My Favorite Half-Night Stand

Page 9

“Whoever doesn’t have a date takes Millie,” Ed suggests.

My voice tears out in a playful screech: “Why are we assuming I’m also not finding a date?”

Just over Reid’s shoulder, I spot Avery Henderson waiting at the counter for her coffee and I stifle a whimper. Now a professor in the English department at UCSB, Avery was my little sister’s college roommate at the University of Washington and, quite frankly, has always been in better touch with Elly than I have. Avery picked up on this about nine months ago, too, when she realized I hadn’t heard that my sister was expecting twins, and since then, she loves to lord it over me when we run into each other at Saturday Pilates. But here, at lunch with my guys, I am unprepared for the ambush and try to duck into Reid’s shoulder, hoping she won’t see me.

Unfortunately, when the barista hands over her coffee, Avery catches my eye. I smell Reid’s shirt to make it look like that’s what I was doing all along.

“Can I help you with something?” Reid mumbles.

“I was—never mind, just be cool. Be cool.”

“Oh my God. Millie!” Avery shuffle-runs over to us. “I was going to call you this week to see how you’re doing.”

I smile up at her with as much easy calm as I can muster. “I’m doing well, how are you and Doug?”

She waves this away like I knew she might, indicating that she and Doug should be the least of my worries. Her voice drops. “I mean . . . with your dad.”

I lift my chin, mentally sweating under the weight of Reid, Chris, and Ed staring at me with loud questions in their expressions. “I’m good. We’re all great.”

Avery falters. “But Elly mentioned—”

Abruptly, I stand and give her an awkward hug. “I appreciate you asking,” I say. “I’ll tell Elly you said hi!”

“Yes, please!” Thankfully, she looks at her watch. “Oh man. I’d love to catch up more, but I have a deposition at two. You’ll call me with any news?”

“Of course!”

She shuffle-runs out with her coffee in hand and I take as much time as is reasonably possible to sit back down, lift my napkin, shake it out, and slide it back onto my lap.

“So.” I look around the silent table. “Where were we? Tinder no, but another app . . . maybe?”

Reid shakes his head. “What was that about? Something with your dad?”

I shift a little under the scrutiny of his gaze. “It’s nothing bad.” It’s terrible. “Just . . . parents getting older.”

Just fathers getting diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

I uncap my water and take a long drink, trying to push the worry and sadness back into place, where they won’t bubble up easily.

Ed pulls out a sandwich he’s had tucked away . . . somewhere and takes a bite. “My mom had her gallbladder out last week and bitched at me for an hour last night on the phone because she can’t have McDonald’s anymore.”

I give a sympathetic wince, internally relieved that I might escape this grilling. “Yikes.”

But per usual, Reid is undeterred. “Wait, Mills. Is he sick?”

Here’s where I’m stuck.

I don’t share much about my family. I don’t do it in part because I don’t see them much, but also because my mom died when I was twelve and it sucked, and it’s made me really hate talking about things that suck.

But I also don’t lie, and I especially don’t lie to my friends. Threading the needle here, I tell them simply, “He hasn’t been feeling great, but he’ll be okay.” I hope my tone puts Reid’s antennae back down.

It seems to—he pushes his salad around his plate the way he does when he’s full but feels guilty about wasting food.

But nope, I’m wrong: “You know you can talk to us if something is going on,” he says.

I see the little press there, the emphasis on us when what he really means is You can talk to me, your supposed best friend.

Thankfully, Chris and Ed seem to have tuned us out, so I turn to Reid, lowering my voice. “If there was something to share, I’d share,” I assure him. “Avery is just dramatic. She likes to make a big deal out of little things.”

“But you make no deal about big things,” he argues.

“Everything’s fine.” I give him a little chuck on the chin.

“You’re really terrible about sharing personal shit. You know that, right?”

“So I’ve heard,” I say. It isn’t the first time he’s complained about this, but I’m not sure how to do better. There just isn’t much to say at this point—Dad has been diagnosed, is on medication, and we’re handling it. Or, rather, my sister is handling it, and I’m trying to figure out the best way to be supportive from a distance. Talking about it with my friends when none of us have any control over it would just stress me out and make me feel more helpless.

Ed looks at his phone. “I have some cells I need to sort, so I should get back soon. Are we doing this? The dating app? Are we all in?”

Three sets of eyes swing in my direction, and I groan.

“Let’s check a few out,” Chris says. “We’ll find the best one out there and put as little or as much info as you want.”

“And you can quit anytime,” Reid adds with a hopeful lean to his words.

I’m positive I’m not ready for this, but I am unwilling to be the wet blanket. “Fine,” I say, “but the first dick pic I get is going to be each of your phone backgrounds for a week.”

Ed shrugs. “I can live with that.”

Christopher Hill

So, turns out there are approximately one MILLION of these dating sites.

Reid Campbell

I found one for Western men who want to connect with women from Russia. In case that strikes anyone’s fancy . . .

Millie Morris

Omg this one is called Bernie Singles and is designed for users who like Bernie Sanders. What even.

Stephen (Ed) D’Onofrio

There are people out there who want to date someone who looks like Bernie Sanders??? FE-TISH

Millie Morris

Wait for it . . .

Stephen (Ed) D’Onofrio

Oh wait. Ignore me. I get it.

Reid Campbell

Are you sure your IQ was 148 and not just 48?

Alex Ramirez

I’m still trying to figure out why I’m involved in this

Millie Morris

That’ll teach you to miss a lunch again

Stephen (Ed) D’Onofrio

Dude, Gluten Free Singles, Mullet Passions, 420 Singles. Actually, let me bookmark that one for later.

Millie Morris

These names: Equestrian Singles. Marry Me Already. Date My Pet.

Millie Morris

Ooh, Chris: Rooster Mate

Stephen (Ed) D’Onofrio


Christopher Hill

 . . .

Reid Campbell

Children. Can we stay on task?

Stephen (Ed) D’Onofrio

Are we sure we don’t just want Tinder? Users make 1 billion swipes a day for a reason.

Millie Morris


Stephen (Ed) D’Onofrio

If it ain’t broke . . .

Reid Campbell

Hey what about this one? It’s called IRL. In Real Life? That’s clever. It’s a premium site so we’d have to pay, but we can filter our browsing preferences, see when someone’s viewed your profile and read or deleted messages, and men can read summary profiles and read/reply to contacts, but not make repeated contact or send photos until they’re accepted.

Christopher Hill

Sounds efficient.

Reid Campbell

That’s pretty great, right, Mills? No creepsters or unsolicited dick pics?

Alex Ramirez

Why would she ever solicit a dick pic when she has the three of us?

Millie Morris

I’m looking.

Millie Morris

I’ll admit tit doesn’t look completely terrible.

Millie Morris

GDI *it. Why do I always do that

Stephen (Ed) D’Onofrio

Because you have tiny hobbit hands?

Millie Morris

I’d call you a douchebag, Ed, but that would imply you could actually get near a vagina.

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