From: Margot Covey
To: Lara Jean Covey
How’s school going so far? Have you joined any new clubs? I think you should consider Lit Mag or Model UN. Also don’t forget it’s Korean Thanksgiving this week and you have to call Grandma or she’ll be mad! Miss you guys.
PS Please send Oreos! I miss our dunk contests.
From: Lara Jean Covey
To: Margot Covey
School is good. No new clubs yet, but we’ll see. I already have it down in my planner to call Grandma. Don’t worry about a thing, I’ve got everything under control here!
PETER’S MOM OWNS AN ANTIQUE store called Linden & White in the cobblestoney part of downtown. She sells furniture mostly, but she has jewelry cases too, arranged by decades. My favorite decade is the aughts, which means the 1900s. There’s this one gold heart locket with a tiny diamond chip in the center; it looks like a starburst. It costs four hundred dollars. The store is right next to McCalls bookstore, so I go in sometimes and visit with it. I always expect it to be gone, but then it never is.
We once bought our mom a gold clover pin from the 1940s for Mother’s Day. Margot and I ran a lemonade stand every Saturday for a month, and we were able to chip in sixteen dollars for it. I remember how proud we were when we presented Daddy with the money, we had it nice and neat in a ziplock bag. At the time I thought we were paying the lion’s share and my dad was only helping out a little. I realize now that the pin cost a lot more than sixteen dollars. I should ask Daddy how much it really cost. But then maybe I don’t want to know. Maybe it’s nicer not knowing. We buried her with it because it was her favorite.
I’m standing over the case, touching my finger to the glass, when Peter comes out from around back. “Hey,” he says, surprised.
“Hey,” I say. “What are you doing here?”
Peter gives me a look like I’m a dummy. “My mom owns the place, remember?”
“Well, duh. I’ve just never seen you here before,” I say. “Do you work here?”
“Nah, I had to drop something off for my mom. Now she’s saying I have to go pick up a set of chairs in Huntsburgh tomorrow,” Peter says in a grumbly voice. “It’s two hours there and back. Annoying.”
I nod companionably and lean away from the case. I pretend to look at a pink-and-black globe. Actually, Margot would like this. It could be a nice Christmas present for her. I give it a little spin. “How much is this globe?”
“Whatever it says on the sticker.” Peter rests his elbows on the case and leans forward. “You should come.”
I look up at him. “Come where?”
“To pick up the chairs with me.”
“You just complained about how annoying it’s going to be.”
“Yeah, alone. If you go, it might be slightly less annoying.”
I roll my eyes. Peter says “you’re welcome” to everything! It’s like, No, Peter, that was not a genuine thank-you, so you do not need to say you’re welcome.
“So are you coming or what?”
“Come on! I’m picking the chairs up from an estate sale. The owner was some kind of shut-in. Stuff has just been sitting there for like fifty years. I bet there’ll be stuff you can look at. You like old stuff, right?”
“Yes,” I say, surprised that he knows this about me. “Actually, I’ve kind of always wanted to go to an estate sale. How did the owner die? Like, how long was it before someone found him?”
“God, you’re morbid.” He shudders. “Didn’t know you had that side to you.”
“I have lots of sides to me,” I tell him. I lean forward. “So? How did he die?”
“He isn’t dead, you weirdo. He’s just old. His family’s sending him to a nursing home.” Peter raises an eyebrow at me. “So I’ll pick you up tomorrow at seven.”
“Seven? You never said anything about leaving at seven in the morning on a Saturday!”
“Sorry,” he says contritely. “We have to go early before all the good stuff gets snatched up.”
That night I pack lunches for Peter and me. I make roast beef sandwiches with cheese and tomato, mayonnaise for me, mustard for Peter. Peter doesn’t like mayonnaise. It’s funny the things you pick up in a fake relationship.
Kitty zooms into the kitchen and tries to grab a sandwich half. I smack her hand away. “That’s not for you.”
“Then who’s it for?”
“It’s for my lunch tomorrow. Mine and Peter’s.”
She climbs onto a stool and watches me wrap the sandwiches in wax paper. Sandwiches look so much prettier wrapped in wax paper than encased in ziplock. Any chance I get, I use wax paper. “I like Peter,” Kitty says. “He’s a lot different than Josh, but I like him.”
I look up. “What do you mean?”
“I don’t know. He’s really funny. He jokes around a lot. You must really be in love if you’re making sandwiches for him. When Margot and Josh first became a couple, she made three-cheese macaroni and cheese all the time because that’s his favorite. What’s Peter’s favorite?”
“I—I don’t know. I mean, he likes everything.”
Kitty gives me the side eye. “If you’re his girlfriend, you should know what his favorite food is.”
“I know he doesn’t like mayonnaise,” I offer.
“That’s because mayonnaise is gross. Josh hates mayonnaise too.”
I feel a pang. Josh does hate mayonnaise. “Kitty, do you miss Josh?”
She nods. “I wish he still came over.” A wistful look crosses over her face, and I’m about to give her a hug when she puts her hands on her hips. “Just don’t use all the roast beef, because I need it for my lunch next week.”
“If we run out, I’ll make tuna salad. Sheesh.”
“See that you do,” Kitty says, and zooms off again.
“See that you do”? Where does she get this stuff?
At seven thirty I’m sitting by the window, waiting for Peter to pull up. I’ve got a brown paper bag with our sandwiches and my camera, in case there’s anything spooky or cool I can take a picture of. I’m picturing a crumbling, gray old mansion like you see in horror movies, with a gate and a murky pond or a maze in the backyard.