I know the recap for #16 hasn’t been posted yet and I tried to wait, I really did. But this is the one where Jessica hooks up with her professor who’s married to a psycho. I tried to be strong. But then I read the back and saw that this is also the book where Bruce and Miss Lila move in together and they’re – GASP! - poor! I couldn’t resist anymore. I’m only human, people.
Jess’s bathing suit is fug.
Okay, with that out of the way, on with the show! We’ll start with the boring storyline first.
Winston and Denise
Winston cheated on a test, so his dad made him join ROTC to teach him honor and discipline. He’s really uncoordinated and bad at it and mouths off to the drill sergeant, though. Denise signed up too, in solidarity. Wow, that’s dedication. She’s turning into a pretty good soldier.
Winston whines about how much he hates drills, and Denise gets kind of offended, since she’s enjoying it so much. She resents that Winston treats it as a joke even though he knows how important it is to her, and starts to think that he’s not as serious and mature as he should be. Especially compared to their hot drill instructor. Winston is bitter and pissy, and worried she’ll dump him.
The next day, Winston has trouble learning how to present arms (that gun twirly thing soldiers do). He has an hysterical laughing fit and the drill sergeant tells him to go home and not come back until he can take ROTC seriously. Denise is pissed, and Winston is humiliated.
Winston overhears Denise denying to another girl that Winston is her boyfriend. He’s crushed and furious. Denise realizes he heard and is horrified. Then the drill instructor puts Denise in charge of whipping Winston into shape, because she’s such a good recruit and the head of all California ROTC is coming soon to inspect them. Everyone needs everyone to look great, to reflect well on SVU’s program. Denise is not thrilled.
She and Winston have a fight about how upset she is that he won’t take ROTC seriously and isn’t even trying. She makes him meet her at 6am the next day for extra drills so he’ll be ready for the inspection. On the training field, Denise screams her head off at Winston and then makes a date with the drill instructor right in front of him. He’s furious and she says, “If you want me to treat you like a man, act like one.” What a bitch. ROTC isn’t for everyone, obviously, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
At the Officer’s Club, everyone makes fun of Winston. Denise waits for their drill instructor to stand up for him, but instead he laughs along and calls Winston a goofball. Denise is disillusioned. I mean, Winston is a goofball, but he’s also one of this guy’s men, so the dude should’ve defended him. She almost cries, and decides the guy is a bully after all. Weird.
At the exhibition, Winston does really well. Denise starts clowning around and screwing up on purpose, though, and the whole company kind of disintegrates and winds up tackling the sergeant. The entire event is a failure. Denise and Winston run away, blissfully in love again. What? This storyline was really stupid.
Lila and Bruce
Miss Lila (or would she be Lady Lila now, since she married that Count?) shops and broods. Her cash is all tied up in Italy because the Count’s estate hasn’t settled out yet, so she and Bruce (who have just moved in together) are trying to make do in an attic apartment with no hot water. Say what? That has to be illegal. Anyway, she tries to buy some clothes, but her card is declined and she realizes that she is really, truly broke. For now.
Bruce is in the same squalorous boat: apparently the Patmans are all about economizing now. Bruce’s 85 year old Uncle Dan (Who? I mean, really? Between this dude and Roger’s dad, neither one of whom were in the Patman legacy book, how many random brothers can one canning magnate have?), who is his trustee, gets pissed off that Bruce rented an apartment with Lila when he has a perfectly good room at the frat house that’s been paid up through the rest of the semester, so he cuts Bruce off. Also, apparently Uncle Dan has never married and hates women, and thinks Lila’s just a gold digger after Bruce’s money. Bruce tries to explain to Uncle Dan that Lila is (a) a widowed Italian countess with millions of her own from her husband; (b) the only child of George Fowler, with billions more on the way from him. Bruce’s canning money is the last thing she needs. In fact, she’s probably way richer than all the Patmans put together. Dan is kind of an asshole and doesn’t buy it.
Lila helpfully tries to make dinner, but she turns on the gas stove without lighting the pilot and almost blows Bruce up. He yells at her, and then he feels bad for losing his temper and hurting her feelings. How should she have known, after all? She didn’t do it on purpose, and it’s not like she’s ever had to use a stove before. So, to show Lila how much he loves her, he goes out to buy her some flowers and pick them up some dinner from a fancy catering place. Unfortunately, Uncle Dan has cancelled his credit card and he’s humiliated when he tries to pay. And since they have no hot water, he can’t shave, and his face is itchy. Poor Bruce. If it’s not one thing, it’s another.
