My Favorite Half-Night Stand

Page 21


From: Reid C.

Sent: 12:04 am, March 29

I will never judge you for your petty grudges. I’m still pissed off at my track coach in high school for putting Tucker Ames—the biggest asshole on the team—in the anchor spot on our 4x400 relay against Pacific Beach High.

From: Catherine M.

Sent: 12:21 am, March 29

Please tell me you called him Fucker Ames behind his back for this unforgiveable offense.

From: Reid C.

Sent: 12:26 am, March 29

You know, I didn’t, but that’s because when I was 16, I was 6’2” and weighed approximately 70 lbs. I feared that if I even thought something shitty about Tucker he’d know and the fear alone of him hitting me would break my legs like toothpicks.

From: Catherine M.

Sent: 12:29 am, March 29

My dad never gave me the birds and bees talk, but he did pull me aside when I was thirteen and show me how and where to throw a punch. I didn’t use this knowledge until an unfortunate night (one which we shall not discuss again) where I had a bit too much to drink and throat-punched a guy for cutting in front of me at the shuffleboard table at a bar. Which is why I’m banned for life at the Goat Hill Tavern in Costa Mesa.

From: Reid C.

Sent: 12:36 am, March 29

It’s hard these days to find a woman who takes her shuffleboarding seriously.

From: Catherine M.

Sent: 12:43 am, March 29

I’m selling myself pretty hard tonight. Does this explain why I’m on a dating app? Maybe.

From: Reid C.

Sent: 12:59 am, March 29

No, look. Back when I was in grad school, there were a million single people my age. Now that we’re settling into our careers, our worlds are getting so much smaller. Throughout the day, I see maybe a handful of the same people, and unless I do something like this, or join an intramural softball team, or take sailing lessons, I’m unlikely to meet someone new. Dating apps don’t make us lame, they make us modern and technologically savvy. Right?

From: Catherine M.

Sent: 1:04 am, March 29

Right! And I didn’t mean it like that. But I think it is fair to say that I tend to focus on, shall we say, the low-hanging life-fruit: getting my turn at shuffleboard, grading this stack of assignments, meeting friends for beers. Rather than, say, doing the emotional heavy lifting that I know I should be doing on a daily basis.

I wonder whether I’m single not because I haven’t met the right person yet, but because I’m not the right person yet. The other night, I had the most terrifying thought: Who would I be a good match for? Like, I honestly can’t imagine who that man is. Someone who likes to watch television from 2004 and drink beer and make fun of each other? Okay, sure. But is that the stuff that lifelong relationships are made of? I honestly don’t think so, but I don’t even have a cat to ask for input.

Chapter eight


There’s a standard set of warnings I have to give Ed and Alex whenever we begin the final approach to my childhood home. First, do not hit on my little sister. Second, the downstairs toilet runs, so make sure to toggle the lever after you flush. And third, please don’t ask my dad if you can try on his prosthetic arm.

The first and third situations have happened each of the dozen or so times my friends have accompanied me home. Dad lost his arm in a machine accident out on the vineyard when he was seventeen; for whatever reason, the prosthetic fascinates Ed and Alex. It’s got a hook at the end that opens or closes depending on the angle, and the first few times they visited, Ed and Alex spent about three hours taking turns trying to pick up random things around the house. To be fair, Dad half pushes it on them because he thinks it’s hilarious—probably also because it drives Mom crazy.

And although she’s my sister, I am aware that Rayme is beautiful—it’s impossible to be unaware of this. At twenty-five, she’s six feet tall and could give Wonder Woman a run for her money in terms of both fitness and unguarded charm. Every guy friend—and a fair share of female friends, too—has had a crush on her at one point or another. Ed wants to marry her, Alex has far less honorable intentions, and even Millie has admitted that if she were a lesbian, she would one hundred percent hit on her. Only Chris seems unaffected by her dark hair and startling gold eyes—which I’m sure is directly related to why Rayme seems to try just a little harder to earn his attention.

There’s also the No Streaking reminder, but, honestly, you’d think by this point that one would be implied.

We hit the soft dirt road, and Millie jolts awake next to me. Dragging a forearm across her mouth, she mumbles, “Was I snoring?”

“Yes.” I glance briefly at her adorable just-waking-up face. Her eyes blink slowly, heavily over to me. Her mouth is a little swollen.

“And I drooled.” She turns, looking over her shoulder out the back window at the other three following us in Chris’s car. Because my car is in the shop, we decided to take Millie’s Mini Cooper, which meant that Chris is scowling behind the wheel of his Acura while Alex and Ed appear to be singing loudly with the windows down.

I can feel her looking at me, and flash her a quick smile before turning back to the road. “Good nap?”

She nods, stretching. “I haven’t slept well this week.”

I let out a sympathetic grunt. I haven’t, either. The last few nights, I’ve been up until one or two messaging Catherine and, less frequently, Daisy. It’s the sort of addictive rush I haven’t felt in years. It feels a little like being a teenager again.

Millie lifts her chin when we pass the Pine Grove Road sign that signals we’re less than two miles from my house. “Almost there.” She runs a hand through her hair and it spills like a sunset over her shoulders. “Want me to call Chris?”

She knows the drill.


Chris answers on the first ring through his Bluetooth, and it’s a few seconds before I hear his voice over the sound of John Waite singing “Missing You” with the loud accompaniment of Ed and Alex.

“Get me out of this hell,” he says by way of greeting.

Millie clears her throat. “Just calling with the reminders.”

“Rayme equals no-no!” Alex yells.

“Prosthetic arms aren’t toys!” Ed says.

And then Chris rounds it out: “Downstairs bathroom still broken—got it!”

Mom’s already out on the porch, pacing as she waits for us, and she jogs down when we come to a crunching, dusty stop in front of the wide, outstretched farmhouse. When I climb out from behind the driver’s seat, I know better than to expect a hug immediately—she goes to Millie first, then Chris, then me. Alex and Ed get the last hugs, the sort of Oh, fine, come here, you idiots embrace that I imagine most people give them.

Ed is notoriously awkward with all parents, but within three minutes Alex will have Mom charmed enough to forget why she was annoyed to begin with.

And in about eight hours, I’m sure he’ll do something to remind her.

“I’m making ribs,” Mom says, and grins at Millie, who pretends to swoon. A few visits back, Mom made ribs and Millie ate them so enthusiastically that she looked like the Joker when she finally came up for air. It’s the kind of culinary zeal my mom lives for.

“Sharon. Are you trying to make me move in here?” Millie asks her.

“Don’t tease me.” Mom pops a kiss to the side of Millie’s head, then walks ahead of her into the house, calling out, “James! They’re all here!”

Dad yells from upstairs, “You think I didn’t hear that crap music booming down the driveway?”

Chris grins up at Dad as he descends into the living room. “Alex and Ed chose the emo eighties theme for this drive.”

“Who was driving?” Dad asks, laughing knowingly. He doesn’t bother to wait for an answer. “You are too goddamn nice, Chris.”

The two of them disappear immediately to do who knows what. Discuss the weather almanac or the biochemistry of grape fermentation, probably. Alex and Ed look around, hoping to find Rayme, I’m sure, and I smile proudly when Millie reaches out to either side of her and shoves each of them in the shoulder.

“She’s not going to be here until about five,” she says.

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