So remember how I said I would post the next part within two weeks and it’s been two months because like the super soldiers I am made of failgenes? Yeah, my bad. Mostly I spent the last two months baking and eating baked goods and then beached myself like a whale after eating all the aforementioned baked goods. I was too stuffed full of delicious baked goods to recap any of Zombie Vaughan’s bullshit.
Head’s up on format change: given the length of the chapters and my inability to be brief, I’m going to be recapping three chapters per part, instead of the usual five. Thus each part won’t be two hundred pages long and I won’t get burned out writing them (ahahahaha yeah right).
Let’s get on with it.
In which we get another update on D’abu’s penis, Dave Bartok shows up (yessss), and we get another glance at Alex’s myriad issues
We open with D’abu being awakened by Alex tracing designs on his skin. It takes D’abu to moment to realize that Alex is really touching him and it’s not just “some phantom conjured by his unfettered libido.”
I seriously want one chapter where I don’t have to read about D’abu’s penis. Look, Zombie Vaughan, unless it shoots lasers or transforms into a shark, it is not nearly as interesting as you think it is.
D’abu realizes it’s Alex willingly tracing his tattoo and he had come in his pants from a wet dream. This is going to be a long chapter, folks.
Zombie Vaughan then goes on to describe the feel of those touches and it’s surprisingly nice paragraph. No over the top purple prose about D’abu’s penis, no whiny inner monologue, just a nice little moment that happens between couples. I think Zombie Vaughan is growing as a writer.
Even more surprising, Zombie Vaughan doesn’t even ruin it by having D’abu being creepy. Weird! Anyway, Alex catches on that D’abu is awake and presses a kiss to D’abu’s back. It’s still sweet and believable. I think Zombie Vaughan may be trying to lure me into a false sense of security.
Anyway, D’abu and Alex have a little back and forth exchange that, while a little awkward in places, is sort of cute. Oh god, she’s totally about to throw in watersports or something, isn’t she? Because, guys, so far I find nothing to be snarky about.
Anyway, Alex says he was licking D’abu (innocently) because he wanted to find out what he tastes like. D’abu apparently tastes good, and Alex asks if a lot of people taste good. Is there going to be cannibalism? Because apparently humans taste like pig. Not that I have ever eaten a person, but I’m just saying.
Alex says that if someone is high enough you can tolerate anything, but not enjoy it. Oh, Alex. Honey, bring your damaged self to my bosom.
This shakes D’abu, as it should, but instead of trying to talk about it or get out of bed, he instead has a brief fantasy of rolling Alex over and dry humping him. Annnnd there’s the moment ruined by D’abu being creepy.
Thankfully, D’abu does have self-awareness and chides himself: “Way to go, dumbass.” D’abu then tries to escape to the bathroom, and Zombie Vaughan proves she has watched at least one military movie and has D’abu refer to it as the head. Also, we get yet another description of how hard D’abu is.
D’abu is uncomfortable with Alex seeing him while he’s erect, an emotion I think we all share at this point. D’abu finally musters up the courage to glance at Alex, who is gazing determinedly at the floor and shifting his weight from foot to foot, and D’abu is once again hit by what Alex went through and as a result, how fucked up he is. I do chastise Zombie Vaughan for repeating herself, but in this case I—wait for it—actually like how she has D’abu get thrown by the little things that show how Alex is trying to put himself back together again after years of abuse. It rings, if not completely true, at least believable, of how D’abu thinks he has an idea and a grip on what happened to Alex, only to realize, no he doesn’t, no one can, and is thrown by the enormity of Alex’s abuse all over again. I sort of feel that Zombie Vaughan is trying to prove me wrong about her. She’s not going to succeed, but I like that she’s trying.Frustrated with himself, D’abu snaps at Alex—a human reaction—and escapes into the tiny bathroom, where he thinks that even if he is the fix-it king in his unit (he is? Since when?), he begins to doubt he can fix Alex. I—again, brace yourself—like this, D’abu realizing he can’t “fix” Alex, that it's not in his power. I like even more that D’abu thinks “Was his ego really that oversized that he’d taken one look at Alex and thought, ‘sure, you can do it?’” Can you imagine Sarhaan having this little self-epiphany? You can’t, because Sarhaan is selfish and awful. This little moment redeems most of D’abu inadvertent creepiness, because he is self-aware and knows his limitations and, at heart, is a good guy trying to help someone out.
