Oooooh, “Touched“.  Are things going to get sexy now?  Or is this just touched emotionally, because of how the boys feel about Wanda and Stryder?  Let’s hope for sexy times, so this chapter isn’t just all talking!

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…Alright, no sexy times, and it was mostly talking, but this one wasn’t horrible, just…awkward, uncomfortable and kind of creepy.  Okay, very creepy.  …Yeah, it certainly hasn’t left me with a good feeling…but in this case I think that’s actually kind of a good thing; if awkward/uncomfortable is what Meyer was going for here (which I think and hope it was, though the more I think about it, the less sure I am about that), she’s certainly succeeded, so the bad feeling I’ve got after reading this chapter is because her writing was effective, not terrible.  Now, let’s see if I still feel that way as I go back through for this recap, though as I said, the more I think about it, the less sure I am that I will.

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We start immediately with Wanda responding to Ian’s question about what she thinks of Ian and Jared’s conversation, and her response is one of pretty complete confusion.  She is surprised that Ian can see things from her perspective, since she’s an alien, but she’s confused as to why he would be jealous of Jared when he knows she’s just a worm.

Somehow, Ian having a crush on her is new information, despite that Stryder’s tried to point that out to her repeatedly, and Wanda has acted as though she knows he’s feeling too much for her in the past.  But she doesn’t think it’s possible that he could actually feel for her.

She’s not sure if that’s what Ian is asking her opinion on, though, so she considers what else it might be; what she thinks about Jared, what she thinks of the ‘experiment’ Jared did on her, how she feels about physical contact, what she thinks of Stryder, what Stryder thinks of Ian and Jared’s conversation, or whether she agrees with Jared about Stryder’s rights.  She doesn’t know what she thinks about any of those things anyway, though, so she tells him as much.

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Ian accepts that, so Wanda compliments him, and once again notices his eyes well enough to describe them in detail, which STILL MAKES IT SOUND LIKE SHE’S INTERESTED EVEN THOUGH SHE SUPPOSEDLY ISN’T.  Make up your mind, Meyer.  I know she’s supposed to be “confused”, but seriously, come on; we know you’re not.

Because she just complimented him, and it at least reads as flirtatious, Ian takes the opportunity to confess to Wanda that he likes her very much.  They’re apparently both surprised by that, and then after a brief period of silence, Ian asks her if that is one of the things she doesn’t know how she feels about, and she admits that it is.  He says that’s okay because it must seem strange, which she agrees to, and then he says he wants her to tell him something.  Here’s where things start getting weird; prepare yourself.

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At first, Ian doesn’t ask Wanda anything; instead, he takes her hand, holds it in both of his, and trails his fingers slowly up her arm, then back down. Then he asks her if that felt good or bad.

I’m torn on this.  On the one hand, I, personally, love that feeling; it’s one of my favourite in the world…and on another completely different hand, that paragraph seemed INCREDIBLY fucking creepy to me.  Ian just said to Jared that Wanda didn’t respond very well to physical contact, and she’s just said she doesn’t know how she feels about him liking her, so what makes him think it’s a good idea to do something like that?  It’s not exactly a simple gesture, it’s intimate, and he means it to be intimate; how is that a good idea?  Okay, never mind, I’m not torn; that’s just not right.

Why couldn’t he just hold her hand, or kiss her hand, or hell, even kiss her cheek or something?  That would be less creepy and less intrusive than this suggestive gesture he’s done.  Even if she did like him, starting with that might be a little weird, because it feels more sexual than the other things I mentioned, since it’s meant to send chills up your spine (the good kind) and remind you, at least subconsciously, of being caressed in other ways, and that’s not at all appropriate here, no matter how you look at it!  Bad, bad, creepy fucking choice, Ian!

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Stryder immediately responds that it felt bad, but Wanda argues that it doesn’t hurt…which isn’t the point at all, as Stryder points out.  She gets frustrated about having to explain all this stuff to Wanda, because she says it’s like talking to a child, and y’know, I’m with her on this.  Wanda’s excuse is that it’s because she’s only a year old, but that’s no excuse when you’re in the body of a human who has experienced both romantic and sexual situations before; you should have some memories of what the hell Ian’s talking about that you can refer to.  This isn’t hard.  Fuck.

