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Have you ever thought of comparing men to birds? I agree, it’s not the first metaphor that comes to mind. Yet in this week’s chapter, Amber gets to choose between a bird of paradise and a hawk.


A stunning male bird of paradise in Papua New Guinea.


A male Cooper’s hawk. Click for source.

explicit content

12. Windows of Opportunity

A girl is far more likely to sleep with a guy she perceives as a masculine, alpha male. With practice, you learn the middle ground between being too timid, which will get you nowhere fast, and too pushy, which will turn off some girls. Be decisive, and half the battle is won. Use flirtatious suggestion to plant the idea of sex —with you— in her mind. She: These theater seats are too soft and squishy. He: Are you telling me you’re in the mood for something hard? She: I’ve got a craving for a hot dog. He: What’s that you say? You’re craving my hot dog? (Keep it light, and smile to show you’re joking.) Touch her on the arm or waist, and open doors for her. Once you’ve got her back at your place, move fast. Kiss her within ten minutes, or your window of opportunity could close. The worst that could happen is she leaves. But most girls won’t. They came home with you for a reason. Don’t let them down. –Inclusus Amator

To: Inclusus Amator

From: Cloelia

Subject: How Not to Flirt

Amator, your advice on flirting is questionable. You seem to think the point of flirting is to suggest that a girl is hot for you. If a guy used the “hot dog” line on me, I would be forced to conclude that he is an arrogant dickhead. When a man flirts, he should hint that he finds the woman sexy, not the other way around. And there’s no need for a sledgehammer. We women are not as cretinous as you seem to think. Also, I was just notified that if I want to read any more articles this month, I have to pay! And here I thought you were running this site out of the goodness of your heart… -Yours Truly, Cloelia

To: Cloelia

From: Inclusus Amator

Subject: Hot Dogs

Cloelia mea, what can I say? Not every girl is gifted with your cleverness and spirit. Most have to be told what they want. My method is called interpretive framing, a bit of jargon you may recall from Sociology 101. If a man successfully frames himself as desirable and sexy, the girl will respond to him that way. It works for me nine times out of ten. If a girl already knows what she wants, and it’s me, then hey, no need to be a dickhead. Now, if you’re being asked to pay on the website, you must already have read ten of my articles this month. Nothing could delight me more than the discovery that you most definitely have a craving. –Semper tuus Amator

Amber was pleased that the venue for Dr. Dog was Union Transfer, a concert hall with parking nearby. The big lobby meant that nobody had to stand out in the cold or rain. Although UT didn’t have a designated handicapped seating area, Gaby had called ahead and secured seats for herself and —grudgingly— for Dwayne on the aisle close to the front. They wouldn’t seat more than one additional person there, so Amber was on her own. The show was enjoyable, but she’d really only attended in support of Gaby, who adored the band’s music. Halfway through, she decided to check out the lobby for cute guys.

UT was careful about not serving to people under 21, but she had a long ride home, so it was just as well. On the other hand, as an underage person, she couldn’t sit in the bar area, where most of the interesting men were congregating. Suddenly she spotted Del Parker and Nick Flynn. Nick saw her and waved her over, but she shook her head. They both got up and crossed over to her with their beers. “Amber, you’re not legal?” said Nick. “I didn’t realize that.”

“I’m a sophomore. I’ll be legal in a couple of months, but that won’t get me a beer tonight.”

“Thirsty, are you?” smiled Del. “We can fix that after the show.”

Amber returned the smile, thinking that it might be worth the wait. Del’s golden eyes were mesmerizing.

“Or I can take you to a place I know right now,” offered Nick, fixing her with that intense look of his. “You shouldn’t have to hang around here.” They both waited expectantly for her to make her choice. On the spur of the moment, she turned to Nick and said, “Thanks. I’d like that.”

Nick grinned triumphantly at Del. “Later, man.” With deliberation, he drained the rest of his Corona and set it down, then turned to Amber. “Let’s go.” Immediately, he took her hand, as though to guide her through the crowd. They worked their way toward the exit. “I’ve got to stop hanging around with Del,” Nick said jokingly. “Girls can’t keep their eyes off him, and I end up playing second fiddle.”