This also proves how important characters and characterization is. The first Off World book was horrible bordering on unreadable. A large part of that was how unlikeable the two leads were. They were selfish, thoughtless, whiny assholes, who no reader could not relate to, much less root for. There were quite a lot of problem at the books, but the core of them was how awful Sarhaan and Caleb were. I would, if not enjoyed Off World, at least found it tolerable if they were better written with actual redeeming characteristics.
Thankfully, D’abu and Alex are both, if not well-rounded, at least mostly well written characters who are portrayed as men trying their best and fucking up like real people do. This goes a long way to make up for the book’s weaker points and most of the general fail (seriously, why are there no women?). So kudos for Zombie Vaughan for learning from her mistakes and trying to be a better writer.
Anyway, D’abu is still in the bathroom having his little introspection moment where he reflects that Alex went from a dude he checked in on for Sarhaan and Kai Xuwicha (still assholes) to someone he genuinely cares about. Oh, D’abu, you’re a good egg.
D’abu cleans up from his little wet dream and then proceeds to rub one out. I was seriously hoping I could get through this book with no masturbation scenes, but alas, Zombie Vaughan loves to thwart me. Exiting the bathroom, Alex asks if D’abu is okay, as he took a long time in there. D'abu feels embarrassed and dirty, as he should. D’abu answers he washed off, and if that put Alex over his water limit, he’d take care of extra charges. We rehash the whole you don’t have to/I want to argument. D’abu cuts it short and says he’s taking Alex out for breakfast. Thank you, D’abu.
We switch to Alex’s pov, and apparently at the diner their male waiter (so I guess the only women on the entire station work at Nelly’s as sex workers. For fuck’s sake) is hitting on D’abu. Alex tries to hate the guy to death. Alex flirts with D’abu, going so far as to let D’abu suck syrup off his finger to warn their waiter off. God, just pee on him, Alex.
Dismissing the waiter, D’abu is more than willing to go along with Alex, going so far to kiss his neck. Alex is surprised he’s enjoying the attention. We get an update on Alex’s penis (he’s starting to get hard). I pour a shot of tequila. Alex is shocked by his reaction, as he’s spent ten years faking enthusiasm for his clients. It’s a clumsily inserted but ultimately an insightful little detail. He and D’abu begin to make out.
Oh Jesus, they’re that couple. You know the one: the ones that make out in public because they are so in love and so cute and everyone should see. And shut up, they’re not gross, UR JUST JEALOUS OF THEIR LURVE. I hate those couples.
The description of the kiss again is well written. I also like this sentiment: “It was a wonder, how something so simple could feel so good, make Alex feel so cherished.” Yes, it is schmaltzy, but it’s a great little insight into Alex’s state of mind. All these compliments I’m giving Zombie Vaughan almost make me miss the nonstop bitter complaint of my Off World recap. Snark comes more naturally to me than actually compliments. That should tell you a lot about how I operate.
Our couple is interrupted with this: “Hey, D’abu. I thought that was you. Glad to see you finally getting some. Finally figured out which way you swing, I guess.”
Guys. GUYS. Do you know who this is? IT’S DAVE BARTOK. I am actually excited to see him.
In the last book Bartok was part of Sarhaan’s unit, who hated Caleb so much he kidnapped him out from under the noses of a ship full of super soldiers and tortured him. He also really hates Sarhaan, as you should. We never find out the reason for Bartok’s animosity. For no reason we’re given he hates Caleb from the moment he saw him, which is before he gets to know what a truly horrible person Caleb is. He also hates Sarhaan because he wanted to command the unit when they went AWOL? I guess? It’s hinted that Sarhaan and Bartok had some sort of rivalry, but it’s never really made clear. Bartok was just an asshole because Zombie Vaughan needed a villain to menace Caleb, Our Former Dear Fucking Hero, but didn’t want to put in the effort of actual writing a credible one, so we ended up with Bartok.