Also, after Wanda mentions that she’s only a year old, she gets sidetracked from the pretty heavy situation going on by trying to figure out what date it is and whether she is a year old yet.  Ohh my god, what?  That is the stupidest, ditsiest crap yet!  Who the hell does that when they’ve just overheard the conversation she’s overheard, and gone through what she has with Ian?!  Who gives a fuck how old you are?  Focus on the matter at hand, for god’s sake!

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Stryder ignores Wanda’s stupid crap about how old she is, and explains what Ian means by “good” by showing Wanda a memory of Jared doing something similar to her, which brings Wanda pleasure.  So…right there we have a memory that Wanda should have been able to use to subconsciously recognize the meaning behind Ian’s touch, but didn’t.  Again with the inconsistencies in what Wanda does and does not pick up from Stryder’s memory.  She remembers stupid random crap from her childhood, like fucking puppies play-fighting, but not things relevant to current situations, most notably as relate to Jared, who should, by this point, be important enough for her to remember more about.  This book makes all of the sense.

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So now Wanda understands what Ian’s really asking her, just in time for Ian to remind her that he’s looking for an answer.  Wanda tells him that Stryder says it feels bad, which I think would be a given for him, so he asks what she thinks.  That leads to the inevitable “I don’t know”, but Ian is understanding, which comforts Wanda.

Ian’s almost as slow as Wanda, though, because he doesn’t get the point that if Stryder doesn’t like it and Wanda’s not sure she’s comfortable with it, he should probably stop, so he keeps stroking her arm.  He asks Wanda if she’d like him to stop, and she says she would, because his touching her that way makes it hard for her to think, as does Stryder’s anger at her for letting Ian do it.

Stryder clears things up by saying she’s not mad at Wanda, she just wants Wanda to tell Ian to leave, but Wanda says she doesn’t want him to leave because he’s her friend and she’s a fucking clueless dingbat.  Ian asks if Wanda thinks Stryder will give them a minute alone, which Wanda says she doubts, so Ian asks Stryder directly, in the most absurdly formal way possible.

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This is absolutely fucking stupid and offensive.  Stryder has every right to be as offended as she is, and as angry (she tells Wanda to tell Ian there’s no chance in hell, and says that she doesn’t like him); it’s her body, and he wants her to go away so he can try to do things to it that neither of the girls want, without her “getting in the way”?  What the fuck, Ian?!  What is wrong with you?  Wanda could be in that body for the next 100 years and it would still not be her body; you have NO RIGHT to try to evict her so you can do things to her body that you know she doesn’t want!

Besides which, where the fuck is Stryder supposed to go?  She can’t exactly leave, and you know that, so what are you asking her to do; shut up about her displeasure at someone touching her body without her consent?!  THINK THIS FUCKING THROUGH!  I wish Jared would show up and punch him for that.  He deserves it.  It’s creepy, it’s wrong, it’s offensive, and I hate absolutely everything about it.  How dare you, Ian?!?

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Wanda tells Ian that Stryder said no and that she doesn’t like him, which makes Ian laugh, and say that he can respect that and her (Stryder).  The fuck you can!  If you respected her, you never would have asked that question in the first place!  Hell, if you respected her, you’d have respected her relationship with and love for Jared by never fucking touching her in the first place, you creepy tool!  For fuck’s sake, do you even know what “respect” means??

He follows up the bit about respecting Stryder by saying, “Kind of puts a damper on things, having an audience“.  Stryder angrily asks what “things”, which is my question too given that Wanda directly told him she doesn’t want him to touch her, and he knows she has responded favourably to Jared, so she’s probably interested in him, so there should be no “things”…but more than that, it proves that what he just said about respecting Stryder is bullshit!

Why do I say that?  Because if he respected her, he wouldn’t refer to THE GIRL WHOSE BODY IT IS as “an audience”!  She’s not an audience, it’s her fucking body you’re pawing at!  How dare you demean her that way!  Fuck, Ian, I liked you up to this point; now I hate you more than many of the other characters because you clearly have no respect for boundaries, anyone’s wishes, or your own fucking friend’s feelings (Jared), and you’re incredibly fucking creepy!  DIAL IT BACK, for fuck’s sake!

