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Take a Hint, Dani Brown - Talia Hibbert

But Zaf was kind, and Dani had always had a soft spot for kind men; they were fabulously rare. Unfortunately, Zaf also avoided staring at Dani’s chest with the kind of Herculean focus that suggested either disinterest or an excess of chivalry—and Dani couldn’t stand chivalry in a man. It frequently led them to make ill-advised decisions, like inviting her to have dinner before sex, or hanging around and talking after sex.

He turned, and there was Danika Brown.
She walked like she’d never stumbled, studying the empty foyer with feline eyes he had a bad habit of falling into. Her dark skin glowed prettily under the same fluorescent lights that made everyone else look ghostly, jaundiced, or gray. And even though he’d told himself a thousand times that panting after a friend—a work friend, a work friend who might also be gay—was tacky at best and creepy at worst, lust slammed into Zaf like an illegal tackle.

See, what Zaf really wanted was to be happy, and he’d read enough romance novels to know how to make that happen. First, you reached your goals and shit. (He was working on that part.) Second, you found a good woman who made you think bad thoughts and you lived happily ever after with her.

Dani was a good woman who made him think filthy thoughts, but he’d known her long enough to realize there’d be no happily ever after. They wouldn’t even get to “once upon a time.” First, because she talked about banging Janelle Monáe kind of a lot, and when he’d asked what she thought of Idris Elba (everyone who was into guys liked Idris Elba, right?), all she’d said was “He’s great. I really enjoyed Luther.” And then there was the fact that, according to staff gossip (not that Zaf approved of staff gossip—he really didn’t, he absolutely didn’t), Danika Brown was the queen of one-time things. Zaf wouldn’t know what to do with a one-time thing if it showed up with a fifty-page instruction manual and slapped him on the dick.

So she wasn’t for him and he wasn’t for her, and they were friends, so he shouldn’t even think about it.

Red walked behind the sofa and slid his hands over Chloe’s shoulders. Dani watched with no little awe as her hyperfocused older sister dropped the phone and giggled—giggled!—while Red whispered in her ear.
What an absolutely sickening display. Romance clearly melted the brains of sensible women. Dani was horribly glad she had nothing to do with it.

Squinting at the harsh light of the display, he saw Danika’s name and felt his heart kick happily in response. Shit. That couldn’t be good.
He liked her way too much, and he knew it. In the books Zaf read, making out with a friend usually lead to a happy ending, as did faking a relationship with one. But in reality, she wasn’t interested, and if he didn’t get these feelings under control, he’d only end up hurting himself.
Not safe, his nervous heart whispered. Not safe at all.

“What, are you trying to manage me now?”

His smile was slight, lopsided, and . . . fond. That was the word. Fond. “I know you have a lot on your mind, and you don’t do well with time when you’re busy, so I thought coming early might help. That’s all.”

He made it sound as if she struggled to remember his existence—which she certainly did not, thank you very much. But perhaps she behaved that way, sometimes? Dani found that idea infinitely bothersome. Zaf took up a lot of space and spread a lot of warmth and did a lot of good, and someone like that should not be treated as an afterthought. It was the principle of the matter. It was bad for the balance of the universe. So maybe, next time she was supposed to meet him, she’d set an alarm to make sure she wasn’t distracted or forgetful.

Her gaze wandered across the crowd and found his, as if she’d been searching for him, as if she wanted him to be a part of this moment.

And Zaf knew. He knew, once and for all, that he loved her. So hard and so hopelessly that he couldn’t deny it, couldn’t fight it, couldn’t hide from it for another fucking second. He loved her intelligence and her ambition, her crystals and her sticky notes, her charming smiles and her dreamy ones. He loved the way she thought in straight lines and facts but believed in magic to honor someone she’d lost. He loved her chameleon curls and her passionate speeches and her awkward unfamiliarity with her own emotions. He just—he loved her.

Zaf remembered the man he’d been three weeks ago, the man who’d decided never to fall in love with Danika Brown, and realized he’d discovered the meaning of hubris.

