VRC: Vampire Related Crimes: How To Elude A Vampire – Alice Winters
When the vampire stalking me sent me a letter, I was prepared for my new life with the man I love to get thrown into chaos. But as the days stretch on and nothing happens, I become determined not to allow that monster to rule my life, and decide that Marcus and I will move on. We can’t always allow the past to haunt us. If that includes pestering Marcus and harassing my fellow detectives, they’d better learn to love it, because I’m not going anywhere even if they like to remind me I’m the only human working in a department filled with vampires. But Marcus loves me for who I am, even if he’s not crazy about the cute pet names I call him like McBitey. Being with him is more than I could have dreamed, and even with the trials thrown in our way, he never fails to make me smile.
When Finn joined the VRC, I never expected how everything would change. Now that he’s the brightest part of my days, I’m unsure of how I existed without him. Before Finn and I can settle into our new life together, we’re called in as lead detectives when a body is found in the river, and the case soon hits closer to home than we anticipated. I want to be by Finn’s side to keep him safe, but at the same time, Finn’s fighting for the freedom he’s always wanted after being forced to live a life of fear. What I do know is that my future is with Finn, no matter what happens.
How to Elude a Vampire is the second in the VRC series and contains a display of manly prowess that doesn’t go as desired, reluctant bonding with a new pet, interfering with a snarky Russian’s love life, misuse of office supplies, a vampire with a killer fashion sense but very little game, a total lack of ancient kung fu powers, a feisty human who almost always gets his way and the possessive vampire who adores him.
How To Vex A Vampire left us with a huge cliffhanger. As I mentioned in my review of the first book, I got too excited about the second book and read the reviews. I learned the name of Finn’s stalker is Dollmaker.
HUGE clue right there.
So I spent the sequel anticipating the big reveal because I knew I was right.
Far from feeling that the book was predictable, I was actually enjoying it more because knowing this guy was close to Finn most of his life only made it more sinister. Mostly, I wanted to see how it would play out.
How To Elude A Vampire picks up six months after the events in the first book. Marcus and Finn are happy and have everything they need excerpt for that looming threat. They are now staying with Finn’s father, Orin, because his house is the most secure. Or so they thought.
A series of murders connected to the Dollmaker, attacks right inside Orin’s house, more warnings from the stalker to quit the VRC, and overly protective vampires drove Finn up the wall. He’s tired of living in fear and feeling controlled.
Nightmares that were actually memories revealed past events that led to Finn losing his arm and leg. We finally learn about Finn’s past as well as the history of vampires.
I loved how the vampires rally to protect Finn. My boy Karsyn grumps his way through the book but you could tell he’ll die for his human friend if needed. There’s a great addition of Claude, Marcus’s outrageously dressed, outrageously flirty, surprisingly smart brother, who latched on to a certain snarky Russian vampire. These two!!!
And we have Marcus. I have a better appreciation of Marcus here because six month earlier, he would have wrinkled his nose at the mere thought of interacting with humans. Now, this big bad vampire is so completely head over heels over his tiny human that he’s willing to make a fool of himself just to make him laugh. Witness another Date. Also, a lot of adorable mushy stuff.
Marcus trying to impress Finn ♡ (≧◡≦) !!!
With Finn and Marcus as an establish couple, the primary focus was the mystery. There were several nicely deployed plot twists that I didn’t see coming. There’s still a lot of snark and gags that were sometimes repetitive. There were many scenes where they completely ignored the pressing issue at hand just to exchange snarks. However, the plot moved at a fast pace and laid out Finn’s troubles in a way that kept me consistently engaged.
The build-up, the showdown and the comeuppance played out quick but intensely suspenseful. All throughout the scene, I was at the edge of my seat wondering how Finn is going make it out of there alive. But the man is smart and resourceful and resilient as fuck. That and Marcus.
How To Elude A Vampire gives us a happy end to Finn’s stalker woes. I kind of wish Finn was turned into a vampire just so he wouldn’t be injured so easily (and spare Marcus the agony of seeing the love of his life live die of old age while he gets to live forever <– my main issue with human + vampire couples) but that epilogue was super sweet.
I’m glad the author did not drag this stalker business out for several more books. I felt as relieved as Finn and just as ready to move on to happier matters.
