The Things That Make Me Give In

BOOK: The Things That Make Me Give In
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Contents

Cover

About the Book

Title Page

Because I Made You So

Spying

Lessons

Yes/

Dirty Disgusting You

Her Father Disapproves

For You

Just Be Good

Phoned In

/Yes

Sometime Soon

Different On The Inside

All Ways

Toby Hood Tastes Candy

The Things That Make Me Give In

Copyright

About the Book

A university professor doles out lessons that one student won’t forget . . .

A nurse can’t get enough of her patient’s steamy stories, but is on the brink of going one step too far . . .

Friends trapped in mundane conversations find that giving in to something dirtier can lead to unexpected places . . .

Girls who go after what they want despite the risk of shame, boys who like to flash their dark sides, voyeurism for beginners, and cheating lovers . . .

In this collection of explicit and intriguing short stories, Charlotte Stein takes you on a journey through the things that make a girl give in.

The Things That Make Me Give In
Charlotte Stein

Because I Made You So

NOBODY KNOWS WHY
Professor Clenham teaches Romantic Literature. She supposes it shouldn’t really be odd that a man teaches things like how to recognise romance archetypes, or the history of Mills and Boon. But it sort of is, nonetheless.

She finds it odd. She finds him odd. He is very reserved and still-seeming, as though any excess of movement or words costs him. When he looks at you, she thinks, it’s as though he doesn’t really see you. He’s always in his head – his reserved, weird head.

He’s also phenomenally tall, which only adds to his oddness. She guesses six foot four, but that doesn’t seem quite as phenomenal as he sometimes appears. He stands out; he stands over others. When the lift door is closing on a group of people, it is him you see.

She really sees him, even if he doesn’t see her. She sees the covered and mysterious and many humps of his inner life, though she cannot guess what that life contains. But unlike the other whispering, giggly girls who think he is cold and dull, she at least knows it is there – that place behind his strange, still, liquid blue eyes.

They all say: ‘His eyes are
blue
?’ when she mentions it, and then she feels like rolling her own at them. Of course his eyes are blue! How could you miss them? He has very drab brown hair and wears very drab clothes, and so his eyes are like electric sparks sewn into a hessian sack.

She likes that idea so much she writes it in the margins of her class notes – the class notes she has taken down from his
lecture, ‘Male Archetypes In Romance Fiction’.
His eyes are like, his face is like, he is like
. . .

Not that she really knows what he is like. He’s probably not at all what he seems – likely he bonks all his students who think he’s ‘intellectual’ and ‘Byronic’ or something, even if he never seems like the latter and never flaunts the former.

He just seems, he just is, he just looks out at her from beneath his odd, quizzical brow with his odd, bone-melting eyes and makes her write in the margins.
His eyebrows are strangely mobile, in an impassive face. As though they’re trying

along with his eyes

to do all of the talking for him
.

His mouth never does any of the talking. Of course words come out, but his lips are always pulled down into a tight moue, and sometimes he bares his lower teeth in a strange way, as though he’s trying to cage his words in.

She finds she likes his queer, contradictory face. She likes his classes, too. They’re dry and detailed about blowsy, gushy material. They’re like reading intense objective accounts of a blow job – dissecting every little part of it in a way that probably should be uninteresting and deadening, but somehow isn’t. Instead it’s fascinating, instructional, like seeing the inner parts of a well-put-together clock, and liking the clock more for knowing its intricate innards.

The other girls don’t seem to find it interesting at all. They seem to want to know where all the reading of flowery books and writing about heaving bosoms is. They squirm and look bored when he tells them that the genre has gone through many phases that reflect societal issues and concerns of the time. Post-modern 1970s-era feminism gave rise to the resurgence of the alpha male, and to rape or semi-consensual sex as a self-subjugating, subliminal punishment for feminist ‘crimes’.

She enjoys how he says ‘crimes’. With a sneer.

But then again, maybe she is only seeing what she wants to see.

By the time the class is on to ‘Romance Through The Ages’, he is starring in the heaving-bosomed novel she can’t seem to stop writing. It started with hessian sacks and quizzical brows, and now it’s spilling out of the margins and on to its own bits of paper.

Lord Clemmings is the hero. Miss Havershore is the heroine. He is cold, and she is giddy and silly and in need of a firm hand. Of course he also has many terrible secret habits, such as rogering the maids in pantries and stables and so forth, some of which the heroine is bound to catch and be incited by.

Most of it is much more explicit than she had intended, and forces her to squirm far too much in class. But, if she doesn’t write the thing in class, where is her inspiration? Professor Clenham raises one eyebrow and her pen sallies on without her permission:

Lord Clemmings raised one stern eyebrow to see the girl before him. She was a coquettish thing without quite knowing it, and silly besides. But, by God, how she incited a raging passion in his previously cold breast. Naturally, he could never let her know how

‘Miss . . . Shore? Are you with us?’

Some of the other girls titter, but not for long. His attention turns to them and they fall silent, but unfortunately she isn’t lucky enough to have things stay that way. His gaze flicks back to her soon enough, metallic and bitter, as most romance heroes are not. More often there’s a flicker of passion beneath the iron, a certain something that gets the heroine a pass. Some promise of a happy ever after, always, even if we’re only talking secondary characters.