Oh fucking well.

Worth it.

Dani was starting to realize she’d treated the opinion of everyone who’d ever left her as an irrefutable truth: Danika Brown is not worthy of love. The trouble was, building a conclusion based on irrelevant or unreliable sources never worked. And when it came to Dani’s worthiness, the only source she should really value was herself.

This Winter - Alice Oseman

Charlie and I have discussed at length how it's possible for Oliver to be related to us, since he's the literal embodiment of joy and we're both miserable fucks. We concluded that he must have got all the happy genes.

First Charlie disappeared, and then Tori disappeared, and I'm starting to wonder whether I'm next.
Nobody seems to be saying anything about it, which makes me wonder whether my family are behind it, and they've all been possessed by some ghosts or evil dinosaurs or something.

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow - Gabrielle Zevin

You would think women would want to stick together when there weren't that many of them, but they never did. It was as if being a woman was a disease that you didn't wish to catch. As long as you didn't associate with the other women, you could imply to the majority, the men: I'm not like those other ones. Sadie was, by nature, a loner, but even she found going to MIT in a female body to be an isolating experience. The year Sadie was admitted to MIT, women were slightly over a third of her class, but somehow, it felt like even less than that. Sadie sometimes felt as if she could go weeks without seeing a woman. It might have been that the men, most of them at least, assumed you were stupid if you were a woman. Or, if not stupid, less smart than they were.

Sadie wondered if most gamers would be turned on by this. She often had to put herself into a male point of view to even understand a game at all. As Dov was fond of saying to her, "You aren't just a gamer when you play anymore. You're a builder of worlds, and if you're a builder of worlds, your feelings are not as important as what your gamers are feeling. You must imagine them at all times. There is no artist more empathetic than the game designer." Sadie the gamer found this scene sexist and strange. At the same time, Sadie the world builder accepted that the game was made by one of the most creative minds in gaming. And in those days, girls like Sadie were conditioned to ignore the sexist generally, not just in gaming - it wasn't cool to point out such things. If you wanted to play with the boys, they couldn't be afraid of saying things around you.

The crowd leaned forward when he spoke, laughed at his jokes, spontaneously broke into applause. They loved him. He was more handsome in front of a crowd; his limp, less apparent; his voice, warm and authoritative. It was as if all these years Sam had been waiting for an audience. Sadie marveled at his transformation. Where had her introverted partner gone? Who was this raconteur? Who was this clown?
And next to him, Sadie felt herself diminish.

"'Zweisamkeit' is the feeling of being alone even when you're with other people." Simon turned to look in his husband's eyes. "Before I met you, I felt this constantly. I felt it with my family, my friends, and every boyfriend I ever had. I felt it so often that I thought this was the nature of living. To be alive was to accept that you were fundamentally alone." Simon's eyes were moist. "I know I'm impossible, and I know you don't care about German words or marriage. All I can say is, I love you and thank you for marrying me anyway."
Ant raised his glass. "Zweisamkeit," he said.
By the time Counterpart High dropped in August, Simon and Ant were no longer married. The California Supreme Court declared that the City of San Francisco had overstepped, and the marriages that had been performed based on those licenses were now void. Strangely, Ant took it harder than Simon. Simon had felt the Torschlusspanik for a reason, and he wasn't surprised to find that his legal marriage was now over, considering the country and the times they lived in. [...]
After he'd missed a week of work, Sadie drove to Ant's house to see him. "I didn't think it would feel different to be married," Ant told her, "but somehow, it did. And now I feel as if I've been tricked."

"Love you, Sammy," Dong Hyun said.
"I love you, too, Grandpa." For most of his life, Sam had found it difficult to say I love you. It was superior, he believed, to show love to those one loved. But now, it seemed like one of the easiest things in the world Sam could do. Why wouldn't you tell someone you loved them? Once you loved someone, you repeated it until they were tired of hearing it. You said it until it ceased to have meaning. Why not? Of course, you goddamn did.

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