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.
Talking with author Sara Donovan!
What is your writing environment?
My writing environment is an armchair with cushions and a foot stool in my bedroom. I curl up in it with my journal, pen and scene templates. I fill out my templates in long hand before I type anything because they make me reflect on lots of good questions.
After I’ve filled out the templates, I go down to my office, clean it up so there is zero clutter anywhere, then sit down and type away. I need a minimalist space to write. I think it’s a metaphor for me needing my mind to be empty before I start.
Who is your perfect heroine and why?
The ultimate fish-out-of-water, Alice in Wonderland is my perfect heroine. She finds herself in a totally strange world and doesn’t give into her fear, but remains curious, goes with the flow and stands up for herself against bullies.
What authors have caught your interest lately and why?
I’m reading Melissa (‘Eat, Pray, Love’) Gilbert’s non-fiction book on creativity called “Big Magic”. It’s about the need we have for creative living. What she means by that is living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear (I think this book has a bit to do with AIW being my perfect heroine).
The book talks about creating not because you need recognition, and not not-creating because you don’t think you can be the best. Instead we create/write because it “unfolds in us a certain beauty and transcendence that we cannot seem to access in any other way.”
What type of book have you always wanted to write?
I’ve always wanted to write a fiction book set in the future about a positive future.
So many stories set in the future assume something catastrophic has happened and we have gone backwards in most ways as a society. I’d like to write a compelling story of a community that became more sophisticated socially as they lived with each other more simply.
Top 3 things on your bucket list?
Gorilla Walk in Rwanda with my family.
Swimming in the Sua Ocean Trench in Samoa with my husband
Go on a spiritual retreat to Peru
How did you get the idea for this particular novel?
I read a lot about neuroscience and leadership behaviour for my day job and one day decided to research the neuroscience of falling in love – just for fun.
I was really surprised to read several studies that explained that the ‘falling in love’ experience was significantly influenced by the environment and also by our kindergarten fantasies of what a perfect parent would be like.
I found this information very empowering in many ways because it explained some of my present and past relationship challenges.
The more I researched the subject, the clearer I got that I wanted to write a book about a woman who had a “broken man-picker”, but used her knowledge of the ‘brain in love’ to get in control of who she fell in love with.
Without giving too much away, of course it isn’t as simple as that. Nonetheless, I wanted to explore the subject in a way that could be hopefully entertaining, unpredictable and helpful to anyone confused by their love choices.
What is your favourite scene in your new release?
I did a lot of intimacy workshops a few years back where you’d have to stare into strangers eyes for way longer than was comfortable. It was so powerful to feel all your judgments drop away. Maybe that’s why this scene when my heroine is trying to fall in love with a guy she’s friend-zoned is one of my favourites.
Nathan and I were still weirded out by the idea of face-to-face sex, but I knew what to do.
‘Step Five. Eye-gazing. It’ll override almost any judgments, including ones like “strictly just friends”. We just look at each other without talking for six minutes.’
We faced each other on our pillows. I looked into his familiar pale blue eyes. We took a breath together.
‘Six minutes of staring is too long,’ he said.
‘That was two seconds.’
I lowered my expectations. ‘Four minutes.’
We restarted. I looked back into his eyes. He looked into mine.
He smiled. I didn’t smile back. Then he smiled even more. Then he suppressed a laugh. ‘You look so serious!’ he accused.
‘That was ten seconds! You’re hopeless. You’re killing the mood — and my libido.’
I was hurt and frustrated.
‘This is exactly why things have never happened between us before.’ I continued. ‘You can’t focus.’
He laughed, but not in a friendly way. ‘I can’t focus? How do you think I got though law school?’
‘By stealing your brother’s Ritalin.’
‘Geez, you’re tough, April. The reason we haven’t gotten together before is because you act like a frigging headmistress whenever I fall below your standards.’
He rolled onto his back.
‘I really hate the way you do that,’ I said.
‘Come back with a counter-attack every time I give you feedback.’
‘You are so much worse than me at doing that,’ he said, talking to the ceiling.
‘See? See what you did? You did it right then!’
I propped myself up on my elbow.
‘I don’t do it as much as you.’
‘You just did it again. Unbelievable!’
I flopped back onto the bed in righteous indignation. ‘What are we doing? I don’t want to fight!’
‘I don’t want to fight either,’ Nathan said.
‘Then why can’t you look at me without laughing? Aren’t you as tired as I am of chasing unavailable people?’
‘I am. I’m frigging fed up with it.’
What are you working on now and when can we expect it to be available?
My next project is a romantic comedy about a socially active women who is trying to save the world and win the guy at the same time. She’s a wannabe documentary film maker who is in love with the subject of her film – a social activist who is living off the grid in what appears to be an ideal community.
The story is an exploration of the monogamy/polyamory spectrum, how far people will expose themselves for a cause they believe in and the light and dark side of being a hero.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
Hiking on strenuous trails to beautiful lookouts. Hot yoga. Playing the violin and reading, reading, reading
What is one interesting fact about you that readers don’t know?
Not sure how interesting this is – but it is definitely quirky and usually gets a reaction.
I’ve been in love with two men – not at the same time, but I have had two marriages – to two brothers. YES! I know!! Surprising, maybe even taboo for some (or maybe lots. I’m still surprised by the assumptions and judgments directed at me because of this...)
Anyway, I deeply respect my husband and my ex- and the two male characters in my book aren’t carbon copies of both of them. Both male characters, despite how different they are, are based on my husband. There are many sides to his personality.
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.
Sara will be awarding an eCopy of Love by Numbers to 3 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour.