love, Ruth Nineke

“I don’t know what that means.”

Post Published: October 30, 2022

A preview from my 2014 novel, Sex Acts And Emotional Problems

“Keep and Meade is kind of a big deal,” he said to her in his signature nasal and underwhelmed drawl.

Adam’s voice was lazy, soft, and seductive as he leaned back in his chair, wrapping his delicate fingers about the front of its armrests.

Caitlyn watched her teammates trade excited glances at the prospect of their work contributing to the lucrative acquisition of the household product giant. Adam raised his eyebrows, slowly chewing his gum on one side of his open mouth. Jan smiled eagerly at him, affirming Caitlyn’s suspicion that they fooled around.

Adam was a specific kind of attractive; exactly the type Jan’s mom had brainwashed her to seek out and impress, and marry. He was a thin man-child, equally as formless as Jan, with a square torso and two sets of Lincoln Logs for arms and legs.

Adam kept his hair trimmed just enough to necessitate the use of product. He’d probably look like a newborn if he ever cut it too low. Given that his voice didn’t exactly boom virility either, Caitlyn understood the choice to keep as much hair on his face and head as was manageable.

A wardrobe of J. Crew checked shirts, dark Polos, and Italian chinos made Adam the best dressed, and subsequent alpha male, among the pack of single and ill-coordinated Regional Placement Associates. His large brown bedroom eyes resembled Paul McCartney’s, allowing him to easily charm nearly every woman of child bearing age in their office. He spoke more about what needed to be done than he ever actually delivered, but Jan hung off his every word, asking his opinion often.

Caitlyn wasn’t convinced of, or impressed by, Adam’s projections of himself. He was competitive and insecure; a pretty boy bro who was accustomed to superficial success. His harvests were sloppily executed, and consistently lower than Caitlyn’s. She had no reason to respect him.

“We could start with the leftovers from Pacifica One; mix and match,” he posited. “What do you think Caitlyn? Got any graduates you might’ve missed, or accidentally let fall through cracks?”

Caitlyn crossed her left leg over her right knee, folded both arms on top of her desk.

“I don’t miss harvests, Adam,” she told him. “Or let anything accidentally fall through the cracks.”

He smirked, and glanced at Jan; a peacock spreading.

“If you haven’t got any back up,” Adam leered, “How are you going to jump for the second round?”

Adam always asked how she’d get harvests, as though knowing her methods would magically make him better at his job. Caitlyn held her chin in her hand and pretended to think.

“Start with the top target schools,” she revealed, “request a list of the most popular declared majors for their second and third and year undergraduates. Track down at least ten – but more likely twenty – of their most successful alumni. Call up K & M’s competitors, say I’m from Fast Company, The Atlantic, or MSN.com and I’m doing a story on the market for college grads. Ask about their hiring practices, what advice they’d give, what their industry expects from, can offer an ambitious entry-level candidate.”

“Whoa,” Adam stood up and set his dainty hands at his waist. “I’m not sure it’s ethical to pull info under false pretense like that.”

“She said to be creative, Adam,” Caitlyn reminded him. “While your sense of morality is almost inspiring we still have a job to do. Pretending to work for popular magazines isn’t a crime. It’s called research and it serves our purpose.”

“I just think…”

“You don’t have to do it,” Caitlyn cut him off.

She was uninterested in anything Adam thought he thought. Surely he didn’t actually know how to think.

“I’ve got a plan,” she said, “I’m going to execute it. And if you come up with another plan I’ll help you execute that one too.”

“We’re supposed to be a team,” he reminded her.

Adam set his weight on the shorter edge of Jan’s desk, folded his arms across his chest as he faced Caitlyn. He was doing that thing where he asserted his dominance by using his body to convince them he was right.

It never worked and, at that moment more than any time ever before, Caitlyn wanted to ask when he would catch on that she thought he was a moron, despite – or maybe because of – how much his alligator loafers cost.

She tried hard not to roll her eyes.

“Great,” Caitlyn smiled. “I love teamwork.”

“I think,” there he went again, “we should brainstorm together and decide on the best strategy.”

“Every team needs a good captain,” she remarked.

“Thank you,” Adam smiled smugly, missing the sarcasm as expected.

This time Caitlyn rolled her eyes.

“I’m still making the calls,” she declared. “Just because you don’t agree with my method doesn’t mean it won’t yield higher harvests. The point here is to get the info, make the matches, impress Agnes and Peter, and turn K & M into our client.”

“But…”

“It’s business, Adam.” She cut him off again. “The bottom line is the bottom line, and all we have to do is get there. You don’t need to be an altar boy about it.”

“I’m Jewish.”

“I don’t know what that means,” Caitlyn replied.

Both Adam and Jan stared at her.

“Look,” Caitlyn said to them, “until you come up with an alternative I’m going to be on the phone, earning my wages. Why don’t you guys go brainstorm in the stairs so you’re not witnesses to my amoral practices?”

She lifted her phone off its receiver. Adam got up from Jan’s desk, and stepped toward her. Jan stood as well.

“Let me know,” Caitlyn waved her hand dismissively, “when you’ve got something we can build on.”


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