This Is How You Know


Author’s Note: This is a true story. Every word happened as written, but names have been changed. It’s also not your usual quick hot read, it’s something…else. If you’re looking for something different, this might be for you.


“Are you going to be alright if we get out here? It should just pay through the app.”

“Of course. Hey, it was so great to see you. And lovely to meet you, Jerry.”

“Safe flight back tomorrow. Let us know next time you’re this side of the Atlantic.”


I have lived a life drenched in beauty. Mountains, theorems, music, magic; I’ve had the share of any three men. Beauty has driven, hounded and pursued me, lifting me up before dashing me against the cliff face. This is a such story, about beauty, and the ruin a first love can bring to a life.

Alice made her first real appearance in my life on my first day of work. After graduating college, I had been offered a job at a prestigious strategy consulting firm in the city. Bain and Company was a small outfit with an office perched on Sydney Harbour. They spent large amounts of money and time hoovering up bright young graduates, and then burning their youth greasing the wheels of Australian capitalism. I found myself in their lobby as a young man of twenty-four. I had no experience, no skills, and hadn’t the faintest clue what I would be doing there. However I’d been a student too long, and I wanted to see what this business of being an adult was all about.

I was nervous, but the girl standing by the elevators looked like she was going to be sick. She was shifting her weight from foot to foot, and smoothing her skirt repeatedly. I had gotten to know her a little from the recruiting events Bain feted us with, and more bizarrely from a week she had spent working in the same hiking store as me a few years beforehand. She had seemed friendly enough, but it wasn’t until that morning that I really looked at her.

Alice Dawson was, and still is, stunningly beautiful. She was lithe, with light brown hair, and gorgeous, full-rouge lips. Her eyes were liquid blue, and could flash forth with joy or fury in equal measure without warning. Her body was lean and quivered with energy, and her limbs were long and smooth. When she wasn’t freaking out, she had this easy, leonine grace, and every move she made was effortlessly controlled.

She looked at me as I approached.

“Are you as excited as I am?” I said, trying to inject some confidence into my voice.

She mumbled something indistinct, her voice cracking slightly. I immediately found myself feeling protective, concerned for her apparent vulnerability (I wouldn’t find out until later that she had this effect on many men. Whether it was a calculated act, or an unconscious projection, I’ve never known). I tried to banter a little, and teased out a smile, before asking her how her travels had been over the summer. I could see her visibly relax, happy to be distracted for a moment.

As she spoke about trips she had taken to Macedonia and Bulgaria, I felt something quietly tug at me. Her voice was smooth and sensuous, almost a living thing; when she talked, it felt like she was running her fingers down my neck. I had to suppress a shiver.

And there it was. I didn’t know it then, but that was the moment my soul became untethered from my flesh. She moved through me, like smoke, and severed my connection to the ground. I’ve been floating since.

The elevator dinged, and we went up together.


“Well, should we call it then?”

“Quite. I might pass out if I have another one. Uber?”

“It’s banned here. Something about horribly exploitative conditions. Let’s get a taxi.”


So let’s get right down to it. This won’t be a simple read, with a chase, a climax and catharsis. I offer you nothing so easy. I can’t even promise that you won’t despise me after this (and who wants to spend time alone in their head with someone they despise?). You see, at this point I was dating someone else. Not just anyone else, either. I was dating the woman who would later become my wife.

Alice and I became quick friends on that first day. I sat next to her as we suffered through hours of orientation, trapped in a windowless room at the heart of the Bain complex. As you might imagine, I found it difficult to concentrate on what our new masters were saying. She made quiet jokes as we listened to the minutiae about expenses, travel and software, and I couldn’t help but shake with laughter. She was witty and keenly intelligent, and her eyes would widen with joy when she knew she was about to slip one of her better offerings to me.

We stayed for drinks after the training ended. These were held in a marble ante-room overlooking Sydney Harbour, and it was already dark. I could see the moon twinkling off the rocks of the quay, and was struck momentarily by my staggering good fortune in the workplace fate had chosen for me. I have travelled a great deal in my life, but I remain convinced that there is nowhere illegal bahis in the world so lovely as Sydney Harbour.

