Pagina principale P.S. I Still Love You (To All the Boys I've Loved Before #2)

P.S. I Still Love You (To All the Boys I've Loved Before #2)

Now a Netflix original movie starring Lana Condor and Noah Centineo! In this highly anticipated sequel to the “lovely, lighthearted” (School Library Journal) New York Times bestselling To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, Lara Jean still has letters to write and even more to lose when it comes to love.Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter. She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever. When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once? In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of makes it so amazing.
Simon and Schuster
ISBN 13:
To All the Boys I've Loved Before #2
EPUB, 766 KB
Download (epub, 766 KB)

You may be interested in Powered by Rec2Me


To All the Boys I've Loved Before

MOBI , 436 KB

Always and Forever Lara Jean

MOBI , 1.35 MB

Most frequently terms

You can write a book review and share your experiences. Other readers will always be interested in your opinion of the books you've read. Whether you've loved the book or not, if you give your honest and detailed thoughts then people will find new books that are right for them.

Fire With Fire

EPUB, 342 KB
For Logan. I’ve only just met you and already I love you.

She was glad that the cosy house, and Pa and Ma and the fire-light and the music, were now. They could not be forgotten, she thought, because now is now. It can never be a long time ago.

—LAURA INGALLS WILDER, Little House in the Big Woods

Time is the longest distance between two places.

—TENNESSEE WILLIAMS, The Glass Menagerie

Dear Peter,

I miss you. It’s only been five days but I miss you like it’s been five years. Maybe because I don’t know if this is just it, if you and I will ever talk again. I mean I’m sure we’ll say hi in chem class, or in the hallways, but will it ever be like it was? That’s what makes me sad. I felt like I could say anything to you. I think you felt the same way. I hope you did.

So I’m just going to say anything to you right now, while I’m still feeling brave. What happened between us in the hot tub scared me. I know it was just a day in the life of Peter for you, but for me it meant a lot more, and that’s what scared me. Not just what people were saying about it, and me, but that it happened at all. How easy it was, how much I liked it. I got scared and I took it out on you and for that I’m truly sorry.

And at the recital party, I’m sorry I didn’t defend you to Josh. I should have. I know I owed you that much. I owed you that much and more. I still can’t believe you came, and that you brought those fruitcake cookies. You looked cute in your sweater, by the way. I’m not saying that to butter you up. I mean it.

Sometimes I like you so much I can’t stand it. It fills up inside me, all the way to the brim, and I feel like I could overflow. I like you so much I don’t know what to do with it. My heart beats so fast when I know I’m going to see you again. And then, when you look at me the way you do, I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

Those things Josh said about you, they weren’t true. You haven’t brought me down. Just the opposite. You’ve brought me out. You gave me my first love story, Peter. Please j; ust don’t let it be over yet.


Lara Jean


KITTY’S BEEN A LITTLE COMPLAINER all morning, and I suspect both Margot and Daddy are suffering from New Year’s Eve hangovers. And me? I’ve got hearts in my eyes and a letter that’s burning a hole in my coat pocket.

As we’re putting on our shoes, Kitty’s still trying to weasel her way out of wearing a hanbok to Aunt Carrie and Uncle Victor’s. “Look at the sleeves! They’re three-quarter length on me!”

Unconvincingly Daddy says, “They’re supposed to be that way.”

Kitty points to me and Margot. “Then why do theirs fit?” she demands. Our grandma bought the hanboks for us the last time she was in Korea. Margot’s hanbok has a yellow jacket and apple-green skirt. Mine is hot pink with an ivory-white jacket and a long hot-pink bow with flowers embroidered down the front. The skirt is voluminous, full like a bell, and it falls all the way to the floor. Unlike Kitty’s, which hits right at her ankles.

“It’s not our fault you grow like a weed,” I say, fussing with my bow. The bow is the hardest thing to get right. I had to watch a YouTube video multiple times to figure it out, and it still looks lopsided and sad.

“My skirt’s too short too,” she grumps, lifting the bottom.

The real truth is, Kitty hates wearing a hanbok because you have to walk delicately in it and hold the skirt closed with one hand or the whole thing comes open.

“All of the other cousins will be wearing them, and it will make Grandma happy,” Daddy says, rubbing his temples. “Case closed.”

In the car Kitty keeps saying “I hate New Year’s Day,” and it puts everyone but me in a sour mood. Margot is already in a semi-sour mood because she had to wake up at the crack of dawn to get home from her friend’s cabin in time. There’s also the matter of that maybe hangover. Nothing could sour my mood, though, because I’m not even in this car. I’m somewhere else entirely, thinking about my letter to Peter, wondering if it was heartfelt enough, and how and when I’m going to give it to him, and what he’ll say, and what it will mean. Should I drop it in his mailbox? Leave it in his locker? When I see him again, will he smile at me, make a joke of it to lighten the mood? Or will he pretend he never saw it, to spare us both? I think that would be worse. I have to keep reminding myself that, despite everything, Peter is kind and he is easygoing and he won’t be cruel no matter what. Of that much I can be sure.

“What are you thinking so hard about?” Kitty asks me.

I barely hear her.


I close my eyes and pretend to be asleep, and all I see is Peter’s face. I don’t know what I want from him exactly, what I’m ready for—if it’s boyfriend-girlfriend heavy-duty serious love, or if it’s what we had before, just fun and some here-and-there kisses, or if it’s something in between, but I do know I can’t get his Handsome Boy face out of my mind. The way he smirks when he says my name, how when he’s near me I forget to breathe sometimes.

Of course, when we get to Aunt Carrie and Uncle Victor’s, none of the other cousins are wearing hanboks, and Kitty practically turns purple with the effort of not yelling at Daddy. Margot and I give him some side-eye too. It’s not particularly comfortable to sit around in a hanbok all day. But then Grandma gives me an approving smile, which makes up for it.

As we take off our shoes and coats at the front door, I whisper to Kitty, “Maybe the adults will give us more money for dressing up.”

“You girls look so cute,” Aunt Carrie said as she hugs us. “Haven refused to wear hers!”

Haven rolls her eyes at her mom. “I love your haircut,” she says to Margot. Haven and I are only a few months apart, but she thinks she’s so much older than me. She’s always trying to get in with Margot.

We get the bowing out of the way first. In Korean culture, you bow to your elders on New Year’s Day and wish them luck in the new year, and in return they give you money. The order goes oldest to youngest, so as the oldest adult, Grandma sits down on the couch first, and Aunt Carrie and Uncle Victor bow first, then Daddy, all the way down the line to Kitty, who is youngest. When it’s Daddy’s turn to sit on the couch and receive his bows, there’s an empty couch cushion next to him as there has been every New Year’s Day since Mommy died. It gives me an achy feeling in my chest to see him sitting there alone, smiling gamely, handing out ten-dollar bills. Grandma catches my eye pointedly and I know she’s thinking the same thing. When it’s my turn to bow, I kneel, hands folded in front of my forehead, and I vow that I will not see Daddy alone on that couch again next year.

We get ten dollars from Aunt Carrie and Uncle Victor, ten from Daddy, ten from Aunt Min and Uncle Sam, who aren’t our real aunt and uncle but second cousins (or is it cousins once removed? They’re Mommy’s cousins, anyway), and twenty from Grandma! We didn’t get more for wearing hanboks, but all in all a good take. Last year the aunts and uncles were only doing five apiece.

Next we do rice cake soup for good luck. Aunt Carrie also made black-eyed pea cakes and insists we try at least one, though no one wants to. The twins, Harry and Leon—our third cousins? Cousins twice removed?—refuse to eat the soup or the black-eyed pea cakes and are eating chicken nuggets in the TV room. There isn’t enough room at the dining table, so Kitty and I eat on stools at the kitchen island. We can hear everyone laughing from over here.

As I begin to eat my soup, I make a wish. Please, please let things work out with me and Peter.

“Why do I get a smaller bowl of soup than everyone else?” Kitty whispers to me.

“Because you’re the littlest.”

“Why don’t we get our own bowl of kimchi?”

“Because Aunt Carrie thinks we don’t like it because we’re not full Korean.”

“Go ask for some,” Kitty whispers.

So I do, but mainly because I want some too.

While the adults drink coffee, Margot, Haven, and I go up to Haven’s room and Kitty tags along. Usually she plays with the twins, but this time she picks up Aunt Carrie’s Yorkie, Smitty, and follows us upstairs like one of the girls.

Haven has indie rock band posters on her walls; most I’ve never heard of. She’s always rotating them out. There’s a new one, a letterpressed Belle and Sebastian. It looks like denim. “This is cool,” I say.

“I was just about to switch that one out,” Haven says. “You can have it if you want.”

“That’s all right,” I tell her. I know she’s only offering it to feel above me, as is her way.

“I’ll take it,” Kitty says, and Haven’s face pulls into a frown for a second, but Kitty’s already peeling it off the wall. “Thanks, Haven.”

Margot and I look at each other and try not to smile. Haven’s never had much patience for Kitty, and the feeling is infinitely mutual.

