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“Are you not . . .” Olive had no idea how to even ask it. “Married, or something?” He must have been in his early thirties. He had a fantastic job; he was tall with thick, wavy black hair, clearly smart, even attractive looking; he was built. Yeah, he was a moody dick, but some women wouldn’t mind it. Some women might even like it.

He shrugged. “My wife and the twins won’t mind.”

Oh, shit.

Olive felt a wave of heat wash over her. She blushed crimson and then almost died of shame, because— God, she had forced a married man, a father, to kiss her. Now people thought that he was having an affair. His wife was probably crying into her pillow. His kids would grow up with horrible daddy issues and become serial killers.

“I . . . Oh my God, I didn’t— I am so sorry—”

“Just kidding.”

“I really had no idea that you—”

“Olive. I was joking. I’m not married. No kids.”

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“I wish you could see yourself the way I see you.”

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“I just needed her to believe that I was on a date.”

He nodded. “So you kissed the first person you saw in the hallway. Perfectly logical.”

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“Come on. Maybe we’re lucky and the chair will spot us. And I’ll buy you an ice cream sandwich afterward.”

“Will I be paying for this ice cream sandwich?”

He sounded resigned now.

“Likely. Actually, scratch that, you probably don’t like ice cream anyway, because you don’t enjoy anything that’s good in life.” She kept on walking, pensively chewing on her lower lip.

“Maybe the cafeteria has some raw broccoli?”

“I don’t deserve this verbal abuse on top of the flu shot.”

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Adam dug into his pockets for a few moments and held out a crumpled paper napkin. Olive stared at it, confused, until she realized that her cheeks had somehow grown wet.

Oh.

“Adam, did you just offer me a used tissue?”

“I . . . maybe.” He pressed his lips together. “I panicked.”

She chuckled wetly, accepting his gross tissue and using it to blow her nose. They’d kissed twice, after all. Why not share a bit of snot?

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“Is there something wrong?” He sounded almost concerned.

“What? No. No, there isn’t.”

“Because,” he continued calmly, “kissing a stranger at midnight in a science lab might be a sign that there is.”

“There isn’t.”

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“Did you . . . Did you just kiss me?” He sounded puzzled, and maybe a little out of breath.

His lips were full and plump and . . . God. Kissed.

There was simply no way Olive could get away with denying what she had just done.

Still, it was worth a try.

“Nope.”

Surprisingly, it seemed to work.

“Ah. Okay, then.” Carlsen nodded and turned around, looking vaguely disoriented.

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“Is mine a good enough reason to go to grad school?” she called after him, hating how eager for approval she sounded. It was possible that she was in the midst of some sort of existential crisis.

He paused and looked back at her. “It’s the best one.”

He was smiling, she thought. Or something like it.

“Good luck on your interview, Olive.”

“Thanks.”

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She bit her lip. “What if I’m not good enough?” she blurted out, and why, God, why was she baring the deepest fears of her secret little heart to this random bathroom guy? And what was the point, anyway? Every time she aired out her doubts to friends and acquaintances, they all automatically offered the same trite, meaningless encouragements. You’ll be fine. You can do it. I believe in you.

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“Are you okay?” He must be really tall. His voice sounded like it came from ten feet above her.

“Sure. Why do you ask?”

“Because you are crying. In my bathroom.”

“Oh, I’m not crying. Well, I sort of am, but it’s just tears, you know?”

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