Home > My Favorite Half-Night Stand(13)

My Favorite Half-Night Stand(13)
Author: Christina Lauren

“Thanks, Millie.”

I can tell my sister wants to be happy for me, but disappointment hovers in her voice.

“I’ll update you as soon as I know something.” I roll to my back again and look up at the ceiling, at the way the blue-gray light from the window creeps along the walls. The muted color matches my mood. “How is he?”

“He’s . . .” She shuts off the water and the silence grows while she formulates an answer. If I’m this anxious waiting to hear, what must it be like to live with it, day in and day out? “He’s good,” she says. “Slower now, and less independent. His balance is terrible, so we’re thinking of looking for a new house. Something without stairs.”

Jared and Elly bought their house right after they were married. Things must be getting bad if they’re considering selling it.

“I can help with that, too,” I tell her, swallowing around the lump in my throat. “I’ll have part of my advance by then, and it’s all yours if you need it.”

Two Cocoa Krispies doughnuts improve my outlook dramatically by the time I get to school, but the call with Elly sticks like a cloudy film on a window. I know I did my best as a kid, but I can’t stop feeling like a selfish asshole now. Elly needs me. Dad needs me. But I would honestly rather walk across a beach of broken glass than spend the summer in my childhood home.

Instinct carries me here: with a coffee in each hand, I use my foot to push open the door to Reid’s office. He’s finishing up a call, phone wedged between chin and shoulder, pen scribbling away at something on his desk.

The polite thing would be to wait outside or tell him to find me later, but Reid and I have never been particularly good at boundaries—obviously—and so I set his cup down in front of him and take a seat while he wraps things up. I’m not really in the mood to talk, but locking myself in my office isn’t going to do anything but make me feel worse.

Given the fastidiousness of Reid’s brain, his desk is a surprising mess. There’s the usual detritus of files and assignments and books, but Reid is an obsessive note taker so there are Post-its and scraps of paper everywhere, notes tacked to the computer monitor, the window, the walls. A corkboard hangs just within arm’s reach and it’s so weighed down with bulletins and reports and random scribbles, I’m not even sure how it’s still hanging.

The one on the side of his computer is a drawing of a brain—not just a doodle, but an actual anatomically correct illustration—with arrows and words like limbic and superior colliculus. This is exactly why we no longer play Draw Something—Reid goes way too deep. The Post-it just beside the drawing has the name Lillie and a phone number written in bubbly, heart-embellished script.

Do I remember him mentioning a Lillie?

“Sorry about that. You okay?”

I startle, sloshing my coffee on his desk. I didn’t even hear him hang up the phone. “Shit. What?”

“You’re . . . pouting.” He sounds amazed.

My eyes flick to the tacked-up phone number, and back to where I’m using my only napkin to sop up some of the mess. “Yeah. Totally. Just zoning out.”

Reid eyes me with a curious grin before handing me a few tissues to help. He picks up his own cup. “Thanks for this. I meant to grab some before I started this morning but got called away.”

“Of course.”

He takes a sip, sucking in a breath when he burns himself.

“PS, it’s hot,” I say, and drop the tissues into the trash can next to his feet. “Long morning?”

“You could say that. I came in to get some papers graded and was cornered by a couple students begging for extensions. But, I’m glad you came.” He looks at me again and then does a double take. “You sure you’re okay?”

“Yes, Reid.”

“You look . . . haggard.”

“Wow. Seduce me, why don’t you.”

“Seriously, what’s up with you?”

“Nothing, I swear.”

He stares at me with flat skepticism for one, two, three seconds, before shaking his head to clear it. “Okay, whatever. I wanted to show you something.” Reaching for his phone, he swipes the screen before turning it to face me.

I lean in. “Good God, Reid. You have ninety-eight updates to install? Amazon, OpenTable, Facebook . . . What is wrong with you?”

“Focus, Millie.” He taps on a bright blue icon with a red notification bubble. “The IRL app. I woke up to eighteen notifications.”