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Wanda doesn’t like Stryder’s anger, but Stryder tells her to get used to it, and yes, she should, since you should know damn well that she has every right to feel this way, Wanda.  You’re not even keen on it yourself; you should be more upset than you are that he’s touching you without your consent!

And oh look, just after Wanda told him not to touch her anymore, and Stryder made it clear he doesn’t have her consent either, Ian touches her fucking face!  WHAT. THE. FUCK!  He says he’ll let her think about things so she can decide how she feels, but she told him how she feels; she feels like him touching her makes things hard! So why the fuck is he immediately doing it again?!?

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But of course, because things in this book are stupid, Wanda thinks his touch feels nice this time.  Not like Jared’s or Jamie’s, but some other ‘nice’, and that is a stupid fucking paragraph for more reasons than its poor phrasing.  She tells him that it might take a while for her to decide how she feels, and he says he knows, and they smile at each other.  His smile is apparently enough for her to decide she wants him to like her, even if she’s still not sure how she feels about him touching her, which tells me she only wants him to like her so she can feel wanted, since everyone else really wants Stryder (at least in her mind, given most of the people she knows in the cave never actually met Stryder before).  Ah, such a good reason to make someone like you; so you can use them for their attention when you want nothing to do with them romantically.  God, the morals in this book are fucking wonderful.

Wanda tells Ian that he doesn’t really feel the way he does about her, but rather about the body, because Stryder is pretty, which is half understandable, a quarter absolutely fucking stupid, and a quarter something that sounds like it’s just fishing for compliments.  Wait, no, I may have to change those percentages around a little. …Yeah, I would if I cared more.  Moving on.

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Ian admits that Stryder is a pretty girl (“even beautiful”; I don’t know why this irks me), despite what he’s done to her, then STARTS FUCKING TOUCHING HER FACE AGAIN BECAUSE HE COULD NOT GET THE POINT IF IT WAS ATTACHED TO A BRICK AND THROWN AT HIS FUCKING FACE.  Wanda doesn’t argue about his saying he caused the scars on her face, as she normally would, because she’s too confused by his touch again, and bothered by the fact that Ian finds Stryder beautiful.  She doesn’t know why it bothers her, and neither does Stryder, but it’s of course because she’s fucking jealous because she wants people to like her, not Stryder, even though she stole Stryder’s fucking body and so should grow the fuck up and accept that unless she wants to switch hosts, she’s gonna have to deal with people liking her for her outward appearance when that is not her own!

Ian continues the creepy touching by brushing her hair off her forehead, then says that as pretty as Stryder is, she’s a stranger to him, and she’s not the one he cares about.  Y’know, or respects.  At all.

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That makes Wanda feel better, though, which confuses her even more because she still hasn’t figured out jealousy, even after all the times Stryder has experienced it and all the times she has experienced it herself!  She goes on to explain to Ian that no one separates her and Stryder the way they should, and that he couldn’t care about her because if he could hold her in his hand, he would be disgusted and throw her away.  Given she’s a weird worm thingy that attaches to brains, yeah, she’s got a point.

Ian says he wouldn’t do that if he knew she was her, so she points out that he wouldn’t know because he couldn’t tell any of the aliens apart (and I’m reminded again of how similar humans supposedly are -_-).  She says it’s just the body he’s attracted to, which he argues with, saying it’s not the physical aspects of her that matter to him, it’s the things behind them, like what she says and what she does with her body.  He tells her she is beautiful, then takes her hand, because he hasn’t done enough unwanted touching yet.

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I won’t be surprised if Wanda has to say this soon.

He tells her he’s never known anyone like her before, which makes fucking sense since she’s an alien you dumb twit, so because he’s intentionally missing the point, Wanda asks what would have happened if she’d shown up in Maggie’s body. He says he doesn’t know, but also grimaces, so she asks what would have happened if she was in Wes’s body, because she could have chosen to be put into a male body if she wanted, she just always chooses females.

Ian tries to argue that she’s not in a man’s body, so it’s irrelevant, but she points out that it’s not irrelevant because body and soul are two different things, and that’s her point.  Ian says he wouldn’t want the body without her soul, but she argues back that he wouldn’t want her without the body either, and she is actually right here; it matters far more than Ian wants to admit.  Why is she smart now, but at no other point?!  Because it’s self-deprecating??

