I’m so relieved, so grateful she’s bringing it up. I rush to say, “Oh my gosh, I don’t like Josh, Gogo. Not like that. Not at all. And he doesn’t like me like that either. I think . . . I think we were both just missing you. Peter’s the one I like.” Under the blanket I find Margot’s hand and link my pinky with hers. “Sister swear.”
She swallows hard. “Then I guess there’s no secret reason for him not wanting to get back together. I guess it’s as simple as he just doesn’t want to be with me anymore.”
“No, it’s as simple as you’re in Scotland and he’s in Virginia and it’s too hard. You were wise to break it off when you did. Wise and brave and right.”
Doubt creeps across her face like dark shadows, and then she shakes her head and her expression clears. “Enough about me and Josh. We’re yesterday’s news. Tell me more about Peter. Please, it’ll make me feel better.” She lies back down, and I put the spoons back on her eyes.
“Well, tonight at first he was very cool with me, very blasé blasé—”
“No, go all the way back to the beginning.”
So I go back further: I tell her about our pretend relationship, the hot tub, everything. She keeps taking the spoons off so she can look at me as I tell her. But before long her eyes do look less puffy. And I feel lighter—giddy, even. I’ve kept all these things secret from her for months, and now she knows everything that’s happened since she’s been gone, and I feel so close to her again. You can’t be close to someone, not truly, with secrets in between you.
Margot clears her throat. She hesitates and then asks, “So, how does he kiss?”
I’m blushing. I tap my fingers on my lips before I say, “He kisses like . . . like it could be his job.”
Margot giggles and lifts the spoons off her eyes. “Like a male prostitute?”
I grab one of the spoons and tap her on the forehead with it like a gong.
“Ow!” She snatches for the other spoon, but I’m too quick and I’ve got them both. We’re both laughing like crazy as I try to get in another gong on her forehead.
“Margot . . . did it hurt when you had sex?” I’m careful not to say Josh’s name. It’s strange, because Margot and I have never talked about sex before in any kind of real way, because neither of us had a point of reference. But now she does and I don’t, and I want to know what she knows.
“Umm. I mean, the first couple of times, a little.” Now she’s the one who’s blushing. “Lara Jean, I can’t talk about this with you. It’s too weird. Can’t you just ask Chris?”
“No, I want to hear it from you. Please, Gogo. You have to tell me everything about it so I’ll know. I don’t want to look like a fool when I do it the first time.”
“It’s not like Josh and I had sex hundreds of times! I’m not an expert. He’s the only person I’ve done it with. But if you’re thinking about having sex with Peter, make sure you’re careful and you use a condom and everything.” I nod quickly. This is when she’ll get to the good stuff. “And just be really sure, as sure as you can be. And make sure he knows to be really gentle and caring with you, so it’s special and it’s something you can look back on with good feelings.”
“Got it. So, like, how long did it last from start to finish?”
“Not that long. Don’t forget, it was Josh’s first time too.” She sounds wistful. Now I feel wistful too. Peter’s done it with Genevieve so many times, he’s probably an expert by now. I’ll probably even have an orgasm my first time out. Which is great, but it might’ve been nice if we both didn’t know what we were doing instead of just me.
“You don’t regret it, do you?”
“No. I don’t think so. I think I’ll always be glad it was with Josh. No matter how it’s turned out.” This is a relief to me, that even now, with eyes red from crying, Margot still doesn’t regret having loved Josh.
I sleep in her room that night like old times, huddled beside her under her quilt. Margot’s room is coldest, because it’s above the garage. I listen as the heat clicks off and on.
In the dark next to me she says, “I’m going to date a bunch of Scottish guys when I get back to school. When else will I have another opportunity like that, right?”
I giggle and roll over so we’re face-to-face. “No, wait—don’t date a bunch of Scottish guys. Date one from England, one from Ireland, one from Scotland. And Wales! A tour of the British Empire!”
“Well, I am going to school to study anthropology,” Margot says, and we giggle some more. “You know the saddest part? Josh and I will never be friends like we were before. Not after all this. That part’s just over now. He was my best friend.”
I give her fake-wounded eyes to lighten the mood, so she won’t start crying again. “Hey, I thought I was your best friend!”
“You’re not my best friend. You’re my sister, and that’s more.”
It is more.
“Josh and I started out so easy, so fun, and now we’re like strangers. I’ll never have that person back, who I knew better than anyone and who knew me so well.”
I feel a pinch in my heart. When she says it that way, it’s so sad. “You could become friends again, after some time has passed.” But it wouldn’t be the same, I know that. You’d always be mourning what once was. It would always be a little bit . . . less.
“But it won’t be like before.”
“No,” I agree. “I suppose it won’t.” Strangely, I think of Genevieve, of who we used to be to each other. Ours was the kind of friendship that makes sense as a kid but not so much now that we’re older. I suppose you can’t hold on to old things just for the sake of holding on.
It’s the end of an era, it seems. No more Margot and Josh. This time for real. It’s real because Margot is crying, and I can hear it in her voice that it’s over, and this time we both know it. Things have changed.
“Don’t let it happen to you, Lara Jean. Don’t get too serious to where things can’t go back. Be in love with Peter if you want, but be careful with your heart. Things feel like they’ll be forever, but they aren’t. Love can go away, or people can, without even meaning to. Nothing is guaranteed.”