The entire office came out to welcome the new graduates, and I was quickly overwhelmed by a litany of names and titles and advice. Everyone wanted to talk to Alice. Her youth and energy were the center of the room. It didn’t hurt that consulting was then, and remains these days, a male-dominated affair. I don’t mean to intimate that Bain was anything approaching a comfy men’s club, replete with cigars and overly generous tips for prostitutes… or at least, not entirely. There were women aplenty at the firm, if just not that many in the higher ranks of partners and principals. These women in particular had survived years of punishing schedules, travel and condescension from the male corporate elite. As a result, they had cultivated (or come in with) an iron sense of presence, and they were, as a group, exceptionally serious and guarded. Alice was something else altogether, and everyone could see it.

She bounded around the room, catching fire with every word she spoke. I saw people grin as they caught her, laughing at her jokes, which were just clumsy enough to penetrate people’s defenses. In such a vein, towards the end of the night I found myself speaking with an engaging rouge named Richard. A short man with a wry smile, he was trying to convince me that I had to join his team, and work on big engineering projects. I had to admit he made it sound more exciting that getting caught up in superannuation, another thing many people seemed to be working on.

At the same time I could feel her presence beside me, vibrating in the air. She was talking to the Managing Director, Tom Hunter, a strikingly tall figure with a penchant for ludicrously expensive suits. I kept one ear on Richard and focused my attention on them.

“So Alice,” he began, sipping a white wine, “I remember you told me at the interview that you were in microbiology. Don’t you think you’ll be bored pushing numbers around spreadsheets for the next few years?”

“On the contrary,” she effused. “Microbes aren’t really that interesting. Plus I had a big handicap keeping me from a life in the lab. “

“Oh? What’s that?”

“Well, I have a really strong gag reflex. I feel it won’t be as much of a disadvantage here. Or come to think of it…”

I am almost spat out my beer. Tom also picked up on the innuendo, and quickly suppressed a grin, perhaps remembering the position he occupied. He deftly turned the conversation to other topics, and I refocused back on Richard, who was now waxing lyrical about overhauling the state’s ageing rail network.

I left late that night, and wound my way through the city, the occasional stumble from the drink slowing my progress. I remember a cool breeze dogging my steps, swirling around my neck. I never feel so powerful, and so alive, as when the winds of autumn begin to blow.


“This place is pumping now! Where did all these people come from?”

“Oooh look, they’ve set up little candles on the tables! Cute.”

“Okay you two sit down, I’ll grab us some beers. Don’t talk about me.”


The next two months passed quickly. Consultants don’t generally work much time at their “home office”, as a rule. They spend the majority of the week on site working directly with the client of the day. As such I would only see her on Fridays, when we would return from whatever assignment we were on to catch up with our peers. However, I would email her several times a week. Just little things really — jokes, idle chat, small questions about her life. I was trying to get to know her, to see if she felt anything like the pull I did. She didn’t give me much of a clue; her delightful wit wound through quick responses, but I had no way of knowing if that was just her natural charm.

On Fridays, I would always look for her. These early Fridays were everything. I would breeze in after sleeping late, having worked till the witching hour on site the last few nights. The office would be drenched in sunlight from those huge harbour windows. She was always there before me, and I would catch her eye as I waltzed in. Every time, she would smile when she saw me. Every time. We would spend the rest of the day emailing, even though I sat but feet away, and getting lunch together, and going for coffee breaks. When office drinks were called at four (yes four!) we would go out together. These drinks often spiraled into a nearby pub with a group of the more outgoing consultants, and we’d spend the evening chatting, laughing, happy being alive in the city by the sea.

But it was always the mornings that mattered. The first moment of that day, when she would look up from her computer and see me come in. Her eyes would narrow, and her mouth would tug to one side, before she grinned in a way that seemed almost guilty. I gradually realized that this morning smile she did, almost unwillingly, was just for me.

But wait! Had you forgotten already? Then perhaps illegal bahis siteleri a gentle reminder; yes, I already had a girlfriend. Clara, all silver starlight. And before you ask, yes, I loved her. Love her. The greatest friend I’ll ever make, it is she who stands guard over my solitude.

