“On second thought, you shouldn’t flirt with me,” Pavel said.

“Sorry.”

“Unless your hair toss was a statement of personal power, and more about shirking fear than asserting power over me?”

“Yes, let’s go with that.”

“But if I succumb to your power?”

“So my use of my hair is more powerful than your sense of self-control?”

“Sometimes.”

“What is self-control anyway? A domination of one’s own reflexes and automated responses?”

“It seems that that is only necessary if they are wrong, or if overriding them is more expedient. It depends on one’s larger goals.”

“It does seem we have the power to set larger goals and to ascend to higher levels; the highest level being God’s.”

“So if I see you as God sees you, then I am delighted by all of your charms as a father is delighted with his daughter.”

“Yes. It would be sinful to think that God is attracted to us.”

“But yet Christ’s death is passionate.”

“Greater love hath no man than to lay down his life for his friends.”

“His death was voluntary. I choose to voluntarily die to my passionate response to you than to have you die to your relationship with your hair and your desire for my love.”

“What is your love if not a passionate response to me?”

“Besides a father’s delight in his daughter? Yes, it seems it would be more than that even if dispassionate. It would include an awareness of who you are, and a love of who you are, and I guess a pain associated with it. Not a pain of deprivation, though I think I will always have that.”

“Do you think that it would leave if we were fully together?”

“It would be more happily born if that were the case, but I think just knowing you exist, whether you were mine or not, would give me pain.”

“Flirting probably increases the pain. I wonder why I want you to feel that pain more and more intensely.”

“Because it proves you more powerful.”

“Why should I want to conquer you?”

“Power is very heady. We must be meant for it in some context.”

“I don’t notice you trying to overpower me. You haven’t sought to make me do anything.”

“Maybe I want to be conquered.”

“Odd, a man wanting to lose.”

“There must be something in it for me somewhere,” he said looking at her intensely.

She looked down. “You want to win me over by your availability.”

“It’s the way of nice guys,” he said also looking down.

“Well, now that we both know what each other wants,” Elena said brushing imaginary crumbs off of her dress.

“We can let it go.”

“Yes. Into God’s hands.”

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