Namely, Karsyn and Claude.
The VRC books are not standalones and should be read in order. Witness how a short, sassy human charmed a grumpy, confident, 300-year old vampire into the best worst date ever in How To Vex A Vampire. Review here.
Posts on Alice Winters books here.
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to get your copy of How To Elude A Vampire. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.
VRC: Vampire Related Crimes: How To Vex A Vampire – Alice Winters
Getting into the vampire-only detective unit was the easy part; what’s going to be more difficult is dealing with my new partner, an ancient vampire who keeps threatening to eat me. The unit has never had a human in it, and Marcus—or as I like to call him, Fangy McFangface—would really prefer to keep it that way. He’s grumpy, short-tempered, and broody, but I have a way with words and I know he’s starting to like me, even if he swears he’s not. But what he doesn’t know is that I didn’t join the unit because I was tired of being a homicide detective, I joined because there is someone after me. They’ve already taken enough from me and I’m afraid they’re going to take all of me if I don’t find someone to help. That’s all Marcus was supposed to be, but now, he’s so much more and I can’t imagine my life without him.
The moment the pesky human walked through that door, I knew I had to get rid of him. He’s charming and almost everyone else instantly loves him, but he doesn’t understand how risky it is being part of this unit as a human. But as I get to know the stubborn man, I learn that perhaps he’s not as naive as I once thought. And maybe he’s what I needed to realize there is more to life than just work and my dog. A group arises who is threatening to disrupt the alliance between the humans and the vampires, but Finn is the one who shows me how strong that alliance can be and reminds me why it’s worth protecting. When threats hit closer to home, I realize I would do anything for Finn because he’s brought so much joy to my life—and because he’s mine.
This 105k word book contains: A creative use for undergarments, unintentional splits, a wolfhound who just wants to be a part of things, a vertically challenged human who still manages to wrap every vampire he meets around his little finger, the best date ever, possessiveness, really awkward dancing, some workplace revenge, and just a bite or two. Or three.
I have read about three Alice Winters books so far, the first Hitman’s Guide story and the two In The Mind installments. I noticed that her pairings usually come in the form of a persistent, outgoing, flirty lead pestering a stoic, reserved, grumpy love interest who secretly enjoys the pestering but doing his manly best to resist. I’m enjoying the heck out of these chases especially when the other shoe drops.
How To Vex A Vampire is another paranormal offering set in a world where vampires are free to mingle among humans after a bloody history of persecution and deaths. The VRC is a police department who handles any case related to vampires.
Finn finally managed to get himself into the department, something he worked hard and schemed hard to achieve for entirely very personal reasons. He was partnered with the notorious Marcus Church, a vampire detective known for his gruff manners.
The book presents several mysteries. First is the case of a murdered female vampire and a drug that drives vampires into a feeding frenzy. There’s also a hooded ancient vampire stalking Finn for more than a decade. They know next to nothing about this entity but this is the only thing that puts real fear into the heart of the spunky Finnegan Hayes.
The two MCs hinted at some secrets of their own. Marcus’s true status as a vampire is not known to most. Finn had to make a few educated guesses. The biggest mystery of all might be Finn himself. What makes this little human so special that high-level vampires rally to protect him?
I love Finn! Finn is, in Marcus’s words, a tiny, fragile human. He lost an arm and a leg from a car accident. He now wears high-tech prosthesis, something Finn goes out of his way not to advertise. Our boy is out to prove that he can stand toe to toe with big bad vampires. He has proven again and again that he can. He’s a man on a mission to kill a very specific vampire. Meanwhile, he’s also hellbent on pursuing one other bloodsucker…
Poor Marcus tried to put up immovable walls but alas. As the two detectives go about finding the bad guys and before he even realized it, Marcus was swept away by the unstoppable force that is Finn. It was a lot of fun to watch! Check out The Date.
The book stands out for its humor. It does not have the exhausting hyperactive wackadoodle antics of The Hitman’s Guide. It has a more toned down but still OTT snark for snark exchange that is as funny but not as overwhelming.
There’s suspense and a lot of action but the focus here is on the character interactions and romantic development. The police procedural aspect might not be the most realistic or even accurate but still procedural enough for us to feel these guys are doing their jobs.