As you probably could have guessed, Ian continues the unwanted affection by putting his hand on her face again, and then tells her that the body is part of who she is too, and that it’s who she always will be unless she changes her mind and turns them all in.  Yeah, that’s the point, Ian.  Nice fucking try.

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Wanda realizes she will die in the body she’s in, and Stryder realizes that she will never live in it again.  Wanda tries to make it sound like they both have it equally bad by saying that it’s not how either of them planned their future, but though Stryder agrees, it’s absolutely not true that it’s an equal situation.  Stryder has it FAR fucking worse, and that much is obvious.  Wanda knows that, but she doesn’t want to have to think about it because it’s her fucking fault and she can’t admit that at all.

Man, I’m not even halfway through the chapter yet.  We’re back to these kinds of posts.  Yayyyy.

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Ian notices Wanda’s having another ‘internal conversation’, so he asks her about it, and Wanda tells him what they’re talking about.  Ian points out that Wanda could live forever if she left the humans, and she agrees that she could, then tells Ian that humans have the shortest life span of any species she’s been, aside from the Spiders, and she seems sad about that.

Ian gets all up in Wanda’s personal space so she can see nothing but him, and she describes his face as “snow and sapphire and ink”, which makes him sound quite sickly to me.  He tries to entice her by suggesting that if humans have so little time, maybe she should make the most of what she has, and then kisses her, because he REALLY CANNOT TAKE A FUCKING HINT, even if it’s spelled out for him!

Stryder is not happy about this, for good reason, and Wanda is confused, but the one thing that’s definitely clear is that she feels no chemistry when Ian kisses her.  So, y’know, if anyone was still questioning whether or not Wanda’s really into Ian, THERE’S YOUR FUCKING ANSWER.  Can that be the end of the creepy bullshit now?  I have to think no, unfortunately, since we’ve still got so much book to go!

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I also find Meyer’s description of Ian’s kiss a little bit disturbing.  It’s not sexy, it’s not romantic, it’s not sensual, and the complete lack of chemistry, combined with the words she chose to describe it, just…it made me shudder a bit.  Not a kiss I ever want to have.  It sounds like Ian doesn’t actually know how to kiss; like he’s never done it before.  But maybe I’m just reading it weirdly.

Ian asks Wanda if the kiss felt good or bad, but when he asks he “whispers against her lips”, which means he hasn’t even really pulled back before asking.  Okay, maybe in a good romance movie or something where there is a lot of chemistry between the characters, I could accept that, because it would lead into “good” and then more kissing, but here, no.  No, no, no.  It’s extra creepy.  Uber creepy.  Do not like.

Stryder instantly replies that it’s bad, which she is so right about, even without the Jared factor, but Wanda just says she’s can’t think.  Ian apparently moves his mouth with hers when she responds, and I don’t even know what the fuck that means but it ALSO sounds creepy, and then he is a complete fucking idiot again because he thinks that her saying she can’t think sounds like a good thing, when she just said she didn’t like that she couldn’t think straight when she ASKED HIM NOT TO TOUCH HER ANYMORE.  For god’s sake, how hard is this?  BOUNDARIES, IAN!

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But Ian is the king of inappropriate advances, so he kisses her AGAIN, with more force this time, and nibbles on her lip a little, and fuck, he must be the most terrible kisser of life with these descriptions.  Gahhh, I don’t like reading this; it feels so wrong and makes my skin crawl, both because of the bad kissing and the unwanted nature of it.

Stryder wants to hit Ian, more than she wanted to hit Jared when she did that, so…why doesn’t she?  There’s nothing here about Wanda stopping Stryder from hitting Ian, so since Stryder apparently needs to be feeling strongly passionate to do anything, and she certainly is here, I don’t see why she wouldn’t have hit him.  That would make sense to me; the fact that she doesn’t just doesn’t add up at all.

Wanda thinks the image of Stryder hitting and kicking Ian in the face is horrible, but I think it’s amusing and would be well deserved.  She says the violent imagery “conflicts” with the sensation of Ian’s kiss, but I don’t see how, because she has yet to describe his kiss as anything but creepy and uncomfortable, and negative imagery plus negative feelings does not equal conflict.  Especially not “jarring” conflict.

