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Theoreticals

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“Will Gardner, you are a lawsuit waiting to happen you know” Diane said warningly. Her tone was stern but he knew her well enough to hear the warmth there.

He smiled that boyish grin of his

“It was nothing. She’s a sweet thing, funny really”

“If you don’t let her go on Monday, I will. She should know that’s no way to behave in the workplace” Diane sniffed. She had never had any time for women who thought sleeping their way up the ladder was a legitimate career move.

Will shrugged. He basically agreed with her, the new intern Stacey’s continual eyelash batting at him was becoming a little old. He was almost insulted himself at what a fool she must think him to be if she thought he’d fall for such obvious bait.

But then again he couldn’t resist having a bit of fun with Diane at her expense and seeing how far he could take this.

They were propping up the bar of one of Chicago’s classy joints they frequented occasionally after wrapping up a big case.

“Sure, sure can’t blame the girl for wanting a piece of this though” he sighed exaggeratedly.

Diane play-punched his shoulder at that.

“Has it ever happened to you?” he asked, turning the tables.

Diane’s Scotch holding hand stopped on it’s way to her lips. She paused and looked at him incredulously before bursting into that rich bark of laughter she was well-known for.

Will smiled indulgently enjoying her good humour at his cheeky question. He decided to press on now, intrigued by his own impromptu question.

“Excuse me?” she laughed.

“Has a young male intern ever tried it on with you?” he asked simply enough.

Diane scoffed. “There’s no equivalency here Will.”

“Well why not?” he asked quickly shifting into a lawyerly debating mode, taking the mantle of devil’s advocate.

“For all your feminism, won’t you concede that sex is sex regardless of gender?” he continued.

Diane smiled amused.

“I’ll address your points twofold counsellor” she replied. “Firstly, no. I haven’t had a male intern try it on with me and secondly I don’t believe that would happen. Guys recognise that women aren’t led by their dick.”

She burst out laughing again and Will joined her. They were in for an extremely jolly evening.

“No?” he asked wiping tears from his eyes.

“Uhuh” she negated reaching for her glass again.

“Hold on, so you’re saying women try it on with their bosses because they think men are weak and can’t control themselves?”

Diane smiled taking a sip.

“Not true?”

“I think….” said Will smiling cunningly now on the offensive “that if the right plucky intern or even associate sustained a long enough seduction campaign, that you’d crumble.”

“Oh really?”

“You’re so confident it couldn’t happen? I wouldn’t be”

Diane shook her head in incredulity.

“I’ll concede that it could happen to someone else. But I seriously can’t see that happening to me.”

“OK, OK, how about I paint a picture…. Set a scene” Will continued animatedly.

Diane sat back in her seat to listen, thoroughly entertained.

“How about Chase, maybe Steven?”

“Will!” Diane chastised a little scandalised and hissed. “These are our actual employees you’re talking about!”

Will’s eyes darted quickly around them. They were quite alone. Even the bartender was busying himself with other patrons at the other end of the bar.

“Let’s keep drinking” he suggested and clinked his glass with hers inviting her in a challenge.

They downed their remaining Scotches and ordered another round.

“OK” continued Will, “so we have to use actual employees in this little scenario as otherwise we get too stuck in theoreticals and I’ll prove nothing. Here, I pinky swear that nothing you say leaves this bar”

Diane arches her eyebrow suspiciously but laughs at his offered up pinky finger waggling at her. She still can’t imagine he’ll get anything incriminating out of her.

“Fine” she exhales and their little fingers join together briefly in an odd trust ritual.

Her partner could be awfully cheeky but he was always such good fun. Getting drunk with him was one of her favourite things.

“So - which is it? Chase or Steven?”

Diane ponders which of the young men she found more attractive. She laughs again at the absurd game.

She goes with Steven. He’s got to be about 30 she estimates, piercing blue eyes and floppy brown hair. A whiff of Hugh Grant about him but unfortunately without the British accent.

“Ok fine, so how would you feel if Steven were to start throwing you glances, wearing tight shirts and holding your gaze longer than seemly?”

Diane smiled and shook her head still unable to take him seriously.

“Alright. Too obvious for you?” Will asked thinking.

“OK, I know. Close your eyes,”

“Will!” she protests “I’m not closing my eyes”

“It won’t work otherwise” he pouts pretending to sound petulant.

“It’s not going to work anyway! Oh alright then” She decides not to ruin his game and shuts her eyes.

“OK good. Different situation. We’re having a Christmas party and Steven fetches you drinks and canapes, he brushes your hand with his finger as you take a glass from him”

Will brushes the tip of his index finger down hers and her eyes dart open at the unexpected sensation.

