Chapter Twenty-Six

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Twenty Years Earlier

Scott’s father only spoke to him once about girls.

And, by the time he had, it had been far too late.

Scott had, of course, already done the damage, already not only pushed Jessica away in a maximum overdrive sort of way, but had, most likely frightened the poor girl into thinking that he was going to end up stalking her for the rest of her life.

The ill-timed chat about girls had come on the same day Lionel Desmond had woken Scott with that alarming prick, the accidental poppy stabbing.  Scott still wondered at just how the poppy could sink in so deep and cause such a painful stab.

He remembered rubbing his shoulder that afternoon when he and his father had been in the boat.

Lionel Desmond, normally quiet and pensive and not a man of many words when they were out on the boat, could sense that something was wrong in his son, and so asked.

Scott told him the whole story. Okay, not everything; he kept some of the heavier petting details about the party, the groping and feeling up and, especially, the orgasm out of the tale. He relayed the tale as if Jessica had been a girl he had danced a lot with that night, that they had kissed, and that he later found out had liked him.

Then, feeling proud of himself and the manner by which he had interpreted the Billy Joel wisdom from that song, he’d explained to his father how he had laid it all out on the line with Jessica.

He would never forget the look of horror on his father’s face when he went on to explain the repeated voice mail messages and the things he had said to her in his emails. And the worse part about it was that Scott didn’t tell his father about all of it, he held back most of the details, making it sound like he’d just left a handful of voice mails and a couple of emails.

But still, his father had been horrified.

And he gently explained to Scott how coming on strong was one of the worst things that a guy could do.

“But I’ve seen the shows and hear it in songs,” Scott said in frustration. “Women want men to talk to them, to be honest, to share their feelings,”

“They do,” Lionel said. “But that’s only after they’re already a couple, already together, already committed.”

Lionel explained how women seemed to be more attracted to men who kept to themselves, who held back, played their cards close to their chest.

“I don’t know,” Lionel explained. “Maybe they see men as projects, as a challenge, as something to work at.”

Lionel went on to explain to his son how he and Lionel’s mother had gotten together. How Lionel had been infatuated with Janelle, but how she barely noticed him no matter what he’d done. How she hadn’t started paying attention to him until he had started dating her cousin. “That was when I knew,” Lionel had said. “That’s when I figured out that she must really like me. So I kept dating her cousin, because I wanted to make sure she was really falling for me.”

Scott was initially confused, but then, when he started to put the pieces together at the complexity of the relationships between men and women, when he started to map out the counter-intuitive push/pull behavior, thinking about it like the way that magnets repelled one another when you pushed both north ends together, but how they came together when you flipped the north and south ends, it all started to make sense.

Relationships could follow set patterns, they could be mapped and planned and figured out.

So Scott figured, were he ever interested in pursuing a relationship again, he would be able to, like his father, manipulate the situation to create the optimal setting for a girl to fall for him.

But he didn’t want just any girl.

He wanted Jessica.

And he knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he had blown it big time; he had messed it up in such a complete shit-bomb way, that there would never be any going back.

And that hurt tremendously.

It dug deep to the bone.

It was devastating to even think about her.  So he couldn’t imagine ever falling for anyone again.

It simply hurt too much.

So he tucked away the information that his father had shared, the wonderfully deceptive manner by which you could manipulate someone into doing things, into falling for you.  The way you could trick someone into falling in love with you.

Scott not only learned the folly of his ways with Jessica, but was startled to learn just how deceptive and manipulative his father could be.

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