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Note: In psychology research, the term “confederate” refers to a member of the research team who, for experimental purposes, leads participants (i.e., test subjects) to believe that he or she is a fellow participant.
Poised with pen and coding sheet behind the one-way mirror, Robin watched Cassidy work her charms on the current participant. She didn’t know the origin of the phrase “green with envy,” but it felt appropriate. She imagined the feeling as a sickly green gas steaming and seething from her pores, clouding her thoughts and poisoning the atmosphere in the small observation room.
The young man sitting across from Cassidy was the fifth and final participant they’d run that evening and Robin’s clinical detachment frayed at the edges a little more each time. She gritted her teeth as she dutifully logged the participant’s behavior. Raised eyebrows. Parted lips. Prolonged eye contact (7 sec). Rubbing hand along jaw. Leaning back in chair, feet wide apart. Classic signs of attraction, and all Cassidy — the attractive confederate — had to do was smile.
Cassidy with sunshine smile and creamy skin and cornsilk hair and baby blue eyes. Rounded breasts and slender waist and curvy hips and thighs that didn’t rub together when she walked. The golden child of their doctoral cohort, who already had her name on more publications than some of their professors. As first author, no less.
Cassidy got the best of everything. Every research opportunity, every plum assignment in the lab, every guy Robin took an interest in.
Now Colton entered the testing room and delivered the script Robin had written with Professor Wilson’s guidance. Robin had done most of the planning, yet everyone in the lab referred to it as “Cassidy’s attraction and risk-taking study,” merely because Cassidy played the role of the attractive confederate.
The memory of that first meeting still stung. “We’ll need an attractive confederate,” Robin had said, and every set of eyes at the table had swiveled immediately in Cassidy’s direction. Even Colton, the handsome new post-doc who ate lunch with Robin every day, had looked at Cassidy. And in that moment, the vain and ludicrous hope blooming in Robin’s chest — her flat chest — had shriveled.
Robin gathered her things. Her job tonight was over and she couldn’t look at Cassidy anymore, couldn’t look pendik escort at Colton’s long, lean form bending over the table while he explained the Balloon Analogue Risk Task. She left the observation room, sliding the door shut quietly behind her, and went down the hall to the data room to file her coding sheets.
The lab was deserted this late on a Friday. All the normal young people were out somewhere having fun. All except the undergraduates scrambling to earn their research participation credits for intro psych classes before the end of the semester, Cassidy and Robin the overachieving doctoral students, and Colton for no reason Robin could guess other than to spend as much time with Cassidy as possible.
A teardrop landed on Robin’s last coding sheet as she clipped it into the binder. Robin hardly ever cried, but tonight she gave in. She replaced the binder on the shelf and collapsed to the floor, back against the wall, knees drawn to chest, wailing and sobbing into her hands, releasing the frustrated rage and shame that boiled over from inside. Maybe that green envy poison would pour out with the hot tears sliding down her cheeks, evaporate into the air, float away and leave her in peace.
Lost in emotion as she was, Robin didn’t notice Colton’s presence until he sank down beside her. She wanted to melt into the warm press of his side against hers, lean into his arm around her shoulders, but instead she stiffened. She didn’t need his pity.
“Want to talk about it?” Colton asked.
Robin sniffed and tried to steady her breathing. Her voice was muffled against her knees when she spoke. “No. Nothing you need to concern yourself with. Why don’t you go find Cassidy? She’s the one you want to be with, isn’t she?”
“Not really, no.” Colton sighed. “Robin…look at me, dammit.”
His fingers lifted her chin, gentle but insistent, and she was startled enough to comply and meet his worried gaze. He was so painfully good-looking. Blond and blue-eyed in that same wholesome, all-American way as Cassidy. Of course he belonged with someone like that, not with someone short and dark and dumpy like Robin.
“Why are you even here?” she snapped.
Colton’s eyes flashed with annoyance. “I’m here because I like you, you idiot,” he shot back. “You think I’m into Cassidy? Then why do I eat lunch with you every damn day? maltepe escort Why do I always stay late to help on the evenings you run experiments?”