The VRC series has a great cast to work with, many of them memorable. So it’s no surprise that a couple of supporting characters have books of their own, like my grumpy Russian, Karsyn, and nice guy, DeGray. I’m excited to get to their stories.
This series opener ends with a cliffhanger so we will be continuing the hunt on the second book. Finn has now charmed enough vampires to form an army. One very vexed vampire is right in front, ready to tear the world apart for him.
Time to end this elusive ancient threat!
And so because I got too excited for book 2, I read some reviews and learned the name of this mysterious stalker vampire is Doll Maker. This is giving me ideas! Could it be him?!
Posts on Alice Winters works here.
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to get your copy of How To Vex A Vampire. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.
Found this tag on Chelle’s Book Ramblings . It’s simple and fun. I thought I would put my own spin on it and make it a weekly thing.
- Find a book published 10+ years ago.
- Find a book that will be published THIS year.
- Find a book that will be published NEXT year.
Some slight revision of the rules:
- Find a book published 10+ years ago
- Find a book that will be published THIS month.
- Find a book that will be published NEXT month.
In The Mind: Lost In The Mind – Alice Winters
After the last incident—which involved a serial killer—Chevy and Seneca are considering puppy wrangling as a new, safer profession than psychic detective work. Honestly, Seneca would prefer to focus on his new relationship with Chevy, even if he’s worried about the menacing countdown calendar leading to Chevy’s birthday. But when homicide requests some assistance from them, they have no idea what they’re getting into. And if they’d known what would happen, they definitely would have gone with the puppy wrangling.
When an elderly couple is found dead in their own home, Chevy and Seneca are pulled into the case. But what’s unusual is that it appears neither of them were killed; instead, they simply stopped existing. Even with Chevy’s ability to go into the memories of the victims, he’s unable to tell what happened to the seemingly normal couple.
That is, until it happens again. This time, the victims are found alive, all of them kneeling and staring at a blank wall as if hypnotized by it. It’s up to Chevy and Seneca to figure out what is drawing these people and who might be manipulating them.
But when Seneca begins to act strangely, Chevy becomes concerned that he might also be affected by what is controlling the others. Chevy will do anything to keep the man he loves safe and as far from “The Light” as he can. But is it too late?
Lost in the Mind is 94k words of banter, the strangest salad ever, and the strengthening of a bond (especially after Chevy’s birthday). This book follows the events of Within the Mind but focuses on a new case.
Chevy and Seneca’s second adventure still delivers the same hilarious WTFuckery but tones down the creepy mindfuckery.
The two men are gifted law enforcement officers. Chevy can access people’s memories, Seneca can copy any gift. They were partnered together because Seneca keeps Chevy grounded.
Both men are in their late 20s going on 5 because they are the epitome of mature, civilized adults. Mature, civilized adults whose very juvenile sense of humor includes ridiculous bets about having sex on tree branches, eating a head of lettuce while on a stakeout and inappropriate jokes about their boss to their boss’s face. It should have long gotten them fired long ago.
But hey, everybody loves the uber charismatic Seneca. Who can talk everybody into doing anything, including murder it turns out. So they let him get away with everything.
Meanwhile, Chevy, introverted and usually overlooked, finally got his own admirer. Seneca got jealous for one hot minute then recruited said admirer into his Chevy fan club. You gotta love his devotion to his man.
I am happy that these two are settling together quite nicely. The book is written from Chevy’s point of view. He’s still as enamored with Seneca as he was in the first book. And still makes it his mission to aggravate the man. Seneca is still proudly demonstrating his love for Chevy in his inimitable Seneca way. The only change is that now, Chevy is no longer shy about showing his love back.
After the events in Within The Mind, these two dorks have became inseparable. As in living together, working together, holding hands while going after bad guys inseparable.
The new case is a very baffling mystery where individuals were found kneeling in front of a blank wall seemingly mesmerized. Investigation revealed these individuals were called by a light, enticing them to surrender to it. It turns them into fearless freaks with no regard to danger or consequences.
