Page 57

It’s been so long since I crammed for an exam, and this one seems more important than anything in high school, college, or grad school. At least we had sex! There’s one less thing to lie about. Too bad we barely remember it.

Swallowing an enormous bite of burger, Calvin looks as relaxed as ever. “You are Holland Lina Bakker, youngest of six.” He wipes a napkin across his lips. “You’re incredibly close to your uncle Jeff, who is your mother’s youngest brother and married to my boss, Robert Okai. You were born the fifteenth of April,” he says, “which is also Tax Day in the States.”

“Extra credit,” I say, and return his high five. “You are Calvin Aedan McLoughlin, born in Galway, Ireland—which is very interesting since according to most Americans, the only city in Ireland is Dublin—and are the oldest of four. Your mother is Marina, and she is a homemaker. Your father, Patrick, is in medical equipment manufacturing.”

He grins, impressed. “Your favorite food is Greek.”

I’m charmed he remembered this—especially considering I think I mumbled it as I was shoveling spanakopita in my face one evening. “Your favorite is . . . sushi?”

He laughs, shaking his head. “I hate sushi.”

“Okay,” I admit, “that was a guess. Chinese?”

“My favorite cuisine is German food.”

I guffaw. “German isn’t really a cuisine, is it?”

He crosses his eyes at me. “Let’s pull up from the weeds, Mrs. McLoughlin.”

“Mr. Bakker, you’ve played guitar since you were four.” I chomp on a fry. “We met on a train—but this was six months ago, remember, not five weeks—and you asked me to dinner.”

Calvin puts his feet up on the coffee table. “That first date was at Mercato, and we went home and had sex.”

I choke on a bite of burger. “We did?”‘

Calvin leans over, kissing my cheek. “Don’t you remember? We couldn’t keep our hands off each other.”

“Oh, completely,” I say, laughing so awkwardly the sound of it actually makes me want to punch myself in the mouth. “Okay, yeah, I mean of course we’ve had a lot of sex. Like, newlywed and so, so into sex . . . of course.”

There’s a beat of dead silence as Calvin tries to figure out what the hell is happening, and I can’t help him because I have no idea what my mouth is doing, either. My brain has clearly checked out.

“Right,” he says slowly. “A lot of sex.” His grin starts tiny and turns into a beacon of amusement. “Should I tell him you like it a little dirty?”

I swallow a bite of fry before I’ve even chewed it; my eyes water instantly. “What?”

“I mean, you do, don’t you?” He licks his lips and stares at mine. “Certainly seemed that way.”

I don’t even know what’s happening. I wipe my mouth, like there might be a line of drool there.

“I like seeing you speechless.”

“I am . . . yes. Out of words.”

His smile straightens and he licks his lips again, leaning forward a little.

With a jerk, I cough, and resolutely ball my burger wrapper up. “Moving on! You are now a part of the orchestra for It Possessed Him,” I say, “but formerly you were a freelance performer and played in various bands, including a cover band called Loose Springsteen—”

“Please don’t tell them that. I don’t want that a matter of government record.”

I giggle. “And you apparently like to walk around the apartment mostly naked.”

He looks slyly at me. “You keep the heat up pretty high.”

I am no match for his verbal flirting. “Is it too warm in here?”

Calvin shrugs, and his greenish eyes are lit with tiny stars. “You’re pretty red.”

“You’re embarrassing me.”

“By being half-naked?”

“By bringing up the sex we had.”

“The sex we didn’t have,” he corrects, becoming more amused by the minute. “That first date was pretend sex. Last night was real sex, without satisfaction for either of us. I’m wondering whether that has us both a little jittery. Maybe you’ll find something to help you in the couch.”

For a second, maybe more, I’m starting to think he’s flirting. I’m starting to think that he’s suggesting we go have some more real sex before we have to leave for work. He’s certainly dialed up the charm this afternoon.

But as he holds on to the smile, it becomes a little forced and his eyes flicker away, to the clock, down to his phone. And that is not a smile I’ve seen on his face before. Or have I?

The bubble pops.

Calvin is good at this. It took him no time at all to say yes to my proposal. The kiss on the wedding day made my knees weak, but he’s never tried to kiss me again. Well, not including last night’s booze-induced mauling. But he’s really good at the emotions, the intuition of feeling—it’s part of what makes him such a good musician.

And I’m . . . not. I’ve never been a game player.

Our interview is Monday, and we need to crush it. There’s a kernel inside me, holding steadfast, that knows he’s playing a game, trying to get me to loosen up enough to be convincing. Yes, he’s charming, and yes, of course, he’s gorgeous. But he wants this job and this life more than anything. I think back to his words the other day. “The entire time I’ve been here, I’ve wanted this—exactly this . . . After I graduated, I thought something like this would come . . . I wanted this show so much I just stayed.”

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