I love Bartok. Mostly because he called Sarhaan on for his bullshit plan to get Caleb back that would put the crew in danger. Also, he was interesting, which is more than I can say for Sarhaan and Caleb. What delicious douchiness does Bartok have in store for our heroes?
Alex recognizes Bartok from Nelly’s, where Bartok caused some undefined trouble and was a lousy tipper. Apparently Bartok disappeared and Alex hadn’t even notice. Alex! I need you to notice these things so I don’t miss any of Bartok’s mustache twirling villainy.
D’abu is all bitchy and says that the trouble with living on an asteroid is that taking out the trash is almost more trouble than it’s worth.
Bartok responds that he’s still hanging around like D’abu, who was left behind while the rest of his unit went to have fun and D’abu got stuck taking care of business, like usual.
Bartok, that was pathetic. Come on, dude. You tortured Caleb under Sarhaan’s nose! You verbally laid the smack down on Sarhaan in front of everyone! Up your game.
D’abu says he’s too comfortable to take this conversation somewhere private and kisses Alex to prove his point. Alex is unimpressed with Bartok. To be fair, Bartok is having an off day. D’abu says he’s going to make out with Alex some more and this conversation is the last they will ever have.
Bartok immediately backs down. I am so disappoint, Bartok. He does manage to salvage some of his dignity and retorts with: “I’ll make you an offer. You ever get tired of wasting your time playing grease monkey for Sarhaan, you let me know. You’ll be making enough credits to afford a rental with...uh, how shall I say it…a few less miles under the hood?”
There’s the asshole I know and love!
Alex is shocked by this, because apparently D’abu and Sarhaan “were like brothers.” Get out now, Alex, because if you stay with D’abu Sarhaan will be your brother-in-law. Save yourself!
D’abu is pissed and tells Bartok to leave and they’ll talk about this later. Bartok says he’s looking forward to it and flounces. Alex says Bartok’s an asshole and asks how D’abu didn’t punch him. Considering D’abu has to put up with Sarhaan and Caleb day in and day out, I’m guessing he’s got a lot of practice of not punching assholes in the face.
D’abu answered he’s had “a lot of practice.” Called it! He goes on to explain how he knows Bartok and how Sarhaan kicked him out. Alex says good for Sarhaan. No, Alex, we do not give Sarhaan any credit for anything. Alex adds he wanted to kick Bartok’s ass for the grease monkey comment, and D’abu says he’s happy to hear that. Alex thinks D’abu is patronizing him, and given the whole part where D’abu condescended to Alex about buying him a drink, I can see why he thought that.
D’abu kisses Alex on the forehead, and Alex calls him out for using sex to distract him. D’abu proceeds to go ahead and use sex to distract him. Goddamnit, D’abu, stop being such a douche at times. Alex and D’abu proceed to make out in public some more.
Alex thinks he should be shutting down like he did in the past, but he enjoys making out with D’abu and since they were in public it wouldn’t go too far. Presumably Alex doesn’t notice everyone else in the diner gagging at his and D’abu’s display.
Alex gets into it and slips a hand under D’abu’s shirt. D’abu jerks away, prompting a discussion about Alex’s boundaries, and how Alex should tell D’abu as soon as he feels uncomfortable. I really do love how D’abu is respecting the lines Alex puts down. Seriously, there needs to be more of that in popular culture.
D’abu says he likes kissing Alex and wants to do it even if they’re not in public for no other reason just because he enjoys it. Thank god Zombie Vaughan isn’t drawing out the whole “he’s only doing this because we’re pretending to be boyfriends” trope and has D’abu acting like an adult and laying it out that he’s interested in Alex.
D’abu reaffirms that he likes Alex and asks Alex to kiss him because Alex wants to. Alex does. It’s sweet.
They then get interrupted, again, with, “Oh, for God’s sake, D’abu. I told you to keep an eye on him, not molest the man in a public restaurant.”
My douchebag alert immediately goes off. It can only be one person. Fuck.
