My heart stops. “And then?”
“And then I don’t know. I guess I forgot about it.”
I let out a sigh. “I’m sorry you got that letter. You were never supposed to see that. It wasn’t meant for you to ever read. It was just for me.”
“Maybe it was fate. Maybe this was all supposed to happen just like this, because . . . because it was always gonna be you and me.”
I say the first thing that comes to mind. “No, it wasn’t.” And I realize it’s true.
This is the moment I realize I don’t love him, that I haven’t for a while. That maybe I never did. Because he’s right there for the taking: I could kiss him again; I could make him mine. But I don’t want him. I want someone else. It feels strange to have spent so much time wishing for something, for someone, and then one day, suddenly, to just stop.
I tuck my fingers inside my jacket sleeves. “You can’t tell Margot. You have to promise me, Josh.”
Reluctantly he nods.
“Has Margot been in touch with you recently?” I ask him.
“Yeah. She called the other night. She said she wants to hang out while she’s home. She wants to go to DC for the day. Go to the Smithsonian, get dinner in Chinatown.”
“Great. Then that’s what you’ll do.” I pat him on the knee and then quickly take my hand back. “Josh, we just have to act like before. Like always. If we do that, everything will be fine.” I repeat it to myself in my head. Everything will be fine. We’ll all go back to our proper places now. Josh and Margot. Me. Peter.
AFTER SCHOOL LETS OUT THE next day, I go look for Peter in the weight room. He’s sitting at the bench press. I think it’s better to talk here and not in his car. I’m going to miss riding around in his car. It was starting to feel like home. I’m going to miss being somebody’s pretend girlfriend. Not just somebody’s—Peter’s. I’ve gotten to really like Darrell and Gabe and the other lax guys. They aren’t as douchey as people say. They’re good people.
The weight room is empty except for Peter. He’s at the bench press, lifting weights. When he sees me, he smiles. “Are you here to spot me?” He sits up and wipes sweat off his face with the collar of his T-shirt.
My heart squeezes painfully. “I’m here to break up. To fake break up, I mean.”
Peter does a double take. “Wait. What?”
“There’s no need to keep it going. You got what you wanted, right? You saved face, and so did I. I talked to Josh, and everything’s back to normal with us again. And my sister will be home soon. So . . . mission accomplished.”
Slowly he nods. “Yeah, I guess.”
My heart is breaking even as I smile. “So okay, then.” With a flourish I whip our contract out of my bag. “Null and void. Both parties have hereby fulfilled their obligations to each other in perpetuity.” I’m just rattling off lawyer words.
“You carry that around with you?”
“Of course! Kitty’s such a snoop. She’d find it in two seconds.”
I hold up the piece of paper, poised to rip it in half, but Peter grabs it from me. “Wait! What about the ski trip?”
“What about it?”
“You’re still coming, right?”
I hadn’t thought of that. The only reason I was going to go was for Peter. I can’t go now. I can’t be a witness to Peter and Genevieve’s reunion, I just can’t. I want them to come back from the trip magically together again, and it will be like this whole thing was just something I dreamed up. “I’m not going to go.”
His eyes widen. “Come on, Covey! Don’t bail on me now. We already signed up and gave the deposits and everything. Let’s just go, and have that be our final hurrah.” When I start to protest, Peter shakes his head. “You’re going, so take this contract back.” Peter refolds it and carefully puts it back in my bag.
Why is it so hard to say no to him? Is this what it’s like to be in love with somebody?
I GET THE IDEA DURING the morning announcements, when they announce that our school’s hosting a Model UN scrimmage this weekend. John Ambrose McClaren was the middle school Model UN president. I wonder if he’s on his school’s team.
I bring it up to Peter at lunch, before any of the guys sit down. “Do you know if John McClaren still does Model UN?”
He gives me a funny look. “How should I know?”
“I don’t know. I was just wondering.”
“I think maybe I’m going to go to the Model UN scrimmage this weekend. I have a feeling that he’ll be there.”
“For real?” Peter hoots. “If he is, what are you going to do?”
“I haven’t figured that part out yet. Maybe I’ll go up to him, maybe I won’t. I just want to see how he turned out.”
“We can look him up online right now and I’ll show you.”
I shake my head. “No, that would be cheating. I want to see him with my own eyes. I want to be surprised.”
“Well, don’t bother asking me to go and keep you company. I’m not going to waste a whole Saturday on Model UN.”
“I wasn’t planning on asking you to go.”
Peter throws me a hurt look. “What? Why not?”
“It’s just something I want to do by myself.”
Peter lets out a low whistle. “Wow. The body ain’t even cold yet.”
“You’re a little player, Covey. We aren’t even broken up yet and you’re already trying to talk to other guys. I would be hurt if I wasn’t impressed.”
This makes me smile.
In eighth grade I kissed John McClaren at a party. It wasn’t a romantic kiss. It was a barely anything kiss. We were playing spin the bottle, and when it was his turn, I held my breath and prayed the bottle would land on me. And it did! It almost landed on Angie Powell, but luck was on my side that day, and he was mine by half an inch. I tried to keep my face very still and robotic so I wouldn’t smile. John and I crawled into the center and we did this very quick chicken peck, and everybody groaned, and his face was red. I was disappointed; I think maybe I’d expected something more, a kiss with more weight to it. More va-va-va-voom. More zsa zsa zsu. But that was it. Maybe I’ll get a second chance. Maybe it’ll make me forget Peter.
AS I WALK INTO SCHOOL on saturday morning, I go over what I’m going to say. Maybe just, Hey, John, how are you? It’s Lara Jean. I haven’t seen him since the eighth grade. What if he doesn’t recognize me? What if he doesn’t even remember me?