“Margot, have you been to any shows since you’ve been in Scotland?” Haven asks. She plops down on her bed and opens up her laptop.

“Not really,” Margot says. “I’ve been so busy with classes.” Margot’s not much of a live-music person anyway. She’s looking at her phone; the skirt of her hanbok is fanned around her. She’s the only one of us Song girls still fully clothed. I’ve taken off my jacket, so I’m just in the slip and skirt, and Kitty’s taken off both the jacket and the skirt and is just wearing an undershirt and bloomers.

I sit down on the bed next to Haven so she can show me pictures from their vacation to Bermuda on Instagram. As she’s scrolling through her feed, a picture from the ski trip pops up. Haven’s in the Charlottesville Youth Orchestra, so she knows people from a lot of different schools, including mine.

I can’t help but sigh a little when I see it—a picture of a bunch of us on the bus the last morning. Peter has his arm around me, he’s whispering something in my ear. I wish I remembered what.

All surprised, Haven looks up and says, “Oh, hey, that’s you, Lara Jean. What’s this from?”

“The school ski trip.”

“Is that your boyfriend?” Haven asks me, and I can tell she’s impressed and trying not to show it.

I wish I could say yes. But—

Kitty scampers over to us and looks over our shoulders. “Yes, and he’s the hottest guy you’ve ever seen in your life, Haven.” She says it like a challenge. Margot, who was scrolling on her phone, looks up and giggles.

“Well, that’s not exactly true,” I hedge. I mean, he’s the hottest guy I’ve ever seen in my life, but I don’t know what kind of people Haven goes to school with.

“No, Kitty’s right, he’s hot,” Haven admits. “Like, how did you get him? No offense. I just thought you were the non-dating type.”

I frown. The non-dating type? What kind of type is that? A little mushroom who sits at home in a semidark room growing moss?

“Lara Jean dates plenty,” Margot says loyally.

I blush. I date never, Peter barely even counts, but I’m glad for the lie.

“What’s his name?” Haven asks me.

“Peter. Peter Kavinsky.” Even saying his name is a remembered pleasure, something to savor, like a piece of chocolate dissolving on my tongue.

“Ohh,” she says. “I thought he dated that pretty blond girl. What’s her name? Jenna? Weren’t you guys best friends when you were little?”

I feel a pang in my heart. “Her name is Genevieve. We used to be friends, not anymore. And she and Peter have been broken up for a while.”

“So then how long have you and Peter been together?” Haven asks me. She has a dubious look in her eye, like she 90 percent believes me but there’s still that niggling 10 percent that has doubt.

“We started hanging out in September.” At least that much is true. “We’re not together right now; we’re kind of on a break. . . . But I’m . . . optimistic.”

Kitty pokes my cheek, makes a dimple with her pinky. “You’re smiling,” she says, and she’s smiling too. She cuddles closer to me. “Make up with him today, okay? I want Peter back.”

“It’s not that simple,” I say, though maybe it could be?

“Sure it’s that simple. He still likes you a lot—just tell him you still like him, too, and boom. You’re back together and it’ll be like you never kicked him out of our house.”

Haven’s eyes go even wider. “Lara Jean, you broke up with him?”

“Geez, is it so hard to believe?” I narrow my eyes at her, and Haven opens and then wisely closes her mouth.

She takes another look at the picture of Peter. Then she gets up to go to the bathroom, and as she closes the door, she says, “All I can say is, if that boy was my boyfriend, I’d never let him go.”

My whole body tingles when she says those words.

I once had that exact same thought about Josh, and look at me now: It’s like a million years have gone by and he’s just a memory to me. I don’t want it to be like that with Peter. The farawayness of old feelings, like even when you try with all your might, you can barely make out his face when you close your eyes. No matter what, I always want to remember his face.

When it’s time to go, I’m putting on my coat and Peter’s letter falls out of my pocket. Margot picks it up. “Another letter?”

I blush. In a rush I say, “I haven’t figured out when I should give it to him, if I should leave it in his mailbox, or if I should actually mail it? Or face to face? Gogo, what do you think?”

“You should just talk to him,” Margot says. “Go right now. Daddy will drop you off. You go to his house, you give him the letter, and then you see what he says.”

My heart pumps wildly at the thought. Right now? Just go over there, without calling first, without a plan? “I don’t know,” I hedge. “I feel like I should think it over more.”

Margot opens her mouth to respond, but then Kitty comes up behind us and says, “Enough with the letters. Just go get him back.”

“Don’t let it be too late,” Margot says, and I know she’s not just talking about me and Peter.

I’ve been tiptoeing around the subject of Josh because of everything that’s happened with us. I mean, Margot’s forgiven me, but there’s no sense in rocking the boat. So these past couple of days I’ve stayed silently supportive and hoped that was enough. But Margot leaves for Scotland again in less than a week. The thought of her leaving without at least talking to Josh doesn’t feel right to me. We’ve all been friends for so long. I know Josh and I will mend things, because we’re neighbors, and that’s how it goes with people you see a lot. They mend, almost on their own. But not so for Margot and Josh, with her so far away. If they don’t talk now, the scar will only harden over time, it will calcify, and then they’ll be like strangers who never loved each other, which is the saddest thought of all.

While Kitty’s putting on her boots, I whisper to Margot, “If I talk to Peter, you should talk to Josh. Don’t go back to Scotland and leave things like this with him.”

“We’ll see,” she says, but I see the hope that flares in her eyes, and it gives me hope too.


MARGOT AND KITTY ARE BOTH asleep in the backseat. Kitty’s got her head in Margot’s lap; Margot’s sleeping with her head back and her mouth wide open. Daddy is listening to NPR with a faint smile on his face. Everyone’s so peaceful, and my heart is thumping a million beats a minute just in anticipation of what I’m about to do.

I’m doing it now, this very night. Before we’re back at school, before all the gears shift back to normal and Peter and I are nothing more than a memory. Like snow globes, you shake them up, and for a moment everything is upside down and glitter everywhere and it’s just like magic—but then it all settles and goes back to where it’s supposed to be. Things have a way of settling back. I can’t go back.

I time it so that we are one stoplight from Peter’s neighborhood when I ask Daddy to drop me off. He must hear the intensity in my voice, the necessity, because he doesn’t ask any questions, he just says yes.

When we pull up to Peter’s house, the lights are on and his car is in the driveway; so is his mom’s minivan. The sun is just going down, early because it’s winter. Across the street, Peter’s neighbors still have their holiday lights up. Today’s probably the last day for that, seeing as how it’s a new year. New year, new start.

I can feel the veins in my wrists pulsing, and I’m nervous, I’m so nervous. I run out of the car and ring the doorbell. When I hear footsteps from inside, I wave Daddy off, and he backs out of the driveway. Kitty’s awake now, and she’s got her face up against the back window, grinning hard. She sends me a thumbs-up and I wave back.

Peter opens the door. My heart jumps like a Mexican jumping bean in my chest. He’s wearing a button-down I’ve never seen before, plaid. It must have been a Christmas present. His hair is mussed on top, like he’s been lying down. He doesn’t look so very surprised to see me. “Hey.” He eyes my skirt, which is poofing out from under my winter coat like a ball gown. “Why are you so dressed up?”

“It’s for New Year’s.” Maybe I should’ve gone home and changed first. At least then I would feel like me, standing at this boy’s door, proverbial hat in hand. “So, hey, how was your Christmas?”

“Good.” He takes his time, four whole seconds, before he asks, “How was yours?”

“Great. We got a new puppy. His name is Jamie Fox-Pickle.” Not even a trace of a smile from Peter. He’s cold; I didn’t expect him to be cold. Maybe not even cold. Maybe just indifferent. “Can I talk to you for a second?”

Peter shrugs, which seems like a yes, but he doesn’t invite me in. I have this sudden sick-to-my-stomach fear that Genevieve is inside—which quickly dissipates when I remember that if she were inside, he wouldn’t be out here with me. He leaves the door ajar as he puts on sneakers and a coat, and then steps onto the porch. He closes the door behind him and sits down on the steps. I sit next to him, smoothing my skirt around me. “So, what’s up?” he says, like I’m taking up his precious time.

This isn’t right. Not what I expected at all.

But what, exactly, did I expect from Peter? I’d give him the letter, and he’d read it, and then he’d love me? He’d take me in his arms; we’d kiss passionately, but just kissing, just innocent. Then what? We’d date? How long until he grew bored of me, missed Genevieve, wanted more than I was prepared to give, bedroomwise and also just lifewise? Someone like him could never be content staying at home and watching a movie on the couch. This is Peter Kavinsky we’re talking about, after all.

I take so long swept up in my fast-forward reverie that he says it again, just slightly less cold this time. “What, Lara Jean?” He looks at me like he’s waiting for something, and suddenly I’m afraid to give it.

I tighten my fist around the letter, shove it into my coat pocket. My hands are freezing. I don’t have any gloves or hat; I should probably just go home. “I just came to say . . . to say I’m sorry for the way things turned out. And . . . I hope we can still be friends, and happy new year.”