He calls home to tell Lila what happened, but she doesn’t get to the phone in time. So, he goes to the frat house, eats a big dinner there, and plays pool for a while. When he gets home, he is in huge trouble. There’s not a bit of food in the entire apartment, and Lila is starving and kind of pissed that he went and stuffed his face and then played around with his friends while she sat at home, wondering where he was and staring at the empty cabinets. Bruce tries to turn it around on her and make it seem like she’s trying to stifle his freedom by making him ask for permission to hang out at his own frat and she’s like, “How stupid are you? I don’t care if you hang out at your frat and you don’t have to ask me permission, but we’re a couple living together so you DO have to let me know what your plans are! And also I’m really hungry!” I’m on Lila’s side here. As usual.
Bruce chooses that moment to tell her that his card’s been cancelled, so they’ll have to live off hers for a while. She’s like, ‘Crap. It’s maxed out.” Their downstairs neighbor yells at them to shut up fighting, and Lila jumps up and down, just to bug him some more. Hee.
The next day, thoughtful Bruce goes to the frat to eat, and sneaks home some muffins for Lila. She practically swallows them whole. They try to figure out what to do that’s free, and Bruce suggests going for a walk. Lila thinks that sounds okay, except the exercise will make her hungry, and then she’ll be cranky again. She doesn’t want that, because she feels bad for bitching at Bruce the night before.
Bruce says he’ll sneak some more food home from the frat for her dinner and she’s like, “That’s really nice of you, but this scavenging really isn’t sustainable long term.” They both apologize to each other, and Bruce realizes that, though he knows Lila is spoiled, he’d always assumed she was selfish too and now he’s realizing she’s actually quite the opposite. He’s touched that she’s being such a good sport about making the best of their poverty and feels bad that he can’t even help meet her most basic needs. Out of desperation, Bruce suggests they go home and raid their parents’ fridges. I don’t know why they didn’t think of this days ago.
The kitchen at Fowler Crest is extremely well stocked and they pig out. Lila suggests that they stay at home that night and Bruce, at first, freaks out because he thinks she means sleeping together while her parents are there. Not even Bruce Patman is willing to go that far. Lila’s like, “No, dork, go to your house, I’ll stay here, and we can head back to school in the morning.” Bruce is relieved. Lila is too, because Bruce has been getting on her nerves. Apparently he’s a total germaphobe and has to wash his hands every three minutes, plus he’s not nearly as confident as she’d always thought: he’s just super needy all the time and always wanting her approval. Who knew? Plus, he doesn’t put the toilet seat down.
Anyway, they’re both glad for the little break from each other. After that first night they decide to stay another few days, and Lila tells Bruce this would be a good time to once again try to talk Uncle Dan into releasing some of his money. Bruce thinks it would be a waste of time, but Lila calls him a wimp and he agrees to try again.
The next day, Bruce makes some excuse about why he hasn’t talked to Uncle Dan, and Lila thinks he’s lame. Being away from him is reminding her of what an irritating personality he has. HA! Bruce is like, “Well, whatever, just call me when you want to head back to school,” but Lila thinks it’ll be a while. Her mom is taking her shopping that afternoon, and has promised to buy her everything she wants. No way is she leaving shopping trips and Fowler Crest’s pretty rooms and stocked fridge to head back to that dumpy college apartment with stupid Bruce. I love her.
A few days later, Lila is waiting for a delivery from her favorite store – she and her mom bought out the whole designer section – when Bruce comes over. He tells her he loves her, but he doesn’t think they’re ready to live together. She throws her arms around his neck and wholeheartedly agrees. They make out. Uncle Dan presumably reinstates Bruce’s cash flow.
Jessica, Her Married Prof, and His Crazy Wife. Costarring Liz, Todd, and the Mafia.
I have to put in a disclaimer: I have absolutely no idea what happened in the previous book or what our heroes’ situation is now. I’m going in cold.
We start with Jess crying on her bed like a jerk. Liz barges into the dorm room and throws a bunch of black and white glossy 8x10s at her. They’re of her sucking face with Professor Louis Miles and Liz says, “Smile! You were on Candid Camera!” Way to make a contemporary reference, ghostwriter. The twins play exposition fairy about the plot until now. In a nutshell:
1. Over the last two weeks Jess and Louis, the “youngest, handsomest professor at SVU,” have fallen in love, despite trying for days to deny their feelings. He was like, “This is inappropriate and I’ll get fired,” she went to his house to tell him off for dumping her, and they wound up screwing each other’s brains out. Jess thinks Liz is a peeping tom and took the pictures herself.
2. The pics were actually taken by some weirdo dean at the University. Liz and Todd are investigating a point shaving scam at SVU. A bunch of student athletes were paid off to take dives or keep the score within the spread, and the gamblers are actually laundering the money through the athletic department’s budget. Because universities don’t have state oversight into their cash flow or anything. Somebody beat Todd up (Huh. He must be out of practice punching.) and now the dean has told Liz that, unless she drops her investigation, he’ll fire Louis for consorting with a student. If I were Liz I’d be like, “So? He’s not my boyfriend, and I’d actually prefer that you ditch the skeezy man who’s preying on my 18 year old sister, so thanks for that,” but I’m not Liz, so that doesn’t happen. Instead, she doormats that she’ll stop looking into the sports corruption because she doesn’t want people gossiping about Jess’s prof-fucking. Really? Because let me get this straight: Jess married abusive Mike, divorced him two weeks later, Steven shot him and put him in a wheelchair, and then Mike magically recovered use of his legs and saved Steve from a deadly gas leak, right? With a story like that going around about Jess, why would anyone care about stupid Louis?
3. Jess was on her way home from the Miles beach house of barely legal sex when some crazy bitch rear-ended the Jeep and then tried to run her off the road. When Jess pulled over the lady was like, “I’m Mrs. Miles. Step off my husband, you little ho, or I’ll getcha.” Jess is kind of bummed that her tru luv is married and never told her, but isn’t really that pissed off about it. Apparently Mrs. Miles had Louis on the phone the whole time, listening to her try to kill Jess, so he’s racing to SVU as fast as he can, thinking Jess is dead.
Todd’s asked Liz to not tell Gin-Yung anything about their investigation, for her own safety, but Gin-Yung gets pissed off and screams at Liz to tell Todd to consider himself dumped. Liz is like, “Wha?” and Gin-Yung says never mind and is cheerful again. Are her mood swings supposed to be symptoms of her still-undiagnosed brain tumor? She’s going to be dead in, like, three months or something, right? Liz fumes about how corrupt the school is, and how she can’t do anything about it now because pervy Louis couldn’t keep it in his pants. If she hates it there so much, why doesn’t she just transfer?
Some sketchy alum named Santos (he’s in charge of the money laundering thing) pays Mark to keep Todd away from a SVU wrestler who’s been bribed to take a dive in some big-deal wrestling match that the whole school is het up over. How boring.
At the gym, there’s a confrontation between the wrestler, Mark, and Todd. The wrestler hates Mark. The wrestler and Mark both hate Todd. Hee. Enid’s in the background during this whole scene, going by her middle name and doing leg lifts in a yellow unitard. Just in case you were curious. The mean dean bounces Todd from the gym, and Todd sees Liz outside. She fills him in on how they’re dropping the case and he’s like, “You’re kidding me, right? These people are evil, and now we have to just let them get away with it because of Jess’s hebephiliac prof?” Except, because he’s Todd and not very bright, he doesn’t say it quite like that. It’s more like, “Nooooooo!” And he tells Liz that Jess is like a sister to him. Uh huh.
Oh, wait, the photos weren’t taken by MeanDean; he found them slipped under his door, so I guess they were taken by Mrs. Miles. She follows Todd and Liz around campus, probably thinking Liz is Jess.
Louis runs to Jessica’s dorm – What good will that do, if he thinks she’s dead on the side of the road somewhere? – and finds her crying right where Liz left her. He’s like, “Thank God you’re not dead!” and she’s like, “Yeah, married guy whose wife tried to kill me. How about you explain that?”
He’s like, “Yeah, I screwed you without telling you I was married. Oops. But here’s the thing. I married my wife when I was in grad school, and then she killed everyone I know. Instead of calling the cops or divorcing her or whatever, I moved away. She showed up a few months later and told me she’d had therapy, so I took her back like an idiot and then she, again, killed everyone I know. So I moved to Sweet Valley, where I thought she’d fit right in.” Hee, not really that last part. The rest is true, though. Apparently, to protect the world from the crazy missus, Louis stopped having friends and dating and whatever. At least until he realized there was a piece of sweet blonde teenaged ass in his class, and decided two weeks later that he was madly in love with her. Love. Sure. He tells Jess he’s never felt this way about a woman before! The last two weeks, as their love grew deeper and he realized that she was his everything, have been magical!
Jess is like, “Oh. “
Louis says he has to leave town to protect Jess from the ball and crazy chain, but Jess cries and tells him no! She’s never loved anyone like she loves him! (Sorry AJ, Sam, Ken, Christian Gorman, Vampire Jonathan, James the Dirtbike Guy, Paul from the wood chopping summer camp, Mike, Randy Mason, that guy who pretended to be identical twins when Jess and Liz visited Kansas so he could date both of them, the dude from the soap opera, Lord Robert with the werewolf half brother, Lila’s druggie boyfriend who tried to stab her that one time, I could keep going….) She’s willing to DIE to be with him! He’s like, “Cool.”
Then pissy Liz walks in and catches them hugging. She is justifiably bitchy as she tells Louis the whole story about how Santos and MeanDean are going to be able to go right on ruining people’s lives because of his adulterous horndoggery, and he’s like, “Oops.” Liz is all, “YES, OOPS. Asshole.”
Jess makes Louis tell Liz about Mad Mrs. Miles and Liz is kind of like, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW? You didn’t have to just wreck my life, but you had to trick my sister into helping you cheat on your psycho wife, making her the target of yet another person who wants to kill her?”
Jess is all, “No, it’s cool, because we are in lurve.”
Liz is like, “I hate you both.”
Jess starts to pack her stuff, and tells Louis and Liz that, the way she sees it, the only option is for her and Louis to go on the run from Louis’s crazy wife. (Mrs. Miles’s actual name, weirdly, is Chloe. But there’s another Chloe in this series too, isn’t there? The lame wannabe with a crush on Tom or something? They really couldn’t come up with any other name?) Anyway, Jess explains that if she and Louis go on the run then (a) Crazy Chloe won’t be able to kill her, and (b) she removes MeanDean’s ammunition against Liz, so Liz can go back to exposing sports corruption.
Louis kind of half-heartedly protests this plan because Liz will still be in danger, but is mostly like, “Yeah, fuck Liz. The only thing I really care about is keeping Jess safe, since she’s the twin who puts out. I mean, since I love her.”
Also, this scene is kind of creepy. Maybe I’m just not as…physically demonstrative, shall we say…as the twins are? But they kiss, like, a lot as they have this whole conversation. They just keep bickering and hugging and fighting and kissing each other. Five times in four pages. Not even Todd got this much action from Liz. Professor Louis is getting the show Mr. Collins if You’re Nasty always dreamed of.
The lovebirds (lustbirds?) leave, and Liz goes to the parking lot to check out the damage Crazy Chloe did to the Jeep when she tried to run Jess off the road. Sure enough, it’s pretty much totaled. As Liz bends over to get a look at the muffler (I don’t know; she finds mufflers very interesting, I guess) somebody throws a bag over hear head and tosses her in the backseat of a car. She gets driven out of town, dragged out of the car, and forced to march through the wilderness. Her captor whips the bag off her head and Liz sees that she’s standing right on the edge of a huge cliff. This is all narrated in a very perfunctory, not at all exciting way. Liz says, “You can have Santos kill me, but it won’t make a difference. Tons of people know the story I’m working on.”
Her abductor is like, “WTF? Who the hell is Santos?” Liz turns around and sees that it’s not some thug: it’s a six foot tall lady with crazy makeup on. She can only be Louis’s better half. Crazy Chloe clues in right away that she has the wrong girl – depressing, since even Alice isn’t as good at telling them apart most of the time – and then just kind of shrugs and dangles Liz off the cliff anyway, saying, “Tell your slutty sister to stay away from my husband or I’ll kill her. And you too, I guess.”
Liz manages to find her way back to SVU, and heads right for Todd’s room. She tells him about her run-in with the lovely Mrs. Miles, and says that (a) the investigation is back on, and (b) she’ll have to stay there for a bit, because once Crazy Chloe realizes Jess and Louis have split, she’ll probably try to kill Liz again. Todd is like, “Um…kay.” Liz falls asleep on the second dorm bed (I guess he lives by himself in a double?) and Todd kisses her cheek and moons over how lucky he is to be dating Gin-Yung and friends with Liz. What a lamer.
Meanwhile, Jess and Louis have driven to some romantic little cabin in Arizona. I have no idea how they found it or where it came from, but I’m not going to worry about that. The important thing here is that Louis is like, “You know, we can never stop running. You can never talk to your family or friends again. I’ve stolen your life from you.” Jess is like, “You’re all the family and friends I need! You’re my reason for being!” He angsts about how she’s so young and perfect, and he’s a selfish monster for stealing her life and for…you know what? Actually? Have you ever read Twilight? Take every whiny conversation that Edward and Bella ever have about turning her into a vampire, and that’s pretty much how this scene goes. Except, instead of finishing up with a bit of chaste stalking, Louis and Jess go upstairs and boink.
Then they wake up the next morning and do it again, except the ghostwriter now claims they’re in New Mexico. Hee.
Next, they go hiking and do it in a clearing. This guy is insatiable.
While Jess is enjoying her May-December sexathon, Liz and Todd try to sneak back to Liz’s dorm and spot Santos’s bodyguard leaving the building. They run upstairs, and discover that Liz’s room is trashed. Her computer is destroyed and her backup disks are missing, so all their evidence is gone. Todd’s like, “I think we can be pretty sure they’re headed to my dorm next. Time to go on the run.” He says they can sleep in his car on the side of a road tonight. Hee. Slightly different from Jessica’s luxe accommodations. I love it.
