Sergeant Zerbrowski of the Regional Preternatural Investigation Team, RPIT, and his lovely wife Katie held an annual barbecue at their house for all the cops who could come.

Awful... sentence... burns... need... Dresden Files...

Okay, this isn't as bad as it could be, but it's just so awkward. And the "his lovely wife" thing sounds like a magazine article about a congressman.

Who is Zerbrowski? I forgive you if you've forgotten, because he hasn't really done anything since... uh... a long time ago. He was basically a quirky, sexually-harassing guy who wore funny ties and worked with Anita and Dolph, and eventually he got eclipsed by Jason because Anita wants to have sex with Jason.

The cookout was family friendly, so light drinking at best,

... um, I admit I don't go to a lot of mass BBQs, but I don't usually hear about people getting falling-down drunk at them.

And since Anita is such a stuck-up tightass that she never drinks ANYTHING, why would she mention this?

Since she was a few inches smaller than my own five foot three, and more delicate looking; it was always fun to see her take on a big, tough, drunk cop and win,

  1. WHAT IS THIS? Is Anita admitting that any woman in the world could be smaller or more delicate than she is?
  2. This must be a trick. NO woman can be smaller or more delicate than Anita!
  3. She's going to reveal that Zerbrowski is secretly a pedophile and his wife is only 8.
  4. There was a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of semicolons cried out in horror, and were suddenly silenced...
  5. By "take on," does she mean physically fighting them?
  6. I ask because if it was just a verbal thrashing, then her height and delicacy wouldn't really matter.
  7. So is she implying that Katie Zerbrowski's black belts have black belts?
  8. Or is LKH unaware that there are lots of ballsy, aggressive short women out there?
  9. I assume that the only reason Katie Zerbrowski isn't being demonized is because she's married to a man Anita doesn't want in any capacity.

Despite Anita's joy in seeing males emasculated, she hasn't gone to these barbecues in a few years. Probably around the time she discovered that she could host her own, but with sex instead of beer and fun.

Far too many small children, not my favorite thing,

You're not allowed to have sex with them, so Anita doesn't like them.

and too much family stuff.

They did stuff like talk to each other and hang out! No orgies! No stripping! No sex at all! Ewwww!

I'm not kidding, actually. Seriously, how often do you hear about Anita spending time with one or more of her boytoys, and not somehow turning it into a sexual thing? Not very often! Hell, in The Harlequin she got pissed that Nathaniel wanted a movie date instead of just fucking her and getting back to his housecleaning.

Anita also whines that when she went in the past, all the women tried to fix her up with single men because...because teehee, that's what married women do. And because she's so sexy, all the single guys hit on her. Because she's so sexy! It's such a burden to be the most gorgeous woman in the world!

Katie and Zerbrowski had handpicked the guest list

Ah, here's the real reason why these two haven't been turned into jellus haterz yet: they worship Anita.

No kidding, they are SO desperate for her to grace their social gatherings that they will craft their guest lists around her. Only evil jellus vanilla haterz will say, "You know what, you're an adult. You can come or not, as long as you can get along with all the other people there."

for people who would deal better with the fact that I came with two men,

Why? Does she HAVE to tote two men wherever she goes? Sure, maybe they both would want to come, but LKH acts like there are no other options like... say, bringing one of them and not the other.

Also, just because you bring two people to a barbecue doesn't mean you're fucking them both. Just a tip.

and would have married both if it had been legal.

Last time I checked, she was planning to anyway.

Well, I'm sure plural marriage will be legally recognized in a few more books, just so Anita can marry whatever boytoys are in her good graces.
Like this, but in reverse.

I hadn’t intended to brave the big event.

"Because I'm a coward."

I wasn’t a fan of crowds,

... unless they're all male and carrying sex toys.

Why is Anita wussing out? Well, she has already decided that all the cops will be mean judgey meaniepants, and that she'll have to defend her lifestyle to them.

and I didn’t want to have to alienate cops I’d have to work with later by defending my lifestyle to them, but Nathaniel was Facebook friends with Katie, and she’d been mentioning how much work it was finishing up her second master’s degree along with planning for the big party, so my wonderful domestic boyfriend had offered to help, and just like that we were committed.

