Home > My Favorite Half-Night Stand(5)

My Favorite Half-Night Stand(5)
Author: Christina Lauren

“Wow.” I pull back, looking down at her. “Never mind. If that’s off the table then I gotta go.”

She pinches my nipple, laughing at my high-pitched shriek.

“I was kidding.” I punctuate my point by pushing her underwear down her hips.

“I know.” Her mouth slides over my shoulder. “But I wasn’t.”

“I’m not really into it, either.”

“Really?” she says, and I love the genuine way she searches my eyes. I’ve never been this close to her before, and she’s certainly never looked at me like this—with the combined tenderness of best friend and lover. “I assumed you were into everything.”

“When did you assume this?”

Her hand comes around me, stroking slowly, and my mind goes all wavy. “You know. Just . . . random Reid thoughts.”

“While we were at Gio’s last week, you looked at me and thought, ‘Huh. I bet he likes anal.’ ”

“I think it was when you were eating a club sandwich at lunch Wednesday,” she jokes.

I laugh, and it fuses with a groan when she leans forward to drag her teeth along my neck. “I swear, Ed needs to never wear that shirt again.”

“The white one?” she asks. “Chest hair extravaganza?”

“It’s just so thin . . .”

I bend to kiss her throat, her shoulder, and then I forget what I was saying because she’s pulling me down onto the bed, and her nipple is in my mouth and she’s stroking me and I probably couldn’t remember my own name if asked.

“Is this weird?” I murmur into her skin. “Why are we talking about the guys while I’m doing this?”

“I like talking,” she says, and digs her free hand into my hair. “I like talking to you while—”

Her voice falls away when I suck.

I half expect it to be like this the entire night—easy conversation like we’ve always had, but through kisses, touches, even through the sex itself. But when her hand finds a certain rhythm, it shifts something over inside me, something more instinct than conscious thought. I make my way down her body, she later makes her way down mine, and when she finally comes back up over me, on top of me, she looks directly into my eyes as she sinks down and I wonder during the first gasping burst of sensation why we haven’t been doing this every day for the past two years.

I leave Millie’s around two, when she’s fast asleep and starfished across ninety percent of the mattress. I kiss her cheek when I go; it feels weird to leave after only half a night together—but I have to think it would be even weirder to wake up with your best friend naked in your bed.

I didn’t have much to drink, but the next morning I feel hungover anyway. It’s a cocktail of the light-headed relief that comes on the heels of a night of great sex . . . mixed with the nauseating anxiety over a fight with a friend.

Not that Millie and I are fighting. I mean, I can’t even imagine Millie angry. She wasn’t that drunk, but if there’s anything that could piss her off, it’d be the perception that I took advantage of her last night.

Chris’s office is in the building next to mine, and just inside the entrance closest to the campus coffee kiosk. This proximity means that he’s lucky enough to be able to slip out and back in for coffee without running into fifteen colleagues in the hall, but it also means that people are constantly walking past his office, on their way to or from the kiosk, interrupting his workday.

Like I do now, stepping through the open door and into his office. “Hey.”

For a chemistry professor, Chris keeps his office impressively tidy. There are no teetering stacks of dusty lab notebooks or piles of outdated textbooks being used as makeshift tables. He has a small plant on his desk, a jar of pencils, a few molecular models here and there, but—much like the man himself—Chris’s office is much more put-together than any of the rest of us seem to manage.

He looks up, pulling his glasses off and setting them down near his keyboard. “Hey. I assume you guys got home okay last night?”

I expected him to ask, but the way the question comes out so immediately feels almost accusatory—almost knowing. The answer bursts out of me, a touch hysterically: “Of course we did.”

He stares at me a second longer before he reaches for the paper takeaway cup I’ve put down on his desk. “Cool. Thanks for the coffee.”

