‘But what’s wrong with the idea?’
Essika sputtered into her coffee and looked at me as if I had transformed in front of her eyes into a green skinned alien.
‘Are you kidding me?’ she shrieked. I’d never seen her quite so worked up before. It was quite sexy. It made me want to tease her a little more.
‘Well, why not? Tell me why this wouldn’t solve a lot of our problems.’ I smiled, watching the cogs rotate in her brain, knowing how much she was struggling with the concept but knowing that, probably, somewhere down deep deep within her she knew I had a point.
‘I don’t know where to start...’ she started.
‘That’s because you know there are no good arguments.’ I interrupted her before she could get into a flow. This was great. Usually her insane beauty and wide ranging intelligence were obstacles to my ability to interact in any meaningful way with Essika. If only I’d known months ago that all I needed to do to unnerve her was come up with some sensible but politically dangerous idea.
But already she was starting to rally.
‘Let me just throw some ideas into the ring to start with. These are in no particular order...’ she paused to collect her thoughts.
I groaned internally, I didn’t actually want to have a discussion about this after all, that wasn’t my purpose in raising the subject. I just wanted to get her goat a little, see if I could crack the surface of the stereotypical ice maiden that had blown apart my otherwise contented little world.
She started counting off counter-arguments on her fingers, a small furrow in her forehead reflecting the intensity of her thought processes. I didn’t bother to listen. In my job you got used to people arguing at you and I had very quickly learnt how to wear a mask of polite interest, when to grunt encouragingly and in which direction to shake my head at each phrase.
You could tell an awful lot, I mused, about someone just by their tone of voice when they were thinking through things out loud. The way the music of the voice changed and flowed, then stopped, halted by some obstacle of its own, then moved on again. The volume, the frequency, the pace of the words. The inflection of certain parts of each sentence. The way her lips moved with each syllable, revealing tantalising glimpses of teeth and tongue.
Oops. Looks like she had finished and I hadn’t even noticed. Must pay attention, must speak soothing but non-committal words of broad agreement.
‘You have some valid points. I’ll give you those. But I still think it works as an idea. You haven’t changed my mind on that. Though...’ I grinned sneakily. ‘...you can keep trying to persuade me if you want.’
Essika drew back away from me. Too obvious then. Damn.
‘You didn’t listen to a word I said, did you!’
Now then, the question was: would she respect me more for owning up to not listening to her even though she liked being listened to, or would it be better for me to attempt to lie and hope that she couldn’t see through me. A lot could depend on this decision. I hoped.