“There’ll be spinach salad with dinner tonight,” Daddy offers.
“Can you make my spinach portion into a green juice instead?” Kitty asks. “That’s the healthiest way to eat spinach.”
“How do you know that?” Margot asks.
The pizza slice that was halfway to my mouth freezes in midair.
“Lara Jean’s boyfriend.”
“Wait a minute . . . Lara Jean’s dating who?” On the computer screen Margot’s eyes are huge and incredulous.
“Peter Kavinsky,” Kitty chirps.
I whip my head around and give her a dirty look. With my eyes I say, Thanks for spilling the beans, Kitty. With her eyes she says, What? You should have told her yourself ages ago.
Margot looks from Kitty to me. “What in the world? How did that happen?”
Lamely I say, “It just sort of . . . happened.”
“Are you serious? Why would you ever be interested in someone like Peter Kavinsky? He’s such a . . .” Margot shakes her head in disbelief. “I mean, did you know Josh caught him cheating on a test once?”
“Peter cheats at school?” Daddy repeats, alarmed.
I quickly look at him and say, “Once, in seventh grade! Seventh grade doesn’t even count anymore it’s so long ago. And it wasn’t a test, it was a quiz.”
“I definitely don’t think he’s a good guy for you. All of those lacrosse guys are so douchey.”
“Well, Peter’s not like those other guys.” I don’t understand why Margot can’t just be happy for me. I was at least pretend happy for her when she started dating Josh. She could be pretend happy for me too. And it makes me mad, the way she’s saying all of this stuff in front of Daddy and Kitty. “If you talk to him, if you just give him a chance, you’ll see, Margot.” I don’t know why I’m bothering trying to convince her of Peter when it will be over soon anyway. But I want her to know that he is a good guy, because he is.
Margot makes a face like Yeah, okay, sure and I know she doesn’t believe me. “What about Genevieve?”
“They broke up months ago.”
Daddy looks confused and says, “Peter and Genevieve were an item?”
“Never mind, Daddy,” I say.
Margot is quiet, chewing on her salad, so I think she’s done, but then she says, “He’s not very smart, though, is he? I mean, at school?”
“Not everybody can be a National Merit Scholar! And there are different kinds of intelligence, you know. He has a high emotional IQ.” Margot’s disapproval makes me feel prickly all over. More than prickly. Mad. What right does she have to weigh in when she doesn’t even live here anymore? Kitty has more of a right than she does. “Kitty, do you like Peter?” I ask her. I know she’ll say yes.
Kitty perks up, and I can tell she is pleased to be included in the big-girl talk. “Yes.”
Surprised, Margot says, “Kitty, you’ve hung out with him too?”
“Sure. He comes over all the time. He gives us rides.”
“In his two-seater?” Margot shoots a look at me.
Kitty pipes up. “No, in his mom’s van!” With innocent eyes she says, “I want to go for a ride in his convertible. I’ve never been in a convertible.”
“So he doesn’t drive around his Audi anymore?” Margot asks me.
“Not when Kitty’s riding with us,” I say.
“Hmm” is all Margot says, and the skeptical look on her face makes me want to x her right off the screen.
AFTER SCHOOL I GET A text from josh.
You, me, and the diner like old times.
Except old times would have included Margot. Now it’s new times, I suppose. Maybe that’s not altogether a bad thing. New can be good.
OK but I’m getting my own grilled cheese because you always hog more than your fair share.
We’re sitting in our booth by the jukebox.
I wonder what Margot’s doing right now. It’s nighttime in Scotland. Maybe she’s getting ready to go out to the pub with her hallmates. Margot says pubs are really big over there; they have what they call pub crawls, where they go from pub to pub and drink and drink. Margot’s not some big drinker, I’ve never even seen her drunk. I hope she’s learned how to by now.
I hold my hand out for quarters. Another Lara Jean–and-Josh tradition. Josh always gives me quarters for the jukebox. It’s because he keeps mounds of them in his car for the tollbooth, and I never have quarters because I hate change.
I can’t decide if I want doo-wop or folksy guitar, but then at the last second I put in “Video Killed the Radio Star,” for Margot. So in a way it’s like she is here.
Josh smiles when it comes on. “I knew you’d pick that.”
“No you didn’t, because I didn’t know I was going to until I did.” I pick up my menu and study it like I haven’t seen it a million times.
Josh is still smiling. “Why bother looking at the menu when we already know what you’re going to get?”
“I could change my mind at the last second,” I say. “There’s a chance I could order a tuna melt or a turkey burger or a chef salad. I can be adventurous too, you know.”
“Sure,” Josh agrees, and I know he’s just humoring me.
The server comes over to take our order and Josh says, “I’ll have a grilled cheese and a tomato soup and a chocolate milkshake.” He looks at me expectantly. There’s a smile coming up on the corners of his lips.
“Ah . . . um . . .” I scan the menu as fast as I can, but I don’t actually want a tuna melt or a turkey burger or a chef salad. I give up. I like what I like. “A grilled cheese, please. And a black-cherry soda.” As soon as the server is gone, I say, “Don’t say a word.”
“Oh, I wasn’t going to.”
And then, because there’s a silence, we both speak at the same time. I say, “Have you talked to Margot lately?” and he says, “How are things going with Kavinsky?”
Josh’s easy smile fades and he looks away. “Yeah, we chat online sometimes. I think . . . I think she’s kind of homesick.”
I give him a funny look. “I just talked to her last night and she didn’t seem homesick at all. She seemed like the same old Margot. She was telling us about Raisin Weekend. It makes me want to go to Saint Andrews too.”