This chapter is especially significant because it includes the first rape scene in the Dark series. Consensual rape, but rape all the same. But now I’m getting a bit ahead of myself.
Raven awakens in her hotel room to find that Mikhail has telepathically sent her to sleep and removed her clothes without her consent. After sighing about how he takes “too many liberties,” she once again expresses happiness at being able to stay in Mikhail’s presence and not be bombarded by emotion, never mind that the price is to be his sex slave. She also notes what a miracle it is that he can stand to be in a crowd of people without being bombarded and wants to learn from him.
Just a note, like Bella Swan, Raven’s attraction to her vampire boyfriend stems from his physical beauty, supernatural allure, and something she wants from him. Bella wants to be turned into a vampire for power and beauty, and Raven wants Mikhail’s telepathic control. Both women get what they want in the end at the price of their humanity, but one major difference is that for the time Raven remains human, she never so much as asks Mikhail to teach her telepathic control while Bella constantly hounds Edward to turn her.
After leaving the hotel room, Raven runs into an elderly woman names Margaret Summers, a fellow American who was on the same tour as her. Margaret asks her about Mikhail out of concern, and Raven exhibits one of the most common tactics of cowed, abused partners: lying through her teeth, and hating herself for it.
Raven smiled. “He’s bossy, and he has such a flair for the dramatic, but he’s really good to me. We’ve known each other a while. You see, Mikhail travels quite a bit.” The lie seemed to roll easily off her tongue. She hated herself for that.
Next she runs into Jacob who acts spoiled, petulant, and throws a big tantrum when Raven makes it clear she has no intention of letting him inside her pants. This behavior alone gives me the impression that Feehan made him this way to serve as a smokescreen so we wouldn’t see Mikhail for the psychotic killer that he really is. Remember in the beginning of the book, we didn’t know anything about Jacob, just that he was attracted to Raven. That was all Mikhail knew about him too. But anyone with an ounce of decency would be screaming for Mikhail’s blood for trying to kill an innocent man. A misogynistic, spoiled bastard on the other hand can be used to keep the image of Feehan’s hero pure.
Raven falls asleep in the mountains and is found by Rand. We get a bit more of interesting plot at how Rand and Noelle’s relationship was truly perverse and dysfunctional. He hated her for her hold on him, but took a good deal of satisfaction and pleasure in her obsession. You know, if this book had been about those two, we probably would have gotten a decent Goth novel. But alas, it was not meant to be. Mikhail sends Rand away by using compulsion (though I will admit in this case it was justified due to Rand’s mental state) and he and Raven exchange banter for a few pages about how he needs her to obey his orders and she wants to keep her independence. Raven becomes aware of the burdens Mikhail carries as prince of the Carpathians, and pleads with him to let her help, to share his pain with her.
Mikhail groaned out loud, turned from her. She had no idea what she was offering to one such as he.
Um. She’s offering friendship and understanding. She’s offering concern and companionship. You know she’s not offering sex. And even if she was, if you’re as honorable as you claim, you would tell her what you are, what you’re capable of, that you need blood to survive, that you incessantly battle with bestial instincts, and that you could kill her during sex.
But he says none of that. Instead, he carries her to his house.
“I will give you one last chance, little one.” He spoke the words in a harsh, hoarse voice, as if they tore painfully at his throat. “I will find the strength to let you go if you say it now, right now.”
And we, the audience, are supposed to gasp in awe at his selflessness! Isn’t that right, Feehan?
Sorry. We’re not stupid. We can see the Golden Cross of Purity and all its pretentious, self-righteous glamour.
Same as when he asked her to come into his home on her own free will, Feehan bleats about how he’s not using compulsion or seduction. Just his need to end the isolation, which is not compulsion or seduction, it’s outright manipulation! He may as well be saying, “You can go. I’ll let you go. But if you do, you’ll damn me to eternal isolation and loneliness. I may even die or go crazy. But hey, it’s a free world! You can do whatever you want! Just that if I die or go crazy it’ll be all your fault.”
In half a page, Raven gives into the manipulation begins to strip at Mikhail’s order. But she doesn’t do it fast enough so he rips off the rest of her clothes himself all the while blathering promises that he wouldn’t hurt her and that he needs her trust.
“Do not fear my hunger, little one,” he whispered softly. “I would never hurt you. It would be an impossibility for me to do such a thing.”
Four pages later, he is proven a liar by feeding on her until she is near death. Only her unconditional love and trust stops him from murdering her.
It was her acceptance that brought him back to sanity. This woman was not in a trance; she was offering herself freely because she felt his raging need, because she trusted him to stop before he hurt her, before he killed her.
Which would be as romantic as it is perverse if her unconditional love and trust wasn’t brought about by Mikhail’s previous manipulations.
After Mikhail nearly drains her dry, he forces her to drink his blood all the while wallowing in self-loathing, which I will call the Silver Cross of Purity. The Silver Cross of Purity takes over the role of the Golden Cross of Purity after Feehan’s
whores hero and heroine fall into their dysfunctional relationship. So long as the Carpathian hates himself for what he is doing to his sex slave, he can remain sympathetic.
Mikhail leaves Raven unconscious and healing to visit Edgar Hummer, a human priest. In this scene, the Silver and Golden Cross of Purity both shine their obnoxious light. Mikhail whines to Edgar of how much he wants to kill himself for being more beast than man but can’t because of the human assassins that threaten his people. He outright confesses that he nearly killed Raven, but Edgar, a priest of God, is completely undisturbed. In fact, he seems confused as to why Mikhail hates himself. After all, he needed Raven.
“Then why do you feel such pain, Mikhail? You wanted her; maybe you needed her. I presume you took her. You hungered; I presumed you fed. Why should you feel pain?”
A priest condoning rape. Why am I not surprised? And this guy doesn’t know a damn thing about Raven, save that she was nearly murdered by Mikhail’s hands. He merely presumes that she too wants to be with Mikhail after he nearly killed her instead of strongly suspecting, as any decent intelligent person would, that this chick needs help bad.
“It is very possible that the young lady needs you as well.”
Seeing a side of Mikhail he has never seen before does nothing to contain his idiocy.
He had never seen Mikhail anything but completely calm, without emotion. This was a dangerous man, a man Edgar had never even glimpsed.
Even when Mikhail insists that what he is doing is wrong, that he’s not going to give Raven, that he’s taking away her free choice, this is Edgar’s answer.
“Accept your nature, Mikhail. Accept yourself as you are.”
Which solidifies Edgar’s role in the book as Mikhail’s human bitch. It’s quite common for Feehan to give her Carpathian male leads human bitches that exist only to yes them to death, tame the light of the Silver Cross of Purity when its obnoxious light shines too brightly, and overlook the rape of body and mind. In this chapter, Edgar fulfills his role perfectly: Mikhail thanks him for his condoning blather and kneels to receive God’s blessing.