Peter had just successfully flipped his sixth pancake when Vikki snaked her arms around his waist and rested her chin on his shoulder. He could detect a trace of her morning breath beneath the alluring scent cooking pancakes, and for a moment felt quite giddy in love.
'How's my little one?' she said and kissed his shoulder. 'Always so busy at the stove...'
Peter flipped his seventh pancake. 'Learning.'
'So I see.' She squeezed him, retreated and seated herself at the table, picking up the coffee pot and beginning to pour. She noticed with amusement what a pretty box he'd tied the apron strings in. 'I must really be the luckiest girl in the world,' she told him, 'and not just because my guy fixes me home cooking and is also a heterosexual.'
'Why, then?' Peter slid the pancake on the plate, perfectly on top of a pile of others, and carried it to the breakfast table.
'Because I adore him, too,' said Vikki, and pulled him down by the apron front for a kiss.
'You are quite sure you're a zero?' she asked him on their brunch date in between a busy morning as he carefully sprinkled parsley on his cream cheese sandwich.
He gave her a slighly annoyed raised eyebrow. 'I should hope not?'
'On the Kinsey scale, I meant,' she said with a smile and a raised eyebrow of her own, and watched with quiet pleasure and quite a bit of adoration as he fumbled with the parsley sprinkler, accidentally laid a great pile of the stuff on the sandwich, then tried to pick it up with a salad fork and stuff it back in the sprinkler.
'After nearly a year of marriage, you're still wondering?' he said in his composed I'm-not-really-nervous-just-annoyed voice.
'Well, darling,' she said and gave the sprinkler a meaningful look.
'I'm quite sure I don't know what you mean, and furthermore this isn't the place to discuss such things.'
'How I love you, Peter!' she said and leaned over to kiss him.
'Love to make fun of me, more like,' he said, but with little enough venom.
'Would this be the time to discuss the Kinsey scale, then?' she asked on their lunch date at the apartment, and blew bubbles at him from across the tub.
'This would be a strange time to wonder.'
'Oh, darling, I'm not claiming you're a six, am I? I would be silly to do such a thing. It's just that I've never met a zero quite like you.'
'You mustn't trust stereotypes. There's no reason why a man can't be as hot-blooded a zero as any other just because he happens to like foreign cheeses.'
'And seems to be awfully fond of his star reporter.' She grinned and ran her calf along his, then her foot down his thigh, making him jump. 'You never thought of any other man in a lavender way, mmm? Any specific man?'
'It's all right, darling.' She slid closer to him, soap-slick and slippery. 'I'm a two, myself.'
She laughed at the familiar, specific twitch she suddenly felt between their bodies. It turned out that, somehow, he did find a way to stop an editor asking questions, at least for a while.
Peter had fixed them sliced artichokes with herbs and roasted calf stuffed with foie gras and mushrooms, and as he set it down on the dinner table and saw her begin to smile, then to speak, he gave her a very pointed Look that clearly said "I won't be dragged into this again." However, editors rarely take note of Looks, especially from husbands.
'So, picking up a subject left over from lunch…'
'Pick up your fork instead, honey, and try this,' he said, pushing a plate towards her.
She did. It was heavenly, and she told him so. Into his pleased and blushing modesty, she continued, 'Right – we were discussing Catcher Block.'
'Were we?' asked Peter, half defeated.
'And Dr Kinsey. I've read all his books, you know. I've read quite a few books on the male psychology, and you know what I think?'
'What do you think, honey?' Peter asked mildly as he tucked into his artichokes.
'I think all that womanizing he used to do was compensation – not just a tactic to avoid actual companionship, but to assure himself of his masculine prowess.' She stopped to chew and sip the wine, and to watch his reactions. He was cool as a cucumber; his (charming, she thought, as only a loving wife could) habit at those times when he had discovered the end of his pride and dignity, and admitted defeat. 'Tell me, Peter – how did he get the nickname "Catcher"?'
