By: Kivrin Wilson

She only has to bend her neck a little to look up at me. Slightly above average height, she’s still taller than most other women I know. Tall, slender, and small-boned Mia.

It’s hard not to add the word “my” to the beginning of that description.

“Why?” she asks, frowning at me and sounding concerned.

Why? Seriously? Can she not take a guess? Just one wild guess?

Her obvious worry dulls the edge of my anger, though, so I only say, “Got a lot on my mind, I suppose.”

“Like what?”

Is she deliberately fucking with me? No. She’s trying to sound casual and concerned, but she’s not that good of an actress.

I can hear it. She’s nervous.

Good. She should be.

We’re not okay, Mia. So not okay.

I don’t bother to be subtle about the sarcasm as I say, “Didn’t you hear what just happened to Kim Kardashian? It’s so upsetting.”

She makes a face. Crosses her arms over her stomach and looks away. “You’re still mad at me.”

“And the award for Most Insightful Observation goes to...”

Her cheeks puff up as she blows out a sigh. “Can we talk about it after we run?”

“Sure.” That’s fine, actually. Despite the fatigue that now feels like a poison in my veins, running will be less exhausting than having this conversation with her.

“And in the meantime,” she continues, sounding guarded, “can you pretend you’re not angry?”

“I can try.”

We fall silent. This is supposed to be our brisk five-minute walk to warm up, so I lengthen my stride, and Mia, of course, doesn’t struggle to keep up. Instead she picks up her pace until she moves slightly ahead of me. Which gives me a perfect view of the way her tight, black shorts hug the curves of her ass and hips and thighs. And the dips of her waist under her hot-pink tank top. And the flexing of muscles in her toned and shapely calves with each step she takes.

I swallow hard, my breathing going shallow like I’m already running, and my dick starts to respond.

Jesus. Almost seven years of successfully keeping my hands off her—a stubborn and unbending self-control that began the day my best friend brought her to a party in our dorm and introduced me to her and I learned what it really means to be hit and stunned with lust at first sight—and now I can’t even go for a run with her without getting a goddamn hard-on? Fuck this shit.

Tearing my gaze away from her perfect and sexy little body, I stalk tensely along beside her and try to focus on my surroundings instead. The weather is pretty much perfect this morning—mild, sunny, no wind—so it’s surprising we’re the only ones here. Usually there are already families on the playground and several runners on the trail. April is a nice month to call Southern California home.

Not that I’ve ever lived anywhere else. I’m an Orange County native, unlike Mia, who grew up in the Bay Area. After high school, she moved down here to attend UCLA, which is where we met after she started dating Fuckface when she was a sophomore and I was a junior.

She’s the one who starts talking again first. “How was work last night?”

“Saturday night,” I say with a shrug. “A couple of dead drunks. One a high school girl, the other a middle-aged guy with a point-three-five blood alcohol content who was unconscious when his buddies brought him in, and when he finally came to, he started freaking out about his catheter.”

Mia scoffs and asks, “WTS?”

A smile tugs up the corners of my mouth, amusement that feels surprising and involuntary right now. “WTS” is short for “wanted to say,” a routine we do when swapping stories of annoying, rude, or otherwise frustrating patients. It’s a way of letting off steam, telling each other what we really wanted to say to those patients instead of the polite answers dictated by good bedside manner—and in my case, by the patient satisfaction scores that impact my salary.

It’s definitely immature, but it works. Helps me calm down and be the compassionate and level-headed professional I’ve always aimed to be. At least once each shift I manage to restrain myself by taking a moment to archive a WTS response to share with Mia later, and I did the same with catheter guy, just out of habit.

So I answer her question with: “‘Dude, if you didn’t want a tube shoved up your dick, you should’ve stopped after the fifth shot of tequila. At least you’re not lying in a ditch somewhere, pissing yourself.’”

Her laughter comes from deep in her throat, and the knot at the back of my neck loosens a bit. This is how things are supposed to be. Just me and Mia, shooting the shit. Talking about life and work and everything in between.