I will be speaking on "How To Have Sex On Purpose" at the University of Pittsburgh Rainbow Alliance this Thursday (Sept. 26)! Members of the public are welcome; the event will be at 8:45 PM in the Kurtzman room on the main floor of the William Pitt union, on the corner of Fifth Ave and Bigelow Blvd (4200 Fifth Ave). If I have any Pittsburgh readers... come say hi!
We continue with FSoG where we left off--with Splint ChestHair acting like an insufferably self-satisfied stalker, and Ana acting like she needs Giles to run in and yell "she's under some sort of thought control spell!"
This is probably the last chapter of the book that does not require a major trigger warning. (It does feature stalking and general creepiness, but nowhere near as bad as it's about to get.)
Oh, and there's some kind of talk about Ana doing a photo shoot with Crunch ButtSteak, because obviously a student-paper profile requires an original portrait and not just something you could grab off his company website.
“I think that is one huge coincidence, Ana. You don’t think he was there to see you?” she speculates. My heart lurches at the prospect, but it’s a short-lived joy. The dull, disappointing reality is that he was here on business. “He was visiting the farming division of WSU. He’s funding some research,” I mutter.WSU's agricultural programs are based out of Pullman, 350 miles from Vancouver. This is a fairly minor research failure (although, geez, I bothered to look it up for a blog post and she didn't for the actual book she's asking actual money for), and frankly pales beside the everything failure of having Ana heartbroken that she might not have a stalker.
“Blast ThickNeck in Clayton’s. Go figure,” Paul snorts, amazed. He shakes his head as if to clear it. “Anyway, want to grab a drink or something this evening?” Whenever he’s home he asks me on a date, and I always say no. It’s a ritual.I am no longer on Team Paul.
I'm starting to lean towards Team Why Don't You Just Focus On Your Studies For Right Now.
“Listen here, José Rodriquez, if you want our newspaper to cover the opening of your show, you’ll do this shoot for us tomorrow, capiche?” Kate can be awesomely tough."Oh yeah, absolutely, as soon as I call the student newspaper advisor and let her know you're trading coverage for favors. Capisce?"
“Err – we’d like to go ahead with the photo-shoot for the article.” Breathe, Ana, breathe. My lungs drag in a hasty breath. “Tomorrow, if that’s okay. Where would be convenient for you, sir?”
I can almost hear his sphinx-like smile through the phone. “I’m staying at the Heathman in Portland. Shall we say, nine thirty tomorrow morning?”For such a busy and powerful businessman, Fist RockBone sure has a lot of free time available on short notice.
“Oh Kate, you know I blush all the time. It’s an occupational hazard with me. Don’t be so ridiculous,” I snap. She blinks at me with surprise – I very rarely throw my toys out of the pram – and I briefly relent.Pram? Seriously? I mean, okay, it's not like I exactly had suspension of disbelief before, but... if you don't know where things are in Washington and you don't know how people talk in Washington, maybe writing a story set in Washington is not for you.
“José, I think we’ll shoot against that wall, do you agree?” She doesn’t wait for his reply. “Travis, clear the chairs. Ana, could you ask housekeeping to bring up some refreshments? And let SpeedChunk know where we are.” Yes, Mistress. She is so domineering. I roll my eyes, but do as I’m told.Get it? Get it? Oh my gosh it's like a secret little BDSM reference so clever do you get it?
Oh my… he really is, quite… wow. As I touch his hand, I’m aware of that delicious current running right through me, lighting me up, making me blush, and I’m sure my erratic breathing must be audible.I'm only quoting about 5% of the times he does something incredibly minor and Ana flops and pants like a landed salmon, because even though they're all hilarious and unsettling, if I quoted them all we'd be here all day. Just assume that any time Rip SteakFace moves or breathes, Ana is having spasms, and we'll get through this faster.
“I wondered if you would join me for coffee this morning.” [...] “I have to drive everyone home,” I murmur apologetically, twisting my hands and fingers in front of me. [...]