“Notifications for . . . ?”

He clearly thinks I’m going to figure it out because he pauses for a few lingering seconds before giving up. “Didn’t you go through the app intro when you downloaded it?”

I spread my hands like he should know the answer to this. “Obviously not?”

Laughing, he says, “Okay, this means eighteen women shared their profile with me.”

“Ohhhh.” I fumble for my bag on the back of the chair and pull out my own phone. I hadn’t even thought to look. “I filled everything out on the laptop.” I turn the screen to him. “Oh, hey look, I didn’t even download the app yet.”

“According to Ed, you’ll want to use your phone for everything else.” He lifts his chin. “Search for it in the App Store.”

“Whoa, whoa, slow down with this technical speak.” My eyes are wide in faux-confusion. “Write that down for me, mansplainer.”

“Jesus Christ, Millie.”

“I do know how an iPhone works, Reid.”

He leans back with a patient sigh and continues scrolling through his own messages. “One of them speaks French and is a scuba instructor,” he says proudly, eyes widening as he zooms in on a photo.

Once the app has downloaded, I enter in the username and password I’d set up on my computer. “How does this work, exactly?” I ask. “There’s no swipe right or whatever, is there? That sounds terrible.”

“You know you were in the room when we talked about this.”

I smile at him over the top of my coffee. “I probably wasn’t listening. I do that sometimes when you speak.”

“As I mentioned before, men can only see your basic info and summary, along with a thumbnail of your photo. They can’t see the entire profile until you approve them. In which case you’ll probably have some requests wanting to see more.”

“But not eighteen . . .”

Reid ignores me and sure enough, an alert pops up signaling that I have unread messages. I’m surprised by the rush the little red bubble brings. “I have twelve requests pending.”

Reid’s brows climb up his forehead, impressed. “Not bad, Mills. Ed had four.”

“You’re comparing me to Ed now? Wait, what profile pic did he use? Did he use the one of him in the bathrobe doing the Captain Morgan pose?”

Ed, who wanted to wear an Animal House toga for his faculty photo.


“And you’re surprised I have more than him? Reid. Come on.”

“I’m saying that with such limited information and only a thumbnail to see your pretty face, twelve isn’t bad.”

“What profile picture did you use?” I ask. “Were you wearing the FBI shirt?” I let out a short bursting cackle. I will never get over Reid having to borrow a shirt from Alex’s trunk when his own disappeared from the beach, and all Alex had was one that said FBI: Female Body Inspector. We went right out for drinks that night, and, oh boy, Reid got some shit.

“Sadly, Ed spilled red wine on that one. I won’t be able to wear it again.”

“Well, that solves the problem of future commentary.”

He leans forward, redirecting my attention to my screen. “The little percentage in the blue bubble at the top of the request shows—”

“Our compatibility, I know, I know. Seriously, how do you think I feed and bathe myself every day?”

“Just read through them and see who you want to share with.”

With an odd mixture of dread and anticipation, I open the first message, wincing a little at the photo. I don’t want to seem completely superficial, so I don’t comment on the backward baseball cap or puka shell necklace, and start to read.

“ ‘I might be the man your looking for. I’ve been a plumber for fifteen years and know a thing or two about cleaning pipes ;) I like to spend my weekends on the lake or at the barbecue, and am looking for a special lady to stand at my side. If you think your up to the challenge, drop me a line. I just might bite.’ ”

My eye roll must be audible because Reid looks up with a questioning glance.

“There’s just so much here,” I say. “Where do I even begin? ‘Cleaning pipes’?”

“Virility is a sign of health.”

“He wants someone to stand by him at the barbecue.”

“I think that’s kind of sweet—Don’t look at me like that.”

“Reid, he misspelled ‘you’re.’ ”

“You’re always typing ‘tit’ instead of ‘it.’ It could have been an accident.”


“Okay,” he says. “Let’s look at the next one.”

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