His eyes narrow at this. “‘Happy new year’?” he repeats. “That’s what you came here to say? Sorry and happy new year?”

“And I hope we can still be friends,” I add, biting my lip.

“You hope we can still be friends,” he repeats, and there is a note of sarcasm in his voice that I don’t understand or like.

“That’s what I said.” I start to stand up. I was hoping he’d give me a ride home, but now I don’t want to ask. But it’s so cold outside. Maybe if I hint. . . . Blowing on my hands, I say, “Well, I’m gonna head home.”

“Wait a minute. Let’s go back to the apology part. What are you apologizing for, exactly? For kicking me out of your house, or for thinking I’m a dirtbag who would go around telling people we had sex when we didn’t?”

A lump forms in my throat. When he puts it that way, it really does sound terrible. “Both of those things. I’m sorry for both of those things.”

Peter cocks his head to the side, his eyebrows raised. “And what else?”

I bristle. What else? “There is no ‘what else.’ That’s it.” Thank God I didn’t give him the letter, if this is how he’s going to be. It’s not like I’m the only one with stuff to apologize for.

“Hey, you’re the one who came here talking about ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘let’s be friends.’ You don’t get to force me into accepting your half-assed apology.”

“Well, I wish you a happy new year anyway.” Now I’m the one being sarcastic, and it sure is satisfying. “Have a nice life. Auld lang syne and all that.”

“Fine. Bye.”

I turn to go. I was so hopeful this morning, I had such stars in my eyes imagining how this was all going to go. God, what a jerk Peter is. Good riddance to him!

“Wait a minute.”

Hope leaps into my heart like Jamie Fox-Pickle leaps into my bed—swift and unbidden. But I turn back around, like Ugh, what do you want now, so he doesn’t see it.

“What’s that you’ve got crumpled up in your pocket?”

My hand flies down to my pocket. “That? Oh, it’s nothing. It’s junk mail. It was on the ground by your mailbox. No worries, I’ll recycle it for you.”

“Give it to me and I’ll recycle it right now,” he says, holding out his hand.

“No, I said I’ll do it.” I reach down to stuff the letter deeper into my coat pocket, and Peter tries to snatch it out of my hand. I twist away from him wildly and hold on tight. He shrugs, and I relax and let out a small sigh of relief, and then he lunges forward and plucks it away from me.

I pant, “Give it back, Peter!”

Blithely he says, “Tampering with US mail is a federal offense.” Then he looks down at the envelope. “This is to me. From you.” I make a desperate grab for the envelope, and it takes him by surprise. We wrestle for it; I’ve got the corner of it in my grip, but he’s not letting go. “Stop, you’re going to rip it!” he yells, prying it out of my grasp.

I try to grab harder, but it’s too late. He has it.

Peter holds the envelope above my head and tears it open and begins to read. It’s torturous standing there in front of him, waiting—for what, I don’t know. More humiliation? I should probably just go. He’s such a slow reader.

When he’s finally done, he asks, “Why weren’t you going to give me this? Why were you just going to leave?”

“Because, I don’t know, you didn’t seem so glad to see me. . . .” My voice trails off lamely.

“It’s called playing hard to get! I’ve been waiting for you to call me, you dummy. It’s been six days.”

I suck in my breath. “Oh!”

“‘Oh.’” He pulls me by the lapels of my coat, closer to him, close enough to kiss. He’s so close I can see the puffs his breath makes. So close I could count his eyelashes if I wanted. In a low voice he says, “So then . . . you still like me?”

“Yeah,” I whisper. “I mean, sort of.” My heartbeat is going quick-quick-quick. I’m giddy. Is this a dream? If so, let me never wake up.

Peter gives me a look like Get real, you know you like me. I do, I do. Then, softly, he says, “Do you believe me that I didn’t tell people we had sex on the ski trip?”


“Okay.” He inhales. “Did . . . did anything happen with you and Sanderson after I left your house that night?” He’s jealous! The very thought of it warms me up like hot soup. I start to tell him no way, but he quickly says, “Wait. Don’t tell me. I don’t want to know.”

“No,” I say, firmly so he knows I mean it. He nods but doesn’t say anything.

Then he leans in, and I close my eyes, heart thrumming in my chest like hummingbird wings. We’ve technically only kissed four times, and only one of those times was for real. I’d like to just get right to it, so I can stop being nervous. But Peter doesn’t kiss me, not the way I expect. He kisses me on my left cheek, and then my right; his breath is warm. And then nothing. My eyes fly open. Is this a literal kiss-off? Why isn’t he kissing me properly? “What are you doing?” I whisper.

“Building the anticipation.”

Quickly I say, “Let’s just kiss.”

He angles his head, and his cheek brushes against mine, which is when the front door opens, and it’s Peter’s younger brother, Owen, standing there with his arms crossed. I spring away from Peter like I just found out he has some incurable infectious disease. “Mom wants you guys to come in and have some cider,” he says, smirking.

“In a minute,” Peter says, pulling me back.

“She said right now,” Owen says.

Oh my God. I throw a panicky look at Peter. “I should probably get going before my dad starts to worry. . . .”

He nudges me toward the door with his chin. “Just come inside for a minute, and then I’ll take you home.” As I step inside, he takes off my coat and says in a low voice, “Were you really going to walk all the way home in that fancy dress? In the cold?”

“No, I was going to guilt you into driving me,” I whisper back.

“What’s with your outfit?” Owen says to me.

“It’s what Korean people wear on New Year’s Day,” I tell him.

Peter’s mom steps out of the kitchen with two steaming mugs. She’s wearing a long cashmere cardigan that’s loosely belted around her waist, and cream cable-knit slippers. “It’s stunning,” she says. “You look gorgeous. So colorful.”

“Thank you,” I say, feeling embarrassed over the fuss.

The three of us sit down in the family room; Owen escapes to the kitchen. I still feel flushed from the almost kiss and from the fact that Peter’s mom probably knows what we were up to. I wonder, too, what she knows about what’s been going on with us, how much he’s told her, if anything.

“How was your Christmas, Lara Jean?” his mom asks me.

I blow into my mug. “It was really nice. My dad bought my little sister a puppy, and we’ve just been fighting over who gets to hold him. And my older sister’s still home from college, so that’s been nice too. How was your holiday, Mrs. Kavinsky?”

“Oh, it was nice. Quiet.” She points to her slippers. “Owen got me these. How did the holiday party go? Did your sisters like the fruitcake cookies Peter baked? Honestly, I can’t stand them.”

Surprised, I look over at Peter, who is suddenly busy scrolling on his phone. “I thought you said your mom made them.”

His mom smiles a proud kind of smile. “Oh no, he did it all by himself. He was very determined.”

“They tasted like garbage!” Owen yells from the kitchen.

His mom laughs again, and then things are silent. My mind is racing, trying to think up potential conversation pieces. New Year’s resolutions, maybe? The snowstorm we’re supposed to get next week? Peter’s no help at all; he’s looking at his phone again.

She stands up. “It was nice to see you, Lara Jean. Peter, don’t keep her out too late.”

“I won’t.” To me he says, “I’ll be right back; I’m just gonna get my keys.”

When he’s gone, I say, “I’m sorry for dropping in like this on New Year’s Day. I hope I wasn’t interrupting anything.”

“You’re welcome here anytime.” She leans forward and puts her hand on my knee. With a meaningful look she says, “Just be easy with his heart is all I ask.”

My stomach does a dip. Did Peter tell her what happened between us?

She gives my knee a pat and stands up. “Good night, Lara Jean.”

“Good night,” I echo.

Despite her kind smile, I feel like I’ve just gotten in trouble. There was a hint of reproach in her voice—I know I heard it. Don’t mess with my son is what she was saying. Was Peter very upset by what happened between us? He didn’t make it out like he was. Annoyed, maybe a little hurt. Certainly not hurt enough to talk to his mom about it. But maybe he and his mom are really close. I hate to think I may have already made a bad impression, before Peter and I have even gotten going.

It’s pitch black out, not many stars in the sky. I think maybe it’ll snow again soon. At my house, all the lights are on downstairs, and Margot’s bedroom light is on upstairs. Across the street I can see Ms. Rothschild’s little Christmas tree lit up in the window.

Peter and I are warm and cozy in his car. Heat billows out the vents. I ask him, “Did you tell your mom about how we broke up?”

“No. Because we never broke up,” he says, turning the heat down.

“We didn’t?”

He laughs. “No, because we were never really together, remember?”

Are we together now? is what I’m wondering, but I don’t ask, because he puts his arm around me and tilts my head up to his, and I’m nervous again. “Don’t be nervous,” he says.

I give him a quick kiss to prove I’m not.

“Kiss me like you missed me,” he says, and his voice goes husky.

“I did,” I say. “My letter told you I did.”

“Yeah, but—”

I kiss him before he can finish. Properly. Like I mean it. He kisses back like he means it too. Like it’s been four hundred years. And then I’m not thinking anymore and I’m just lost in the kissing.


AFTER PETER DROPS ME OFF, I run inside to tell Margot and Kitty everything, and I feel like a purse bulging with gold coins. I can’t wait to spill.