In further point shaving news, Tom Watts is in Las Vegas to cover that wrestling match. He thinks Liz is letting Todd manipulate her into spending time on a nonstory, and actually calls Gin-Yung to whine about how he’s afraid Todd’s going to steal Liz, because apparently Gin-Yung is really jealous and possessive, so he knows she’ll be suspicious if anything cheaty is going on. Tom’s kind of a jerk. Gin-Yung laughs at him and, reassured, Tom goes to sleep.
Liz and Todd run into Lila and Bruce, who are on their way home. Liz spots them gas money (poor 1BRUCE1 was just as hungry as Lila) in exchange for the keys to their apartment. They don’t want Lila and Bruce to know they’re hiding out from evil gamblers, so they pretend that they’re back together and need a place to be alone, if you know what I mean, and I think you do. Unfortunately, Gin-Yung happens to be across the street and sees the whole thing. She is pissed.
Meanwhile, the twin who actually has a sex life is hanging out in Santa Fe with her pervy prof. He buys her a silver unicorn necklace, because Jess once told him about the Unicorn Club. Lame. She vows to wear it always. Then, I presume, they get it on again.
Tom calls Gin-Yung a second time and she’s like, “Forget what I said the other day. Todd and Liz are hot and heavy.” Tom’s worried.
Liz and Todd laugh at how grungy Lila and Bruce’s apartment is, and then Liz leaves for the station. She has some files there, and maybe backups of the stuff Santos’s thug stole. While on her way, though, she’s spotted by said thug, who chases her down and almost catches her, until Gin-Yung pulls up in her car. Liz jumps in and they speed away. Gin-Yung is furious and is like, “You’re cheating with my boyfriend! I saw you!” Liz tells her that was just an act, and that she’s welcome to help in the investigation if she wants. Liz takes Gin-Yung’s car to drive to some housing project to talk to a former SVU athlete who was involved in the point shaving scam. Gin-Yung goes to talk to Todd, and when she wrinkles her nose at the scuzzy apartment he says, "If it's good enough for Lila Fowler, it's good enough for you." Snap! He also insists he only likes Elizabeth as a friend. Gin-Yung, not knowing that in twelve books she'll be on her deathbed while Todd sucks face with Liz, is happy again. They make out.
Okay, so that kid Liz went to see. Turns out he has two dead parents, two tween brothers, and a Tiny Tim of a sister, with crutches and leg braces, the whole nine yards. Santos is paying all her medical bills, so this dude is not interested in ratting him out to Liz. He hopes that one of his little brothers will have a shot at an athletic scholarship someday and bitchy Liz is like, “That’s great; he’ll probably wind up being just as bribable as you are.” Instead of kicking her out, the dude makes a troubled face. I have to think of a name for him – I believe I will call him Bob, as in Cratchit.
Meanwhile, Jess and Louis are having a romantic dinner. She tells him he’s chivalrous, because he puts her needs above his own. He’s kind of like, “Um. Remember how I didn’t tell you I was married so you would fuck me, thereby knowingly making you the target of a serial killer?” She’s like, “Pish, no big. We’re in love.” He’s all, “In love. Right.” He starts to worry that they’ve stayed too long in one place, and his fears are confirmed when they get to the car and his watch and Jess’s makeup bag are gone. Clearly, Crazy Chloe’s been raiding their stuff. They drive off for Colorado. Random. What with all the killing Chloe gets up to, I’m surprised they weren’t worried about a car bomb, but I guess not.
Todd and Gin-Yung go out for coffee, and Gin-Yung’s like, “You know, I told Tom that Liz was cheating on him with you, so she should probably call him and set him straight.” Todd’s like, “Whatever. I don’t care.” Gin-Yung, since the whole thing is your fault to begin with, maybe you should call Tom, hm? Guess not.
As Louis and Jess drive through the night, Louis cries and wishes he and Jess could get married and have babies instead of running from Chloe. What a winner. They pull over at an all-night diner so he can get some coffee, and as Jess gets out of the car Chloe comes speeding up and almost runs her over. She chases them around the parking lot until they can hop back into Louis’s ride and race off. There’s a bit of stunt driving involved (Louis’s car even goes airborne at one point) but they eventually lose her. They spend the rest of the night driving along back mountain roads, until Louis finally pulls over to get some sleep.
The next morning, Louis shows Jess a map of the US with tons of roads highlighted. He tells her that the map is the story of his life, and the highlights are all the places he’s been in the last few years where Crazy Chloe has showed up and killed everyone he knows. Then he and Jess have sex in the car.
