“We’re not going to be done in time for the game,” I tell him.
“Then we’ll just go to the party after.” Peter shoots me an incredulous look. “That was in the note I wrote you today! God, why do I even bother?”
“I was really busy today,” I say meekly. I feel bad. He’s following through on his end of the deal and faithfully writing me a note a day and I can’t even be bothered to read them. “I don’t know if I can go to a party. I don’t know if I’m allowed to go out that late.”
“Is your dad home? I’ll ask him.”
“No, he’s at the hospital. Besides I can’t just leave Kitty here by herself.” I pick up the measuring cup again.
“Well, what time does he get home?”
“I don’t know. Maybe late.” Or maybe like in the next hour. But Peter will be long gone by then. “You should just go. I don’t want to hold you up.”
Peter groans. “Covey. I need you. Gen hasn’t said a word about us yet, which is kind of the whole point of this. And . . . she might bring that dickhole she’s dating.” Peter pushes out his lower lip. “Come on. I came through for you with Josh, didn’t I?”
“Yes,” I admit. “But, Peter, I have to make these cupcakes for the bake sale—”
Peter stretches his arms out. “Then I’ll help you. Just give me an apron.”
I back away from him and start rummaging around for another apron. I find one with a cupcake print and hand it to him.
He makes a face and points at mine. “I want the one you’re wearing.”
“But it’s mine!” It’s red-and-white gingham with little brown bears; my grandma got it for me in Korea. “I always bake in this. Just wear that one.”
Slowly Peter shakes his head and holds out his hand. “Give me yours. You owe me for not reading any of my notes.”
I untie the apron and hand it over. I turn around and go back to my measuring. “You’re a bigger baby than Kitty.”
“Just hurry up and give me a task.”
“Are you qualified, though? Because I only have exactly enough ingredients for six dozen cupcakes. I don’t want to have to start over—”
“I know how to bake!”
“Okay, then. Dump those sticks of butter into the mixing bowl.”
“And then when you’re done, I’ll give you your next task.”
Peter rolls his eyes but he does as he’s told. “So this is what you do on Friday nights? Stay home and bake in your pj’s?”
“I do other stuff too,” I say, tying my hair into a tighter ponytail.
I’m still so flustered from Peter’s sudden appearance that I can’t think. “Um, I go out.”
“God, I don’t know! Quit interrogating me, Peter.” I blow my bangs out of my eyes. It’s getting really warm in here. I might as well just turn off the oven, because Peter’s arrival has slowed down this whole process. At this rate I’ll be up all night. “You made me lose my count on the flour. I’m going to have to start over from scratch!”
“Here, let me do it,” Peter says, coming up close behind me.
I jerk away from him. “No no, I’ll do it,” I say, and he shakes his head and tries to take the measuring cup from me, but I won’t let go, and flour poufs out of the cup and into the air. It dusts us both. Peter starts cracking up and I let out an outraged shriek. “Peter!”
He’s laughing too hard to speak.
I cross my arms. “I’d better still have enough flour.”
“You look like a grandma,” he says, still laughing.
“Well, you look like a grandpa,” I counter. I dump the flour in my mixing bowl back into the flour canister.
“Actually, you’re really a lot like my granny,” Peter says. “You hate cussing. You like to bake. You stay at home on Friday nights. Wow, I’m dating my granny. Gross.”
I start measuring again. One, two. “I don’t stay home every Friday night.” Three.
“I’ve never seen you out. You don’t go to parties. We used to hang out back in the day. Why’d you stop hanging out?”
Four. “I . . . I don’t know. Middle school was different.” What does he want me to say? That Genevieve decided I wasn’t cool enough so I got left behind? Why is he so clueless?
“I always wondered why you stopped hanging out with us.”
Was I on five or six? “Peter! You made me lose my count again!”
“I have that effect on women.”
I roll my eyes at him and he grins back at me, but before he can say anything else, I yell, “Kitty! Get down here!”
“Peter’s here!” I know that will get her.
In five seconds flat, Kitty’s running into the kitchen. She skids to a stop, all of a sudden shy. “Why are you here?” she asks him.
“To pick up Lara Jean. Why aren’t you helping?”
“I was running an experiment. Wanna help me?”
I answer for him. “Sure, he’ll help you.” To Peter I say, “You’re distracting me. Go help Kitty.”
“I don’t know if you want my help, Katherine. See, I’m really distracting to women. I make them lose their count.” Peter winks at her and I make a gagging sound. “Why don’t you stay down here and help us bake?”
“Bo-ring!” Kitty turns tail and runs back up the stairs.
“Don’t you dare try to sprinkle or frost when it’s all over!” I yell. “You haven’t earned the right!”
I’m creaming the butter and Peter’s cracking eggs into a chipped salad bowl when my dad gets home. “Whose car is that out front?” Daddy asks as he walks into the kitchen. He stops short. “Hello,” he says, surprised. He has a Chan’s Chinese Bistro bag in his hands.
“Hey, Daddy,” I say, like it’s perfectly normal that Peter Kavinsky is cooking in our kitchen. “You look tired.”
Peter stands up straighter. “Hi, Dr. Covey.”
My dad sets the bag down on the kitchen table. “Oh, hello,” he says, clearing his throat. “Nice to see you. You’re Peter K., right?”
“One of the old gang,” my dad says jovially, and I cringe. “What are you kids up to tonight?”