Kitty’s lying on the couch, watching TV with Jamie Fox-Pickle in her lap, and she scrambles up when I come through the door. In a hushed voice she says, “Gogo’s crying.”

My enthusiasm dries up instantly. “What! Why?”

“I think she went over to Josh’s and they had a talk and it wasn’t good. You should go check on her.”

Oh no. This isn’t how it was supposed to go for them. They were supposed to get back together, like Peter and me.

Kitty settles back on the couch, remote in hand, her sisterly duty fulfilled. “How did it go with Peter?”

“Great,” I say. “Really great.” The smile comes to my face without me even intending it, and I quickly wipe it away, out of respect for Margot.

I go to the kitchen and make Margot a cup of Night-Night tea, two tablespoons of honey, like Mommy used to make us for bedtime. For a second I contemplate adding a splash of whiskey because I saw it on a Victorian show on PBS—the maids would put whiskey in the lady of the manor’s hot beverage to calm her nerves. I know Margot drinks at college, but she already has a hangover, and besides, I doubt Daddy would be into it. So I just put the tea, sans whiskey, in my favorite mug, and I send Kitty upstairs with it. I tell her to act adorable. I say she should first give Margot the tea and then snuggle with her for at least five minutes. Which Kitty balks at, because Kitty only cuddles if there’s something in it for her, and also because I know it frightens her to see Margot upset. “I’ll just bring her Jamie to cuddle with,” Kitty says.


When I go to Margot’s room with a piece of buttered cinnamon toast, Kitty’s nowhere in sight and neither is Jamie. Margot’s curled up on her side, crying. “It’s really over, Lara Jean,” she whispers. “It’s been over, but now I know it’s over for good. I th-thought that if I wanted to get back together, he would too, but he d-doesn’t.” I curl up next to her, my forehead pressed to her back. I can feel every breath she takes. She weeps into her pillow, and I scratch her shoulder blades the way she likes. The thing to know about Margot is she never cries, so seeing her cry sets my world, and this house, off its axis. Everything feels tilted somehow. “He says that long distance is too h-hard, that I was right to break up with him in the first place. I missed him so much, and it seems like he didn’t miss me at all.”

I bite my lip guiltily. I was the one who encouraged her to talk to Josh. This is partly my fault. “Margot, he did miss you. He missed you like crazy. I would look out the window during French class, and I would see him outside on the bleachers eating his lunch alone. It was depressing.”

She sniffles. “Did he really?”

“Yes.” I don’t understand what’s the matter with Josh. He acted like he was so in love with her; he practically went into a depression when she was gone. And now this?

Sighing, she says, “I think . . . I think I just still really love him.”

“You do?” Love. Margot said “love.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard her say she loved Josh before. Maybe “in love,” but never “love.”

Margot wipes her eyes with her sheet. “The whole reason I broke up with him was so I wouldn’t be that girl crying over her boyfriend, and now that’s exactly what I am. It’s pathetic.”

“You’re the least pathetic person I know, Gogo,” I tell her.

Margot stops sniffling and rolls around so we’re lying face to face. Frowning at me, she says, “I didn’t say I was pathetic. I said crying over a boy was.”

“Oh,” I say. “Well, I still don’t think it’s pathetic to cry over someone. It just means you care about them deeply and you’re sad.”

“I’ve been crying so much I feel like my eyes look like . . . like shriveled-up raisins. Do they?” Margot squints at me.

“They are swollen,” I admit. “Your eyes just aren’t used to crying. I have an idea!” I leap out of bed and run downstairs to the kitchen. I fill a cereal bowl with ice and two silver spoons and come running back. “Lie back down,” I instruct, and Margot obeys. “Close your eyes.” I put a spoon over each eye.

“Does this really work?”

“I saw it in a magazine.”

When the spoons warm up against her skin, I dip them back into the ice and back onto her face, over and over again. She asks me to tell her what happened with Peter, so I do, but I leave out all the kissing because it feels in poor taste in light of her own heartbreak. She sits up and says, “You don’t have to pretend to like Peter just to spare my feelings.” Margot swallows painfully, like she has a sore throat. “If any part of you still likes Josh . . . if he likes you . . .” I gasp in horror. I open my mouth to deny it, to say that it feels like forever ago already, but she silences me with her hand. “It would be really hard, but I wouldn’t want to stand in the way of that, you know? I mean it, Lara Jean. You can tell me.”

I’m so relieved, so grateful she’s bringing it up. I rush to say, “Oh my gosh, I don’t like Josh, Gogo. Not like that. Not at all. And he doesn’t like me like that either. I think . . . I think we were both just missing you. Peter’s the one I like.” Under the blanket I find Margot’s hand and link my pinky with hers. “Sister swear.”

She swallows hard. “Then I guess there’s no secret reason for him not wanting to get back together. I guess it’s as simple as he just doesn’t want to be with me anymore.”

“No, it’s as simple as you’re in Scotland and he’s in Virginia and it’s too hard. You were wise to break it off when you did. Wise and brave and right.”

Doubt creeps across her face like dark shadows, and then she shakes her head and her expression clears. “Enough about me and Josh. We’re yesterday’s news. Tell me more about Peter. Please, it’ll make me feel better.” She lies back down, and I put the spoons back on her eyes.

“Well, tonight at first he was very cool with me, very blasé blasé—”

“No, go all the way back to the beginning.”

So I go back further: I tell her about our pretend relationship, the hot tub, everything. She keeps taking the spoons off so she can look at me as I tell her. But before long her eyes do look less puffy. And I feel lighter—giddy, even. I’ve kept all these things secret from her for months, and now she knows everything that’s happened since she’s been gone, and I feel so close to her again. You can’t be close to someone, not truly, with secrets in between you.

Margot clears her throat. She hesitates and then asks, “So, how does he kiss?”

I’m blushing. I tap my fingers on my lips before I say, “He kisses like . . . like it could be his job.”

Margot giggles and lifts the spoons off her eyes. “Like a male prostitute?”

I grab one of the spoons and tap her on the forehead with it like a gong.

“Ow!” She snatches for the other spoon, but I’m too quick and I’ve got them both. We’re both laughing like crazy as I try to get in another gong on her forehead.

“Margot . . . did it hurt when you had sex?” I’m careful not to say Josh’s name. It’s strange, because Margot and I have never talked about sex before in any kind of real way, because neither of us had a point of reference. But now she does and I don’t, and I want to know what she knows.

“Umm. I mean, the first couple of times, a little.” Now she’s the one who’s blushing. “Lara Jean, I can’t talk about this with you. It’s too weird. Can’t you just ask Chris?”

“No, I want to hear it from you. Please, Gogo. You have to tell me everything about it so I’ll know. I don’t want to look like a fool when I do it the first time.”

“It’s not like Josh and I had sex hundreds of times! I’m not an expert. He’s the only person I’ve done it with. But if you’re thinking about having sex with Peter, make sure you’re careful and you use a condom and everything.” I nod quickly. This is when she’ll get to the good stuff. “And just be really sure, as sure as you can be. And make sure he knows to be really gentle and caring with you, so it’s special and it’s something you can look back on with good feelings.”

“Got it. So, like, how long did it last from start to finish?”

“Not that long. Don’t forget, it was Josh’s first time too.” She sounds wistful. Now I feel wistful too. Peter’s done it with Genevieve so many times, he’s probably an expert by now. I’ll probably even have an orgasm my first time out. Which is great, but it might’ve been nice if we both didn’t know what we were doing instead of just me.

“You don’t regret it, do you?”

“No. I don’t think so. I think I’ll always be glad it was with Josh. No matter how it’s turned out.” This is a relief to me, that even now, with eyes red from crying, Margot still doesn’t regret having loved Josh.

I sleep in her room that night like old times, huddled beside her under her quilt. Margot’s room is coldest, because it’s above the garage. I listen as the heat clicks off and on.

In the dark next to me she says, “I’m going to date a bunch of Scottish guys when I get back to school. When else will I have another opportunity like that, right?”

I giggle and roll over so we’re face-to-face. “No, wait—don’t date a bunch of Scottish guys. Date one from England, one from Ireland, one from Scotland. And Wales! A tour of the British Empire!”

“Well, I am going to school to study anthropology,” Margot says, and we giggle some more. “You know the saddest part? Josh and I will never be friends like we were before. Not after all this. That part’s just over now. He was my best friend.”

I give her fake-wounded eyes to lighten the mood, so she won’t start crying again. “Hey, I thought I was your best friend!”

“You’re not my best friend. You’re my sister, and that’s more.”

It is more.

“Josh and I started out so easy, so fun, and now we’re like strangers. I’ll never have that person back, who I knew better than anyone and who knew me so well.”

I feel a pinch in my heart. When she says it that way, it’s so sad. “You could become friends again, after some time has passed.” But it wouldn’t be the same, I know that. You’d always be mourning what once was. It would always be a little bit . . . less.

“But it won’t be like before.”