Todd and Gin-Yung figure out how the money laundering is working. There are lots of construction sites around campus where there never seem to be any workers, and they realize that Santos owns the construction company. Gamblers make donations, which SVU then filters through Santos’s company, which overcharges the school for work that never gets done in the first place. The scene is kind of like the one in Office Space when Peter and Michael Bolton look money laundering up in the dictionary. Some thugs break into the newspaper office while they’re there, and they have to run for it. They get back to Bruce and Lila's (I'm just going to call it the hideout from now on) and Liz wants to call the feds, especially since she’s finally pestered Bob into talking on the record, so he can set a good example for his siblings. Todd grins about how lucky he is to be surrounded by two awesome women like Liz and Gin-Yung. Ugh.
Gin-Yung brings that wrestler to the housing project (the kid’s an Olympic hopeful and his dad is running for Senate, apparently), and Bob tells the guy he’s going to go public about Santos’s criminal ways, so he’d better make sure that the inevitable federal investigators (This is a federal crime how, exactly? Well, whatever.) don’t find anything on him. The wrestler doesn’t know what to do, but promises not to tell anyone about this talk.
Some thugs corner Tom in Las Vegas and push him around a little, then tell him that if he doesn’t make Liz back off of Bob, Tiny Tim and the other kids will get hurt. Tom has no idea what they’re talking about, and when he gets back to his room he tries to call Liz, Gin-Yung, and Todd, but nobody's answering. So he throws the phone.
Though it’s only been two days and she’s spent 80% of that time having sex, Jess is already sick of living on the lam. She wants to go back to SVU and let Liz sort out having Chloe arrested for stalking. Stalking? Not watch and makeup thievery? Or, say, murder? Louis is like, “Obviously you have to go back, but I must keep living on the lam! I can’t give you any kind of life at all, and I know one day soon Chloe will find me again and kill everyone I know. It’s her thing.” Jess is like, “But we’re in love! We have no choice but to be together forever!” Louis is, like, two chapters away from taking off for Italy to attempt suicide by public sparkle.
They pull over at a leasing office, and the lady inside offers to rent them a farm. Seriously. So Louis and Jess drive out to the farmhouse and have sex. Of course. As foreplay, he reads her a poem by Longfellow that they allegedly studied in his class, except the ghostwriter has devoted quite a bit of ink so far on reminding us that he teaches medieval history. Because he finds it so romantic. Plagues are hot. I don’t even know.
But I’m kind of curious now. There are 63 pages left in this book. How many more times can Jess and Louis possibly get it on? This fornication spree is going to give him heart failure one of these days. He’s not as young as he used to be.
HA! I didn’t even have to wait three pages. They roll around in a field of buttercups (seriously) as Louis tells Jess what made him want to become a teacher. His mom died when he was nine and the next year he fell out of a tree and broke his leg. He was lonely and stuck in his room, so his dad bought him books about knights and dragons and stuff, which got him interested in medieval times. Of course, he acknowledges, now he’s wrecked his fair lady’s life and is running away from his dragon, so he’s kind of a shitty knight. Then he and Jess have sex outside. That’s one.
Meanwhile, in Las Vegas, Tom is about to interview the nervous wrestler for some kind of ESPN-type TV station, except just for college sports. They’re getting ready when someone flips on a nearby television and the show that just happens to be on at that moment just happens to be talking about how student reporters at SVU have uncovered the whole gambling/point shaving/money-laundering thing. The camera shows the student union, crowded with people who’ve gathered to watch the wrestling match on TV, and guys in dark suits and sunglasses are going inside. They’re supposed to be feds, I think. MeanDean is going to make a statement about how the accusations are all lies. Just then, Tom is paged to the front desk of the hotel be because Liz is on the phone. Their connection is bad, but she tells him that she’s at the student union and once Bob makes his statement they’ll all be safe. She asks him to tell the wrestler that it’s all falling into place. Tom tries to tell her about the guys who roughed him up, but she hangs up on him and calls Gin-Yung and Bob at the hideout to tell them it’s time to head over.
MeanDean takes the stage and says that the criminal accusations are all the lies of some power-hungry reporter (HA!). Bob comes in, walks up to the front of the room, and Liz is excited that he’s about to tell the truth. Unfortunately, once he gets to the podium he’s all, “Yeah, what MeanDean said. I love SVU and Liz Wakefield is a huge liar.” Liz, Todd, and Gin-Yung are devastated, and also realize that now they’re in big danger. Liz yells at him, and the crowd starts jeering at her.
Tom calls Gin-Yung’s cell and demands to know what the hell is going on, since it’s all over TV that Bob’s denying the accusations. He tells Liz about the dudes who threatened him, and she starts to cry, realizing that Bob had to lie to protect his crippled sister. Todd tells Tom that he has to let the wrestler know that Santos threatened Bob's family, so he can be aware of the risks if he decides to cross Santos and MeanDean. I don’t understand why these kids don’t just transfer, instead of staying at a joke of a school that’s apparently run by serial killers and the mob. Liz now thinks the wrestler should go ahead and take that dive, rather than risk Santos hurting people he loves. She vows to never be a reporter again if anyone gets hurt because of her. Uh huh.
