Bemused, he says, “What the hell is a sock hop?”
“It’s like a dance, like in Grease.” Peter looks back at me blankly. “You’ve never seen Grease? It was on TV last night. Never mind. The point is, back then you weren’t somebody’s girl until you had a pin.”
“A pin?” Peter repeats.
“Yes, a fellow would give a girl his fraternity pin, and it meant they were going steady. But you weren’t official until you had the pin.”
“But I’m not in a fraternity. I don’t even know what a fraternity pin looks like.”
“Exactly,” I say.
“Wait—are you saying you want a pin or you don’t want a pin?”
“I’m not saying it either way. I’m just saying, don’t you think there was something cool in the way it used to be? It’s old-fashioned, but it’s almost . . .” What’s Margot always saying? “Postfeminist.”
“Wait. So do you want to go on dates with other guys?” He doesn’t sound upset, necessarily, just confused.
“No! I just . . . I’m just making an observation. I think it would be cool to bring back casual dating. There’s something sweet about it, don’t you think? My sister told me she wishes she didn’t let things get so heavy with her and Josh. You said yourself how you hated how serious it got with Genevieve. If we break up, I don’t want things to ever get so bad that we can’t be in the same room together. I want to still be friends no matter what.”
Peter dismisses this. “With me and Gen, it’s complicated because of who Gen is. It’s not like with me and you. You’re . . . different.”
I can feel my face get all flush again. I try not to sound too eager as I say, “Like different how?” I know I’m digging for a compliment, but I don’t care.
“You’re easy to be with. You don’t make me get all crazy and worked up; you’re . . .” Peter’s voice trails off as he looks at my face. “What? What did I say?”
My whole body feels tight and stiff. No girl wants to hear what he just said. No girl. A girl wants to get a boy crazy and worked up—isn’t that part of being in love?
“I mean that in a good way, Lara Jean. Are you mad? Don’t be mad.” He rubs his face tiredly.
I hesitate. Peter and I tell each other the truth; that’s how it’s been since the beginning. I’d like it to stay that way, on both sides. But then I catch the sudden worry in his eyes, the uncertainty, and it’s not something I’m used to seeing on him. I don’t like to see it. We’ve only been back together a couple of weeks, and I don’t want to start a new fight when I know he didn’t mean any harm. I hear myself say, “No, I’m not mad,” and just like that, I’m not anymore. After all, I’m the one who was worrying about going too far too fast with Peter. Maybe it’s a good thing he doesn’t get crazy and worked up over me.
The clouds in his face clear away instantly, and he is sunny and bright again. That’s the Peter I know. He gulps at his tea. “See, that’s what I mean, Lara Jean. That’s why I like you. You just get it.”
EARLY MORNING BEFORE SCHOOL, JOSH is chiseling ice off his windshield when I run out to my car. Daddy’s already scraped the ice off mine and started the engine and turned on the heat. By the looks of Josh’s car, he’s not going to make it to school on time.
We’ve hardly seen Josh since Christmas; after all the strangeness with me and then the breakup with Margot, he’s been a ghost in this house. He leaves a little earlier for school now, comes home a little later. He never reached out to me when all the video stuff happened either, though part of me was relieved for that. I didn’t want to hear I told you so from Josh about how he was right about Peter.
I back out my driveway, and at the last second I open the window and lean toward it. “Do you want a ride?” I call out to Josh.
His eyes widen in surprise. “Yeah. Sure.” He throws his ice scraper into his car and grabs his backpack, then comes running over. Climbing in, he says, “Thanks, Lara Jean.” He warms his hands on the heating vents.
We make our way out of the neighborhood, and I’m driving carefully, because the roads are icy from the night before.
“You’ve gotten really good at driving,” Josh says.
“Thanks.” I have been practicing, on my own and with Peter. I still get nervous sometimes, but each time I get in the car and drive, it’s a little bit less, because now I know I can do it. You only know you can do something if you keep on doing it.
We’re a few minutes from school when Josh asks, “When are we going to talk again? Just tell me so I have a general idea.”
“We’re talking right now, aren’t we?”
“You know what I mean. What happened with me and Margot was between us—can’t you and I still be friends like we were before?”
“Josh, of course we’ll still be friends. But you and Margot have been broken up less than a month.”
“No, we broke up in August. She decided she wanted to get back together three weeks ago, and I said no.”
I sigh. “Why did you say no, though? Was it just the distance?”
Josh sighs too. “Relationships are hard work. You’ll see. After you’ve been in it with Kavinsky longer, you’ll see what I’m talking about.”
“Oh my God, you’re such a know-it-all. The biggest know-it-all I ever met, besides my sister.”
I can feel a giggle bubbling up inside of me, which I push down. “Both. They’re both know-it-alls.”
“One more thing.” He hesitates, then keeps going. “I was wrong about Kavinsky. The way he’s handled this whole video thing, I can tell he’s a good guy.”
“Thanks, Joshy. He really is.”
He nods, and there is a comfortable quiet between us, and I’m glad for the bad weather we had last night, glad for the ice on his windshield this morning.
AFTER SCHOOL THE NEXT DAY I’m sitting on a bench, waiting for Peter out front, when Genevieve walks out the double doors on her phone. “If you don’t tell her, I will. I swear I’ll do it.”
My heart stills. Who is she talking to? Not Peter.
Her friends Emily and Judith burst out the doors then, and she abruptly hangs up. “Where the hell have you bitches been?” she snaps.