“No,” I agree. “I suppose it won’t.” Strangely, I think of Genevieve, of who we used to be to each other. Ours was the kind of friendship that makes sense as a kid but not so much now that we’re older. I suppose you can’t hold on to old things just for the sake of holding on.

It’s the end of an era, it seems. No more Margot and Josh. This time for real. It’s real because Margot is crying, and I can hear it in her voice that it’s over, and this time we both know it. Things have changed.

“Don’t let it happen to you, Lara Jean. Don’t get too serious to where things can’t go back. Be in love with Peter if you want, but be careful with your heart. Things feel like they’ll be forever, but they aren’t. Love can go away, or people can, without even meaning to. Nothing is guaranteed.”

Gulp. “I promise I’ll be careful.” But I’m not sure I even know what that means. How can I be careful when I already like him so much?


MARGOT’S OFF SHOPPING FOR NEW boots with her friend Casey, Daddy’s at work, and Kitty and I are lazing about watching TV when my phone buzzes next to me. It’s a text from Peter. Movie tonight? I text back yes, exclamation point. Then I delete the exclamation point for sounding too eager. Though without the exclamation point, the yes seems completely unenthused. I settle on a smiley face and press send before I can obsess over it further.

“Who are you texting with?” Kitty is sprawled out on the living room floor, spooning pudding into her mouth. Jamie tries to steal a lick, but she shakes her head and scolds, “You know you can’t have chocolate!”

“I was texting with Peter. You know, that might not even be real chocolate. It might be imitation. Check the label.”

Of all of us, Kitty is firmest with Jamie. She doesn’t immediately pick him up when he’s crying to be held; she sprays him in the face with a water bottle when he’s naughty. All tricks she’s learning from our across-the-street neighbor Ms. Rothschild, who it turns out is kind of a dog whisperer. She used to have three dogs, but when she and her husband got divorced, she got to keep Simone the golden retriever, and he got custody of the other two.

“Is Peter your boyfriend again?” Kitty asks me.

“Um. I’m not sure.” After what Margot said last night about taking things slow and being careful with my heart and not going to a point of no return, maybe it’s good to exist in a place of unsureness for a while. Also, it’s hard to redefine something that never had a clear definition in the first place. We were two people pretending to like each other, pretending to be a couple, so now what are we? And how might it have unfolded if we’d started liking each other without the pretense? Would we ever have been a couple? I guess we’ll never know.

“What do you mean, you’re not sure?” Kitty presses. “Shouldn’t you know if you’re somebody’s girlfriend or not?”

“We haven’t discussed it yet. I mean, not explicitly.”

Kitty switches the channel. “You should look into that.”

I roll on my side and prop myself up on my elbow. “But would that change anything? I mean, we like each other. What’s the difference between that and the label? What would change?” Kitty doesn’t answer. “Hello?”

“Sorry, can you say that again at the commercial break? I’m trying to watch my show.”

I throw a pillow at her head. “I would be better off discussing these things with Jamie.” I clap my hands. “C’mere, Jamie!”

Jamie lifts his head to look at me and then lies back down again, nestled against Kitty’s side, still hoping for pudding, I’m sure.

In the car last night Peter didn’t seem troubled by the status of our relationship. He seemed happy and carefree as always. I’m definitely a person who worries too much over every little thing. I could do with a bit more of Peter’s roll-with-it philosophy in my life.

“Wanna help me pick out what to wear to the movies with Peter tonight?” I ask Kitty.

“Can I come too?”

“No!” Kitty starts to pout and I amend: “Maybe next time.”

“Fine. Show me two options and I’ll tell you which is the better one.”

I dart upstairs to my room and start going through my closet. This will be our actual first date, I want to wow him a bit. Unfortunately, Peter’s already seen me in my good outfits, so the only thing to do is go for Margot’s closet. She has a cream sweater dress she brought back from Scotland that I can put with tights and my little brown boots. There’s also her periwinkle Fair Isle sweater I’ve been admiring; I can wear it with my yellow skirt and a yellow ribbon in my hair, which I’ll curl, because Peter once told me he liked it curled.

“Kitty!” I scream. “Come up and look at my two options!”

“On the commercial break!” she screams back.

In the meantime I text Margot:

Can I borrow your fair isle sweater or your cream sweater dress??


Kitty votes for the Fair Isle sweater, saying I look like I’m wearing an ice-skating outfit, which I like the sound of. “You can wear it if we go ice skating,” she says. “You, me, and Peter.”

I laugh. “All right.”


PETER AND I ARE STANDING in line for popcorn at the movies. Even just this mundane thing feels like the best mundane thing that’s ever happened to me. I check my pocket to make sure I’ve still got my ticket stub. This I’ll want to save.

Gazing up at Peter, I whisper, “This is my first date.” I feel like the nerdy girl in the movie who lands the coolest guy in school, and I don’t mind one bit. Not one bit.

“How can this be your first date when we’ve gone out plenty of times?”

“It’s my first real date. Those other times were just pretend; this is the real thing.”

He frowns. “Oh, wait, is this real? I didn’t realize that.”

I move to slug him in the shoulder, and he laughs and grabs my hand and links my fingers with his. It feels like my heart is beating right through my hand. It’s the first time we’ve held hands for real, and it feels different from those fake times. Like electric currents, in a good way. The best way.

We’re moving up in the line, and I realize I’m nervous, which is strange, because this is Peter. But he’s also a different Peter, and I’m a different Lara Jean, because this is a date, an actual date. Just to make conversation, I ask, “So, when you go to the movies are you more of a chocolate kind of candy or a gummy kind of candy?”

“Neither. All I want is popcorn.”

“Then we’re doomed! You’re neither, and I’m either or all of the above.” We get to the cashier and I start fishing around for my wallet.

Peter laughs. “You think I’m going to make a girl pay on her first date?” He puffs out his chest and says to the cashier, “Can we have one medium popcorn with butter, and can you layer the butter? And a Sour Patch Kids and a box of Milk Duds. And one small Cherry Coke.”

“How did you know that was what I wanted?”

“I pay a lot better attention than you think, Covey.” Peter slings his arm around my shoulders with a self-satisfied smirk, and he accidentally hits my right boob.


He laughs an embarrassed laugh. “Whoops. Sorry. Are you okay?”

I give him a hard elbow to the side, and he’s still laughing as we walk into the theater—which is when we see Genevieve and Emily coming out of the ladies’ room. The last time I saw Genevieve, she was telling everyone on the ski trip bus how Peter and I had sex in the hot tub. I feel a strong surge of panic, of fight or flight.

Peter slows down for a second, and I’m not sure what’s going to happen. Do we have to go over and say hi? Do we keep walking? His arm tightens around me, and I can feel Peter’s hesitance too. He’s torn.

Genevieve solves it for everyone. She walks into the theater like she didn’t see us. The same theater we’re going into. I don’t look at Peter, and he doesn’t say anything either. I guess we’re just going to pretend like she isn’t here? He steers me through the same set of doors and picks our seats, far left toward the back. Genevieve and Emily are sitting in the middle. I see her blond head, the back of her dove gray dress coat. I make myself look away. If Gen turns around, I don’t want to be caught staring.

We sit down, and I’m taking off my coat and getting comfy in my seat when Peter’s phone buzzes. He pulls it out of his pocket and then puts it away, and I know it was Gen, but I feel like I can’t ask. Her presence has punctured the night. Two vampire bite marks right into it.

The lights dim, and Peter puts his arm back around me. Is he going to keep it there the whole movie, I wonder. I feel stiff, and I try to even my breathing. He whispers in my ear, “Relax, Covey.”

I’m trying, but it’s sort of impossible to relax on command under these circumstances. Peter gives my shoulder a squeeze, and he leans in and nuzzles my neck. “You smell nice,” he says in a low voice.

I laugh, a touch too loudly, and the man sitting in front of us whips around in his seat and glares at me. Chastened, I say to Peter, “Sorry, I’m really ticklish.”

“No worries,” he says, keeping his arm around me.

I smile and nod, but now I’m wondering—is he expecting that we’re going to do stuff during the movie? Is that why he picked seats in the back when there were still free seats in the middle? Panic is rising inside me. Genevieve is here! And other people too! I might have made out with him in a hot tub, but there wasn’t anyone around to see. Also, I kind of just want to watch the movie. I lean forward to take a sip of soda, but really it’s just so I can subtly move away from him.

After the movie we have an unspoken understanding to hustle out so we don’t run into Genevieve again. The two of us bolt out of the theater like the devil is on our heels—which, I suppose, she sort of is. Peter’s hungry, but I’m too full from all the junk to eat a real dinner, so I suggest we just go to the diner and I’ll share his fries. But Peter says, “I feel like we should go to a real restaurant since this is your first date.”

“I never knew you had such a romantic side.” I say it like it’s a joke, but I mean it.

“Get used to it,” he boasts. “I know how to treat a girl.”