While I wasn’t as creeped out as the first case, this still has it’s fare share of scare amped up by scenes where pairs of eyes all move simultaneously to stare at Chevy and by narrator Joel Leslie’s bad guy voices. The villain behind the light wasn’t as malevolent as their first serial killer. His ‘good intentions’ were pretty twisted though.
This is a solid paranormal series although the world-building is nebulous at best. There is not much details about people, places and gifts. We don’t know where gifts come from. It’s only mentioned that it’s already there before. It’s also hinted that Chevy’s gift is more powerful than he thinks. Seneca’s gift also had a surprising twist and him getting his dark lord mojo on was one heck of a turnabout. I hope we get more explanations in future books.
Lost In The Mind was quite the head trip. The story felt both slow and fast. The case was difficult and took a while to solve. The plot cycles through humor to horror to fluff at breakneck speed.
One moment Chevy and Seneca are faced with the Pillow Case Cult (<- best cult name ever) ready to sacrifice them to The Light, the next we got an over the top birthday celebration complete with room full of balloons, a chastity belt and tunnel exploration. In between, we get quiet, tender moments of finger cuddles and warm fuzzies. It’s enough to give one whiplash.
But I’m already ready for more outrageous Chevy and Seneca shenanigans. Bring on the next psycho!
In The Mind series is best experienced in order. Witness Chevy hopelessly pining after Seneca, Seneca futilely chasing after Chevy because that’s how these two idiots roll in the first book, Within The Mind. Review here.
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to get your copy of Within The Mind. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.
First Line Fridays” is by Hoarding Books and is all about the first line of a current/upcoming read. Friday 56 is a meme hosted by Freda’s Voice, where you turn to page 56 (or 56%) in what you’re reading a find a snippet that jumps out at you. The idea to combine the two came from Kat @ Here There Be Dragons“
I found this meme on The Writerly Way. And I’m doing this on a Thursday just to be difficult.
This is another round of books I dropped or mostly not in the mood for at the moment.
Sam would do anything to protect those he loves, even if it means stealing from a wealthy gentleman. But when he encounters Hartley, he soon finds himself wanting to steal more than just a painting from the lovely, lonely man—he wants to steal his heart.
I couldn’t believe I’m saying this about a Cat Sebastian creation but I was bored. Sam is a sweetheart but I wasn’t connecting with Hartley. I just want to finish this so I could get to Will and Martin’s book. This is a struggle to finish so I’m putting it aside for now.
Sometimes it’s harder to teach a young dog new tricks.
This story was cute. The world was fascinating. The characters lovable. Unfortunately it was bogged down by sudden info-dumps and too many asides. I think it was trying to cram as much world building as possible while trying to get on with the story. Still, it’s not a hopeless case. I’ll get back to this when I feel a sudden yen for adorable shifters and their supernatural friends.
The long-lost magic brings doom…
As much as I love The Ellwoods, I got bored with the repetitive assurances and endearments Ailin and Sebastian were throwing around each other. I know they’re worried because the end is nigh and close calls came a little too close too many. I wish we could just get on with the story a little faster. I’ll see this through. Just not right now.
In a world where killers hunt under the cover of darkness, Remi must rely on the partner he’s not sure he can trust to help him drag a murderer and Remi’s life into the light.
Can’t pinpoint exactly what’s wrong with it, maybe just lacking the oomph, but I’m not riveted. From what I had read so far, it might getting pretty dark so I’m hanging on to that thought. On hold for now.
Luckily for both of us, this copycat doesn’t know who he’s dealing with. Game’s on, fake Sandman. You think you can mess with me?
I love Jackson and Leland. I’m always up for more adventures for them. I’m not expecting the ridiculousness to tone down, this is what the author does best after all, but yeah, the jokes were getting old. I’ll go where the mood takes me on this one.
Lucas Daniels knows that witches and vampires are real.
Not expecting to not be feeling this but I did. For which I am surprised because those big reveals were rocking Lucas’ world. Oh my fickle heart, let’s not abandon Lucas and Konstantin just yet.
Will Frost get a chance to step up and be the kind of man Seth can respect or will a madman end any chance for a happily ever after?
I actually read book 1, Richochet, and forgot to write a review for it. It was okay though not the same calliber as other action-suspense romances like the Nothing Special series. This second book okay too but wasn’t holding my attention that much. I doubt I’ll be returning to this.
