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C is for Cunning Linguist

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“She said, and I quote, maybe more than talk.” He looked up at her office, which was currently empty. “That can only mean what I think it means, right?”

“You’re going to get laid, my friend,” Stu said, clapping him on the back. “I’m so proud. You finally made all this weird romantic nonsense work for you.”

“You know I’ve had sex before, right? I need to know you know that.”

“Yeah, you’ve had sex. And let me break down your usual method of seduction.” He pulled out a notepad and started writing. Poetry. Light thrusting. Tears, yours. Calling her immediately, before you’ve even left the building. Not telling your best friend all the dirty details.

“That’s only somewhat accurate.” Not that he was going to share which parts, because Stu didn’t need to know everything.

“That’s not going to work on this one. She’s too hot to have only had bad sex and too logical for poetry.”

He sighed. “I’d like to think I have some techniques.”

Stu smirked. “And I’d like to think I look like Chris Evans, but you’ll notice the cold hard facts say otherwise.”


“I told him we’d be doing more than talking,” Zelda told Stephie immediately upon returning.

Stephie clapped her hands together once. “Fabulous! Have you thought about what this will mean for your relationship?”

“I didn’t think, I just did! Which is not how I do, generally.”

Stephie hugged her. “I’m so proud of you.”

“I’ve never slept with someone who hadn’t had to work for it.”

“That’s a peculiar way to phrase it.”

Zelda decided not to dwell. People were praised for working hard in all other aspects of life. No one would judge her for saying she worked hard for her career or her degrees or her eye makeup. It wasn’t so weird when also applied to relationships. “You’re going to look me in the eyes and tell me you’ve never thought of sex as a reward?”

Stephie looked away.


I was thinking we could try this new Thai place tonight?

Or we could order in.


He wasn’t nervous, exactly, but he did show up twenty-two minutes early. He made himself wait exactly eight minutes before buzzing in so he wasn’t that early.

“Flowers?” she asked immediately, ignoring the bag of take-out.

“I thought it would be-- nice.”

Apparently, she didn’t own a vase. She hacked off the ends with a knife, and he resisted telling her they were better cut under running water, with scissors. The flowers were hers, after all.

She stuck them in a cooking pot, sticking any which-way. “There,” she said, smiling at him as though she’d arranged them with a florist’s eye.

He wanted to kiss her.

Instead, he set out the best orange chicken and potstickers in LA, from a place just down the road from his apartment, while she grabbed wine and glasses.

“This is an excellent vintage,” he said.

“I had no idea you were a wine snob,” she said. “But I guess that’s not a surprise.”

“I’m actually not. I wish I was. I even took a class, once, but all I really ever learned was that wine classes are expensive.”

She laughed. “What should we toast to?”

“The future.”

“I’m not big on talking about the future.”

“Would you rather talk about the past?”

She put her glass down. “I’d prefer not to talk at all.”


She kissed him, lest he toast to the Spanish-style house they’d get or the kids she’d carry. She kissed him because he was prone to big declarations and she could only take a little of that at a time. She kissed him because seeing him here, in her home, only reminded her that he was the sweetest guy she’d met in a long time.

He seemed surprised, swaying a bit as he tried to get the glass to the table. She sort of wants him to break it, just to see him rattled, but he didn't even spill a drop.

She propelled him towards the closest chair, straddling him. Her lips slid over his, courtesy of whatever gloss has lived in her purse for the past two months. He nipped her bottom lip, and she involuntarily clenched her thighs. He grinned against her mouth. If that’s how he wants to play it, she could do him one better.

She started unbuttoning his shirt, tentatively running her hand though the wiry hairs on his chest. He felt warm and solid, and it thrilled her to have him so near. He pulled her closer, his fingers teasing at the edge of her blouse.

She ground down against him, and he made a noise in the back of her throat.

He flinched. “Wait, can we just— pause?”

She opened her eyes with a slightly delayed reaction. “I’m sorry,” she said automatically, wincing as she did. She slid backwards off his lap.

He looked disappoint. “We’re just going fast, and I needed a moment.”

“Oh. Oh! You’ve... done this before, right?”

He looked positively gobsmacked. “Why does everyone keep asking me that? Yes, obviously I’ve done this before.”

“Right, I don’t know why I asked that.” She looked down at him, still in his chair. “Did I pinch something, or—?”

“No, it’s just— can we do this somewhere else? A bed. A couch, even.”

She quirked her mouth, prepared to argue a much bigger problem. “Yeah, that’s fine.”


Andrew worried he'd killed the mood, but having sex in the kitchen had one huge disadvantage. 

They fell together on her comforter, a silky black thing that felt amazing against his bare skin. He felt like he might die from the want; he'd spent a good portion of his day thinking of her in any number of compromising positions, which wasn’t a thing men in glass offices should do.

When he slipped off the bed and sunk into the the plush carpeting, he knew he’d done the right thing.

She looked at him, her eyes half-lidded with desire. “What’re you—”

“Is this ok?” he asked, hands on her knees. He’d worked her out of her underwear a while ago, but he kept his eyes locked on hers.

She tensed.

“I want to,” he told her. “A lot.”

“That wasn’t quite the big speech I expected,” she said, relaxing her knees.

He licked his lips. “Talking has almost scared you off twice. I’m done talking.”


He rested his chin on her chest, eyes twinkling, and smiled at her. She felt slightly embarrassed to be topless, which was ridiculous, but she pulled him up next to her, grabbing the blanket with the other hand.

They laid together in a comfortable silence. He ran his fingers across her exposed skin, starting with her arms, moving towards her collarbone and up her neck. It made her tingle.

“You like that, don’t you?” he asked.

She put on her game face. “It’s ok.”

“I could stop,” he said, lifting his hand.

“You will not.” She closed her eyes. "I expected poetry. Or at least song lyrics."

"I could've done that." 

"I was kidding. Just— come here."

She wasn’t a cuddler, generally, and assumed men who asked to cuddle were suspect. This time, she asked him to stay the night. It might have been a first for her.

She thought they might hit a lot of firsts together.