He takes me to Biscuit Soul Food—his favorite restaurant, he says. I watch him scarf down fried chicken with hot honey and Tabasco drizzled on top, and I wonder how many times Genevieve has sat and watched him do the very same thing. Our town isn’t that big. There aren’t many places we can go that he hasn’t already been with Genevieve. When I get up to go to the bathroom, I suddenly wonder if he’s texting her back, but I make myself push this thought out of my mind tout de suite. So what if he does text back? They’re still friends. He’s allowed. I’m not going to let Gen ruin this night for me. I want to be right here, in this moment, just the two of us on our first date.

I sit back down, and Peter’s finished his fried chicken and he has a pile of dirty napkins in front of him. He has a habit of wiping his fingers every time he takes a bite. There’s honey on his cheek, and a bit of breading is stuck to it, but I don’t tell him, because I think it’s funny.

“So how was your first date?” Peter asks me, stretching back in his chair. “Tell it to me like it wasn’t me that took you.”

“I liked it when you knew what kinds of movie theater snacks I like.” He nods encouragingly. “And . . . I liked the movie.”

“Yeah, I got that. You kept shushing me and pointing at the screen.”

“That man in front of us was getting mad.” I hesitate. I’m not sure if I should say this next thing I want to say, the thing I’ve been thinking all night. “I don’t know . . . is it just me, or . . .”

He leans in closer, now he’s listening. “What?”

I take a deep breath. “Is it . . . a little weird? I mean, first we were fake, and then we weren’t, and then we had a fight, and now here we are and you’re eating fried chicken. It’s like we did everything in the wrong order, and it’s good, but it’s . . . still kind of upside down.” And also were you trying to feel me up during the movie?

“I guess it’s a little weird,” he admits.

I sip my sweet tea, relieved that he doesn’t think I’m the weird one for bringing up all the weirdness.

He grins at me. “Maybe what we need is a new contract.”

I can’t tell if he’s joking or if he’s serious, so I play along. “What would go in the contract?”

“Off the top of my head . . . I guess I’d have to call you every night before I went to bed. You’d agree to come to all my lacrosse games. Some practices, too. I’d have to come to your house for dinner. You’d have to come to parties with me.”

I make a face at the parties part. “Let’s just do the things we want to do. Like before.” Suddenly I hear Margot’s voice in my head. “Let’s . . . let’s have fun.”

He nods, and now he’s the one who looks relieved. “Yeah!”

I like that he doesn’t take things too seriously. In other people that could be annoying, but not him. It’s one of his best qualities, I think. That and his face. I could stare at his face all day long. I sip sweet tea out of my straw and look at him. A contract might actually be good for us. It could help us to head problems off at the pass and keep us accountable. I think Margot would be proud of me for this.

I pull a little notebook out of my purse and a pen. I write Lara Jean and Peter’s New Contract on the top of the page.

Line one I write, Peter will be on time.

Peter cranes his neck to read upside down. “Wait, does that say, ‘Peter will be on time’?”

“If you say you’re going to be somewhere, then be there.”

Peter scowls. “I didn’t show up one time and you hold a grudge—”

“But you’re always late.”

“That’s not the same as not showing up!”

“Being late all the time shows a lack of respect for the person who’s waiting for you.”

“I respect you! I respect you more than any girl I know!”

I point at him. “‘Girl’? Just ‘girl’? What boy do you respect more than me?”

Peter throws his head back and groans so loudly it’s a roar. I reach across the table, over the food, and grab him by the collar and kiss him before we can fight again. Though I have to say, it’s this kind of fighting, the bickering kind, not the hurt-feelings kind, that makes us feel like us for the first time all night.

This is what we decide on.

Peter will not be more than five minutes late.

Lara Jean will not make Peter do crafts of any kind.

Peter doesn’t have to call Lara Jean before he goes to bed at night, but he can if he feels like it.

Lara Jean will only go to parties if she feels like it.

Peter will give Lara Jean rides whenever she wants.

Lara Jean and Peter will always tell each other the truth.

There’s one thing I want to add to the contract, but I’m nervous to broach the subject now that things are going smoothly.

Peter can still be friends with Genevieve, as long as he is up front with Lara Jean about it.

Or maybe it’s Peter will not lie to Lara Jean about Genevieve. But that’s redundant, because we already have the rule about always telling each other the truth. A rule like that wouldn’t be the truth anyway. What I really want to say is Peter will always pick Lara Jean over Genevieve. But I can’t say that. Of course I can’t. I don’t know a ton about dating or guys, but I do know that jealous insecurity is a real turnoff.

So I bite my tongue; I don’t say what I’m thinking. There’s only one thing, one really important thing I want to be sure of.



“I don’t want us to ever break each other’s hearts.”

Peter laughs easily; he cups my cheek in his hand. “Are you planning on breaking my heart, Covey?”

“No. And I’m sure you’re not planning on breaking mine. Nobody ever plans it.”

“Then put that in the contract. Peter and Lara Jean promise not to break each other’s hearts.”

I beam at him, relieved as anything, and then I write it down. Lara Jean and Peter will not break each other’s hearts.


THE DAY BEFORE WE GO back to school, Kitty and I are lying in my bed watching pet videos on my computer. Our puppy, Jamie Fox-Pickle, is curled up in a ball at the foot of the bed. Kitty wrapped him up in her nubby old baby blanket so only his face is peeking out. He’s dreaming—I can tell by the way he shudders and shakes every so often. I can’t tell if it’s a good dream or a bad dream.

“Do you think we should start doing videos of Jamie?” Kitty asks me. “He’s cute enough, right?”

“He’s definitely got the look, but he doesn’t have any discernible talent or quirky thing about him.” As soon as I say the word “quirky,” I think of Peter and how he once said I was “cute in a quirky way.” I wonder if that’s still how he sees me. I’ve heard people say that the more you like someone, the more you think they are beautiful even if you didn’t think so in the beginning.

“Jamie does that thing where he prances around like a baby deer,” Kitty reminds me.

“Hm. I wouldn’t exactly call that a ‘thing.’ It’s not the same as leaping into cardboard boxes or playing the piano or having a really grumpy face.”

“Ms. Rothschild will help me train him. She thinks he has the right personality for tricks.” Kitty clicks on the next video, a dog that howls when you play Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” Kitty and I crack up and we watch it again.

After a video of a woman whose cat wraps itself around her face like a scarf, I say, “Wait a minute—did you do your homework?”

“All I had to do was read a book.”

“So did you read it?”

“Mostly,” Kitty hedges, snuggling in closer to me.

“You’ve had all of Christmas break to read it, Kitty!” I really wish Kitty were more of a reader like Margot and me. She much prefers TV. I click stop on the video and snap my computer shut with a flourish. “No more pet videos for you. You go finish your book.” I start to shove her out of the bed, and Kitty grabs on to my leg.

“Sweet my sister, cast me not away!” Proudly she says, “That’s Shakespeare. Romeo and Juliet, in case you haven’t read it.”

“Don’t act high and mighty like you were reading Shakespeare. I saw you watching the movie on TV the other day.”

“Who cares if I read it or I saw the movie? The message is still the same.” Kitty crawls back up by me.

I pat her hair. “So what’s the message?”

“Don’t kill yourself over a boy.”

“Or a girl.”

“Or a girl,” she agrees. She opens up my computer. “One more cat video and then I’ll go read.”

My phone buzzes, a text from Chris.

Check Anonybitch’s instagram NOW.

Anonybitch is an anonymous Instagram account that puts up scandalous pictures and videos of people hooking up and getting drunk at parties around town. No one knows who runs the account; they just send in the content. There was a picture of a girl from another high school that went viral last year—she was flashing a cop car. I heard she got expelled from school for it.

My phone buzzes again.


“Hold on, Kitty, let me check something first,” I say, pausing the video. As I type in the address, I say, “If you want to stay in here, close your eyes until I tell you to open them.”

Kitty obeys.

At the top of Anonybitch’s feed, there is a video of a boy and a girl making out in a hot tub. Anonybitch is particularly famous for her hot tub videos. She tags them #rubadub. This one’s a little grainy, like it was zoomed in from far away. I click play. The girl is sitting in the boy’s lap, her body draped over his, legs hooked around his waist, arms around his neck. She’s wearing a red nightgown, and it billows in the water like a full sail. The back of her head obscures the boy. Her hair is long, and the ends dip into the hot tub like calligraphy brushes in ink. The boy runs his hands down her spine like she is a cello and he is playing her.

I’m so entranced I don’t notice at first that Kitty is watching with me. Both of our heads are tilted, trying to suss out what it is we’re looking at. “You shouldn’t be looking at this,” I say.

“Are they doing it?” she asks.

“It’s hard to say because of her nightgown.” But maybe?

Then the girl touches the boy’s cheek, and there is something about the movement, the way she touches him like she is reading braille. Something familiar. The back of my neck goes icy cold, and I am hit with a gust of awareness, of humiliating recognition.

That girl is me. Me and Peter, in the hot tub on the ski trip.

Oh my God.

I scream.

Margot comes racing in, wearing one of those Korean beauty masks on her face with slits for eyes, nose, and mouth. “What? What?”

I try to cover the computer screen with my hand, but she pushes it out of the way, and then she lets out a scream too. Her mask falls off. “Oh my God! Is that you?”