Tom tells the wrestler that Bob lied because Santos threatened all the little Cratchits. The wrestler asks if his pre-match interview with Tom is going to be on live TV, and Tom confirms that it is. The crew turns the cameras on.
Meanwhile, in bucolic fuckville, some cops come by the farmhouse and tell Louis that they found the body of a woman in a car nearby, and her driver’s license said she was his wife. Um. Why would her husband’s name be on her driver’s license? Am I suddenly reading The Handmaid’s Tale? Anyway, the cops need him to come out and identify her. When he gets to the car, though, and they open the body bag, it’s actually Jessica inside. He starts to scream, and then wakes up. It was all a dream, of course. He wants to leave the farm right then, but Jess makes him agree to stay one more night. They have sex. That’s two.
Liz, Todd, and Gin-Yung go back into the student union to watch Tom interview the wrestler on TV with the rest of the crowd. Tom introduces the wrestler and says the guy has an announcement to make. The wrestler admits on live national TV that he was offered money to lose the match. When he refused, they threatened him. Apparently a year ago he tested positive for steroids (though it’s never said whether this was a fake result or he really was juiced), and MeanDean and Santos threatened to make this public and wreck his father’s Senate campaign if he wouldn’t take a dive in this big Las Vegas match. He tells everyone that he hopes they won’t judge his dad by any of this. Todd goes, “Woo!” and jumps up and down. What a dork.
MeanDean tries to run for it, but the feds arrest him before he can get to the door. Just then, a bunch of Santos’s bad guys come up behind our heroes and put guns to their back all, “Come quietly with us and nobody gets hurt.” They should start screaming their heads off – these dudes are not about to start firing in a room packed with federal agents and thousands of college students – but instead the stupid trio leaves with them.
Jess laughs to Louis that, of all the crazy relationship shit she’s gotten up to in the past, this is by far the craziest, but that’s cool because of the tru luv and all. You all know what’s coming. I should really just make a macro: they have sex. That’s three.
After Jess falls asleep, Louis stays awake feeling paranoid. The house creaks and he thinks he smells Crazy Chloe’s perfume. He handles it like a real winner. He leaves two hundred dollars on the bureau for Jess (As payment for services rendered, I’d imagine), locks the bedroom door from the outside, and then shoves the key back underneath it so it’s inside with Jessica. That way, she’s locked in and safe. He goes downstairs and sees that a knife is missing from the kitchen. How the hell did this bitch find them?
He follows his nose to the barn, where he smells Chloe’s perfume really strongly (I don't understand. Does she bathe in it?), so he knows she’s there somewhere. Louis calls out to her that he knows she’s upset, but he’s glad she’s there and he wants to talk. He insists she should only be angry at him, not at Jess. He tells her he’ll always love her, and he’s glad they’re married and willing to try again. They can leave together tonight, if she wants, and start over.
As he babbles, he realizes that the perfume is getting fainter and clues in that she’s not only gone from the barn, but she's locked him in. He climbs out of the hayloft and onto the roof, and then to a nearby tree that he climbs down to the ground. As he runs toward the house, he smells gas. This guy is a regular bloodhound, with all the sniffing he’s getting up to tonight.
When Louis runs inside he sees that Chloe has turned on all the burners of the oven, and pulled the knobs off so Louis can’t stop the gas. The space heaters are all on and spewing gas too. He can hardly gasp for air. He gets upstairs and realizes that Jess must be unconscious, and throws himself at the door, which splinters. He hears Chloe laughing (Why isn’t she unconscious too? Do crazy people not breathe oxygen?) as he runs in and hauls Jess out of bed. As he sprints across the lawn, the house blows up.
Back at SVU, our stupid heroes have been locked in Santos’s basement. Liz is sure they’re going to be killed, and she and Todd bicker. This makes Gin-Yung happy, because it’s proof they’re not in love. What a weird girl. Santos and his bodyguard come in with guns, and Mark is tagging along too. Santos asks them how much it’ll cost to bribe them to say that the wrestler was lying and Tom put him up to it. Todd finds his dignity somewhere and tells him they’re not for sale. Santos is like, “Whatever. Guess I’ll go upstairs and kill the Cratchits, then.”
The bodyguard goes upstairs to get the little kids, and Mark punches him. Todd and Mark jump Santos, and Liz and Gin-Young jump the bodyguard. The bad guys are overpowered, and it turns out Mark’s been a double agent helping Todd this whole time. What? Seriously?
