Now that we’ve met our heroine and her infinitely messed-up family, it’s time for the story to introduce the remaining element, one so crucial to the VCA library.
The love interest.
This next chapter is entitled “Lions and Lambs”. I think we all know where this can go.
The chapter opens with Audrina overhearing a delivery man mention the “Spring day”. Little A runs after the man and asks what month it is, he tells her March, with its title-appropriate moods. Damian yells at Vera for her new hobby of cutting dirty pictures out of magazines at the town drugstore (“Any girl who’s stealing like that has already proved that there’s fire beneath the smoke!” DAMN IT DAMIAN). Vera cries to Audrina about how Audrina is loved more, but warns her that she will come out on top. A goes to Damian to confront him about his treatment of Vera, but ends up making Damian angry, and she later overhears him threatening Ellie and Vera, especially if he finds out that Vera was in any way “connected” with a mysterious something. Ellie denies Vera’s involvement. At breakfast the next day Audrina overhears her father telling her mother that the little cottage in the woods that the family owns has been rented, and that Lucky can soon invite the new neighbor lady over for teatimes so that Ellie and Lucky will no longer have to play with their imaginary aunt. (Why would you want to take that away from us, Damian? Come on!) Lucky tells Audrina that, despite what the delivery man told her the day before, it is now June. Audrina tries to befriend Vera (rejected) and we are treated to another Teatime.
Lucky and Ellie get good and drunk, and Ellie accuses Lucky of being a whore, Lucky accuses Ellie of being a dried up shrew, and the whole “Lucky stole Damian from her sister and isn’t sorry at all” storyline is pretty much spelled out for us. Ellie also at one point says that Lucky flirted with everyone available, including their father, but the less said about that, the better. It comes to a head as Lucky shrieks at Ellie through the picture of Aunt Mercy Marie, and the Teatimes are called off.
Well. Well, I’m sad now.
Moving on, we come to a brief interlude that contains a big announcement. Lucky and Damian call Audrina into their room to tell her that they’re going to have another baby. Which is just the very best announcement that they could make, huh? Lucky and Damian want a boy, and so does Audrina, so that there isn’t another little Audrina to take her parents’ love away. D:
Audrina catches Vera in the rocking chair, singing to herself and trying to catch the First Audrina’s gift. They fight and Audrina socks Vera in the chin and the chair tips over, leaving Vera with four broken ribs. Later that night Vera comes into Audrina’s room and threatens her, “Someday I’m going to bring down this house and everyone in it…and you’ll be the first I fell”. Oh Vera. You so crazy!
As the next chapter starts, Audrina decides to disobey her father and go into the woods, in the hopes of catching a glimpse of their new neighbors. In the woods she finds…Arden Lowe. Arden lives in the cottage with his mother, Billie, who Audrina (and we) only see from the waist up through a cottage window. This is how we will see Billie for a good little while. Billie is gorgeous, and according to Audrina looks like Elizabeth Taylor, with thick blue-black hair and dark eyes.
Now, remember in Practical Magic (the movie) when Gillian writes to Sally and describes Jimmy Angelov, and her voiceover does that “Jimmy Angelov Angelov Angelov….” whispery-echo thing? Imagine that, but as “Arden Lowe Arden Lowe Arden Lowe…”, because that’s going to be Audrina’s mindset from here on in. Arden is all things that are perfect, you see, smart and good to his mother and handsome and loyal and handy and on and on and…uh oh.
I am always honest with you guys, so I will admit this right off the bat: I hate Arden. He’s a tool. He’s the whole damn tool shed. There are plenty of reasons for my feelings, some are OMG SPOILERS and some are just little character traits, but suffice it to say that he’s one of the male VCA characters that I actively despise. He’s annoying and condescending and does that “There are reasons you shouldn’t love me, Audrina, but whatever will I do if you don’t” guilt crap; he says cryptic things that are irritating even when you (the reader) know what he’s on about; he does that obnoxious Madonna or whore thing with women, he has sex issues, he…oh god DAMN it Arden. He just makes me so angry!
As a sneak peek at part of my reasoning, allow me just to say that at some point in this novel, Arden is going to use the blue balls excuse. Yeah.
But that’s not what’s happening at the moment! He’s years away from that, and let’s get back to the story at hand. Arden, you see, is the boy who gave Vera the box of chocolates. Except that he didn’t really give them to Vera so much as he gave them to Vera to give to Audrina and Vera stole them because she is terrible.
Though this is only the first fourth of the Arden is Amazing chapter, I’m closing here, because this is SO LONG and SO MUCH happens in the rest of it. Plus, this way I get to end on that ever popular theme of Vera’s terribleness.