“Del’s like a bird of paradise,” she replied. “But you… you’re more like a hawk. A red-tailed, or maybe a Cooper’s.” His short black hair made her think of the dark cap on the Cooper’s hawk.

Nick looked surprised. “What’s the difference?”

“The red-tailed is bigger, but the Cooper’s is more lithe and has a black head and grey back. It’s handsome, and its eyes are very intense.”

“Nice bike,” he said, referring to her Vespa, but she could tell he was pleased with the compliment. “How come you know so much about birds?”

“My Dad used to take me birding, when I was younger.” Her father was preoccupied now with a new, younger wife, and was starting another family. He didn’t have much time for her these days.

Nick came closer again and looked into her eyes. He was a couple of inches taller than she, and dressed in jeans, a snug navy polo shirt, and loafers instead of the Nikes that most college guys wore. “That’s one of your happy memories, isn’t it? You looked so sweet when you said it, but now you look sad.” He rested his hands lightly at her waist, kissed her briefly on the lips, and then moved away, pointing across the lot. “Can you follow me? I’m parked over there.”

“Where are we headed?”

“My place,” he called back, not turning to gauge her reaction. Amber shrugged. He didn’t waste time, and he was aggressive. But he intrigued her. She’d never really thought about Nick as a sexual partner; just as he suspected, Del had always outshone him. Without Del around, Nick was surprisingly sexy.

His car was an old Toyota Accord, and she followed him to his building on 12th Street, not far from the concert venue. He pointed out a place where she could park the Vespa. “When you take off your helmet, Amber, and that long hair spills out,” he told her, “it makes me think you were well-named.” As they walked upstairs, he kept an arm around her waist.

Nick’s place was a tiny studio apartment— neat and rather spartan. Even so, she wondered how he could afford to live in downtown Philly, without roommates. “Now for that beer,” he said. “Or would you like something stronger? I have tequila, and some vodka in the freezer.” She opted for a shot of tequila, and as soon as she swallowed it, he took the glass from her hand and drew her close again. This time he kissed her more thoroughly, then gathered her hair in one hand and gently pulled it back so that her chin lifted. He lowered his head, moving his lips up and down her throat in a series of light kisses. He licked a spot between her jaw and ear, then blew on it. The slight chill raised goosebumps on her arms, and hardened her nipples.

“Impressive technique,” commented Amber approvingly. “I like a man who knows what he’s doing. Shall we?” She pointed to the double bed, which sat discreetly behind a partition.

Now that her intentions were clear, Nick changed gears and slowed down, playfully teasing her breasts through her blouse as he unbuttoned it. He paused to strip down to his briefs, and smilingly climbed onto her to drive his hips against hers as he kissed her. Amber found herself very aroused by his scent, which was that of clean, masculine skin, and by the obvious pleasure he took in uncovering and exploring her body. She liked the way he was built, the fact that his lithe, hard frame was a manly complement to her own softer form. Because he was not much taller than she, they could gaze into each others’ eyes as he lay on top of her. He spent more time on foreplay than she was used to. At first she enjoyed the novelty, but after a time, she began to feel impatient with desire. She slid her hand into his briefs and blinked in surprise. His penis felt larger than average, but it was only partly erect.

“Nick, is something wrong?” She’d never been with a guy who wasn’t hard and ready to go at this stage.

“I don’t know.” He looked disbelieving as he felt himself. “I can’t understand it.”

“Let me try.” She pulled his briefs down and took him into her mouth, sucking gently while she raised her eyes to his face. Guys invariably found that a turn-on. After a minute, he said, “That feels great, Amber, but nothing’s happening. Shit… I guess there’s a first time for everything.”

“They say it happens to everybody once in a while,” she agreed, lying back next to him and studying his expression. He looked profoundly shocked. After a moment, he said, “Let me at least do you. I owe you that much.” She could tell he was thinking of the way she’d chosen him over Del.