“You…like me?” Robin could barely process what he was saying. “You mean as a friend.”
“No, that’s not what I mean. Jesus, Robin, how can someone so smart have such a ridiculous blind spot? Yes, Cassidy’s pretty, but you…you and I connect on a deeper level. And I also happen to think you’re pretty.”
Robin stared, speechless.
“This is the part where you either let me down gently or say you like me back,” Colton prompted. Robin could see the nervousness behind his wry smile. He was nervous…that she would reject him! She had to be dreaming.
“Of course I like you,” she replied slowly. “Why didn’t you tell me how you felt before?”
Colton sighed again and scrubbed at the side of his face with his hand. “I felt like every time I tried you shut me down. Maybe I was too subtle. But you know, for someone who’s supposed to be an expert on attraction body language, you seriously suck at reading mine.”
Pulse racing, Robin angled her body toward him and reached up to cup his chin in her hands. Her thumbs traced his stubble-roughened jawline and she heard the way his breath caught in his throat. Her gaze shifted from his raised eyebrows to his slightly parted lips. If she were dreaming, she decided, she was determined to enjoy it thoroughly.
“You might have to teach me how to read your body,” she whispered.
Their mouths crashed together and it wasn’t gentle, but it was so very sweet. He kissed her hungrily, drawing deeply on her lips, then sliding his tongue between them, softly insistent, to tangle with hers. She moaned and wiggled closer, almost into his lap, opening wider to intensify the kiss. To meet his unspoken demand for access, his need to explore her deepest recesses.
They tumbled down together, lying side by side on the floor facing each other, bodies pressed tight, mouths still locked. Robin had never felt wild desperation like this before, this passion in pleasure that had her crazed, panting and straining to feel him everywhere, bodies rubbing and hands stroking and squeezing.
The layers of clothing between them seemed intolerable, so Robin broke the kiss long enough to tug at the hem of Colton’s shirt until kartal escort he lifted it over his head. Recapturing his mouth, she caressed the smooth skin of his chest and back, needing to feel him everywhere. His fingers worked at the buttons of Robin’s shirt, undoing them one by one, until her hand strayed below his waistband to cup and stroke the hard length of his cock through the fabric. With a growl, he ripped Robin’s shirt apart, scattering the last few buttons, and she wriggled out of the sleeves.
“I’ll take off the bra,” she murmured against his mouth, reaching back to undo the hooks. “These things are expensive.”
Laughing gave way to moaning when his lips closed around her nipple and he ran his tongue around it in slow, deliberate circles. Robin arched into him, seeking relief for the ache building between her legs.
“Colton!” she gasped. “I need…” But she could no longer form words because Colton was sucking on her nipple, hard enough that the bare hint of pain made her shudder with pleasure.
Colton raised his head and met her eyes, brushing her hair out of her face. “Do you want me to make you come?” he asked.
Robin bit her lip and nodded.
“You’re beautiful, Robin,” Colton breathed against her mouth. He unfastened the button of her pants and his hand dipped inside, beneath her underwear to touch bare skin. His fingers centered on her clit, pressing and circling. Robin rocked into his hand as pleasure rushed up her spine.
Craving his pleasure along with hers, she unfastened Colton’s pants and freed his cock, wrapping her hand around it and drawing her fist up its length. Her hand’s movement over the hot, bare, writhing skin of his cock matched the rhythm of his fingers on her clit, of their swirling tongues and pumping hips. They shared each other’s every ragged breath, every quiver, every moan, every moment of the mutual build to ecstasy.
When she felt his thrusts against her stroking hand grow more urgent, less controlled, her pleasure responded to his. His clever fingers drove her over the edge and she cried out as ecstasy swept outward from her core in powerful electric blasts that sizzled to the very tips of her fingers and toes. Through the haze of her climax she felt Colton’s cock jerking and spasming in her hand and hot spurts of his cum streaking across her belly. She heard him groan her name.
As the final pulse wracked them both, she opened her eyes and saw Cassidy framed in the doorway, gaping at them. It might have been Robin’s imagination, but in that moment Cassidy’s widened eyes seemed to flash green instead of blue.
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