My Favorite Half-Night Stand

Page 7

She reaches across, squeezing my hand. “You’re my best friend, Reid.”

“You’re going to make me cry.”

With a laugh, she shoves my hand away. “But seriously, I can’t do the dating-a-colleague thing again. What a disaster he was.”

“To be fair,” I say, grateful for this easy entrance back into normal, “his name is Dustin.”

She quickly swallows a sip of coffee to protest this. “There are some who might say Reid is an especially pretentious name.”

With a hand to my chest, I feign insult. “No one says that.”

Millie reaches out, curling her hand around the forearm of a passing student. “Sorry. Quick question. Is ‘Reid’ a douchey name?”

The guy doesn’t even hesitate or bother to look at me. “Totally.”

Millie releases him with a smug smile and brings her mug to her lips.

I mirror her movement with my own mug. “He just said yes because he was intimidated by the obvious, hot professor randomly grabbing him.”

“Be my guest,” she says, spreading a generous hand. “Ask someone yourself.”

“Excuse me,” I say, stopping a female student with a raised finger. “Would you say the name ‘Reid’ is pretentious?”

She’s very pretty—soft brown skin, a halo of curly hair—and when our eyes meet, she flushes. “Is that your name?”

“It’s immaterial,” I say, softening it with what Millie calls my Flirty Eyes.

“I mean,” the girl says, “I don’t think it’s a pretentious name.”

I thank her and she wanders off when I turn back to Millie. “See?”

“Her answer sounded like a nice way of saying, ‘The consensus is that name is douchey.’ ”

I laugh. “Her answer was a clear no.”

“If it was a no, it’s because she wants to fuck you.”

The word fuck coming out of her mouth does strange things to my pulse. She says it all the time, but just last night she gasped it into my ear, right before telling me she was close.


I try to make my voice sound as wounded as possible. “I had no idea you think my name is douchey.”

Millie is not falling for it. She grins over the top of my mug. “I don’t, really.”

We fall into an easy silence and I try not to think about Sex Millie too much or study Friend Millie too closely. She’s completely rebounded. Millie really is as constitutionally solid as she seems.

And holy shit, she’s just as fun in bed as I would have guessed.

“So,” she says out of the quiet, “in the interest of returning to Best Friendship, we should probably find other dates for commencement.”

“Looks like it.”

Chapter three


Hey, Taylor,” I say. “This is Millie. Millie Morris? I’m not sure if you remember me or not—we saw Girl on the Train together at the dollar theater last summer? You kept insisting that the new wife couldn’t be the killer because she was a mother, and I argued that forty-two percent of children killed by a parent are killed by the mother, alone or with an accomplice. Um, anyway, I have this thing in June and I was wondering if you’d like to be my date. It’s black tie and I have to RSVP, so if you could give me a call as soon as possible. And haha, I promise not to talk about mothers murdering their own children—”

The line disconnects. That’s weird, I think, but I pencil in a check mark on the MAYBE column next to Taylor Baldwin’s name anyway.

“A ‘maybe’?”

I jump at the sound of Reid’s voice so close to my ear. Heat radiates off his skin as he tries to read over my shoulder. His hair is damp where it brushes my cheek; he’s freshly showered and standing so close that even during lunchtime rush in the campus café I can smell the lemongrass soap he always keeps in his gym bag. It’s been three days since our sexcapade, and I swear my blood pressure still hasn’t completely recovered.

An elbow to his stomach sends him back into his own space and has the added benefit of allowing me to angle my date notebook away from him. “Do your feet even touch the ground when you walk? I didn’t hear you.”

He leans over the chair beside mine, catching my eye. “Were you really quoting murder stats while asking someone out? I may have some insight into why you haven’t dated since the fetus barista at Cajé.”

“Um, pardon me, sir. I was using that as context since I wasn’t sure he would remember me by name. Maybe the guy sees a lot of movies.” I erase my checkmark with an aggressive rub before sweeping eraser crumbs into Reid’s lap.

Suppressed laughter curves the corners of his mouth and my eyes are snagged there, my thoughts drifting from mouths to lips to tongues, and all the things those parts managed very capably to do. I want to rub Purell on my brain. Trying to be cool about banging your best friend is a lot harder than I would have anticipated.

“I was just giving him some details to jog his memory.”

“I can think of a handful of adjectives to describe you,” he says, and slides his tray down next to mine and sits. “Forgettable is not one of them.”

A tiny, hot bubble bursts in my thoughts, making me want to ask—You mean, even in bed?—but I make a show of scrutinizing my notebook instead, ignoring the embarrassed flush I feel warming the back of my neck. “Thanks. I think.”

He unwraps a set of plastic utensils from a paper napkin. “You’re calling guys in the middle of the lunch rush?”

“The noise is my camouflage! I can’t do it in my office. What if Dustin walked by and heard me asking someone out in a voicemail? I’d have to suffer his smug face for a month.”

Reid stares at me for a couple breaths longer before he seems to decide to give up on this. Or me. He digs a fork into his salad with one hand and thumbs through a scientific journal with the other. Despite my momentary short circuit a few minutes ago, things have been . . . fine between us. Normal. Comfortable. Did we manage to avoid the awkward sleeping-with-your-strictly-platonic-bestie thing? I can’t possibly be that lucky.

I bend, picking at my own salad.

“So who were you calling?” Reid asks, nodding toward my phone.

I stab a piece of cucumber. “If you’d started your eavesdropping a little earlier, you’d have heard that his name is Taylor.”

Reid takes a bite, chewing while he searches his memory. “Taylor. Why doesn’t that ring a bell?”

I shrug, picking out the tomatoes and setting them off to the side. I’m not surprised Reid doesn’t remember him. For starters, Taylor and I went out once, almost a year ago, and I’m not all that chatty about my love life, anyway. Reid and the guys might go on and on about their dates—or lack thereof—but it’s never been my thing.

“How many have you called so far?” he asks.

“Three.” I’ve called seven. “Are you going to hassle me?”

He holds up his hands, defensive. “Just making conversation.”

“You know, at least I’m trying. How many have you called, Reid?”

He shoves a forkful of lettuce into his mouth and grunts something noncommittal into his salad.

I sit back. “That’s what I thought.”

He swallows before reaching for his bottle of water. “I had a lecture on optic neuritis to prepare and we need to submit a few abstracts for the Society for Neuroscience meeting. Plus, someone has to scour the pages of Pinball Enthusiast for Ed’s next birthday present.” He pauses just long enough to wave away my I knew it face. “I’ve been busy, okay? I’ll get to it.”

I raise my brows. “We’re all busy.”

The grounds crew is working outside the café, and when the door opens again it brings with it a gust of air fresh with cut grass. It also brings Chris, who is clearly agitated as he makes his way to our table.

“Do you have any idea how many available, reasonably attractive single women over the age of twenty-five I interact with on a daily basis?” he says in lieu of a greeting.

I blink. “Hi, Chris.”

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