What can I tell you? If you haven’t felt your whole world being tugged off course, one Friday at a time, you won’t understand. Faithless, coward, snake, you will name me. And you would be right, of course. But if you have felt it, felt everything you are focus to a point, the golden tone rising to a shriek… well then comrade, you’ll need nothing more from me. Look into me as I look into you.

Let’s really get started here.



“Is there really weed in this pizza? Actually, I don’t even care. It’s incredible.”



Corporate induction in strategy consulting is not your standard offsite. The idea, I suppose, is to start close friendships among the new graduates. This helps to forge links within and across offices, so that when crisis inevitably comes you have more than professional duty tying you to the person in the next cubicle. Naturally, this could only be done by decamping to a tropical island for a week in July, just the newbies and a hand-picked team of facilitators.

It was, to put it mildly, paradise. We spent our days in a gorgeous function center overlooking a deepblue channel, all sea breeze and sunlight. We did team-building exercises, speech training and case analysis. Our nights we spent carousing. The years have left me with little sense of the order of events, but there were pool runs, drunken room parties and boisterous expeditions around the resort. I could not believe I was being paid real money to party with outgoing people my own age for an entire week.

The last night on the island came quickly. We spent it in the room of one of the boys from Canberra, dancing and taking shots. Alice had been grinning at me all evening with that impossible smile, those liquid eyes. I wasn’t surprised when we ended up in her room, just the two of us, after the party had died down, though for the life of me I can’t tell you how we got there. It just felt like the natural continuation of events, as easy and normal as breathing. Somehow, we kept our conversation perfectly level, as if nothing out of the ordinary were happening. I sat on her bed, my back against the wall, and didn’t even miss a beat as she slipped off her skirt and sat beside me. The brazenness, the confidence with which she held her body was mesmerizing. What she was thinking, whether she was as nervous as I was, I’ve never asked her, but to outside appearances she remained perfectly controlled.

She was impossibly lovely. She had left on a plain white singlet, her arms uncovered in the warm night air. Her top made a marvelous contrast with the pair of black underwear she was sporting. She made no attempt to cover herself, leaving her long legs to drape languidly across the bed. I could see the faintest outline of her nipples pressing through the fabric of her singlet. I quickly dared myself to look down to the junction of her thighs. She followed my eyes, a tiny smile tugging at the corner of her mouth.

We talked for a long time. I can’t tell you how delicious that hour was. I felt like I was skimming the rim of some deep abyss. My whole being was vibrating, humming with the power of her fiery spirit. Some way into a story she was telling me about her old friend Pat, I felt my hand rise of its own volition, and brush back a strand of hair from her face. She stopped speaking for a moment, and I could tell that I had pushed through the veil. There was nothing that would stop us now.

With my other hand, I reached out and lightly brushed her thigh. She made no objection, and continued with her story, so I took this as a sign to be bold. Tracing little circles, I moved my hand towards her underwear, before slipping a single finger under the fabric. I looked at her, but she gave no sign that this was anything out of the ordinary between two friends. I slowly traced the outline of her pussy, running my finger up and down her inner thigh, but going no further. Her skin was incredibly smooth. It was only then did her voice crack, betraying a hint of longing. She stopped speaking, and I noticed her breathing had started to quicken.

Without a word, she turned out the light. Our lips met in the darkness, pouring out every moment we’d shared since that meeting in the lobby. She was a truly marvelous kisser. People like Alice kiss with their whole body, and collapse the universe to a point around you. I felt every shred of who I was evaporate in that kiss, and madness began to sing in my veins.

I quickly slipped my fingers into her pussy, and she let out a long, low moan. She was soaking wet. I traced the outline of her clit, and she desperately thrust her hips onto my hand. At the same time, she scrambled to lift my shirt over my head, before canlı bahis siteleri fiddling with my zipper. Her slender fingers quickly found my cock, twitching with excitement.

