Page 32

Calvin is half naked in my apartment and I am completely losing my shit right now. I need to get some distance and some caffeine.

I gesture vaguely to him across the room. “To study.”

“To study me?” he asks playfully. I’m not looking at him, but I hear the grin in his voice.

“Yeah. Your life, and things.”

“?‘Things’?” he repeats, and laughs. My brain fills with the memory of his happy trail and our dream sex.

“Are you headed to the station later?” I blurt, desperate to change the subject.

If he notices how I’ve just demonstrated my knowledge of his schedule, he doesn’t show it. “No, think I’ll stop doing that.”

My heart is a wilting flower in my chest. I mean, of course, it makes sense that he’d stop performing at the station now that he’s about to have a full-time job, but it also means the end to this little tiny joy I have.

I pour another out for Busker Jack.

I hear an odd dissonant scratch behind me, and turn. Calvin has pulled his guitar out of its case and now sits shirtless




He plucks at the strings and grins boyishly at me. “You put the pot on, I’ll provide the soundtrack?”

My controlled exhale comes out of me in tiny, sharp splinters. “Sure. Yeah.”

One of the few things Calvin has put in the kitchen so far is a box of tea labeled BARRY’S, so I assume that’s what he wants, putting the teapot on the stove and dropping a teabag in a mug. Round, warm music begins to fill the apartment, sending a wave of goose bumps down my arm. I intently study the thin stream of coffee filling the pot to keep from turning and gawking while he plays his guitar half-naked.

“Holland,” he says, slowing the meandering tune, “can I ask you something?”

“Sure.” I risk a look over my shoulder at him. Big mistake. “I figure that’s what we’re doing today.”

“This question is different.”

I smile in encouragement. “Go for it.”

“Are all female sex toys bright pink?”



“Or is it just you? Like the scissors and your coat and—”

“I . . . Are you fucking with me?”

He holds up one hand, with a guitar pick wedged between two fingers. “I swear I’m not trying to embarrass you.”

“Embarrass me?” I look back to the coffee and grab a mug to pour it into. “Man, I’m totally used to having guys come over and find my vibrators in the couch. That’s why I keep them there.”


I turn and look at him flatly.

“Right,” he says through another delighted laugh as he returns to his strumming. “The colors of these things strike me as odd.”

“How do you take it?”

His eyes go wide. “Pardon?”

I hold up his mug and bite back a laugh. “Your tea.”

“Black.” An adorable giggle bursts out of him. “Oh my God, this conversation. I’m so sorry. I’m not fully awake yet. I don’t know what I’m saying.”

Returning to the living room, I hand him the mug. “Have you been thinking about this since last night?”

Last night: when I pulled my enormous, pulsating pink vibrator out of the couch, sprinted to the bathroom to wash the couch lint off it, and then shoved it under the sink, in the very, very back. Last night, when I went to sleep and very nearly got myself off dreaming that he was having sex with me.

“No, just since I woke up.” He thanks me, and takes a sip before leaning over his guitar to place the mug on the coffee table. “You’d think the colors would be more masculine if you’re getting a fake cock—”

My brain goes all wavy when he throws that word into my living room like it’s not a live bomb.

“—but—and my sampling isn’t huge here—the majority seem to be pink.”

With his easy chatter and judgment-free tone, my embarrassment slowly, slowly drains away.

“I think the flesh-colored ones have a weird sense of sadness to them.” I sit down beside him. “Like a penis separated from its host.”

“That is a very sad prospect, indeed.”

“They also grow discolored?” I say, remembering. “I had a flesh-toned one I kept in my underwear drawer and it sort of took on the colors of the fabrics around it until it eventually looked tie-dyed.”

He laughs, nodding as he works his fingers up and down the neck of his guitar.

I want to understand why I feel so easy around him. Calvin is the human equivalent of a joint. It must be the soothing sound of the guitar. “Maybe it’s because women want pleasure for themselves,” I say, “and not to feel like they’re owing it to a dude, even when it’s a toy.”

He stops playing at this, turning to look at me. “That’s astute.”

I purse my lips at him, playfully. “You’re pointing out how astute I am for understanding my own sexuality?”

The grin that comes over him is probably the best thing I’ve ever seen. It’s wide, showing teeth, crinkling his eyes. “I knew I’d like you.”

I knew I’d like you, too, Busker Jack.

I nod to his guitar as I stand up to start breakfast. “Then keep playing.”

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