NOW THAT I’VE MADE MY

decision to go to

UNC

Advertisement

, there are suddenly things to do, and right away. I inform William and Mary I’m not coming; I send in my deposit to

UNC

. I tell my guidance counselor, Mrs. Duvall, who is overjoyed. She tells me I’m the only one from our class going there, and she can’t wait to add it to the list of accepted schools. “I knew you’d make me proud,” she says, nodding her head. “I knew it.”

Our caps and gowns have arrived, and Peter and I go to the gym to pick ours up, along with graduation announcements.

We sit down on the bleachers to try our caps on, and Peter tilts mine to the side and says, “You look cute.”

I blow him a kiss. “Let me see your announcements.” I want to see his name all fancy in calligraphy.

He passes me the box and I open it. I run my fingers along the embossed letters.

Peter Grant Kavinsky.

Then I say, “Have you given any more thought to inviting your dad?”

Peter looks around to see if anyone’s listening before saying in a low voice, “Why do you keep bringing that up?”

I reach out and touch Peter’s cap. “Because I think that, deep down, you want him to be there. If only so he can see all that you’ve accomplished and all that he’s missed out on.”

“We’ll see,” he says, and I leave it at that. It’s Peter’s decision.

* * *

On the way home from school Peter asks me, “Wanna see a movie tonight?”

“I can’t,” I say. “Trina’s friend Kristen is coming over to go over final details of Trina’s bachelorette party.”

He gives me a sly look. “Are you guys going to a strip club?”

“No! Ew. Like I would ever want to see any of that.”

“See any of what?” he demands.

“Oiled-up muscles.” I shudder. “I’m just glad you don’t have big muscles.”

Peter frowns. “Hey, I’m built.”

I squeeze his bicep, and he automatically flexes against my fingers. “You’re nice and lean with little muscles.”

“You really know how to emasculate a guy, Covey,” he says as he turns down my street.

I feel bad, because now I’m remembering how he said he wasn’t in the same shape the other guys on the lacrosse team were in. “I like you just the way you are,” I quickly say, and he laughs, so he can’t be that hurt.

“What’s your dad doing for his bachelor party?”

I laugh. “Have you met my dad? He’s the last person who would ever have a bachelor party. He doesn’t even have any guy friends to have a party with!” I stop and consider this. “Well, I guess Josh is the closest thing he has. We haven’t seen much of him since he went to school, but he and my dad still e-mail every so often.”

“I don’t get what your family sees in that guy,” Peter says sourly. “What’s so great about him?”

It’s a touchy subject. Peter’s paranoid my dad likes Josh better than him, and I try to tell him it’s not a contest—which it definitely isn’t. Daddy’s known Josh since he was a kid. They trade comic books, for Pete’s sake. So, no contest. Obviously my dad likes Josh better. But only because he knows him better. And only because they’re more alike: Neither of them is cool. And Peter’s definitely cool. My dad is bewildered by cool.

“Josh loves my dad’s cooking.”

“So do I!”

“They have the same taste in movies.”

Peter throws in, “And Josh was never in a hot tub video with one of his daughters.”

“Oh my God, let it go already! My dad’s forgotten about that.” “Forgotten” might be too strong of a word. Maybe more like he’s never brought it up again and he hopefully never will.

“I find that hard to believe.”

“Well, believe it. My dad is a very forgiving, very forgetful man.”

As we’re pulling into my driveway, Peter suddenly says, “What if I threw your dad a bachelor party? We could do steaks, maybe cigars—”

“My dad doesn’t smoke cigars.”

“Well, just steaks, then. Geez.”

“Steaks and no strip club.”

“Oh my God, give me a little credit, Covey! Besides, I’m not twenty-one yet. I doubt I could even get in.”

I give him a dirty look.

Quickly he says, “Not that I would even want to. And I definitely wouldn’t want to go to one with my girlfriend’s dad.” He shudders. “That’s sick.”

“So then what’s the plan? Grill some steaks?”

“No. We’ll go to a nice steakhouse. We’ll get dressed up; it’ll be a real guys’ night. Maybe we’ll even wear suits.”

I suppress a smile. Peter will never admit it, but he loves to get dressed up. So vain. “Sounds good.”

“Will you ask him about it?” he asks.

“I think

you

should ask him.”

“If he says yes, who should I invite?”

“Josh?” I suggest it half-heartedly, knowing he won’t agree.

“No way. Doesn’t he have any work friends?”

“He doesn’t have that many close friends at work,” I say. “Just Dr. Kang. . . . You could invite my uncle Victor. And sometimes he goes on bike rides with Mr. Shah from down the street.”

“Can you get me their e-mails

ASAP

?” Peter asks me. “I want to get the invites out as soon as I get the okay from your dad. When’s the bachelorette? The weekend after next?”

My heart surges. I’m so touched by how eager Peter is to impress my dad. “It’s the third Friday of the month. We’re waiting for Margot to come home.”

* * *

Kitty was suspiciously serene about not being invited to Trina’s bachelorette night, and I thought to myself, Wow, Kitty’s really growing up. She gets that it’s not about her; she understands that the night is about Trina.

But of course Kitty always has a long game.

For the first time in a while, she’s riding to school with us. She wanted Peter to take her in his Audi, but I put my foot down and said I needed to get to school too. So we’re all in his mom’s minivan like old times.

However, Kitty is up front and I am in the backseat.

From the passenger seat Kitty sighs heavily and rests her head against the window.

“What’s up with you?” Peter asks.

“The bridesmaids won’t let me go on the bachelorette night,” she says. “I’m the only one left out.”

I narrow my eyes at the back of her head.

“That’s bullshit!” Peter looks at me in the rearview mirror. “Why won’t you guys let her go?”

“We’re going to a karaoke bar! We can’t bring Kitty in because she’s too young. Honestly, I think I was barely allowed to go.”

“Why can’t you guys just go to a restaurant like we’re doing?”

“Because that’s not a real bachelorette.”

Peter rolls his eyes. “It’s not like you guys are going to a strip club or something—wait, did you change your mind? Are you going to a strip club?”

“No!”

“Then what’s the big deal? Just go somewhere else.”

“Peter, it’s not my decision. You’ll have to take it up with Kristen.” I smack the back of Kitty’s arm. “Same goes for you, you little fiend! Quit trying to weasel your way in by manipulating Peter. He has no power here.”

“Sorry, kid,” Peter says.

Kitty slumps in her seat and then straightens. “What if I came to the bachelor night instead?” she suggests. “Since you’re just going to a restaurant?”

Peter stutters, “Uh—uh, I don’t know, I’d have to talk to the guys. . . .”

“So you’ll ask? Because I like steak too. I like it so much. I’ll order steak with a baked potato on the side, and for dessert I’ll have a strawberry sundae with whipped cream.” Kitty beams a smile at Peter, who smiles back weakly.

When we get to the elementary school and she hops out, perky and puffed up like a chickadee, I lean forward in my seat and say into Peter’s ear, “You just got played.”

-- Advertisement --