In which the supreme asshole is back, there’s some science talk, and D’abu and Alex keep on keeping on
My douchebag alert was quite right in going off for it was Sarhaan with that bit of dialogue ending the last chapter. Sarhaan, I’m going to save us a bunch of time and just have you do this:
This chapter opens with Sarhaan, in his favorite pastime, being a patronizing asshole and saying he hopes D’abu knows what he’s doing. Sarhaan even tacks on a “bro” for that extra special douchebag vibe. That’s one dollar right there.D’abu and Sarhaan are heading back to headquarters, Alex having been smart and already made his escape. Take me with your, Alex! So apparently Sarhaan and the rest of the crew were out somewhere appropriately science-fiction sounding. I don’t care. D’abu thinks he doesn’t want to put Alex aside but the crew is back and there’s work to be done. Seriously, D’abu is a million times better than Sarhaan, who is a selfish prick, and ignored everything to have sex with Caleb.
D’abu deliberately misunderstands the question and goes off about the life support system on the Vigilant. D’abu, just let them all die in space. It’ll make both of our lives so much easier. Zombie Vaughan throws out a reference to a “mini-comp.” My god, how futuristic. Surely she is just up there with Arthur C. Clarke and Gene Roddenberry in predicting new technology.
So there’s some techno babble I can’t be bothered to care about and we learn that D’abu stayed behind because there was a problem with his inner ear. Twenty bucks says he faked it to get away from Sarhaan. Sarhaan asks for a “sit-rep on the Alex situation” because he’s a hypocritical asshole who does not respect anyone’s privacy.
D’abu reflects on how much mellower Sarhaan’s gotten since hooking up with Caleb and OH MY GOD SHUT UP SHUT UP I DO NOT WANT TO HEAR ANYTHING ABOUT THEM AND THEIR HORRIBLE HORRIBLE RELATIONSHIP. Fun fact: since I read this a couple of months ago, I totally forgot what notes I made. I highlighted Caleb’s name in the text and clicking on the note led me to this: “DIAF.” I really am a vindictive bitch.
So we get an entire fucking paragraph that basically boils down to Zombie Vaughan trying to convince us that Sarhaan and Caleb are the world’s greatest romance.
Here’s a sample “[Sarhaan knew] he had someone at home who cared whether he lived or died—Caleb certainly filled that bill…In Caleb’s eyes, Sarhaan hadn’t hung just the moon, but the planets and every hunk of orbiting rock.” Guys, I hate them so, so much. My hate for them cannot be textually rendered.
Then we get another paragraph where D’abu basically sucks both Sarhaan and Caleb’s cocks over how awesome they are together and how Caleb’s addition to the crew is the best thing to ever happen. I hate everything.
Also for no reason Zombie Vaughan has D’abu refer to Sarhaan as “Ess.” So I’m assuming this is meant to be a nickname showing how close D’abu and Sarhaan are. I have two problems with this. The first nitpicky one is the way she spells it. It should just be “S,” and the "Ess” spelling is just needlessly cutesy and annoying. The second part: this nickname is never used ever again. Seriously, this is the only time it appears, so it becomes this random, jarring moment. An editor should have really taken this out, but we already know that Zombie Vaughan probably doesn’t have an editor, and if she does she obviously doesn’t listen to them.
So the whole ass kissing part of the book comes to a close with D’abu realizing he wants what Sarhaan and Caleb have for himself. Well, not quite, as Alex is actually a good person while Sarhaan and Caleb are just horrible.
D’abu gives an update on Alex: steady work, no enemies, not taking drugs. Sarhaan asks what was up with the little display he saw. Well, Sarhaan, they were being that gross couple that makes out in public. Basically, you and Caleb.
D’abu asks who wants to know: his CO or his friend. Sarhaan says both and adds that he feels responsible for Alex. I am not going to rehash what a complete and utter asshole Sarhaan is regarding Alex as I’ve already gone over it many times before hand, so suffice it to say Sarhaan needs to put another dollar in the douchebag jar.
