I thought about the wish all last night when I was trying to fall asleep. “There’s a craft expo in North Carolina in June. I could get Peter to drive me. There’s no way he’d take me otherwise. We could take his mom’s van, so there’s plenty of room for all the supplies and things that I’ll buy.”
“A craft expo?” Chris is giving me a look like I’m a cockroach that flew into her car. “You would waste a wish on a craft expo?”
“I was just getting warmed up with that idea,” I lie. “Anyway, if you’re so smart, what would you wish for if you were me?”
“I would make it so that Peter never talks to Gen again. I mean, right? I’m an evil genius, am I not?”
“Evil, yes; genius, hardly.” Chris gives me a shove, and I giggle. We’re both shoving each other when Chris stops short and says, “Two fifty-five. It’s go time.” Chris unlocks the doors and gets out and hides behind an oak tree in the yard.
My adrenaline is pumping as I hop out of Chris’s car, grab Kitty’s bike out of her trunk, and push it a few houses. Then I set it on the ground and drape myself over it in a dramatic heap. Then I pull out the bottle of fake blood I bought for this very purpose and squirt some on my jeans—old jeans I’ve been planning on giving to Goodwill. As soon as I see Trevor’s car approaching, I start to pretend sob. From behind the tree Chris whispers, “Tone it down a little!” I immediately stop sobbing and start moaning.
Trevor’s car pulls up beside me. He rolls down the window. “Lara Jean? Are you okay?”
I whimper. “No . . . I think I might have sprained my ankle. It really hurts. Can you give me a ride home?” I’m willing myself to tear up, but it’s harder to cry on cue than I would have thought. I try to think about sad things—the Titanic, old people with Alzheimer’s, Jamie Fox-Pickle dying—but I can’t focus.
Trevor regards me suspiciously. “Why are you riding your bike in this neighborhood?”
Oh no, I’m losing him! I start talking fast but not too fast. “It’s not my bike; it’s my little sister’s. She’s friends with Sara Healey. You know, Dan Healey’s little sister? They live over there.” I point to their house. “I was bringing it to her—oh my God, Trevor. Do you not believe me? Are you seriously not going to give me a ride?”
Trevor looks around. “Do you swear this isn’t a trick?”
Gotcha! “Yes! I swear I don’t have your name, okay? Please just help me up. It really hurts.”
“First show me your ankle.”
“Trevor! You can’t see a sprained ankle!” I whimper and make a show of trying to stand up, and Trevor finally turns the car off and gets out. He stoops down and pulls me to my feet and I try to make my body heavy. “Be gentle,” I tell him. “See? I told you I didn’t have your name.”
Trevor pulls me up by my armpits, and over his shoulder Chris creeps up behind him like a ninja. She dives forward, both hands out, and claps them on his back hard. “I got you!” she screams.
Trevor shrieks and drops me, and I narrowly escape falling for real. “Damn it!” he yells.
Gleefully Chris says, “You’re done, sucker!” She and I high-five and hug.
“Can you guys not celebrate in front of me?” he mutters.
Chris holds her hand out. “Now gimme gimme gimme.”
Sighing, Trevor shakes his head and says, “I can’t believe I fell for that, Lara Jean.”
I pat him on the back. “Sorry, Trevor.”
“What if I had had your name?” he asks me. “What would you have done then?”
Huh. I never thought of that. I shoot Chris an accusing glare. “Wait a minute! What if he had had my name?”
“That was a chance we were willing to take,” she says smoothly. “So Trev, what was your wish going to be?”
“You don’t have to say if you don’t want,” I tell him.
“I was gonna wish for tickets to a UVA football game. McClaren’s dad has season tickets! Damn you, Chris.”
I feel bad. “Maybe he’ll take you anyway. You should ask. . . .”
He reaches into his pocket and pulls out his wallet and hands her a small piece of folded cardboard. Before Chris opens it, I quickly say, “Don’t forget, if it’s my name, you can’t tag me. This is a demilitarized zone right here.”
Chris nods, opens the cardboard, and then grins.
I can’t resist. “Is it me?”
Chris stuffs it in her pocket.
“If it’s me, you can’t take me out!” I start to back away from her. “We agreed to be allies this first round, and you haven’t helped me with mine yet.”
“I know, I know. But I don’t have your name.”
I’m not entirely convinced. This is how she beat me another time we played. She can’t be trusted, not in this game. I should have remembered that. It’s why I always lose; I don’t look down the line far enough.
“Lara Jean! I just told you, I don’t have your name!”
I shake my head. “Just get in the car, Chris. I’ll ride Kitty’s bike home.”
“Are you serious?”
“Yes. I’m playing to win this time.”
Chris shrugs. “Have it your way. I’m not helping you with your kill, then, if you don’t trust me.”
“Fine by me,” I say, and swing my leg over Kitty’s bike.
PETER AND I ARE ONLY talking on the phone and at school until one of us gets tagged out. It won’t be me. I’ve been super careful. I drive myself to and from school. I look around before I jump out of my car and run like the wind to our front door. I’ve enlisted Kitty as my scout—she always gets out of the car or the house first and makes sure the coast is clear for me. I’ve already promised her that whatever I wish for if I win, she’ll get a piece of.
But so far I’ve only been playing defense. I haven’t tried to tag out John McClaren yet. It’s not because I’m afraid—not of the game, anyway. I just don’t know what I’m going to say to him. I’m embarrassed. Maybe I wouldn’t even need to say anything; maybe I’m being presumptuous even thinking he might be interested in me.
After lunch, Chris comes flying down the hall and skids to a stop when she sees me and Lucas on the floor at our lockers. Today we’re sharing a grape Popsicle. Chris sinks down to the floor. “I’m out,” she says.