Oh my God oh my God oh my God.

“Don’t let Kitty see!” I shout.

Kitty’s wide-eyed. “Lara Jean, I thought you were a goody-goody.”

“I am!” I scream.

Margot gulps. “That . . . that looks like . . .”

“I know. Don’t say it.”

“Don’t worry, Lara Jean,” Kitty soothes. “I’ve seen worse on regular TV, not even HBO.”

“Kitty, go to your room!” Margot yells. Kitty whimpers and clings closer to me.

I can’t believe what I am seeing. The caption reads Goody two shoes Lara Jean having full-on sex with Kavinsky in the hot tub. Do condoms work underwater? Guess we’ll find out soon enough. ;) The comments are a lot of wide-eyed emojis and lols. Someone named Veronica Chen wrote, What a slut! Is she Asian?? I don’t even know who Veronica Chen is!

“Who could have done this to me?” I wail, pressing my hands to my cheeks. “I can’t feel my face. Is my face still my face?”

“Who the hell is Anonybitch?” Margot demands.

“No one knows,” I say, and the roaring in my ears is so loud I can hardly hear my own voice. “People just re-gram her. Or him. Am I talking really loud right now?” I’m in shock. Now I can’t feel my hands or feet. I’m gonna faint. Is this happening? Is this my life?

“We have to get this taken down right now. Is there a help line for inappropriate content? We have to report this!” Margot’s grabbing the computer from me. She clicks the REPORT INAPPROPRIATE tab. Scanning the comments on the page, she seethes, “People are absolute jerks! We might have to call a lawyer. This won’t get taken down right away.”

“No!” I scream. “I don’t want Daddy to see!”

“Lara Jean, this is serious. You don’t want colleges to google you and have this video come up! Or, like, future employers—”

“Gogo! You’re making me feel so much worse right now!” I grab my phone. Peter. He’ll know what to do. It’s five o’clock, which means he’s still at lacrosse practice. I can’t even call him right now. I text instead:

Call me ASAP.

Then I hear Daddy’s voice calling up the staircase. “These potatoes won’t mash themselves! Who’s helping me?”

Oh my God. Now I have to sit at dinner and look my dad in the face, knowing that this video exists. This can’t be my life.

Margot and Kitty look at each other, then back at me. “Nobody says a word to Daddy!” I hiss at them. “That means you, Kitty!”

She gives me a hurt look. “I know when to keep my mouth shut.”

“Sorry, sorry,” I mumble. My heart is pounding so hard it’s giving me a headache. I can’t even think straight.

At dinner, my stomach is churning and I can barely get down a bite of potatoes. Luckily, I have Margot and Kitty to run interference and keep a steady chatter going so I don’t have to talk. I just push the food around on my plate and sneak Jamie Fox-Pickle bites under the table. As soon as everyone else is done eating, I sprint upstairs and look at my phone. Still nothing from Peter. Just more texts from Chris and one from Haven:

OMG is this you??!

I don’t know who the girl in the video is. I don’t recognize me in it. It’s not how I see myself at all. It’s like some other person who has nothing to do with me. I’m not someone who climbs into hot tubs with boys and sits in their laps and kisses them passionately with a wet nightgown clinging to them. But I was that night. The video just doesn’t tell the whole truth.

I keep telling myself it’s not like we’re really having sex in the video. It’s not like I’m naked. It just feels like I’m naked in the video. And all I can think is, everybody at school has seen that video, a video of me in one of the most intimate and truly romantic moments of my life. And not only that, but someone recorded it. Someone was there. That memory was supposed to only be mine and Peter’s, but now it turns out there was some random Peeping Tom in the woods there with us. It’s not just ours anymore. It feels tawdry now. It certainly looks that way. In the moment I felt free, and adventurous, maybe even sexy. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt sexy in my whole life. And now I just want to not exist.

I’m lying in bed staring up at the ceiling, phone at my side. Margot and Kitty have forbidden me from looking at the video. They tried to take my phone away, but I told them I need it for when Peter calls. Then I snuck a look at the video, and so far there are over a hundred comments, none good.

Kitty’s playing with Jamie Fox-Pickle on the floor and Margot’s emailing Instagram customer service when Chris knocks on my window. Margot unlocks it for her, and Chris climbs inside, shivering and pink-cheeked. “Is she okay?”

“I think she’s in shock,” Kitty says.

“I’m not in shock,” I say. But maybe I am. Maybe this is shock. It’s a queer, surreal sort of feeling, like I’m numb, but also all my senses feel heightened.

Margot says to Chris, “Why can’t you come in through the front door like a normal person?”

“Nobody answered.” Chris yanks off her boots and sits down on the floor next to Kitty. Petting Jamie, she says, “Okay, first of all, you can barely tell it’s you. And second of all, it’s really hot, so there’s nothing to be ashamed of. I mean, you look great.”

Margot makes a disgusted sound. “That’s so beside the point I don’t even know where to begin.”

“I’m just being honest! Objectively, it sucks, but also objectively, Lara Jean looks awesome in it.”

Crawling under my quilt, I say, “I thought you could barely even tell it was me! I knew I shouldn’t have gone on that ski trip. I hate hot tubs. Why would I willingly get into a hot tub?”

“Hey, be glad you were in your pajamas,” Chris says. “You could have been nude!”

My head pops out from under the quilt and I glare at her. “I would never be nude!”

Chris snorts. “Never nude. Did you know that’s a real thing? Some people call themselves never-nudes and they wear clothes at all times, even in the shower. Like, jean shorts.”

I turn on my side, away from Chris.

The weight of my bed shifts as Margot climbs in. “It’s going to be fine,” she says, peeling back the blanket. “We’ll get them to take the video down.”

“It won’t matter,” I say. “Everyone’s already seen it. They all think I’m a slut.”

Chris’s eyes go narrow. “So are you saying that if a girl has sex in a hot tub, that makes her a slut?”

“No! That’s not what I’m saying; that’s what other people are saying.”

“Then what are you saying?” she demands.

I look at Kitty, who’s braiding Chris’s hair in microbraids. She’s being extra quiet so we forget she’s here and don’t kick her out. “I think that as long as you’re ready and it’s what you want to do and you’re protecting yourself, then it’s okay and you should do what you want to do.”

Margot says, “Society is far too caught up in shaming a woman for enjoying sex and applauding a man. I mean, all of the comments are about how Lara Jean is a slut, but nobody’s saying anything about Peter, and he’s right there with her. It’s a ridiculous double standard.”

I hadn’t thought of that.

Chris looks down at her phone. “Like, three different people just texted the video to me as we were sitting here.”

I let out a sob and Margot says, “Chris, that’s not helping. At all.” To me she says, “If people say anything, just be really blasé, like it’s beneath you.”

“Or just, like, lean into it,” Chris says.

From behind her Kitty says, “Nobody will say anything to Lara Jean because she’s Peter’s girl. That means she’s under his protection, like on The Sopranos.”

Aghast, Margot says, “Oh my God, you’ve seen The Sopranos? How have you seen The Sopranos? It’s not even on TV anymore.”

“I watched it on demand. I’m on season three.”

“Kitty! Stop watching it!” She shuts her eyes and shakes her head. “Never mind. That’s not what’s important right now. We’ll talk about it later. Kitty, Lara Jean doesn’t need a boy to protect her.”

“No, Kitty has a good point,” Chris says. “It’s not about the fact that Peter’s a guy. Well, not completely. It’s about the fact that he’s popular and she isn’t. That’s where the protection comes into play. No offense, LJ.”

“None taken,” I say. It’s slightly insulting, but it’s also true, and now isn’t the time for me to get my feelings hurt about something so miniscule in comparison to a would-be sex tape.

“What did Kavinsky say about it?” Chris asks me.

“Nothing yet. He’s still at lacrosse practice.”

My phone immediately starts to buzz, and the three of us look at each other, wide-eyed. Margot picks it up and looks at it. “It’s Peter!” She hot-potatoes the phone to me. “Let’s give them some privacy,” she says, nudging Chris. Chris shrugs her off.

I ignore both of them and answer the phone. “Hello.” My voice comes out thin as a reed.

Peter starts talking fast. “Okay, I’ve seen the video, and the first thing I’m going to say to you is don’t freak out.” He’s breathing hard; it sounds like he’s running.

“Don’t freak out? How can I not? This is terrible. Do you know what they’re all saying about me in the comments? That I’m a slut. They think we’re having sex in that video, Peter.”

“Never read the comments, Covey! That’s the first rule of—”

“If you say ‘Fight Club’ to me right now, I will hang up on you.”

“Sorry. Okay, I know it sucks but—”

“It doesn’t ‘suck.’ It’s a literal nightmare. My most private moment, for everybody to see. I’m completely humiliated. The things people are saying—” My voice breaks. Kitty and Margot and Chris are all looking at me with sad eyes, which makes me feel even sadder.

“Don’t cry, Lara Jean. Please don’t cry. I promise you I’m going to fix this. I’m going to get whoever runs Anonybitch to take it down.”