Peter coughed violently, and for a moment Vikki thought he was choking. She was half out of her chair when she realised he was laughing. 'Oh,' he intoned after regaining his breath, 'oh, darling. Was it that obvious?'
Suppressing, for the moment, a bubbling joy of victory, she reached for his hand across the table and asked: 'Darling, do you know… who gave him that nickname?'
'Oh, you're bound to find out anyway,' said Peter, not even blushing now. He regarded her with clear eyes, mouth twitching in amusement. 'I did.'
She bit her lower lip. 'I was right?'
'You were right. But we're twos at best, all right?' he added quickly. 'Ones.'
She almost leaped over the table with a squeal to wrap around him, upsetting the wine, which in turn ruined the $500 carpet.
They shared a snack of champagne and chocolates in bed. (So what if Vikki didn't need chocolate anymore? It was still tasty.) She rested her slightly candy-smudged cheek against his bare cheek, arms and legs wrapped around him possessively. She felt she was at her happy ending and she wasn't going to let it go at any price. 'Pass me a glass, Pitcher?' she asked lazily. He laughed as he handed it, and she drank unsteadily, refusing to release more than one limb for the task, despite their semi-prone position.
'You know you can never, ever call me that in public, don't you?'
'Of course, Pitcher. But I shall forever call you Pitcher, Pitcher, when we're not in public.'
They kissed for a while, and that might have been the end of it, if Peter was any better at leaving things be than Vikki was. 'You see,' he said, breaking an involved kiss, 'we've known each other for quite a while, Catch and me, since back when my father was running Know. I was the editor he signed up under. It started with stockings. He still changes clothes in his office. He always changed clothes anywhere, like it's normal. With all that lipstick on his collars he must have a cleaner's bill the length of 5th Avenue. One day he had stockings in his coat pockets. You know how I love stockings. I couldn't help seeing them. I wanted to be him, often. Somehow he seemed to like me, which made no sense. We were perfect opposites, but we just fit.' Peter paused for breath, but only breath, before continuing: 'He started it, you know. He wasn't at all like Catcher Block, ladies' man, man's man, man-about-town when we were… twoing. He seemed almost like a virgin. Like me, really. He couldn't love women, for some reason. He already loved me, and I loved him, and I suppose he needed that sort of thing from someone who meant something to him, but couldn't ever really marry him or own him. He can't be like that with the stewardesses and waitresses and the bongo-playing triplets, or he'd be on wife number 4,49 by now.'
It had come out in one big, quick, nervous flood, which Vikki had listened to with encouraging nods. 'Wow,' was her response, and she kissed him again, partly to make sure he wouldn't start up again, partly because she couldn't help thinking back to some pulps she'd bought under the table and re-read several times, and at the gorgeousness of Catcher Block, and "twoing", and all that was making her quite abnormally bothered, in desperate need of kisses. But the editor in her stopped between kisses to ask, 'Do you think he'll ever settle for just one? ...And one who is what we might call a born catcher, for that matter?'
'For some reason it's hard to think of Barbara as a "catcher",' said Peter, whose prudent mind ran far, far away from thinking of Mrs Novak-Block in any sexual sense at all. There was, after all, a Code when it came to these things.
Vikki giggled again, at some hilarity hidden from Peter. 'No, oh no.' She laughed again at his expression. 'Barbara's a top, to be sure. They must be a perfect match.'
'She does give off that vibe, doesn't she?' Peter's mind was edging uncomfortably close to that sacred line defined by the Code.
'I speak from experience, love,' confessed Vikki with a grin. 'I'm a two too, remember?'
Peter's mind tumbled over the line, skipped a few miles further across it, and settled right into the hairy spot of imagination's deepest villainy. 'No…'
'Yes,' murmured Vikki. 'We're all more alike than you'd think, and ended up just where we should.' She ran her fingers down his side, turned him on his back, and bit gently and precisely into his right nipple. They found their topic exhausted, and found, also, that for the time being, there was no harm in leaving further conversation until breakfast.