The kids all call the cops, and I guess Santos and his thugs go to jail. Way to tie up your storylines, ghostwriter. Also, a newspaper offers Bob a bunch of money for his story and a junior high offers him a coaching job, so he can pay for his sister’s doctors himself now and afford to go back to school. In addition, the wrestler’s honesty made everyone think very well of his father’s character, so he went way up in the polls and is going to win his Senate election. Furthermore, that ESPN station was so impressed with Liz and Tom’s journalism that they offer them jobs after graduation. How nice.
Tom rushes back from Las Vegas as fast as he can, and he and Liz make out for about two seconds before she’s like, “Well, come on. Off to watch Winston’s ROTC drill.” He’s like, “Are you kidding me? We were both almost killed, I’ve been up for almost 24 hours trying to get back here to you, and you want to hang out with Winston instead of make out?” She’s all, “Pretty much, yeah.” What a winner.
Meanwhile, Jess is unconscious in the hospital from inhaling all that gas. The doctors say she’ll be okay, though. As Louis sits by her bedside, the cops question him about how his house blew up. He tells them about Crazy Chloe, and they’re totally useless. They’re like, “Well, if you heard her laughing inside the house then she’s dead now, right?” He’s all, “I was in the house then too and I’m not dead, so no.” They’re like, “But be reasonable. She’s dead, right?” and he’s like, “Did you find a body?” and they go, “No, but…” He tells them to proceed like Chloe’s still alive and just FIND her already and they’re all, “But…you know…it would really be less work for us if we just proceeded like she’s dead.”
Louis asks the cops to at least post a guard by Jess’s hospital room, and they’re like, “Ha ha ha, no,” and leave.
Louis kisses sleeping Jess on the cheek, then goes to the waiting room to get some coffee. Just as he steps into the hallway, though, his supernose smells Chloe’s perfume again. He runs back into Jessica’s room and finds Chloe standing over her, butcher knife held aloft Margo-fashion. Was she hiding in the closet or something? Also, she’s covered her face with Jess’s stolen makeup, warpaint style. Hee.
Just as she brings the knife down, Louis throws himself on top of Jess and takes the stab that was meant for her. Chloe basically embeds the knife in his ribs, right up to the handle. Yee. Chloe’s all, “Oops! I meant to kill her! Sorry!” and runs for it. Louis pulls the knife out and staggers over to a table in Jess’s room that has tape and gauze, and kind of makes himself a bandage. He starts to cry, and kisses Jess on the cheek, saying, “Chivalry is not dead. I love you.” Then they have sex. No, I kid. But seriously, where are the doctors in this hospital? Why did nobody notice that this just happened?
Louis decides that if he’s going to die – which he doesn’t have to do, being right in a hospital and all – he’s going to take Chloe with him. He goes out to his car, and she’s standing there waiting for him. Why? I don’t know. They’re both crying, and she apologizes for stabbing him, since she loves him so much. He’s about to be sick, but tells her he loves her and that they belong together, so they should leave before someone tries to stop them. She’s like, “Woo! Yes! Let’s run away!”
As he drives higher and higher into the mountains, Louis’s bandage comes off and eventually the whole front seat is soaked with his blood. Crazy Chloe doesn’t even notice; she just babbles on crazily. As one does. Louis feels like he’s about to black out from blood loss, and realizes that he probably only has minutes to live. It’s now or never. He points the car toward a thousand-foot cliff and slams on the gas. Chloe doesn’t even notice. Louis shuts his eyes because he doesn’t want Chloe’s to be the last face he sees (except there’s nobody else in the car, so…she is the last face he’s seen), and he whispers to Jessica that he’s doing this to keep her safe.
They go off the side of the mountain.
One more notch in Jess’s dead boyfriend bedpost.
The book wraps up alarmingly fast. We're told that Liz and Tom are hanging out in Liz’s room when Jess calls. Tom asks where Jess is, and Liz says she can’t make out a word Jess is saying: she’s crying too hard to understand. She finally makes out that she needs to get Jess from the airport. Liz and Tom race over there to pick her up, and then basically Jess goes catatonic for two whole days. She won’t speak to anyone. I bet ten dollars Ned and Alice have no idea what was even going on.
Finally, Jess forces herself to tell Liz what happened. The police had followed the trail of Louis’s dripping blood to the parking lot, so it’s plain he led Chloe away from Jess. Then they found the car at the bottom of the cliff. Tom’s like, “Life is unfair.” How deep.
Liz and Tom take Jess to the beach outside Louis’s condo so she can say goodbye. They stand a little bit away to give her some space. Jess watches the waves and remembers the many, many times she and Louis had sex. Then she vows that she’ll never see or hear the ocean again without thinking of him, holds her unicorn necklace, and mumbles, “Love hurts.”