Which she’s sure she is. He’s the main, and she’s the pretty girl’s best friend. Or maybe even less than that – maybe she just features as a cautionary tale to the heroine, who is sitting in the audience, watching her getting told off.

Pay attention to the hero at all times, heroine. Or maybe don’t pay attention, and he’ll spank you later.

‘Yes,’ she says, and thinks, my part will
definitely
be over, now.

‘So can you tell me what trope was most popular in 1985?’

Her mind flashes back to school briefly. Things were oh so different, then. Back when no teacher ever cared if she was there or not, because she could always be relied on to get As,

But apparently Professor Clenham cares. He should, really. So far he’s given her only a C and a B. Heart not in it, and all that. Not very interested in silly romances.

Unless they have a lot of sex in them, and he never does the sexy ones.

‘No,’ she says, and feels her face buckle under the hot pressure of that word. Now her face is red, to match the hair of the woman on the cover of the romance novel he has stuck up on Powerpoint. She has absolutely huge bosoms, and seems to be flying off into the distance, right out of the arms of Beef McLunkheart.

‘Is paying attention not your strong point, Miss Shore?’

Oh, that wonderful kind of question all teachers ask, which has no answer. Unless you want to look like an idiot or a time-waster, or both. She hates Professor Clenham. And hates her hero. And hates all men who are like him – God, girls are such idiots, aren’t they, Professor!

‘Don’t write other people’s essays in my class, Miss Shore. Understood?’

She almost says it. She almost shouts out, ‘You think I’m writing
essays
?!’ But instead she just burns, and bites her lip, and hates hates hates him for being such a pompous, horrible arse.

At the close of the class, she punches his desk with her neatly typed answer to the question: ‘Why Are Alpha Males So Prevalent In Romance Fiction?’

It takes her until she gets back to the flat she shares with one of the tittering girls to realise what she has done. But it takes
her another hour to accept it, and a further five to stop her gut from churning and foaming and reminding her.

You handed in part of your stupid stupid story along with your essay. Bra-vo
.

She spends the better part of the night planning her quitting of university and her move to Brazil. Brazil is best, really. Because even if he doesn’t guess that it’s based on him in some minute way, it’s still a stonking great heap of porn in her handwriting.

No one should ever want someone like massive, stern Professor Clenham to read their porn. She knows he teaches a creative writing class, too, but she can’t imagine anyone ever reading anything to him – and even if they do, there’s bound to be zero sex in it. Just
thinking
of saying ‘cock’ to him is enough to douse her in cold water. And then hot. And then cold again.

God, how awful. How nightmarish. How her legs are filled with slick liquid as she walks to class the next day, instead of moving to Brazil.

Sleep makes her reason with herself:
oh, he won’t say anything! He won’t do anything! He won’t humiliate me in front of everyone! He’s a teacher; I’m a student! He has responsibilities. He probably
can’t
read out sex stuff in class – that’s why he’s never ventured into the Scorch or Sizzling territory of the big publishers.

Plus he’s likely asexual.

Still, relief zings her when she walks into the pit of the lecture hall and climbs the stairs to take a seat as far away as possible from his raised desk, and he doesn’t say a word. He doesn’t even look up from what he’s doing – score!

Still, her heart continues to beat three steps faster than usual. He’ll put up Powerpoint and it will be her story, she knows. Assess this, class. See how Miss Shore falls into all the old patterns and stereotypes.

She even prepares a shouted retort:
I know I fucking do but there’s a fucking reason why it endures!

Because it’s fucking hot, you dried-up, boring, old cold fish.

Somehow it’s even worse that nothing happens at all. He doesn’t say anything, he doesn’t do anything; he only hands back work at the end of class and everything’s there, scrawled handwritten pages pushed hastily behind the slick plastic of the binder, hiding.

That he’s marked everything already is unusual, but surely not indicative of anything. He probably just thought they were her class notes, and didn’t give them a second –

Apart from the red A he has marked, at the bottom of the last handwritten page.

It’s doubly hard to look up from her hastily rifled-through work. Doubly because then she might have to look at him, and also because everyone else has filed out. There’s only her, sitting at the top of the pyramid of desk-chair combos, wishing she were in Brazil. Or 19th-century England. Oh, times were so much simpler then.

When she does look up, he is standing beside his desk, one hand steepling against its surface. He leans ever so slightly against that steeple, but it doesn’t make him look any less of a giant. Just pretend it’s nothing, she thinks, pretend it’s nothing. But it’s very hard when he’s staring at you.

She can’t read his expression at all. It seems stern, but not cross exactly. And there’s no amusement there, as she had expected. She thought he would at least try to mock. Perhaps, without mocking, she can get away with just putting her head down and walking out.

She is almost past him and his desk – holding her breath all the while – when he says, ‘Wait a moment, Miss Shore.’

She almost tells him that he must be having a laugh. But he’s Professor Clenham, and he’s much meaner and more important and colder than her hero will ever be. Sometimes she lets her heroine know what Lord Edward is thinking.

BOOK: The Things That Make Me Give In
5.48Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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