that you keep forgetting that you are both their employer and a queen.”
I frowned up at him. Most short people hate to be called adorable; even cute can be problematic.
Location check: they’re in The Circus, the underground maze of rooms that serves as Jean-Claude’s center of power. There are showers uninhibited by other people. They could make the choice to go literally any other place to do this. They could go to wherever they’re planning on fucking and shower there, but that wouldn’t get them the drama they want.
Also, fun fact: Rafael is over fifty! We find that out in this chapter because the dude coming for his crown-shaped brand is like twenty! It’s not super surprising as a) I look younger now than I did at 16 (no joke, it’s weird) and b) we’ve established in this series that becoming a shifter slows your aging considering Anita is in her 30s but has been mistaken for young twenties or even late teens before… and that’s without her being able to actually shift.
I do love that she’s like “lol whut” and cannot figure out how to handle that.
Anyway, this was such a waste of a chapter and if I ever do this to y’all in my books, just yeet me okay?