“Keep your eyes closed Diane!” He rebukes her and she shuts them again obediently this time steeling herself for more surprises.

“He sneakily and surreptitiously brushes your finger. He smiles at you, you’re not sure if he even winks too before walking away. You’re shocked. What just happened? You stare after him watching the back of his head in confusion. He glances back to you through the crowd and bites his top lip.”

She lets herself drift off to the place he was describing. She is titillated she realises with irritation.

It takes her a few moments to process the fact that Will has stopped talking. She opens her eyes to see him grinning at her.

“I think I’ve proved my point” he laughs taking a victory sip.

“You certainly have not” she interjects not wanting to give an inch. How embarrassing.

“You’re a very talented storyteller. Maybe you should ghostwrite for women’s mags” she jokes instead trying to divert his attention.

“Maybe I should” he agrees smugly “and maybe you should agree that I’m right and I win”

“Not changing my plea mister” she says smiling brightly “I just wouldn’t get seduced by an underling. I know it’s a disappointing thought for you but it simply wouldn’t happen”

Will decides to change tact. “All of those were such a load of good girl answers” he teases. She looks affronted.

“You’ve got good girl written all over you haven’t you?” he continues “class president, daddy’s girl, top of class…”

“And what is it you’re driving at? All of that makes me stuck up, prudish?” she challenged back. The amount of alcohol she had consumed was failing to mask the bitter edge to her self defence at his clumsy teasing. If she wasn’t careful she’d soon say something she’d regret.

Will holds his hands up in mock surrender. He’s playing his part well and pushing what he has always assumed are her more sensitive buttons.

“Hey, hey no of course not. I guess you’ve always been such a closed book. People wonder.”

“You mean you wonder? She says with sharp, narrowed eyes.

She shakes her head and downs the rest of her drink then does something that takes Will by surprise. She leans close in to him, close enough for him to smell the remains of the scotch she has just downed wet on her lips. She purrs huskily

“And what exactly is it you want to know Will Gardner?”

He gulps at her calling his bluff. He fancied a few cheeky questions about her private life he was reasonably sure she’d never answer would be fun game. Now that they are alone in a dimly lit bar, pretty steaming on too many glasses of scotch to count and with his business partner’s intimidating expression he was feeling a little out of his depth.

“So if you definitely wouldn’t be seduced by an underling. Then how would you seduce one? You know, theoretically.”

He half expected another swat to the arm. Another incredulous laugh. But by her expression he could see she wasn’t taking any more of his bullshit and was about to tell him something surprising and shocking and build a mental picture for him he’s going to find hard to shake.

“Oh something after hours in my office I presume” she says airily. “There’s no reason an imaginary scenario shouldn’t be totally cliché like that.”

She knew what she had said so far that night was true and she could stand by it. She wouldn’t be seduced on anyone else’s terms. If she were to allow such a sordid thing to happen it would be at her initiation and say so. She’s the boss and she makes the decisions and that’s how she’s always lived.

“I’d invite the guy in and wear something subtly different that should surprise him. A much lower cut top or a much shorter skirt. Something to invite his attention and something he certainly wouldn’t have seen on me before.

I’d catch his admiring glance and call him out on it. Something like yes it’s a new top, do you like it? and waste no time in striding directly to him. Standing in front of him where he’s so close he’ll not know what else to do but look at my thighs or cleavage that I’ve pointed out. Hell maybe even both.

Then a compliment. I’ll tell him he’s been doing good work. That he’s caught my eye and I wanted him to know that.

The rest should be pretty clear what next plays out. I wouldn’t be seducing someone who wouldn’t know how to take the initiative.You know, theoretically”

Her last word is delivered pointedly at him.

Will’s attention is rapt. His eyes are wide. He’s looking at her in disbelief like she’s just told him the best thing he’s ever heard.

“Close your mouth Will” she says simply.

“Diane you a dark horse.”

“No Will. I’m just a woman with a private life who can tell a story, just like you”

“Look.. I” he starts waving a hand apologetically.

“It’s OK Will” she smiles. She has him on the backfoot now just where she enjoys having people and while she’s far from sober she decides that’s enough loose talk for one night.

She stands and plants her palm on his cheek briefly but tenderly.

“It’s been fun but I’m calling it a night. Don’t go using my suggestions yourself now. I’m not sure womankind is ready for you in a revealing skirt”.

With a wink she’s suddenly in her coat and striding out the bar.

“See you Monday Diane” Will calls after her.

Diane now at the door turns around “see you. You remember now” she says pointing to her little finger.