Sarhaan asks if D’abu’s relationship with Alex is D’abu looking “after business the best way [D’abu] knew how” or if it was more personal. Knowing what we, the readers, know that is a reasonable question. However, Sarhaan doesn’t know what we know so he’s basically implying that both Alex and D’abu are whores and thus needs to put yet another dollar in the jar.
D’abu once again shows why I love him so damn much: “Little bubbles of resentment began floating up in Sandy. Who he chose to get involved with was nobody’s business but his own.” Fuck yeah, D’abu, you call Sarhaan out. Before he rightfully rips into Sarhaan, he thinks better of it, because he doesn’t want to say something he regrets. I know D’abu’s being a mature adult here, but me being immature and petty am disappoint.
Sarhaan, reading D’abu’s silence asks what’s on D’abu’s mind. Sarhaan, D’abu thinks you’re a douchebag because you are. D’abu says nothing, realizing that it’s probably a bad idea to ask for Sarhaan’s help or opinions as Sarhaan is a hypocrite and a bad person.
Sarhaan keeps pushing because he is an asshole and that is what he does, saying that D’abu has protected targets before without “swap[ing] spit” with them. Another dollar in the jar. D’abu once more says there's nothing to talk about, with the strong undercurrent of “Shut up, Sarhaan, this is none of your business.” Sarhaan finally musters up the two non-asshole brain cells he has and backs off.
The still ridiculously named Kai Xuwicha, the XO of the Vigilant, shows up and what I think is the end of D’abu’s pov part ends. Only it doesn’t because we just jump ahead to D’abu working on the water filter or whatever on the ship. Alex calls and Naslund, one of the interchangeable soldieries who has no personality or discernible features, is all curious and listens in. Is everyone on the Vigilant an asshole?
Alex asks if D’abu is coming over that night. D’abu says he can’t because of whatever he’s doing on the ship. I continue to not care. He tells Alex that he’s on speaker and Naslund is blatantly eavesdropping. Naslund does not take the hint and continues to invade D’abu’s privacy. Naslund, time to put a dollar in the douchebag jar.
Alex says he misses D’abu and hopes D’abu would stop in to Nelly’s that night. D’abu is touched but wonders who is listening in on Alex’s end. D’abu says he’s can’t because of the whatever he’s working on. Alex is disappointed and says the he really liked last night. Oh, Alex, baby, you are a wounded bird I want to cuddle.
Naslund grins at this because he is a douchebag with no sense of privacy. To be fair, I would do the same thing, but I’m a bad person. D’abu promises to try to stop in tomorrow, and Alex asks if D’abu can comm him when he’s got the chance. D’abu is helpless in the face of this and invites Alex over to the ship. Alex is all over that. They are really sweet.
Now we switch to Alex’s pov. Is it just me or is this chapter never ending?
We get some science in the fiction as Alex travels through a series of airlocks to the Vigilant. I love the moments when Zombie Vaughan remembers this is supposed to be a sci-fi book and not gratuitous porn and frantically throws out some science-y words. Alex is interested in the trip since last time he passes through this he was in withdrawal and not really cognizant of anything going on around him. He reflects how he’s better now and how he’s looking forward to seeing D’abu. As long he avoids Caleb, he’ll be fine.
This leads Alex to thinking about the last time he was excited to see someone was Nick. When was the last time we saw Nick? Two chapters ago? Seems like forever. Anyway, Nick was his first love, which we knew, but the entire thing is a nice character moment. I was unaware Zombie Vaughan knew how to do those, so kudos to her.
Alex is alone in the car, so it’s like a train that goes through on these airlocks? Like a subway kind of thing? Sure, why not. Anyway, Alex thinks he sees a man out the window, but couldn’t be sure. He waves in case it’s D’abu. On my first read through I didn’t think anything of this moment, but now I realize it is a subtle moment of foreshadowing. I’m surprised as anyone that Zombie Vaughan is capable of that, but it is well done. Credit where credit is due.
Alex is nervous and we get more introspection. It’s boring for me to recap but, again, it’s a great character moment. Alex thinks that D’abu is a swell guy, which he is, and how it would be nice for once to be appreciated for who he is. I’m not gonna lie, I seriously want to give Alex a cuddle.
