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“Not often.”

“Oh, okay. I was just wondering.”

Peter looks over at me with expectant eyes.

“What?” I say.

“I’m just waiting for the next question. You never just have one question.”

“Well, do you miss him?”

“Who?”

“Your dad!”

“Oh. I don’t know. I think it’s more that I miss how it used to be with us. Him and my mom and me and Owen. We were like a team. He used to come to every lacrosse game.” Peter gets quiet. “He just . . . took care of things.”

“I guess that’s what dads do.”

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“That’s what he’s doing for his new family.” Peter says it matter-of-factly, without bitterness. “What about you? You miss your mom?”

“Sometimes, when I think about it.” Suddenly I say, “You know what I miss? I miss bath time. I miss when she would wash my hair. Don’t you think getting your hair washed is just the best feeling? Like, warm water and bubbles and fingers in your hair. It’s so nice.”

“Yeah, it is.”

“Sometimes I don’t think about her at all, and then . . . and then sometimes I’ll have a thought like, I wonder what she would think of me now? She only knew me as a little girl, and now I’m a teenager, and I wonder, if she saw me on the street, would she recognize me?”

“Of course she would. She’s your mom.”

“I know, but I’ve changed a lot.” An uncomfortable look has crossed his face, and I can tell he’s regretting complaining about his dad, because at least his dad is still alive. And then, because Peter’s looking at me like he feels sorry for me, I straighten up and say in a haughty voice, “I’m very mature, you know.”

He’s grinning now. “Oh yeah?”

“Oh, yes, I’m very refined, Peter.”

When Peter drops me off, right before I get out of the car, he says, “I can tell my mom liked you.” This makes me feel good inside. It’s always been really important to me that other people’s moms like me.

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It was my favorite part of going over to Genevieve’s house—hanging out with her mom. Wendy was so stylish. She used to wear a silky blouse and nice pants and a statement necklace, just for sitting around the house. Perfect hair, always smooth and flat. Genevieve has that same good hair, but she doesn’t have her mom’s perfect straight nose. Hers has a little bump on the bridge that I think only adds to her appeal.

“By the way, you definitely don’t wear more makeup than Gen. She was always getting bronzer on my white shirts.”

For someone who’s over Genevieve, he sure does talk about her a lot. Though it’s not just him. I was thinking about her too. Even when she’s not here, she’s here. That girl has some kind of reach.

41

DURING CHEMISTRY, PETER WRITES ME a note that says, Can I come over tonight to study for the test?

I write back, I don’t remember study sessions being in the contract. After he reads it, he turns around and gives me a wounded look. I mouth, I’m kidding!

At dinner I announce that Peter’s coming over to study and we’re going to need the kitchen, and my dad raises his eyebrows. “Leave the door open,” he jokes. We don’t even have a door to the kitchen.

“Daddy,” I groan, and Kitty groans with me.

Casually he asks, “Is Peter your boyfriend?”

“Um . . . something like that,” I say.

After we eat and Kitty and I do the dishes, I set up the kitchen like a study room. My textbook and notes are stacked up in the center of the table, with a row of highlighters in blue, yellow, and pink, a bowl of microwave kettle corn, and a plate of peanut-butter brownies I baked this afternoon. I let Kitty have two but that’s it.

He said he’d be over around eight. At first I think he’s just late as usual, but the minutes tick by and I realize he’s not coming. I text him once but he doesn’t text back.

Kitty comes down between commercial breaks, sniffing around for another brownie, which I give her. “Is Peter not coming?” she asks. I pretend I’m so absorbed in my studying I don’t hear.

Around ten he sends a text that says, Sorry something came up. I can’t come over tonight. He doesn’t say where he is or what he’s doing, but I already know. He’s with Genevieve. At lunch he was distracted; he kept texting on his phone. And then, later in the day, I saw them outside the girls’ locker room. They didn’t see me, but I saw them. They were just talking, but with Genevieve it’s never just anything. She put her hand on his arm; he brushed her hair out of her eyes. I may only be a fake girlfriend, but that’s not nothing.

I keep studying, but it’s hard to concentrate when your feelings are hurt. I tell myself it’s just because I went to the trouble of baking brownies and cleaning up the downstairs. I mean, it’s rude to just not show up somewhere. Does he not have manners? How would he like it if I did that? And really, what’s the whole point of this charade if he’s just going to keep going back to her anyway? What’s even in it for me anymore? Things are better with Josh and me, practically normal. If I wanted to I could just call the whole thing off.

The next morning, I wake up still mad. I call Josh to ask him for a ride to school. For a second I worry he might not pick up; it’s been so long since we hung out. But he does, and he says no problem.

Let’s see how Peter likes it when he comes to my house to pick me up and I’m not there.

Halfway to school I start to feel uneasy. Maybe Peter had a legitimate reason for not coming over. Maybe he wasn’t with Genevieve and now I’ve just done a very petty thing out of spite.

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Josh is looking at me with suspicious eyes. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.”

He doesn’t believe me, I can tell. “Did you and Kavinsky have a fight?”

“No.”

Josh sighs and says, “Just be careful.” He says it in a patronizing older-brother kind of way that makes me want to scream. “I don’t want to see you hurt by that guy.”

“Josh! He won’t hurt me. Geez.”

“He’s a douche. I’m sorry, but he is. All the guys on the lacrosse team are. Guys like Kavinsky, they only care about one thing. As soon as they get what they want, they’re bored.”

“Not Peter. He dated Genevieve for almost four years!”

“Just trust me. You haven’t had much experience with guys, Lara Jean.”

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