By: Kayti McGee

“I’m not sure that actually helps,” he said, confirming my suspicions. But he didn’t move to reach for the blanket again. And he did give my legs an appreciative look. So, progress.

Still, not quite the start to the great couch night I’d envisioned. Maybe it would be better once we loosened up.

Speaking of…

“Bourbon?” I offered.

“Bourbon,” he agreed. “Definitely bourbon.”

Yes, definitely bourbon. We were warming up, this was going to be great. I crossed to the kitchen and splashed Kentucky’s finest (okay, fifth-finest. Sixth. Shut up, I’m on a budget.) over a little ice and wondered if it was super amateur to add Coke. And if it was too late to slip on some pajama shorts.

Because holy cow, I’d taken off my pants in front of my hot roommate. What had I done?

See, not only do I make panic decisions when I’m overwhelmed with choices, but also when I’m overwhelmed just in general. Marc Kirby in his boxer briefs was rahthah overwhelming. I imagined we’d probably have gotten to that point, someday, eventually, maybe, if we’d both been around a bit more when the other was home. The hanging around intimately thing. That’s what happens with roommates. They get so used to each other that walking around without pants gets to be no big deal. At least me and my lady roommates always had.

Marc was not a lady. And we were definitely not at this point of familiarity.

But I couldn’t back down now. Then Marc would be alone in his underwear. And, after the way I’d dodged him that day we’d met, I probably owed him.

Thank god I had some liquid courage to help with that. Obviously, I shot back the entire glass of bourbon and poured another before filling one for him. Obviously.

I returned to the living room and handed him his drink super smoothly, with my newly steadied hand. Then I perched on the couch as though it were just another Friday for us two roommates, just sipping on some whiskey in our skivvies, even though we had literally never hung out. In our whole lives.

“Crazy schedules, huh?” I tossed out. Making conversation. As you do.

Marc swirled his glass without taking a sip. “Almost like living alone,” he said. “I imagine you’ll see me more in the future. Thesis done. Graduation is next week. I’ll have nothing to keep me occupied during the day. Hope that’s not going to infringe on your couch sleeping.”

Low blow, but I laughed. “Guess I better get used to sleeping in my bed.” But what I was really thinking was that I’d get to see him more and wondering exactly what that meant. Like, more often? Or more… bodily?

I had no sense of that, but I did sense that those were not thoughts a roommate should be having, particularly when said roommate was a friend’s cousin. So off-limits for anything but drawing. “Did you say you’d been offered a job at UMKC?”

“I did. I’ll be teaching a couple of courses in the undergraduate department. I start this fall.”

“Oh, that’s fantastic. Will you be signing another lease, then?” It was an honest question on my part and the panic that was stirring at the thought of him leaving had everything to do with logistics. I couldn’t afford this place without him, but then he might have wanted to keep it alone, and where would I go?

It was nothing to do with being worried I wouldn’t see him again, even in passing. Nothing at all. I waited nervously for his answer.

“Guh,” Marc finally replied.

Not the response I’d expected. He couldn’t even answer me properly.

Men had a habit of ruining all of your daydreams about them, I’d noticed. Looked like he was to be no exception.

Then I actually looked, and he was bright red. “Oh, god! Are you okay?”

Marc didn’t answer, which made me suspect he couldn’t answer.

“Shit! You’re choking!” I’d taken a first aid class in high school, so I knew what to do. First, you loudly state the obvious. Second, you ask for their permission to save them, because otherwise their corpse can sue you.

I did not make that up. It’s a real thing.

I moved closer to him, sitting up on my knees. “Would you like for me to perform the Heimlich?” I shouted in his ear, because it’s never clear how much of their surroundings dying people are aware of.