What happens when opposite sides of the track collide?
A jock+musician romance that was, well, it was fine. The parts I read were mostly about them fooling around campus. I lost motivation for this after reading the blurb of book 2 where I learned they were separated at the end of book one. I have no patience for that sort of thing.
What books have you DNFed lately? Are you a mood reader too? Not as bad as me I hope. Have a lovely weekend, everyone.
In The Mind: Within the Mind – Alice Winters
Seneca is the complete package. He’s smart, sexy, and confident, much to Chevy’s annoyance. They’ve worked with each other for two years, and even though Chevy might secretly find his partner charming and attractive, playful harassment is all they have.
Chevy was born with a unique gift that allows him to go into the memories of others. As detective, he uses this ability to find peace for victims who have been hurt or attacked. He delves into their memories and can pick out minute details that will help them put the criminal behind bars.
But neither Chevy nor Seneca are prepared when they are asked to go into the mind of a serial killer in hopes of finding survivors. They are even more unprepared for the monsters they find inside the man’s mind. Drawn into a memory where it’s hard to figure out where the truth exists, they realize that there may be more to the serial killer than they originally thought. The dark world draws the two men together in a way they never dreamed.
It will take everything Chevy and Seneca can give to stop the darkness that could consume their minds. As the two are forced to face what is keeping them apart, together they realize that there’s more to the mind and heart than either of them know.
Within the Mind is a 90k word romantic suspense with lots of snark, an ominous gramophone, and finger cuddling, because we all know spooning isn’t as great as it sounds.
A mindbending blend of hilarious WTFuckery and creepy AF mindfuckery.
The WTFuckery comes in the form of Chevy Wright and Seneca Bates, detective partners for some unnamed agency. They have gifts, Chevy can access memories of people while Seneca can mimic any gift. When they’re not pretending to be upstanding, civilized law enforcers, they spend their time trying to one up each other in snark. Which is, like, 90% of the time.
Chevy and Seneca are perfect foils for each other. The former is grumpy and very introverted while the latter is very flirty and outgoing. Seneca is forever declaring his love to Chevy. Chevy is forever announcing his disgust at Seneca’s antics. All the while, wanting him but giving up on ever having the man.
I’m not an expert on this, but is Chevy demi? Because with all the innuendos exchanged by these two goofs, Chevy’s POV could have been written with many lust filled references. Instead, it was all about the longing and the pining. And the giving up because how could someone perfect ever liked someone as boring as him? Even when he was finally with the man of his dreams, he didn’t just immediately jump his bones. He took his time until he was ready.
This was more effective in showing the depth of feelings in a relationship revolving around playful harrassment. The beauty of their relationship is that they bring out the best, and worst, of each other. The serious conversations between them are few and far in between but when they come, it’s right in the kokoro!
The mindfuckery is courtesy of the artist/serial killer, whose gift is unknown but very powerful. The way the killer manipulated the mind so effectively it had me questioning reality. To the point I keep expecting that any jump from memory to current reality is an illusion. It was disorienting as hell. As if that’s not bad enough, he threw in creepy sound effects, endless hallways, and monsters in the dark. I got the heebie jeebies!!!
And then at the end, when all the pieces come together, you’ll find yourself, quite unexpectedly, feeling sorry for the monster. All in all, it was a nicely done murder mystery.
Within the Mind is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea. The humor could be too juvenile to some but when you’re comfortable enough to show your weird to a person and he shows his weird back, that’s a rare and precious thing. That’s how I see Chevy and Seneca when they’re trading dumbass remarks. I just adore these two!
The worldbuilding and character descriptions are not as detailed as I would have liked. I have no clear picture of what the characters look like exactly. Nor the locations. This could be intentional since we are seeing thing’s from Chevy’s perspective. His outlook could be a little blah.
The gifts weren’t detailed as well. Just enough basic explanation is provided. Gifts are rare and so far, four were presented in the story. I expect more gifted individuals will show up as the series progress.
Within the Mind is best read if you’re prepared for crazy characters getting themselves involved in many ridiculous situations. Situations ranging from there’s a six-legged arachnid woman with a face full of teeth coming after me to let me talk out of my ass like Ace Ventura, pleeease!!!
