Peter glances down at him and then back at me, his eyes hard. “I don’t want that one.”
“That’s the one you told me to get!”
“Well, I don’t want it anymore. Put it back and get the Funfetti down there at the end.”
“You can’t have it,” Kitty tells him. “That’s not how a cake walk works. You take the cake with the number you were standing on.”
Peter’s mouth falls open in shock. “Aw, come on, kid.”
Kitty moves closer to me. “Nope.”
After Peter and his brother leave, I hug Kitty from behind. She was on my side after all. Song girls stick together.
KITTY WANTED TO STAY LONGER at the fair, so it’s just me driving alone when I spot Genevieve’s car on the road. And just like that, I’m following her. It’s time to take this girl down.
She’s still daring. The way she zips through traffic lights, I almost lose her a few times. I’m not a good enough driver for this, I want to scream at her.
We finally end up at an office building, one I recognize as her dad’s. She goes inside, and I park in the same strip mall, but not too close. I turn off the engine and recline my seat back so she can’t see me.
Ten minutes pass, and nothing. I don’t even know why she’d be at her dad’s office on a weekend. Maybe she’s helping her dad’s secretary? I might be stuck here for a while. But I will wait forever if need be. I will win, no matter what. I don’t even care about the prize. I just want the win.
I’m about to doze off when two people come out of the building—her dad, in a suit and a camel coat, and a girl. I duck low in my seat. At first I think it’s Genevieve, but this girl is taller. I squint. I recognize her. She was Margot’s year; I think they were in Key Club together. Anna Hicks. They walk out to the parking lot together; he walks her to her car. She’s fumbling for her keys. He grabs her arm and turns her face to his. And then they’re kissing. Passionately. Tongue. Hands everywhere.
Oh my God. She’s Margot’s age. Just eighteen. Genevieve’s dad is kissing her like she’s a grown woman. He’s a dad. She’s somebody’s daughter.
I feel sick inside. How could he do this to Genevieve’s mom? To Gen? Does she know? Is this the hard thing she’s been going through? If my dad ever did such a thing, I could never look at him the same way. I don’t know that I could look at my life the same way. It would be such a betrayal, not just of our family, but of himself, of who he is as a person.
I don’t want to see any more. I keep my head down until they both drive out of the parking lot, and I’m about to start my car too when Genevieve walks out, her arms crossed, shoulders bent.
Oh dear God. She’s spotted me. Her eyes are narrow; she’s heading straight for me. I want to drive away, but I can’t. She’s standing right in front of me, angrily motioning for me to roll down the window. So I do, but it’s hard to look her in the eyes.
She snaps out, “Did you see?”
Weakly I say, “No. I didn’t see anything . . .”
Genevieve’s face goes red; she knows I’m lying. For a second I am terrified she is going to cry, or hit me. I wish she would just hit me. “Go ahead,” she manages. “Tag me out. That’s what you came here for.” I shake my head, and then she grabs my hands off the steering wheel and slaps them on her collarbone. “There. You win, Lara Jean. Game over.”
And then she runs to her car.
There’s a Korean word my grandma taught me. It’s called jung. It’s the connection between two people that can’t be severed, even when love turns to hate. You still have those old feelings for them; you can’t ever completely shake them loose of you; you will always have tenderness in your heart for them. I think this must be some part of what I feel for Genevieve. Jung is why I can’t hate her. We’re tied.
And jung is why Peter can’t let her go. They’re tied too. If my dad did what her dad did, wouldn’t I reach out to the one person who never turned me away? Who was always there, who loved me more than anyone? Peter is that person for Genevieve. How can I begrudge her that?
WE’RE IN THE KITCHEN CLEANING up after pancake breakfast when Daddy says, “I believe another one of the Song girls has a birthday coming up.” He sings, “You are sixteen, going on seventeen . . .” I feel a strong surge of love for him, my dad who I am so lucky to have.
“What song are you singing?” Kitty interrupts.
I take Kitty’s hands and spin her around the kitchen with me. “I am sixteen, going on seventeen; I know that I’m naive. Fellows I meet may tell me I’m sweet; willingly I believe.”
Daddy throws his dish towel over his shoulder and marches in place. In a deep voice he baritones, “You need someone older and wiser telling you what to do . . .”
“This song is sexist,” Kitty says as I dip her.
“Indeed it is,” Daddy agrees, swatting her with the towel. “And the boy in question was not, in fact, older and wiser. He was a Nazi in training.”
Kitty skitters away from both of us. “What are you guys even talking about?”
“It’s from The Sound of Music,” I say.
“You mean that movie about the nun? Never seen it.”
“How have you seen The Sopranos but not The Sound of Music?”
Alarmed, Daddy says, “Kitty’s been watching The Sopranos?”
“Just the commercials,” Kitty quickly says.
I go on singing to myself, spinning in a circle like Liesl at the gazebo. “I am sixteen going on seventeen, innocent as a rose. . . . Fellows I meet may tell me I’m sweet, and willingly I believe. . . .”
“Why would you just willingly believe some random fellows you don’t even know?”
“It’s the song, Kitty, not me! God!” I stop spinning. “Liesl was kind of a ninny, though. I mean, it was basically her fault they almost got captured by the Nazis.”
“I would venture to say it was Captain von Trapp’s fault,” Daddy says. “Rolfe was a kid himself—he was going to let them go, but then Georg had to antagonize him.” He shakes his head. “Georg von Trapp, he had quite the ego. Hey, we should do a Sound of Music night!”
“Sure,” I say.
“This movie sounds terrible,” Kitty says. “What kind of name is Georg?”
We ignore her. Daddy says, “Tonight? I’ll make tacos al pastor!”