When Alex finally arrives, D’abu is there and immediately hugs him. D’abu is like a golden retriever. I have no idea what is up with me and the animal similes today, but you’re just gonna have to suffer through them as I don’t see them stopping. Alex gets all shy and awkward. Oh, honey.
D’abu says that Alex needs to kiss him if Alex wants people to believe they’re in love. D’abu adds, teasingly, that they’re crazy about each other. I am not being sarcastic at all when I say these two are actually adorable together and I do want them to get they’re happily ever after. I know, I know, I’m not being bitter and spiteful. It’s like you don’t even know me anymore.
Alex and D’abu kiss. Alex gets a tingle in his groin. Zombie Vaughan: professional moment ruiner. They make out some more. God, they really are that couple.
There’s some more banter about them being in love. It’s charming. D’abu takes Alex to his quarters, which is bigger than Alex’s place. We get no mention of the open shower area I’m assuming is there based on the description for the last book and I’m strangely let down. Mainly because the unintentional implication that you bathed out in the open like a prison was hilarious. There’s more banter and Alex is surprised at how playful he feels. D’abu tackles him to the bed and pins him. Alex for a moment freezes up before the terror passes. It’s a nice, if not really realistic, nod to his past and PTSD. While he may be getting over it quickly, at least Zombie Vaughan isn’t glossing over it the way she did Caleb’s torture.
They start dry humping. It’s more romantic than I made it sound. There’s some pillow talk. It’s not horrible. Again, Zombie Vaughan manages to write a nice, private moment about newly in love couples without immediately ruining it. It’s like I don’t even know her anymore.
Before Alex and D’abu can do much more than grind together, they get interrupted by one of the crew. Crew of the Vigilant: consummate cockblockers.
I’m also going to be adding a new feature here.
Total dollars Sarhaan put in the douchebag jar: $4.
What you can buy with his douchebag dollars: one coffee.
In which Naslund almost has a personality, there’s some sex, more of Alex’s issues, and I now know more about D’abu’s penis then I ever wanted
We open with Naslund profusely apologizing while D’abu tests a water sample. D’abu stares Naslund into silence. So I’m guessing Naslund was the one who interrupted D’abu and Alex.
Zombie Vaughan gives us this gem: “He’d had Alex in his arms, in his bed. They’d nearly had intimate, genital to genital contact.” That is the opposite of sexy. In fact, that is so not sexy it makes me never want to have sex again. Zombie Vaughan needs to stop writing sex scenes or anything related to sex as she clearly sucks at it.
D’abu thinks this is the second time work forced him away from Alex and then we get him stuck in this moral dilemma of maybe having to choose between Alex and the Vigilant. Now, this might seem to be a major conflict of the book, but alas this is like the only time it’s mentioned and the tension of maybe choosing never comes to fruition. That’s a shame, because that would probably make this book better. So of course Zombie Vaughan never follows up on that.
Oh man, so we get two rather lengthy paragraphs that basically boil down to Zombie Vaughan throwing some science sounding bullshit out in the hopes to distract you from how there is no science in her presumably science-fiction book. It’s just so awkward too, as we have D’abu mooning over Alex and then suddenly SCIENCE and then right back to mooning. It’s sort of amazing.
Naslund counters D’abu’s science with some science of his own, such as installing a meat vat to grow meat in. D’abu nixes that. There is more science. It’s still super awkward.
Then there’s this exchange:
“Okay[, Naslund said.] It was just a idea.”
“What?” Sandy glanced up in time to catch Naslund’s speculative gaze. “What’s that mean?”
Nas tapped his fingers restless. “Nothing.”
Much like the whole Alex v. work thing above, this is another moment that seems to maybe being turned into a plot thread that then is abruptly dropped. At first I thought maybe we were going to get Naslund bringing up Alex, or maybe him voicing some of the crew’s concern, but nope, Naslund takes off. And this is never brought up again. Zombie does this a lot. She’ll have exchanges you think is going to build into a greater plot point or at least used to further the plot only for them to never be resolved or even mentioned again. It’s super annoying and bad writing.