Nathaniel had been cooking for days, mostly sides like potato salad, macaroni salad, and coleslaw, which he’d all managed to make with less mayonnaise, or lite mayonnaise, or something that made it

healthier but still yummy. He’d also baked a frosted layer cake and a batch of homemade rolls. If it had been left to Micah and me, it would have all been store-bought, and much less healthy, though eyeing the chocolate layer cake, I was wondering what he’d done to it to make it “healthier.” I was really hoping nothing. I liked chocolate cake.

I wasn’t the only one. Matthew, who was four, asked from his child safety seat in the back, “When can we have cake?”

“After meat and veggies,” Nathaniel said automatically from the backseat. We’d been babysitting Matthew a lot in the last two years.

I was driving, so I could only glance back at Matthew and Nathaniel. He was

holding the cake in his lap, because iced cakes and cars are always chancy. This was the first time that any of the other cops’ wives had really treated Nathaniel like another wife, and he was a little nervous about it. It was cute, and so was he. Okay, he was gorgeous, his face model-handsome where it showed around the sunglasses. They hid the lavender eyes, not blue, but the color of spring lilacs. The blue tank top he was wearing would make his eyes lean closer to blue, but they weren’t. I’d never met anyone else with lavender eyes, but they were just the cherry on the too-pretty-to-be-mine cupcake that was Nathaniel, because the tank top also showed off the muscles in his shoulders and arms, a hint of chest. The shirt was a little loose as it fell

around his upper body, because a tank that clung to his body would just be unfair to the other men at the party.

He had his ankle-length auburn hair back in a braid, but I realized that his hair was only a little more red auburn than Matthew’s browner auburn. How had I never noticed it before? Maybe it was that Matthew’s curls had finally grown long enough to trail over the collar of his blue T-shirt, because he’d persuaded his mother, Monica Vespucci, to let him grow his hair out like Uncle Nathaniel and Uncle Jean-Claude and Uncle Micah. Monica was away on a weeklong business conference. She was a successful lawyer, and the widow of one of Jean-Claude’s employees, Robert, who had been a vampire companion of his for over a

hundred years. It made him feel responsible for the family. Monica had no family in town, so he felt we should step in to help her with Matthew. It was a noble thought, but since Jean-Claude was the head of the American Vampire Council, he was usually dead to the world when Matthew had to be picked up from preschool, or taken to dance class, he was unable to be on twenty-four-hour availability when Monica had a deposition out of state or a business conference. Since Monica’s deceased husband had been a vampire, too, it made me realize she’d have been almost in the same boat if he’d lived. Funny, the things you don’t think of when you date vampires.

Micah was beside me in the passenger

seat. He’d chosen a green T-shirt that did cling, but he didn’t muscle up the way Nathaniel did, and he was five foot three to Nathaniel’s five foot nine, so a baggy T-shirt would have made him look even smaller and more delicate. His face was a soft triangle with only a little extra length through the jawline that made him look male and not like a beautiful, dainty woman. With the tighter shirt you could see the leanness of his body, the fine muscles that he got through running, lifting weights, and fighting practice. My muscles came from the same things, except I did weapons drills more than he did, but the regimen had put muscle on my delicate girl frame, too. I actually bulked up easier than he did, but I bulked up for a girl, so that between him not bulking much and me

bulking more than most women, we could trade T-shirts, and some of our jeans. Though today he was in jean shorts that wouldn’t have been comfy over the curve of my thighs. Nathaniel and I were both in jogging shorts, because they fit over the more generous thighs we both had. Lush was a word you’d use for both of us, where Micah was lean. I’d never dated anyone before who was small enough to share my clothes. I kind of liked it.

We both had long curly hair to just past our shoulder blades, his dark chestnut brown that had been blond when he was a child, mine true black and always had been. Nathaniel had braided Micah’s hair, and braided the upper level of mine, so we’d be a little cooler in the heat. It wasn’t the usual August hot, but it still

wasn’t as cool as most of the country. We were both wearing sunglasses against the St. Louis summer sun, but my eyes were just a nice solid brown like Matthew’s, except a little darker. Micah’s eyes were green around the pupil with a circle of yellow outside of it; depending on the light, his moods, his shirt color, they could look more yellow, or more green, but they were chartreuse, a mix of both colors, and not human. He was a wereleopard, and his eyes were the leopard eyes of his beast form, because a very bad man had forced him into leopard form for so long that when he came back to human, his eyes didn’t change back. He wore sunglasses most of the time, knowing how unusual his eyes looked, but surprisingly few people realized what they were looking at.

They’d just say, “Pretty green eyes.” People see what they expect to see.

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