Love by Numbers
by Sara Donovan
Choose an available compatible guy-friend who doesn't turn you off and rewire your brains for a hot and heavy romance.
1. Get emotional while watching a sad movie.
2. Share a major adrenaline rush.
3. Be competent at something cool, but don't make a big deal out of it.
4. Have him provide food from the hunt (a good restaurant will do).
5. Eyegaze until it doesn't feel weird.
6. Fulfil each other's primary fantasies within reason and without judgment.
7. Sleep together like stacked spoons.
Repeat the above until love and lust click in. Then send your love brain chemicals into overdrive by not seeing each other. That's when things really get cooking.
Half an hour later, Claire helped me carry my boxes to my new floor.
‘I’d lose the breast-enhancers if I were you’ she said when we were alone in the lift. ‘The men in this office are worse gossips than the women. They’ll notice if your boobs are bigger one day to the next, and have a big discussion about it.’
I gave her a confused look.
‘You’re not serious?’
‘I’m deadly serious.’
The lift stopped at the fourth floor, but Claire held down the ‘Close Door’ button. A buzzer went off in protest.
‘I’d do it now if I were you,’ she said.
I put down my box, reached into my bra and fished out one chicken fillet, then the other. My C was instantly a B. I put the fillets in my handbag.
Claire gave me a look of approval, then took her finger off the button. The doors released and we walked straight into the six-foot-four-inch frame of Wade, Ryan’s boss.
‘Wade, this is April, your new L and D consultant,’ Claire said, taking charge.
‘So … April,’ he said, casting a micro-glance at my cleavage before stepping into the lift. ‘Welcome to the jungle.’
Before I could answer, the doors closed and the lift whisked him away.
‘Typical Wade,’ Claire said with disapproval, before putting on a determined look like a pith helmet and slicing her way through the jungle that was the fourth floor. Loud phone conversations, lively debates, shouts across workstations and counter-shouts back filled the space. No one paid any attention to Claire, me and my boxes.
I kept my head down until she suddenly came to a stop near Ryan’s workstation. I had a good look at his things since he wasn’t around. There was a calendar blu-tacked to his bookshelf, pictures of an unknown beach and ski slope, a President’s Club certificate (a junket for only the best salespeople) and a laminated quote stuck to the top of his computer monitor: Victorious warriors win first, then go to war. The words Sun Tzu — The Art of War, were in small writing underneath. Fortunately, there were no happy couple or girlfriend pictures.
‘So what do you think?’ Claire asked.
‘Um. There’s a lot of energy in here for sure,’ I said. ‘It’s pretty noisy, though.’
‘I meant what do you think of this workstation?’ she said putting the box she was holding on a desk a few metres from Ryan’s. It was so close. Too close. Like being in the front row of the cinema.
‘Is that spot also an option?’ I pointed to a workstation further away.
‘Too far away,’ Claire said. ‘It doesn’t send the right message to the team. I want them to know you’re available.’
She glanced at my skirt which seemed to ride up every time she looked in my direction.
I put my box on my new desk, then wriggled my skirt down when she wasn’t looking.
‘By the way, did you know that Toby was working on a team-building afternoon for these guys and the Technical Support team? They need some cohesion.’
‘He never mentioned it.’
‘It’s tomorrow,’ Claire continued. I gave her a surprised look. ‘I know,’ she said. ‘Bad taste. The day after retrenchments and we’re spending money on lunch and a jet boat ride. It was booked a while ago.’
‘Shouldn’t it be jet boat first, then lunch?’ I said.
‘Talk to Wade about it. Call me if you have any problems.’
Claire walked away as my phone buzzed. It was Wade inviting me to a team meeting in half an hour.
I tried to stay calm as I unpacked my things, but it was hard. My eyes kept checking out the lift, waiting for Ryan to appear. I felt like a predator waiting for her prey. Only it was the other way around. I was the prey.
Sara will be awarding an eCopy of Love by Numbers to 3 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour.
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Whenever I watched a TV show or saw a movie that really moved me when I was a kid, I wasn’t envious of the glamorous movie stars who acted out the story, I envied the ability the writer had to make interesting characters that you cared about and learnt from. I knew by the time I was halfway through high school that I really wanted to have that ability.
By the time I left high school a few years later, writing was the last career I wanted.
My struggle to understand the “rules” of getting consistently good marks, coupled with my feelings of vulnerability about being evaluated, meant I became very reactive about pursuing my writing dream.
Instead, I went to university to study the most objective subject I could – science. I spent years working in medical research and many more years after that in my own management consultancy, the whole time feeling that there was a book in me that I would get around to writing one day.
My management consultancy led me to read a lot about neuroscience and behaviour, and out of personal interest, I began to also read about the science of the ‘brain in love’.
To my surprise, I discovered that many scientists believed the ‘falling in love’ experience was due to certain circuits and chemicals getting fired in the brain – a process that could be influenced by the environment.
I also discovered that many psychologists thought that the people we are attracted to in adulthood is directly influenced by fantasies we had of the perfect parent at age five.
Discovering these theories was fascinating to me because they explained many of my relationship challenges and also because they seemed filled with romantic comedy story potential. A storyline about a borderline obsessive girl who used this knowledge of neuroscience to influence who she fell in love with, began to form in my mind and wouldn’t go away.
I enrolled in a couple of writing courses, asked one of my teachers to become my mentor and started.
I was terrified of not being able to write at first, but the experience of going deep inside my own mind and allowing the story and characters to emerge from my own unconscious creative side was so compelling, I became completely hooked.
I gave up TV, ate enormous amounts of chocolate to stay awake late at night and 15 months and 3 drafts later, I got a book deal with HarperCollins
Along the way, I discovered that many of the sayings about writing and creativity are true. For eg – it is about the journey, not so much the destination; you do just need to start as there is magic in that (rough translation of a quote by Goethe); if readers don’t like your story – blame the muse (what the ancient Greek artists used to say if someone didn’t like their work); and while writing is hard, nothing feels better than just having written (Stephen King).
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Sara Donovan is a corporate facilitator and instructional designer who delivers training programs in neuroscience and communication skills. She draws inspiration for her writing from psychology, science and her accidental romcom life.