“No,” she decided. “I don’t think it would be fun for me, knowing that you can’t. You look really worried. Would it be better for you if I stay or go?”

“Stay and talk with me for a while. Maybe things will get back to normal.”

“Okay. Let me ask you something. In Intro to Latin Poetry, do you think Griffith is avoiding calling on us women? It’s really bothering me.”

Nick was diverted by her question. “Yeah, there’s a noticeable effect whenever the topic is sexual, and a slight imbalance even when it’s not. You’re not imagining it.”

“Why would he have a problem like that?”

“Any of several reasons. Maybe he’s conservative and it embarrasses him. Maybe he thinks he’s doing you a favor, preserving your modesty. Or maybe girls talking dirty turns him on, and he’s afraid of getting a boner.” He glanced ruefully down at his sluggish member.

“Should I say something to him?” she wondered.

“Absolutely. You paid your tuition and you have a right to the same instruction as the rest of us.” He glanced over at Amber’s face and his gaze remained arrested there, as though considering her in a new light. “So tell me. What are you going to do with your Classics degree?”

Amber explained her double major and her plans for law school. “I’m working really hard. That’s why I like hooking up as opposed to having a boyfriend. I’m not sure I have time to see someone regularly.”

He nodded. “Eyes on the prize, eh? My old man would love you. He’s a lawyer, and he was hoping I’d follow in his footsteps. But after high school, I decided I wanted to take a break before college, do some traveling. My six-month break turned into a year, and then four years. When I finally got back to Pennsylvania and said I was interested in college, he was so thrilled, he offered to pay my tuition.”

Amber did a quick calculation and realized that Nick must be at least twenty-five. He was older than she’d realized. “What did you do all that time you were gone?”

“I cooked, mostly.” He grinned. “If you know how to run a grill station and a fry station, you can find a job just about anywhere, no matter how bad the economy gets. I lived in New York, Chicago, San José— even Rome.”

“That sounds expensive,” she commented, envious that he’d had the chance to visit the eternal city.

“Not if you stay in the crap places I did, and not if you’re working at a restaurant. The downside was no health insurance. But I never get sick. There was plenty to eat, at least on the days I was working. I always volunteered to help cook the staff meals.”

“Wow. You must be pretty good. I miss my mom’s home cooking.” Amber and Joan had a small kitchen, but only the microwave and fridge saw regular use.

Nick trailed a finger along her right breast and caught her eye. “I am good. My best skill is preheating the oven.”

“Yeah, you’re better than most.”

He looked a little quizzical, as though taken aback that she hadn’t awarded him top honors. “I’ve also got a talent for finishing dishes. Sure you don’t want me to plate and garnish you?”

“I’m sure. But I hope you’ll give me a rain check.”

“You bet. It’s a point of honor now. If you hadn’t suggested it, I’d have tracked you down.”

“Tell me about Rome, Nick.” They talked without noticing the time passing, and both finally fell asleep at a late hour. In the morning, Amber woke first, and half-expected that Nick would make love to her. Guys often had hard-ons in the morning, and in her experience, they were annoyingly horny right when she felt at her least attractive. But he wasn’t even flirtatious, much less horny. He seemed preoccupied and worried. She dressed, and after giving him a quick peck on the cheek, left to begin her day’s tasks.

Copyright 2016 by Linnet Moss

Notes: The drinking age in every US state is 21, higher than in many countries, and higher than the age of majority, which is 18. Given the propensity of college-age students for binge drinking, this is probably a wise precaution, but it can create obstacles to dating (or hooking up) when one partner is legal and the other isn’t.

Inclusus Amator advocates “interpretive framing” as a seduction and relationship tool. You can read more about it here and here. He may be an unrepentant seducer, but the “Inside Lover” is becoming increasingly smitten with his correspondent “Cloelia.” At first he simply signs his letters to her “Amator,” but soon enough he is playfully calling her “My Cloelia” and signing himself “Semper tuus Amator”: Your Lover Forever. As for the origin of Amber’s nom de plume Cloelia, it is explained later in the story.