Wanda begs Ian to stop, saying again that she can’t think, and I swear to god, if Ian tries shit again after being BEGGED to stop, I’m going to flip a table.  Ian does stop, at least for the moment, and sits back while Wanda tries to push out Stryder’s anger.  He points out that nobody punched him, and seems to think that’s a win.  Fuck you, Ian.

I wish Wanda would say this.

I wish Wanda would say this.

Wanda tells him that Stryder wanted to do more than just punch him, and that she hates when Stryder gets mad because anger is “ugly”.  Ian asks why Stryder didn’t do anything if she wanted to, and Wanda explains that it’s because she (Wanda) didn’t lose control, and Stryder only ‘breaks free’ when Wanda is overwhelmed.  So…you weren’t overwhelmed when Kyle was trying to fucking kill you?  God I hate this book.

Wanda tries to get Stryder to calm down, since Ian isn’t touching her anymore, but Stryder is still upset because it’s obvious to her that Ian doesn’t care that she’s there.  I fully agree with that, because if he had ANY respect for her at all, he wouldn’t have pulled any of this shit.  Stryder asks if Wanda has forgotten about Jared, then throws more Jared memories at Wanda again, but Wanda reminds Stryder that Stryder doesn’t want Wanda to love Jared.

Ian interrupts at this point, noticing that Stryder is talking to Wanda, which is apparently new to him because he could never tell when she was talking to Stryder before.  Wanda tells him that Stryder is not usually so vocal, so Ian apologizes to Stryder, but Stryder tells Wanda to tell him that she doesn’t want his apologies, and visualizes hurting him again.

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Wanda winces, and Ian realizes that that means Stryder doesn’t accept his apology.  He clarifies that Stryder can break free if Wanda is overwhelmed, and she explains that she can if she takes Wanda by surprise when Wanda is too emotional, but says it’s been more difficult for her recently. She says it’s like the door between them is locked and she’s not sure why, and starts to explain that that’s what happened when Kyle attacked her, but stops because she realizes that that would be admitting that Kyle did attack her, which she has denied up to this point.  Okay, at least there is a reason why she couldn’t hit Ian when she wanted to, even if Meyer’s reason is just “I can’t think of a good reason for this right now”.  At least she addressed it.

Ian knows she means when Kyle tried to kill her, even though she doesn’t say it, so he asks why she wanted Stryder free then.  He guesses that it was to fight Kyle, but Wanda doesn’t answer, so Ian moves on.  He asks why she thinks the door is locked, and Wanda says she doesn’t know, but maybe it’s the time passing, and that it worries them.

Ian brings up Stryder punching Jared again, then asks what Jared did to make that happen, and winces when he finds out that it was only that he kissed her.  Wanda doesn’t understand why that bothers him, so Ian tells her that it’s because when Jared kissed her, she was overwhelmed by emotion, but when he (Ian) did, she wasn’t sure if she liked it, and she wasn’t overwhelmed.  Thank FUCK you’re figuring this out, Ian!  But if you knew her “I can’t think” was an indication that she wasn’t sure she liked it, why the hell did you kiss her the second time??

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Stryder is happy that Ian gets it now, but Wanda is worried for him, and says she’s sorry.  Ian tells her not to be, because he said he’d give her time, and he doesn’t mind waiting for her to think things through.  Really?  If that’s true, then why the fuck did you touch her and kiss her and all that shit instead of giving her time like you said you would??  Things may have turned out better for you if you had!

Wanda asks what Ian does mind, since she knows there’s something, so Ian says that he saw how Wanda loved Jamie, but he didn’t see it with Jared, and he probably should have.  He admits that that may have been because he didn’t want to see it, but that it makes sense that she loves him since she came there for Jamie and Jared in the first place. He realizes she loves Jamie and Jared the same way Stryder does, and he’s sad about it.

He asks how much of the love Wanda has for Jamie and Jared is because of Stryder, and Wanda says she doesn’t know.  She asks if that really matters, because it DOESN’T, but of course Ian thinks it does, and then takes her hand again because fuck what he just said at least twice about giving her time, one being after she asked him TWICE to STOP FUCKING TOUCHING HER.