It could be worse. We’ll find out on their next case.
Alice Winters books here.
4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away
“Why do you think you’re unattractive?”
Why this topic again? “Because I am.”
“You are not.”
I look up at him. “That’s enough.”
For Seneca, it’s never enough. “I love your smile. I love that most people don’t get to see it, but I get to see it all the time. You’re gorgeous and funny. I love being around you because I feel like I can be myself. I
can joke with you, talk with you, and be who I really want to be. Sometimes, you’re so in your shell that you refuse to peek your head out.” “I would like to end this conversation here,” I say, more than slightly embarrassed.
Of course he’s continuing. “I love your eyes—”
“No.” I pull my shoe off and shove my foot between his legs, which instantly shuts him up.
“Now I’m scared. Are you going to kick or be nice? You’re like a mule.”
The Hitman’s Guide: The Hitman’s Guide to Making Friends and Finding Love – Alice Winters
What happens when a snarky hitman and a by-the-book PI cross paths?
Being a hitman has its perks, but I never thought getting an accidental mooning by an attractive PI while he’s caught on a fence would be one of them. While it’s not exactly love at first sight, he’s captured my interest and won’t let go.
Suddenly, I find myself caught in a game of cat and mouse, determined to attract the attention of Jackson, the PI who should be my enemy. He pretends like he’s not flattered by my flowers and the mentions of my totally-not-fictitious blow-up doll Randy (or was it Dandy?), but I know better. Why else would he be teaming up with me to bring down Hardek, one of the city’s most ruthless criminals?
Even though the cops are telling me that the hitman is a notorious contract killer, I can’t help but admit that I’m drawn to him. He’s funny, charismatic, and attractive. There’s no way this ridiculous man can be the person the cops are after.
But when Leland ends up at my doorstep injured, I’m faced with a tough choice. It’s my duty to hand him over to law enforcement, but my heart has other plans. I want to keep him. To protect him. To be with him.
Though one question remains: why in the world does the man have so many d*mn guns?
Contains: shenanigans on a swing that you would NOT find at a playground, a car chase that sadly doesn’t have flips or explosions, a horsey ride sans horse, cuddles, an exuberant mutt, a suspicious chief of police, and lots and lots of laughs.
Expect a whole lot of cray in Alice Winter’s hyperactive novel, The Hitman’s Guide to Making Friends and Finding Love. Like any mania, it’s all damn good fun but it could leave you exhausted too.
I had a great time reading about Leland and Jackson’s shenanigans but I could hardly keep up with Leland’s ADHD? Question mark because I’m not qualified to say if he has it or not. The man jumps from one outrageous idea to the next with lightning speed. He is serious about every single one of them. He makes them happened too!
I don’t know how he keeps sane while doing so (maybe he’s not) but Jackson lets himself be swept away by the force of nature that is Leland. At the same time, he keeps the hitman grounded. I think that is the beauty of their relationship. Their snark and banter were hilarious AF. Their polar opposite dynamics really made the book.
I loved how OTT everything is. There were indeed moments when things got a bit tiresome and repetitive but overall the author was able to deliver action-packed insanity wrapped around a sweet and tender romance.
This novel is my introduction to Alice Winters’ work and definitely not my last. Recommended if you like lovers from the opposite sides of the law, (kinda) enemies working for the same cause and fence jumping with varied levels of success.
4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away
“You don’t think I’m annoying?”
“No, not at all.”
“Really? Even when I say stupid things? And ask to see your willy?”
I don’t even know what to say, so instead of saying anything, I step into him. “Thank you.”
“You don’t need to thank me.”
My chest almost aches, and I have this weird feeling in my stomach. It’s not a bad feeling, but it’s a strange one. One I don’t seem to know how to understand. I slide my arms around him and press myself to him so I can tuck my face against his neck.
“I don’t know why this makes me feel so weird,” I mumble.
“A good weird or a bad weird?” he asks as he slides his hand under my shirt and gently runs his fingers over my back.
“A good weird. Stop! I can’t take any more of this! My body doesn’t know how to respond. I think it’s shutting down. I think I’m dying, Jackson. Is that what this feeling is?”
He shakes his head as he chuckles. “You’re not dying.”