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You've got to wake up, Lucy said.

James just burrowed more deeply into the pillows. Lucy pounded on his back. I mean it, she said.Why? he said, half opening one eye to squint up at her. It's Sunday morning, isn't it? I get to sleep late.

I told you last night. The girls are coming over to knit at ten. It's already nine-thirty. You need to shower and go.

Oh, yeah. He rolled onto his back and rested his arm over his forehead. You really serious about this knitting shit?

Why wouldn't I be?

I don't know. Knitting. It sounds like something old ladies would do.

It's fun. We sit and knit and talk and eat and it's fun.

Bet you don't eat. You never eat.

Get up, James.

He reached an arm out to the side and nabbed her around the legs. She was wearing a big T-shirt and not much else. His hand slid up her thigh. Why can't I stay and watch? Is it so you and the girls can talk about me?

Maybe. Hey, watch that hand, mister.

Why? Don't you like it?

I like it, Lucy said and let him pull her down on the bed next to him. He rolled on top of her, pinned her with his arms and then rolled again onto his back so she was lying on top of him. The sheet was between them, but she could feel him hard against her pelvis through the fabric. He held her tight like that for a moment, his eyes shut, his breath so regular it sounded like he was going back to sleep. You want me to do all the work, don't you? she said then.

Im still a little sleepy. He was pretty cute in the morning, his long hair rumpled, his face all round and smooth and childlike.

She set to work unpeeling the sheet from his body.

Ah-ha, she said when he was unwrapped. And then made another similar-but-different sound when she straddled him.

It was, she thought, a nice way to start the morning. So long as he was gone by the time the girls came.

Who wants more coffee? Lucy said, entering with a fresh pot.

Why do we always ask that? Sari said, looking up from her knitting. Has any one of us ever once said no to coffee?

It's like asking Kathleen if she wants an alcoholic beverage, Lucy said.

Very funny, Kathleen said. You offering? She sat down next to Sari and pulled out her work. She was sewing together the finished pieces of the tank top. What are you working on, Sari? It looks new.

Yeah. She held it up so they could see. I just started this. It's a blanket for Ellen's granddaughter-her son's wife is due next month.

Oh, it's so soft, Kathleen said, reaching out to touch it. I like the color, too. Usually baby stuff is so friggin pastel-y.

I know, Sari said. That's why I went for midnight blue.

You rebel.

Isn't Sari breaking your only-knit-for-yourself rule? Lucy asked Kathleen as she refilled her coffee cup. Don't you have a problem with that?

Babies are different, Kathleen said. She put her knitting pieces in her lap and poured half the pitcher of cream into her coffee. They'll wear anything you make them and they rarely have girlfriends who rip things apart. She reached for the sugar bowl.

Speaking of girlfriends and boyfriends, Sari said, what did James think of us, Luce?

He liked you guys. What he had actually said was, Man, that Kathleen's a total babe, and Lucy had said, You want me to set you up with her? and he had grinned and said, She's hot but she looks like trouble. Ill stick with what Ive got. And what did you think of Sari? Lucy had asked. Very cute and likable, even if she's wasting her time on a pointless career, was James's summation.

Im sorry he said all that stuff about the clinic, Sari, Lucy said. He's just been in a bad mood lately because of these animal rights lunatics. They've been stalking him, leaving him notes and messing up his car and stuff. It's driving him nuts.

That's terrible, Sari said. Why?

Everyone knows he uses a lot of animals in his research. He talks about it openly. Most people are more circumspect about that stuff. She set the coffeepot on a trivet and sat down. Anyway, the point is that James isn't usually that annoying.

He sure is purty, though, Kathleen said.

Isn't he? Lucy said. Makes it hard for me to stay mad at him.

Why do we care? Sari asked, her needles clicking emphatically against each other. About looks, I mean? Wouldn't it be better if we didn't?

It's not a question of what's better Kathleen said. It's just the way it is. Some guys are more appealing to us than others, that's all.

Yeah. But remember that guy I went out with last year? Jeff Fleekstra?

Yeah, I remember him, Kathleen said. Yuck.

Hey, Sari said.

Sorry. But you know what I mean.

He was a good guy, Sari said. He was doing some really interesting autism research and-

He was gross, Kathleen said.

Don't be obnoxious, Lucy said. She picked up her knitting.Sari went out with the guy for months. You'll make her feel bad if you point out how incredibly revolting he was.

You're right, Kathleen said. Ill try not to bring up the fact that Jeff was an unpleasant little troll.

Good, Lucy said. And, whatever you do, don't remind Sari about how he used to spit when he talked and food would come out of his mouth when he laughed.

Id have called it more of a giggle than a laugh, Kathleen said.

Are you guys done? Sari said. May I continue?

I guess so, Lucy said.

I could go on longer, Kathleen said.

Well, don't, Sari said. Anyway, Jeff was a nice guy doing the kind of work I admire. And he treated me really well. But I couldn't get past his looks. Doesn't that make me shallow?

It makes you human, Kathleen said. Even you-awesome and saintly as you are-

You are, you are, Lucy echoed.

-even you want a guy who's hot enough to give you the shivers. Nothing wrong with that.

And besides, Lucy said, guys have been judging women on the basis of their looks forever.

Yeah, but just because men are superficial doesn't mean we have to be, Sari said. Can't we be more evolved than they are? I mean, there are more important things in life than looks.

There are equally important things, Kathleen corrected her. But if the attraction isn't there, forget it. Nothing else can make it work. Anyway, she added, Jeff was kind of gross.

I know, Sari said with a sigh. And that's why I broke up with him.

That's not being shallow, Lucy said. It matters. Sexual attraction matters.

But so do other things, right? Sari said. Like good values and intelligence?

And money, Kathleen said.

You're not helping my argument.

Sure, I am, Kathleen said. Every guy is a package. What matters is how it all adds up. She raised her eyebrows twice.

And how big the package is, if you know what I mean.

Lucy threw a ball of yarn at her and that was the end of that conversation.

| Knitting Under the Influence | c