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Everyone is quiet for a minute, then Ian suddenly goes back to normal, and says that time is on his side because they have the rest of their lives in the cave, and someday she will wonder what she ever saw in Jared.  Stryder just says “in your dreams“, and Wanda laughs, but why the hell are neither of you as disturbed by that statement as I am?!  He’s just basically said you’re trapped with him and that he’s going to MAKE you forget about Jared, after disrespecting your wishes REPEATEDLY and forcing himself on you TWICE, and he’s flat out saying that he’s going to actively disrespect the love Jared, his FRIEND, has for Stryder, and the love that BOTH of you have for Jared!  What the fuck?  How is this funny or okay at ALL??  It’s creepy, it’s disturbing, it’s scary, it’s horrible, and it makes Ian a BAD FUCKING PERSON!  Very bad! Aggggh!!!

This is what he thinks, since you just laughed off his creepy fucking bullshit.

This is what he thinks, since you just laughed off his creepy fucking bullshit.

Jamie suddenly shows up and asks if he can come in, and Wanda is glad to see him because she hasn’t in a while.  Except that that’s not true because she just did all morning at the soccer thing, but whatever, Meyer.  Whatever.

Jamie greets Wanda and Ian and asks how she’s doing, then offers her some food.  She says she’s okay, then asks how he’s been, and he says Sharon gave him detention but that he didn’t do anything, he was framed.  He’s talking like he’s much younger than he is again!  Yaaay.

He never does tell her the reason why he got detention, though, making all of that utterly pointless, because he changes the topic to how Jared said that he didn’t think it was fair for Wanda to have to move out of the room she was used to (Jared and Jamie’s room), and that she should move back in there.  Niiiice, Jared.  Underhanded.  I like it.

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Ian is not pleased, but Jamie is still excited, so he asks if Wanda will come.  She asks where Jared will stay, and Ian interjects with a guess that Jared said the room is big enough for three.  Jamie confirms that, then asks Wanda again if she’ll come, saying it’ll be just like before they came to the caves.  That hurts Wanda, because it wasn’t her that was there with him before, and Jamie realizes the hurt he’s  caused from the look on her face, and immediately understands why she’s hurt.  He’s way faster at figuring this shit out than Ian is, that’s for sure.

Jamie tries to backtrack and says that he meant with Wanda too, so Wanda tries to laugh it off, even though it’s fake because it hurts.  Yeah, that’s hard.  Poor thing.

Ian squeezes Wanda’s hand, and I think he probably did that to make her think that he was supporting her, while actually trying to manipulate her by reminding her that he is an option that doesn’t involve that pain.  Or maybe Ian’s not smart enough for that; I’m not sure.

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Jamie wraps his arms around Wanda’s neck, which sounds either more intimate than it should be with a brother, or again, too young an act to be committed by a 14 year old, and apologizes and tells Wanda he loves her too.  That makes Wanda feel warm, but it hurts Stryder.  There is no way to win here…

Jamie asks again if Wanda will come back with him, but she doesn’t answer, so he asks what Stryder wants.  Wanda tells him that Stryder wants to live with him, so he asks what Wanda wants, and she asks what he (Jamie) wants.  He says he wants her to live with him, then starts begging her to come, so she agrees.

Jamie gets excited and says he’s going to go tell Jared and get Wanda some food, then asks if Ian wants anything.  Ian responds that he wants Jamie to tell Jared he’s shameless, which confuses Jamie, but Ian just tells him never mind and to go get the food.  You’re one to fucking talk about people being shameless, Ian; what the hell did you just do behind Jared’s back, hmmm?!

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Jamie says he’s going to ask Wes for his extra bed, and then Kyle can move back with Ian, and “everything will be like it should be“.  Yep, I can agree to that.  Much better than Wanda sleeping in the same room as a guy that cannot keep her hands off her no matter how many times she tells him to.

Ian is annoyed, and Wanda is still hurting, but they both agree, and I’m assuming Jamie leaves, but that’s not expressly said because the chapter just kind of ends.

Annnd that is that.  I feel like I was way more positive about this chapter in the beginning than I was by the end.  Funny how that keeps happening with this book.  Anyway, Happy New Year, everyone!

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(See Mike’s take on this chapter at http://emptystress.wordpress.com!)