We didn’t wait then. We’d been waiting for months. I peeled down her underwear, and she helped me kick them off over her ankles while she took of her top. I raised myself above her, one hand behind her head, one hand drawing my cock up and down her pussy. We stared into one another as I pushed inside her. Her mouth made an involuntary O, her eyes widening, before she thrust against me, enveloping me in her embrace.

Our second thrust was just as urgent as the first. Her fingers scrabbled at my back, her tongue darting between my lips. I had never been held like that, never felt such need. I moved in her, and that holy dark was there too, flooding the room, washing over the walls.

I flipped her over. Her ass was, quite simply, perfection, and I lost all semblance of a waking mind on seeing it. I entered her deeply and heard her cry out. Leaning down, I bit softly into her neck, and built my thrusts slowly. Her moans and cries sheered through my skin, into my blood, changing my very essence.

After a long time lost in that Dionysian agony, I felt myself start to build. Consumed with a need to be face to face, I turned her again, and placed one hand on her cheek. Her eyes were wild, almost blind with lust, and I saw a hint of terrible fury in their depths. She could tell I was about to come, and matched my movements, urging me onwards. At the last second, I withdrew, and exploded all over her flat stomach. She gasped, welcoming me, and caught me in her arms as I collapsed down to the pillow.

Some part of me still lives in that embrace.

By now you know the kind of man I am, so you’ll know I speak truly when I tell you this: I would give everything I own to be inside her again. To feel her clutch at my back, to hear her ragged moans in my ear, to be consumed by the golden light of her being. Now that I am hurtling out of my prime, I’ve begun to worry that I might never feel an ecstasy like that again. To be brought to those heights just once is enough to make a calamity of so long a life. But I didn’t just have her once.


“That was Jerry, he’ll be there in 5…wait, what are those? Tequila?”

“I refuse to meet the love of your life sober.”

“Oh God. This is not going to end well.”


The next morning was not pleasant. For one thing, when I awoke I was viciously hungover. I hadn’t thought I’d drunk that much, since the time with Alice had seemed so clear and real, but obviously something had been imbibed at some point. I remember wondering if life-altering sex could dehydrate a man, whether I’d given her some vital humor that couldn’t be replaced. I kissed her cheek, and left her room just as the sun was rising, sneaking back to mine.

For another, we had to give our final training presentations to the partners that morning, who had flown in specially from the mainland to see the progress we had made. During mine, I fielded a stupendously easy question, and could only gape like a fish as my mind, usually rather agile, refused to move at all. I haven’t felt that kind of mental paralysis before or since, and I looked a complete fool, in front of a room full of peers and superiors. It’s astonishing how sharply we remember moments of scorn or embarrassment, and that one is seared into my memory. I could only blame the night before.

The plane ride to Sydney was a little better. Alice and I sat next to each other, a whole row to ourselves, and just stared into one another’s eyes. We spoke slowly, luxuriously, and spent the time wondering whether in a few decades, we would be coming back to the island as full partners to torment the new hires.

By the time I’d said goodbye to her, and caught a train from the airport to Central Sydney, a creeping depression was beginning to take hold. Back among the crowds of home, I could no longer ignore the reality of what I’d done. My throat filled with bile, and panic started to set in. Should I tell Clara? End it, immediately, and throw away something pure and rare and hopeful? Maybe I should have. Maybe if I wasn’t such a coward, I could’ve freed her then from a life with a shadow man. Maybe that’s what a good person would have done. This, I fear, is where it becomes easy to hate me. If not for what I had done (or at least not merely that), then for what I kept failing to do, when at any moment I could’ve let her go to find a new life.

But you know what? Fuck you. That isn’t what I chose.



“How did you do that?? I didn’t even see the ball go in. Do you have an extra pair of hands or something?”

“That’s what we call foosball, bitch. Line it up, I’ll school you again.”


If I’d thought that the events on the island would be the start of a romance between Alice and I, she quickly showed me otherwise. When we returned to work, she began to put up barriers between us. It wasn’t like a sudden change of behavior, nothing so drastic. She’d still email me, and joke with me, but her smiles weren’t as frequent. Her joy wasn’t shining through when she looked at me. We didn’t talk about what had happened.