By the Numbers (Love Logic #3) by K.M. Neuhold



I raise my eyebrows at him in surprise. “You do realize you’re a nineteen-year-old PhD student, right? That’s not exactly a small achievement.”

He shrugs one shoulder, shoving another bite of lasagna into his mouth. “Yeah, but that’s for my parents.”

I pull out a chair at our small kitchen table and take a seat, Alex follows suit. “For your parents?” I repeat, not sure I heard him right.

He waves his fork, picking up a piece of garlic bread and taking a bite. “That came out wrong,” he says. I wait, but he doesn’t elaborate about what he meant to say, and I don’t get a chance to ask because Elijah finishes his phone call and joins us at the table.

“Sorry, Pax was just calling before going to bed. He’s in New Jersey, so it’s already nine there, and he has an early flight home tomorrow.”

“Calling for some phone sex before going to sleep, huh?” Alex guesses, waggling his eyebrows suggestively. Predictably, Elijah’s face burns bright red again.

“I…that’s not…um…”

“Is he any good at it?” Alex asks conversationally, ignoring Elijah’s stammering. “I’ve tried to have phone sex with a couple of guys and they kind of just moaned into the phone. Don’t get me wrong, moaning can be hot, but I wanted some good dirty talk to get off to.”

“He’s…um…”

“Please don’t answer that. There’s no amount of therapy that will cure me from knowing about how good or bad my brother is at phone sex,” I say to save my best friend as much as to save myself from this conversation.

“There’s nothing shameful about sex,” Alex insists.

“I know there’s nothing shameful about sex.” Even so, I do not need to know about Pax and Elijah jerking off on the phone together or whatever they do while my brother is away all week.

Thankfully, the conversation shifts after that and the two of them start discussing something that sounds like absolute gibberish to me. I catch a few words like quark and absolute limit, which I think I understand, but certainly not enough to actually follow the conversation.

“I should probably get going,” Elijah says as soon as dinner is finished.

“But you just got here,” I protest. “We should watch a movie or something. I have some of those orange glazed cookies you like.”

“I still have a lot of homework I have to get done tonight. I don’t want to fall behind.”

I can’t imagine a scenario where he would fall behind in school. I’m not sure he’s quite as smart as Alex, but he’s damn close. But I’ve known him long enough to know there’s no way I’ll talk him out of worrying about school. He helps clear the table, and then I walk him to the door and give him a hug.

“Let’s all get together this weekend,” I suggest, squeezing him just a little tighter before letting him go.

“Sounds good. I’ll see you later.”

I close the door behind him and head back into the kitchen so I can put the lasagna away and wash the dishes I used to cook with before they get all crusty and gross. Alex has beat me to it though, already standing at the sink, scrubbing out the bowl I used to mix the vegetables and the sauce.

“Thanks.” I grab a paper towel to wipe down the counter. “You probably have a bunch of work to do still tonight, I’m guessing?” Honestly, I should probably finish reading a few chapters in my textbook as well. One of the major reasons I transferred my psych PhD from New York to California was because I was so damn lonely last year after Elijah moved across the country.

But now that I’m here, it doesn’t feel like much has changed. Yeah, I can see him now, but he’s usually busy with school or with Pax. I don’t blame him; I just imagined things going differently.

I guess in my mind it was going to be just like when we were in undergrad, the two of us living together, spending all of our free time hanging out, watching movies, whatever.

“I do, but…” He trails off, seeming to think for a second before a slow smile spreads over his lips. “I probably have time to watch a movie if you wanted.”

I smile. “Yeah? You want some orange cookies?” I offer, going to grab them out of the cupboard.

“Sure,” he agrees, following me into the living. “Did you know…” he starts to say as we settle onto the couch. But before he can tell me whatever it is he was about to say, he snaps his mouth shut and gives me a sheepish look that’s out of place on his face.