Page 41

“You mean such as past lovers? Do you need to get your notebook?”

Calvin waves this off with a smile. “Jeff made passing reference to a lad named Bradley earlier.” He crosses one ankle over the other. “So I assume he was long term.”

I blink, trying to figure out when—and why—Jeff and Calvin would have been discussing my relationship résumé tonight. But my phone buzzes on the table. I reach over him and read the text that has just arrived . . . from Calvin.

Are you ready for me?

I stare at the screen, bewildered, before I realize what he’s doing. Adding to our normal-couple sexting. Playing the game. I reply with a warm blush.

If by ready for you, you mean naked, then yes.

“You were telling me about Bradley,” he prompts when I put my phone on the couch next to me.

“Right.” I clear my throat, looking down at him. He’s suspiciously pink, too. “We were together just under three years.”

“Did you ever think you’d marry him?”

It’s such an obvious question, so there’s no excuse for the way it catches me off guard. “No, not really. He was nice, but . . . we were boring in similar ways.”

He narrows his eyes at me when I say this, and I wonder what he’s thinking. “So what about others?”

Others. So much mediocrity there.

“You first,” I deflect. “How many women have you been with?”

He sucks in a quiet breath when he glances at my text, quickly typing something else, and then sets his phone on his stomach, facing away so I can’t see.

“Like, relationships?” he asks. “Two.” Calvin scratches his leg. He’s taken off his socks, and has nice feet; they aren’t calloused or knobby. Just smooth and tanned, nails trimmed.

My phone buzzes.

I want to feel the heat of you next to me when I go to bed tonight.

These words detonate in my blood. My crazy brain finds this . . . applicable to our situation.

I want that, too. When will you be home?

“Only two?” I ask, trying to maintain the thread of our actual conversation.

“Well, two real girlfriends. Aileen and Rori.”

“Those are very Irish names.”

This makes him grin and then let out a big belly laugh. “They were very Irish girls.”

“No one here in the States?”

“Rori moved here with me when I started school, but went home after a few months. Since her . . . there were a couple I mostly just got off with, but not many.” Calvin winces as he lifts his head and tilts his bottle to his lips, adding, “One girl from school, Amanda.” He squints as he thinks. “Six months, maybe? But she was a bit diabolical. And bossy.”

“I would think a bossy woman is a good thing in bed.”

“You’d be right. That aspect wasn’t the problem.” He takes another sip, not meeting my eyes. “What about you?”


He looks up at me, eyes narrowed. “Men.”

“Oh. After Bradley . . . hundreds.”

He sits up a little. “Really?” His voice is full of dramatic, drunken interest, but it dies when he sees I’m joking and he lies back down. “I mean, it wouldn’t be unheard of. Sexual freedom and all.”

“Not hundreds. Some.”

“You know,” he says sleepily, “secrets are currency.”

“Are they?”

Briefly, he glances at his phone, typing something out with rapid fingers. My heart seems to erupt in my chest. Calvin nods when he looks back up at me. “Mam says that secrets unlock something between friends.”

I look down at him in playful exasperation. “You’re bringing sweet mother-in-law Marina into this talk of my sex life?”

“She’s grand.”

I glance at my phone and the words that appear there.

I’ll be home as soon as I can. You’re all I can think about.

My breath is trapped in my throat, a thick, cottony presence.

“Besides,” he says quietly, “you’re too beautiful to be inexperienced in love.” Before I can let the full flush of this roll through me, he adds, “I only know of Bradley, and then whoever Lulu was talking about tonight.”

I groan at the memory of Lulu’s mortifying outburst. “Okay, so: I lost the V-card to a guy named Eric on my sixteenth birthday. Jake was my boyfriend my last year in high school . . . we were only together for about eight months. Bradley was most of college. Since then . . . a few more, but—as you say—they were relationships mostly in bed, including the one Lulu was talking about.” I look down to see his reaction, but it’s clear he’s waiting. He seems to want a number. “I’ve had sex with six people.”

“Six isn’t so bad.”

“For who?”

He looks up at me and gives a self-conscious wince. “Me, I suppose.”

I look away. I’m honestly not sure what to think of all this. We’ve been acquaintances for a time that can be counted in days, not years, and it’s still so insane to me that he’s here in my apartment—in my lap. Beyond that, there seems to be a genuine commitment he’s made to this marriage, and a genuine interest in me as a person. Given my desire to protect myself, I don’t know how to feel about this.

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