I ignore him and continue on. “This was your big chance. So you took it. You asked me out that very day and we’ve been hanging out ever since and now we’re basically a couple.”
“I don’t think Gen’s going to buy this,” he says, shaking his head.
“Peter,” I say in my most patient voice, “the most believable lies are the ones that are at least a little bit true. I did get into a car accident; you did stop and sit with me; we did kiss in middle school.”
“It’s not that.”
“Gen and I hooked up that day after I saw you.”
I sigh. “Okay. Spare me the details. My story still works, though. After the car accident, you couldn’t get me out of your mind, so you asked me out as soon as Genevieve dumped—I mean, as soon as you guys broke up.” I clear my throat. “Since we’re on the topic, I’d also like to set some ground rules.”
“What kind of ground rules?” he asks, leaning back.
I press my lips together and take a breath. “Well . . . I don’t want you trying to kiss me again.”
Peter curls his lip at me. “Trust me, I don’t want to do it either. My forehead still hurts from this morning. I think I have a bruise.” He pushes his hair off his forehead. “Do you see a bruise?”
“No, but I see a receding hairline.”
Ha. I knew that would get him. Peter’s so vain. “Calm down, I’m only kidding. Do you have a piece of paper and a pen?”
“You’re gonna write this down?”
Primly I say, “It’ll help us remember.”
Rolling his eyes, Peter reaches into his backpack, pulls out a notebook, and hands it to me. I turn to a clean page and write at the top, Contract. Then I write No kissing.
“Are people really gonna buy it if we never touch each other in public?” Peter asks, looking skeptical.
“I don’t think relationships are just about physicality. There are ways to show you care about someone, not just using your lips.” Peter’s smiling, and he looks like he’s about to crack a joke, so I swiftly add, “Or any other body part.”
He groans. “You’ve gotta give me something here, Lara Jean. I have a reputation to uphold. None of my friends will believe I suddenly turned into a monk to date you. How about at least a hand in your back jean pocket? Trust me, it’ll be strictly professional.”
I don’t say what I’m thinking, which is that he cares way too much what people think about him. I just nod and write down, Peter is allowed to put a hand in Lara Jean’s back jean pocket. “But no more kissing,” I say, keeping my head down so he can’t see me blush.
“You’re the one who started it,” he reminds me. “And also, I don’t have any STDs, so you can get that out of your head.”
“I don’t think you have any STDs.” I look back up at him. “The thing is . . . I’ve never had a boyfriend before. I’ve never been on a real date before, or held hands walking down the hallway. This is all new for me, so I’m sorry about the forehead thing this morning. I just . . . wish all of these firsts were happening for real and not with you.”
Peter seems to be thinking this over. He says, “Huh. Okay. Let’s just save some stuff, then.”
“Sure. We’ll save some stuff for you to do when it’s the real thing and not for show.”
I’m touched. Who knew Peter could be so thoughtful and generous?
“Like, I won’t pay for stuff. I’ll save that for a guy who really likes you.”
My smile fades. “I wasn’t expecting you to pay for anything!”
Peter’s on a roll. “And I won’t walk you to class or buy you flowers.”
“I get the picture.” It seems to me like Peter’s less concerned about me and more concerned about his wallet. He sure is cheap. “So when you were with Genevieve, what kinds of things did she like you to do?”
I’m afraid he’s going to take this opportunity to make a joke, but instead he stares off into space and says, “She was always bitching at me to write her notes.”
“Yeah, at school. I didn’t get why I couldn’t just text her. It’s immediate, it’s efficient. Why not use the technology that’s available to us?”
This I understand perfectly. Genevieve didn’t want notes. She wanted letters. Real letters written in his handwriting on actual paper that she could hold and keep and read whenever the mood struck her. They were proof, solid and tangible, that someone was thinking about her.
“I’ll write you a note a day,” Peter says suddenly, with gusto. “That’ll drive her ass crazy.”
I write down, Peter will write Lara Jean one note every day.
Peter leans in. “Write down that you have to go to some parties with me. And write down no rom coms.”
“Who said anything about rom coms? Not every girl wants to watch rom coms.”
“I can just tell that you’re the kind of girl who does.”
I’m annoyed that he has this perception of me, and even more annoyed that he’s right. I write, NO DUMB ACTION MOVIES.
“Then what does that leave us with?” Peter demands.
“Superhero movies, horror movies, period films, documentaries, foreign films—”
Peter makes a face, grabs the pen and paper from me, and writes down, NO FOREIGN FILMS. He also writes, Lara Jean will make Peter’s picture her phone wallpaper. “And vice versa!” I say. I point my phone at him. “Smile.”
Peter smiles, and ugh, it’s annoying how handsome he is. Then he reaches for his phone and I stop him. “Not right now. My hair looks sweaty and gross.”
“Good point,” he says, and I want to punch him.
“Can you also write down that under no circumstances can either of us tell anyone the truth?” I ask him.
“The first rule of Fight Club,” Peter says knowingly.
“I’ve never seen that movie.”
“Of course you haven’t,” he says, and I make a face at him. Also: mental note, watch Fight Club.
Peter writes it down, and then I sit next to him and take the pen and underline “under no circumstances” twice. “What about an end date?” I ask suddenly.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, how long are we going to do this for? Like, two weeks? A month?”