D’abu makes plans to meet up with Naslund later for more work and then goes back to his quarters where he finds Alex holed up in one of D’abu giant armchairs. I actually took a moment trying to figure out where the chair came from. Was it already on board when they stole the Vigilant? Did they stop to do some space antiquing? Did D’abu build it? Did they steal it from an alien? WAS IT SPACE MAGIC?
Some mysteries are never meant to be solved, I guess.
So Alex is asleep in the chair because he didn’t know if it was okay to sleep on the bed. Oh, Alex, sweetheart, let me comfort you. Unable to resist a sleepy Alex, D’abu asks Alex to lie on the bed with him. SO they lie down and of course D’abu gets an erection because a slightest breeze arouses him. D’abu tries to hide it from Alex, who says he likes being there with D’abu and feels safe. I actually aw’ed at this part.
D’abu gets a little choked up, especially when Alex says he’s glad D’abu’s his friend. Alex, I love you, you damaged little thing.
Of course, Zombie Vaughan immediately ruins it, as is her wont, by having Alex says he can feel D’abu’s erection. I think this was supposed to be funny, but I honestly just rolled my eyes.
D’abu apologizes, Alex waves it off and asks if can see it. That’s my second eye roll in a minute. This chapter is not looking good. He then asks if he can touch it. The only thing that made this less painful for me was picturing it like this:
D’abu undresses enough to reveal a tattoo. It’s a traditional Samoan tattoo called a pe’a. This smacks less of characterization and more of Zombie Vaughan showing off the fact she did some research.
Alex asks about the tattoo, which D’abu got over three months. Apparently he got to show that he wanted to “honor my Samoan heritage. That I’m part of the community; that I suffered for my people.”
I have problems with this. Not about what he said above, but about how Zombie Vaughan went about including it. Now, I am glad she didn’t stereotype D’abu or reference him being Samoan every other paragraph as that would be pretty awful, but beyond this nice little exposition dump, we never see how important his heritage is to him. Again, I don’t want anything anvilicious, as that would be super problematic, but a few details slipped in here there wouldn’t be amiss. But, if I had to pick between Zombie Vaughan doing it this way and her going way overboard and fucking it up, then I am really glad she picked this route.
We then switch to Alex’s pov. In a middle of a scene. That if fucks up the flow. And ruins the reading experience.
Does she know how awkward and horrible switching povs like that is? Does she care about my pain? Of course she doesn’t. I hate her.
So Alex thinks he’s going to hell because he’s shamelessly taking advantage of D’abu, which is exactly how D’abu also feels. They are made for each other.
We get several minutes of Alex admiring D’abu and some purple begins to sneak into the prose. Suffice to say, I’m just skimming over these paragraphs. Unfortunately, I still have to read “this warrior, this man of honor, this stunning example of everything masculine that was good, had somehow fallen into Alex’s life.” I gagged a little.
Alex notices that Sandy is not responsive and he starts to freak out and then, and I totally love him for this, does what he would want someone to do when he was in that position and freaking out: he backs away, stops touching, and gives D’abu space. I love you so much, Alex.
D’abu, of course, asks why he stopped and Alex said he looked like D’abu wasn’t enjoying it. Alex is awesome guys. D’abu immediately sets him straight (so to speak), and so it’s back to the touching. Blah, blah, Zombie Vaughan’s regular boring porn, blah, blah, more questions about if Alex can touch it, blah, blah,Alex waxing poetic about D’abu’s penis, more eye rolling, blah blah god it’s never going to end.
Short version: Alex gives D’abu a handjob before deciding he wants to perform fellatio on him. D’abu is, of course, thrilled and really into it and then blurts out he wants Alex to fuck him. D’abu is totally a power bottom, guys.
And that is how the chapter ends: with D’abu asking Alex to fuck him. Yeah.
Well that’s it for this installment. Join me next week when Zombie Vaughan apparently wants to talk about the politics of fucking (oh god), more of Alex being a hot fucking mess, people speaking Kush (fuuuck), Kai being not as bad as Sarhaan but still a self-righteous douchebag, porn (so bring a pillow for a nap), and a vampire horse (really). We’re going to have so much fun. Painful, painful fun.