She shrugs. “Have at it.”
Chris and I are hanging out in my room that afternoon when Peter calls. “I’m driving by your house,” he says. “Wanna do something?”
“No!” Chris shouts into the phone. “She’s busy.”
He groans into my ear.
“Sorry,” I tell him. “Chris is over.”
He says he’ll call me later, and I’ve barely set down the phone when Chris grouses, “Please don’t become one of those girls who gets in a relationship and goes MIA.”
I’m very familiar with “those girls,” because Chris disappears every time she meets a new guy. Before I can remind her of this, she goes on. “And don’t be one of those lax groupies either. I fucking hate those groupies. Like, can’t they find a better thing to be a groupie for? Like a band? Oh my God, I would be so good at being a groupie for an actual, important band. Like being a muse, you know?”
“What happened to that idea about you starting your own band?”
Chris shrugs. “The guy who plays bass fucked up his hand skateboarding and then nobody felt like it anymore. Hey, do you want to drive to DC tomorrow night and see this band Felt Tip? Frank’s borrowing his dad’s van, so there’s probably room.”
I have no idea who Frank is, and Chris has probably only known him for all of two minutes. She always says people’s names like I should already know who they are. “I can’t—tomorrow’s a school night.”
She makes a face. “See, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. You’re already becoming one of ‘those girls.’”
“That has nothing to do with it, Chris. A, my dad would never let me go to DC on a school night. B, I don’t know who Frank is, and I’m not riding in the back of his van. C, I have a feeling Felt Tip is not my kind of music. Is it my kind of music?”
“No,” she admits. “Fine, but the next thing I ask you to do, you have to say yes. None of this A-B-C ‘here are all of the reasons why’ bullshit.”
“All right,” I agree, though my stomach does a little lurch, because with Chris you never know what you’re getting yourself into. Though, also knowing Chris, she’s already forgotten about it.
We settle onto the floor and get down to the business of manis. Chris grabs one of my gold nail pens and starts painting tiny stars on her thumbnail. I’m doing a lavender base and dark purple flowers with marigold centers. “Chris, will you do my initials on my right hand?” I hold up my hand for her. “Starting with the ring finger down to my thumb. LJSC.”
“Fancy font or basic?”
I give her a look. “Come on. Who are you talking to here?” At the same time we both say, “Fancy.”
Chris is good with doing script. So good, in fact, that as I’m admiring her handiwork, I say, “Hey, I have an idea. What if we started doing manicures at Belleview? The residents would love that.”
“For how much?”
“For free! You could think of it like community service but not mandatory. Out of the goodness of your heart. Some of the residents can’t cut their own nails very well. Their hands get really gnarled. Toes, too. The nails get thick and . . .” I trail off when I see the disgusted look on her face. “Maybe we could have a tip jar.”
“I’m not going to cut old people’s toenails for free. I’m not doing it for less than fifty bucks a set at the very least. I’ve seen my grandpa’s feet; his toenails are like eagle talons.” She gets back to my thumb, giving me a beautiful cursive C with a flourish. “Done. God, I’m good.” She throws her head back and yells, “Kitty! Get your booty in here!”
Kitty comes running into my room. “What? I was in the middle of something.”
“‘I was in the middle of something,’” Chris mimics. “If you go get me a Diet Coke, I’ll do your nails for you like I did Lara Jean’s.” I display my hands lavishly like a hand model. Chris counts with her fingers. “Kitty Covey fits perfectly.”
Kitty bounds off, and I call after her, “Bring me a soda too!”
“With ice!” Chris screams. Then she sighs a wistful sigh. “I wish I had a little sister. I would be amazing at bossing her around.”
“Kitty doesn’t usually listen so well. It’s only because she looks up to you.”
“She does, doesn’t she?” Chris picks at a fuzzy on her sock, smiling to herself.
Kitty used to look up to Genevieve, too. She was sort of in awe of her. “Hey,” I say suddenly. “How’s your grandma?”
“She’s all right. She’s pretty tough.”
“And how’s . . . the rest of your family? Everything all right?”
Chris shrugs. “Sure. Everything’s fine.”
Hmm. If Chris doesn’t know, how bad could things be with Genevieve’s family? Either not that bad or, more likely, just another one of Genevieve’s deceptions. Even when we were little she lied a lot, whether it was to get out of trouble with her mom, in which case she’d blame me, or to gain sympathy from adults.
Chris peers at me. “What are you thinking about so hard? Are you still stressing over your sex tape?”
“It’s not a sex tape if you’re not having sex in it!”
“Calm down, Lara Jean. I’m sure Peter’s grandstanding did the trick and people will leave it alone. They’ll be on to the next thing.”
“I hope you’re right,” I say.
“Trust me, there’ll be someone or something new to obsess over by next week.”
It turns out that Chris is right, that people have moved on to the next thing. On Tuesday, a sophomore boy named Clark is caught masturbating in the boys locker room, and it’s all everyone can talk about. Lucky me!
ACCORDING TO STORMY, THERE ARE two kinds of girls in this world. The kind who breaks hearts and the kind who gets her heart broken. One guess as to which kind of girl Stormy is.
I’m sitting cross-legged on Stormy’s velvet fainting couch, going through a big shoe box of mostly black-and-white photos. She’s agreed to join my scrapbooking class, and we’re getting a head start organizing. I have several piles going. Stormy: the early years; her teenagehood; her first, second, and fourth weddings—no pictures from her third wedding, because they eloped.
“I am a heartbreaker, but you, Lara Jean, are a girl who gets her heart broken.” She lifts her eyebrows at me for emphasis. I think she forgot to pencil them in today.