“Are they based at the university?” FistCrunch asks, his voice soft and inquiring. I nod, too stunned to speak. “Taylor can take them. He’s my driver. We have a large 4x4 here, so he’ll be able to take the equipment too.” [...] “There. Now can you join me for coffee?” BeefKnob smiles as if it’s a done deal.This is not romantic. This is not sexy. This is the sort of thing that... look, never mind what it is. Just run. Run and for God's sake don't look back.
Real-life talk: "I have to drive everyone home" means no. It really does. People don't say that kind of thing because they'd love to date you but there's just this one thing in their way; they say it because it can be intimidating and embarrassing (or even dangerous) to say "no, I don't want to, because I don't like you that way, and I don't expect I ever will, goodbye." If someone really would like to date you except for a temporary obligation, they can say "I have to drive everyone home, but what are you doing later?" or "I have to drive everyone home, but here's my number, call me." Otherwise it means no.
Anyone who answers that with "I took care of your little objection, now you must date me" is someone you cannot trust to listen to "no", and that is not hot and domly, it is fucking scary.
She grabs me by my arm and drags me into the bedroom that’s off the living area of the suite. “Ana, there’s something about him.” Her tone is full of warning. “He’s gorgeous, I agree, but I think he’s dangerous. Especially to someone like you.”
“What do you mean, someone like me?” I demand, affronted.
“An innocent like you, Ana. You know what I mean,” she says a little irritated. I flush. “Kate, it’s just coffee."I am now on Team Kate.
Well, except I'm afraid Kate means "dangerous to your heart," instead of "dangerous like you shouldn't be alone in a room with him."
We walk together down the wide hotel corridor to the elevators. What should I say to him? My mind is suddenly paralyzed with apprehension. What are we going to talk about? What on Earth do I have in common with him?I don't know either, lady. ...Come to think of it, I don't know what you have in common with anyone. You seem to have forgotten to have interests, attributes, quirks, history, or talents. All I actually know about you is that you're clumsy and naive, and, um... you have legs? Well, hell, Lump BeefBroth has legs too! I'm sure you'll get along great.
“I find you intimidating.” I flush scarlet, but mentally pat myself on the back for my candor, and gaze at my hands again. I hear his sharp intake of breath. “You should find me intimidating,” he nods.God, what a douche.
He pops a small piece of muffin into his mouth and starts to chew it slowly, not taking his eyes off me. And as if on cue, I blush.INTENSELY EROTIC MUFFIN-EATING. Sometimes I love this book.
“My mom lives in Georgia with her new husband Bob. My stepdad lives in Montesano.”And then there's an absolutely interminable "getting to know you" conversation in which all they do is recite how many family members they have, where those family members live, and what they do for a living. At no point is anything remarkable revealed, nor are any emotions or opinions expressed. I think this is supposed to be them bonding and building intimacy, but seriously all they do is read off their family trees while Ana twitches and pants every time Gristle McThornBody takes a bite of his muffin.
We do learn one sort of humanizing thing, which is that Ana likes classic British literature. Knowing this--knowing something about her--is like a sip of cool water in the desert. In that you won't be getting very many of them.
I walk forward, and I trip, stumbling headlong onto the road. [...] It all happens so fast – one minute I’m falling, the next I’m in his arms, and he’s holding me tightly against his chest. I inhale his clean, vital scent. He smells of fresh laundered linen and some expensive body-wash. Oh my, it’s intoxicating. I inhale deeply. “Are you okay?” he whispers. He has one arm around me, clasping me to him, while the fingers of his other hand softly trace my face, gently probing, examining me. His thumb brushes my lower lip, and I hear his breath hitch. He’s staring into my eyes, and I hold his anxious, burning gaze for a moment or maybe it’s forever…Books can impose emotion in the narrative, and movies through music and camera angles, but in real life? You'd see her trip, him yank her up, then she starts sniffing him and he almost sticks his thumb in her mouth.