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Good morning, everybody. It’s time to look back at the ninth chapter for Bad Town For A Pretty Face: New York and all that went into it. As always make sure you read up before you scroll down or you’ll be hit with a few spoilers!
God, how are we at chapter nine already? This has all gone so quickly. We’re with Cleo this chapter. I’m not gonna lie, I was just setting up the calendar for November and when I posted the little excerpt I realized I misgendered Cleo in the freaking excerpt. My blood ran cold, y’all. As I think I’ve said before I’ve only written she/her for the last three years so it’s habitual, but I still try to go through with a fine-tooth comb and make sure they’re referred to correctly. I dread slipping up on the daily, but at least I got this one. Anyways we’re with Cleo in the New York Public Library — the Stephen A. Schwarzman building, which is locally known for the two lion statues on either side of the entrance named Patience and Fortitude (unrelated, but they also have the Winnie the Pooh stuffed animals in the kids section, which is baller). Turns out Eyana was inducted into this little gang right at this very spot! Cool stuff. I feel like we’ve unlocked like zero percent of her backstory, but that’ll be hinted at a little more as time goes on.
So Astor wants to hack Tate. Cleo explains with great frustration (as one does when speaking to an older person about technology) that Tate can’t be hacked, not remotely, not without stuff that burned in the fire (how convenient). And Astor understands that (she’s not that old) and in turn suggests that Tate probably won’t, that she’ll be smart enough to fear Cleo. You’ll see even more in the future that she isn’t one to underestimate this group — she knows them well enough not to do that. So what if she thinks Cleo’s hacking her? What if ‘Cleo’ is a little shorter than usual? Well then, according to Astor, Tate would, like, immediately resort to kidnapping. It’s interesting because this is her best friend she’s talking about, and she’s saying it pretty mildly, but don’t you trust Astor enough to believe it, even though she’s so blasé? I like to think the reason the two are so close is partially because they admire each other’s brutality. Astor is shown to be forceful and demanding, and that’s an asset in her line of work. It’s just another way she and Tate, though initially seeming to be polar opposites, are totally on the same page. But you’ll get more of that later.
Eyana is fair enough to ask Wendy if she’s actually willing to do this, and she’s of course an eager volunteer. The team is clearly even more on her side now that they’re allies because they urge her to consider the consequences, but when she said she’d do anything for them she meant it, and Astor’s certain she can protect her through sheer Mama Bear Power™. So the whole thing seems set up until Eyana points out that it would be more foolproof to have Wendy play Brienne since they look a little closer. There’s an odd moment though, where Astor and Brienne are quick to refuse. HHHHhhhhMMMMmmmm, what could this mean? What could be going on here? You’ll have to wait and see.
So with the plan in motion everyone gets to change, which is such a small thing but like always my favorite part of these stories. Whenever I look back fondly on New Orleans I’m like wait I’m just remembering the fifteen thousand outfit changes that went down. Cleo finally gets to get out of their suit (did you remember they were wearing a full suit for the last two days? Hard no thanks) and Wendy climbs in. She gets a head wrap to hide her lack of dreads and they all hop in the car to drive to and park very illegally at Herald Square, on the way discussing ‘the dungeon’ (read: a Taco Bell) that Tate’s going to throw Wendy in. Now for the best part of the story: Astor almost hits some dude with Wendy’s car and he yells “I’m walking here!” Fucking classic. A cop shows up as well and tells Astor she can’t park there, but she stands up for herself and he takes off, a sign that she retains some protection from the law via Tate’s connections. Considerate or mandatory? You’ll have to ask yourself.
Tate’s office is actually a very fancy and expensive viewing booth at Madison Square Garden where one can assume Astor has watched many a Billy Joel concert. Have fun in the fucking Taco Bell, Wendy, everyone else gets to chill out in there. But in the meantime they take cover behind a dumpster and promise to protect their new friend with a little more genuine care than any of them initially anticipated. It takes like zero seconds for Wendy to get caught, and everyone buys that she’s Cleo thanks to some brilliant acting. And the guards throw a bag over her head so that’s gotta spare the gang some time. As soon as she’s dragged off and Tate is heading after her Astor leads the rush into the building, which probably has way tighter security IRL but sue me, they need to get in. I’m writing here!
So they get to Tate’s office and now it’s Cleo’s turn to hack some shit AKA the part that was worrying me for the longest time. I don’t know anything about computers, y’all, I own a Mac. But Cleo does and I didn’t want to write something dumb like “hacking into the mainframe” so I did as much research as I could and tried to pair said research with decent writing — I didn’t want my research obvious with a bunch of encyclopedic rambling. Hopefully I did okay, but it helps that as they’re doing this Tate decides to FaceTime Astor. Brienne thinks fast and takes a painting off the wall for Astor to stand in front of and look anonymous — clever girl — and take a call from a none-too-happy Tate. Now I just want to say, in Tate’s defensive, kidnapping sounds super bad, but she really just dragged her friend a little bit down the street to a Taco Bell. I bet half of y’all have done that drunk. Not with a bunch of hired armed guards, but regardless I don’t think she thinks she’s acting that harshly.
The basics of this call are fuck you, no fuck you, then fuck you right back. Everyone’s pissy here. But there’s also some stuff going down between the lines:
- Tate recognizes Wendy, which is something, huh. What for, you ask? TBA, I cackle.
- Eyana used to have a pimp! Finally, some backstory! I think it all falls into place from there, you can all envision her trading up from an unhappy past to become something so much greater, so much more dangerous.
- Tate has an amazing mask on. She’s angry when she needs to be, but then she’s concerned in a way that almost has her talking down to Astor, trying to deflate her. She should go for acting if things go south today.
- Wynn Fucking McAfee.
If y’all don’t recognize that name it’s explained in the next chapter anyway, but just to recap, that was the bad guy in Bad Town: New Orleans. Ya know, the woman who almost killed Fia Beaumarchais? It’s only been mentioned a couple million times now. So that’s one hell of an end to this chapter. Next one’s the climax, so make sure you’re here for that!