When is she going to strike back against me? When will I have my Jamila Singh moment? Chris says Genevieve’s too obsessed with her college boyfriend to care about me and Peter, but I don’t believe it. I’ve seen the way she looks at him. Like he’s hers.
The boys put a few tables together and we basically take over the place. It’s just like at the lunch table, with them being loud, talking about the football game coming up on Friday. I don’t think I say two words. I don’t really have anything to add. I just eat my free frozen yogurt and enjoy the fact that I’m not at home organizing my shoe closet or watching the Golf Channel with my dad.
We’re walking to our cars when Gabe says, “Hey, Lara Jean, did you know that if you say your name really fast, it sounds like Large? Try it! Larajean.”
Dutifully I repeat, “Larajean. Larjean. Largy. Actually I think it sounds more like Largy, not Large.”
Gabe nods to himself and announces, “I’m going to start calling you Large. You’re so little it’s funny. Right? Like those big guys who go by the name Tiny?”
I shrug. “Sure.”
Gabe turns to Darrell. “She’s so little she could be our mascot.”
“Hey, I’m not that small,” I protest.
“How tall are you?” Darrell asks me.
“Five two,” I fib. It’s more like five one and a quarter.
Tossing his spoon in the trash, Gabe says, “You’re so little you could fit in my pocket!” All the guys laugh. Peter’s smiling in a bemused way. Then Gabe suddenly grabs me and throws me over his shoulder like I’m a kid and he’s my dad.
“Gabe! Put me down!” I shriek, kicking my legs and pounding on his chest.
He starts spinning around in a circle, and all the guys are cracking up. “I’m going to adopt you, Large! You’re going to be my pet. I’ll put you in my old hamster cage!”
I’m giggling so hard I can’t catch my breath and I’m starting to feel dizzy. “Put me down!”
“Put her down, man,” Peter says, but he’s laughing too.
Gabe runs toward somebody’s pickup truck and sets me down in the back. “Get me out of here!” I yell. Gabe’s already running away. All the guys start getting into their cars. “Bye, Large!” they call out. Peter jogs over to me and extends his hand so I can hop down.
“Your friends are crazy,” I say, jumping onto the pavement.
“They like you,” he says.
“Sure. They used to hate when I would bring Gen places. They don’t mind if you hang out with us.” Peter slings his arm around me. “Come on, Large. I’ll take you home.”
As we walk to his car, I let my hair fall in my face so he doesn’t see me smiling. It sure is nice being part of a group, feeling like I belong.
I VOLUNTEERED TO BAKE SIX dozen cup cakes for Kitty’s PTA bake sale. I did it because Margot’s done it for the past two years. Margot only ever did it because she didn’t want people to think Kitty’s family wasn’t involved enough in PTA. She did brownies both times, but I signed up for cupcakes because I thought they’d be a bigger hit. I bought a few different kinds of blue sprinkles and I made little toothpick flags that say BLUE MOUNTAIN ACADEMY. I thought Kitty would have fun helping me decorate.
But now I’m realizing Margot’s way was better, because with brownies, you just pour them in the pan, bake, and slice, and there you go. Cupcakes are a lot more work. You have to scoop the perfect amount six dozen times, and then you have to wait for them to cool, and then you’re frosting and sprinkling.
I’m measuring out my eighth cup of flour when the doorbell rings. “Kitty!” I scream. “Get the door!”
It rings again. “Kitty!”
From upstairs she screams back, “I’m running an important experiment!”
I run to the door and fling it open without bothering to check who it is.
Peter. He busts up laughing.
“You have flour all over your face,” he says, dusting off my cheeks with the backs of his hands.
I twist away from him and wipe my face with my apron. “What are you doing here?”
“We’re going to the game. Didn’t you read my note from yesterday?”
“Oh, shoot. I had a test and I forgot.” Peter frowns and I add, “I can’t go anyway because I have to bake seventy-two cupcakes by tomorrow.”
“On a Friday night?”
“Well . . . yeah.”
“Is this for the PTA bake sale?” Peter brushes past me and starts taking off his sneakers. “You guys are a no-shoes house, right?”
“Yeah,” I say, surprised. “Is your mom making something too?”
“Rice Krispie treats.” Another way smarter choice than seventy-two cupcakes.
“Sorry you came over here for nothing. Maybe we can go to the game next Friday,” I say, expecting him to put his shoes back on.
But he doesn’t, he wanders into the kitchen and sits on a stool. Huh? “Your house looks the same as I remembered,” he says, looking around. He points at the framed picture of me and Margot taking a bath when we were babies. “Cute.”
I can feel my cheeks burn. I go and turn the photo over. “When have you ever been to my house?”
“Back in seventh grade. Remember how we’d hang out in your neighbor’s tree house? I had to pee once and you let me use your bathroom.”
“Oh, yeah,” I say.
It’s funny to see a boy other than Josh in our kitchen. I feel nervous for some reason. “How long’s it going to take?” he asks me, his hands in his pockets.
“Hours, probably.” I pick up the measuring cup again. I can’t remember what cup I was on.
Peter groans. “Why can’t we just go to the store and buy some?”
I start measuring the flour that’s in the bowl, separating it into piles. “Because, do you think any of the other moms are buying cupcakes from Food Lion? How would that make Kitty look?”
“Well, if it’s for Kitty, then Kitty should be helping.” Peter hops off the stool and comes up to me and slides his hands around my waist and tries to untie my apron strings. “Where is the kid?”
I stare at him. “What . . . are you doing?”
Peter looks at me like I’m a dummy. “I need an apron too if I’m going to help. I’m not trying to get my clothes all messed up.”