Home > My Favorite Half-Night Stand(6)

My Favorite Half-Night Stand(6)
Author: Christina Lauren

Without even bothering to ask what I want—she knows, anyway—she leans in and orders two medium Americanos, extra hot, and then, in a rushed flurry, points to a miraculously empty table for me to snag.

I wipe the table off with a couple of napkins, trying to calm the unfamiliar anxiety I’m feeling about an upcoming conversation with Millie.

My best friend, Millie, who puts moisturizing facial masks on me while we watch our favorite 1990s gangster movies and generously eats all the melon in my fruit salads.

With two steaming cups in her hands, she walks toward me at the table, and I have to make a conscious effort to look normal, which I’m pretty sure negates any potential for success.

This is so weird.

I mean, it’s impossible to ignore the way her jeans curve over her hips, and then I’m boomeranged into wondering whether I would have noticed this before last night.

Sitting wordlessly, she smiles, touching her cheek, and the motion catches my eye as she drags a few wayward strands of hair behind her ear. There’s a new, bare honesty here, an unspoken awareness captured by eye contact and screaming, We had sex! My gaze slides down to her neck and trips over something there. I don’t think I would normally notice the tiny red bruise on her throat if I hadn’t been the one to inflict it.

She notices me noticing and covers it with a fingertip. “I’ll put some more makeup on it before lunch.”

That’s right. It’s Wednesday, one of two days each week we all meet at Summit Café, near the library.

“It’s cool. It’s small,” I say. “I mean, sorry.”

“Oh, don’t be sorry.”

The sex is front and center now. Millie stares directly at me and it’s a lot, having her undivided attention like this; it always is. Only now instead of simply enjoying it, my mind toggles between the calming surety of her expression and the memory of her eyes falling closed in relief when she moved on top of me and found that buckling moment of pleasure.

“You sure you’re okay today?” I ask.

She nods decisively. “One hundred percent. You?”

“Same.” I wonder whether she’s also having these disruptive flashes of recollection. I don’t exactly know how to extricate us from this topic, but letting the words “It was really good, though” tumble out of my mouth is probably not the way to do it.

She could make this awkward—and it’s absolutely what I expect her to do because making us uncomfortable is Millie’s favorite pastime. But she’s feeling generous, apparently. “Of course it was good. We’re both amazing in bed.” When I laugh, she adds, “But . . . we’re still on the same page, right? About . . . us being friends?”

“We’re on the same page.”

And we are. For as good as last night was, I don’t want to be with Millie that way again. At least, I don’t think I do. I definitely shouldn’t. We’re too good at being smart-ass friends to be very good tender lovers. I can’t really imagine Millie like that, anyway.

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.

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