Out of all of us, Chris is the most intuitive, and—because he and I first met in graduate school nearly a decade ago—he also knows me better than anyone else. If even a flicker of last night passes through my thoughts, he’ll see it. But maybe that’s exactly why I’m here. Millie and I drove a mallet into our easy rhythm, creating a fault line that will either lie dormant or break everything into pieces. I need to know I can still act normal . . . where normal means I pretend the fault line is not directly underfoot.

“You good?” Chris asks.

“Oh, yeah.” I stare with intense focus at his bookshelves, specifically studying a worn copy of Wade’s Organic Chemistry, and finally, the moment snaps free. “Just wanted to come by and say thanks again for hosting last night.”

“Of course, man. I’m really happy for you.”

My gaze swings higher up on his bookshelf, to some molecular models, some awards on small pedestals, and . . . “Nice cock.”

He groans, standing so he can reach for the rooster-shaped stress ball and toss it into the trash. “You have my students in on this rooster thing now.”

“A student gave you cock?”

He jerks his attention past me, out into the hallway, before giving me the expression that speaks to the mental murder happening inside his brain. “Think you could keep your voice down?”

I grin. “I can try.”

“What do you have going on today?”

Checking my watch, I tell him, “I’m giving our department seminar in thirty. Wanna come?”


“Then I’ll see you at lunch.”

I’m halfway through my fifty-minute presentation on optic nerve inflammation when the back door to the theater creaks loudly open the way it always does when someone unfamiliar with it tries it from the wrong side. Heads turn, and my chest suffers a weird, painful hiccup as Millie steps in. Dressed in black jeans and a deep green sweater, she tiptoes down the aisle with a paper bag in her hand and a dramatically apologetic expression for the disruption of her entrance. Millie has never come to one of my seminars; given that I’m in neuroscience and she’s in criminology, she’d have no reason to. How did she even know where to find me? Maybe she wants a word with me afterward . . . ? The thought makes me uneasy.

Last night was good, right? I mean, to me, last night was incredible. We had sex twice. We talked for an hour in between, about all the kind of stuff we always talk about: Ed’s latest lab disasters, Millie’s upcoming lecture at Princeton, whether Alex will get tenure this year. Nothing too personal, nothing deep. Eventually pillow talk turned into touching, which turned into me climbing over her and words falling away. Before last night, I couldn’t have even imagined the quiet, rhythmic sounds she would make, but I can’t seem to get them out of my head today.

Glancing at the slide up on the large screen, I find my place again. As the only retinal specialist in the department, I try to keep my presentations sharp, interesting, and accessible. Millie knows my biggest gripe—that the rest of the neuroscience department likes to forget that the retina is part of the brain—and I catch her grinning when an image of the central nervous system comes up, with the retina highlighted right up front. The smile unknots the seed of tension in me.

This is Millie. She’s unflappable. Of course we’re okay.

In fact, she meets me halfway up the aisle as everyone is filing out and pulls a small pastry box out of the bag, handing it over. Inside, there is a cupcake with a unicorn sculpted out of frosting.

“What’s this for?” I look up at her. “We celebrated my tenure last night, and my birthday is still a month away.”

Millie grins. “It’s the morning-after cupcake.” When I don’t figure out a response fast enough, she adds in a whisper, “It’s a good job with the orgasms cupcake.” Pausing, she looks down at my hands. “And it’s an Are we okay? cupcake.”

This rare display of vulnerability tilts me sideways, so I close the lid and boop her nose with my index finger, the way she always does to us. “You know we’re fine.”

“Then come to Cajé with me.” She tugs my hand. “I need caffeination.”

“I already had some . . . with Chris . . .”

But she’s already turned to head up the aisle. I should have led with the more compelling I need to get into the lab explanation, because to Millie, work always comes first, but there’s no such thing as too much coffee.

Cajé is a coffee shop right near campus and it’s generally populated by the scruffiest representation of our student body. I’d wager there are as many white people with dreadlocks outside on the patio as there are baristas inside. And, although I know Millie can slob it up with the best of them on the weekend, right now in her fitted jeans, heels, and cashmere sweater, she stands out like a spray of flowers in a field of dry grass.

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