“How? We don’t even know who they are! And besides, I bet our whole school’s seen it by now. Teachers, too. I know for a fact that teachers look at Anonybitch. I was in the faculty lounge once and I overheard Mr. Filipe and Ms. Ryan saying how bad it makes our school look. And what about college admissions boards and our future employers?”

Peter guffaws. “Future employers? Covey, I’ve seen much worse. Hell, I’ve seen worse pictures of me on there. Remember that picture of me with my head in a toilet bowl, and I’m naked?”

I shudder. “I never saw that picture. Besides, that’s you; that’s not me. I don’t do that kind of stuff.”

“Just trust me, okay? I promise I’ll take care of it.”

I nod, even though I know he can’t see me. Peter is powerful. If anyone could fix such a thing, it would be him.

“Listen, I’ve gotta go. Coach is gonna kick my ass if he sees me on the phone. I’ll call you tonight, okay? Don’t go to sleep.”

I don’t want to hang up. I wish we could talk longer. “Okay,” I whisper.

When I hang up, Margot, Chris, and Kitty are all three staring at me.

“Well?” Chris says.

“He says he’ll take care of it.”

Smugly Kitty says, “I told you so.”

“What does that even mean, ‘he’ll take care of it’?” Margot asks. “He hasn’t exactly proven himself to be responsible.”

“It’s not his fault,” Kitty and I say at the same time.

“Oh, I know exactly who’s responsible for this,” Chris proclaims. “My she-devil cousin.”

This knocks the wind out of me. “What? Why?”

She gives me an incredulous look. “Because you took her man!”

“Genevieve’s the one who cheated on Peter. That’s why they broke up. It wasn’t because of me!”

“Like that matters!” Chris shakes her head. “Come on, Lara Jean. Remember what she did to Jamila Singh? Telling everyone that her family had an Indonesian slave just because she had the balls to date Peter after they broke up? I’m just saying, I wouldn’t put a bitch move like this past her.”

On the ski trip, Genevieve said she knew about the kiss, which has to mean that Peter told her about it at some point in their relationship—though I doubt he told her that he was the one who kissed me and not the other way around! Even so, I find it hard to believe that she could do something so cruel to me. Jamila Singh and Genevieve never liked each other. But Gen and I were best friends once. Sure, we haven’t talked much the last few years, but Gen was always loyal to her friends.

It had to have been one of the guys hanging out in the rec room, or maybe . . . I don’t know. Maybe anyone!

“I’ve never trusted her,” Margot says. Then she says to Chris, “No offense. I know she’s your cousin.”

Chris snorts. “Why would I be offended? I can’t stand her.”

“I’m pretty sure she’s the one who scraped up the side of Grandma’s car with her bike,” Margot says. “Remember, Lara Jean?”

It was actually Chris, but I don’t say so. Chris starts biting her nails and giving me panicky eyes and I say, “I don’t think Genevieve was the one who posted the video. It could’ve been anybody who happened to see us that night.”

Margot puts her arm around me. “Don’t worry, Lara Jean. We’ll get them to take the video down. You’re underage.”

“Pull it up again,” I say. Kitty cues it up and pushes play. I feel the same sinking feeling in my stomach every time I watch it. I close my eyes so I don’t have to. Thank God the only things you can hear are the sounds of the woods and the hot tub water bubbling. “Is it . . . is it as bad as I’m remembering? I mean, does it really look like we’re having sex? Be honest.” I open my eyes.

Margot’s peering at it, head tilted. “No, it really doesn’t. It just looks like . . .”

“Like a hot makeout,” Chris supplies.

“Right,” Margot agrees. “Just a hot makeout.”

“You guys swear?”

In unison they say, “We swear.”

“Kitty?” I ask.

She bites her lip. “It looks like sex to me, but I’m the only one here besides you who’s never had sex, so what do I know?” Margot lets out a gasp. “Sorry, I read your diary.” Margot swats at her, and Kitty crawls away fast like a crab.

I take a deep breath. “Okay. I can live with that. I mean, who cares about a hot makeout, right? That’s just part of life, right? And you can barely even see my face? You’d have to really know me to know it was me. My full name isn’t on here anywhere, just Lara Jean. There must be a ton of Lara Jeans, right? Right?”

Margot gives me an impressed nod. “I’ve never seen anybody move through the five stages of grief that fast. You really do have an incredible bounce-back.”

“Thank you,” I say, feeling a little proud.

But then in the dark, when my sisters and Chris have left and Peter and I have said our good nights and he has assured me for the millionth time that everything will be fine, I look at Instagram again, at all the comments. And I am mortified.

I asked Peter who he thought could have done it; he said he didn’t know. Probably just some horny pathetic guy, he said. I don’t ask the thing I’m still thinking about, the thing that’s still stuck in my craw. Was it Genevieve? Could she really hate me so much that she’d want to hurt me that badly?

I remember the day we exchanged friendship bracelets. “This proves that we’re best friends,” she said to me. “We’re closer with each other than with anyone else.”

“What about Allie?” I asked. We’d always been a trio, though Genevieve had taken to spending more time at my house, mainly because Allie’s mom was strict about boys coming over and being on the Internet.

“Allie’s okay but I like you better,” she’d said, and I had felt guilty but honored. Genevieve liked me best. We were close, closer than with anyone else. The bracelets were proof. How cheaply I was bought then, with just a bracelet made out of string.


THE NEXT MORNING I DRESS for school with special care. Chris said I should lean into it, which would mean a look-at-me kind of outfit. Margot said I should be above it all, which means something mature like a pencil skirt or maybe my green corduroy blazer. But my instinct is to blend, blend, blend. Big sweater that’s more like a blanket. Leggings, Margot’s brown boots. If I could wear a baseball cap to school, I would, but no hats allowed.

I make myself a bowl of Cheerios with sliced banana on top, but I can only force down a few bites. I’m too nervous. Margot notices and slips a cashew bar in my bag for later. I’m lucky that she’s still here to take such good care of me. She’ll be heading back to Scotland tomorrow.

Daddy feels my forehead. “Are you sick? You barely had any dinner last night either.”

I shake my head. “Probably just cramps. My period’s coming soon.” I have only to say the magic word, “period,” and I know he won’t push it further.

“Ah,” he says with a sage nod. “After you get some food in your stomach, take two ibuprofen so you have it in your system.”

“Got it,” I say. I feel bad for the lie, but it’s a tiny one, and it’s for his own good. He can never know about that video, not ever.

Peter pulls up in front of our house right on time for once. He’s really sticking to our contract. Margot walks me to the door and says, “Just hold your head up high, all right? You haven’t done anything wrong.”

As soon as I get in the car, Peter leans over and kisses me on the mouth, which still feels surprising somehow. I’m taken off guard, so I accidentally cough into his mouth a little. “Sorry,” I say.

“No worries,” he says, smooth as ever. He places his arm on the back of my seat as he puts the car in reverse; then he tosses me his phone. “Check Anonybitch.”

I open up his Instagram and go to Anonybitch’s page. I see the entry that was below ours, a picture of a passed-out guy with penises permanent-markered all over his face. It’s the top of the feed now. I gasp. The hot tub video is gone! “Peter, how did you do this?”

Peter grins a peacocky kind of grin. “I messaged Anonybitch last night and told them to take that shit down or we’re suing. I told them how my uncle is a lawyer and you and I are both underage.” He gives my knee a squeeze.

“Is your uncle really a lawyer?”

“No. He owns a pizza parlor in New Jersey.” We both laugh, and it feels like such a relief. “Listen, don’t worry about anything today. If anybody says anything, I’ll kick their ass.”

“I just wish I knew who did it. I could’ve sworn we were alone that night.”

Peter shakes his head. “It’s not like we did anything so wrong! I mean, who cares if we made out in a damn hot tub? Who cares if we had sex in it?” I frown and he quickly says, “I know, I know. You don’t want people thinking we did something when we didn’t. We definitely didn’t, and that’s what I told that bitch Anonybitch.”

“It’s different for guys and girls, Peter.”

“I know. Don’t be mad. I’m going to find out who did this.” He looks straight ahead, so serious and unlike himself; his profile is almost noble for all its good intent.

Oh, Peter, why do you have to be so handsome! If you weren’t so handsome I never would have gotten in that hot tub with you. It’s all your fault. Except it isn’t. I’m the one who took off my shoes and socks and got in. I wanted it too. I just appreciate that he’s taking it as seriously as he is, writing emails on our behalf. I know this is the kind of thing that Genevieve wouldn’t care about; she never had a problem with PDAs or being the center of attention. But I care, I care a lot.

He turns his head and looks at me, studying my eyes, my face. “You don’t regret it, do you, Lara Jean?”

I shake my head. “No, I don’t.” He smiles at me so sweetly I can’t help but smile back. “Thanks for getting them to take the video down for me.”

“Us,” Peter corrects. “I did it for us.” He links our fingers together. “It’s you and me, kid.”

I tighten my fingers around his. If we just hold on tight enough, it will all be okay.

When we walk down the hall together, girls whisper. Boys snicker. One guy from the lacrosse team runs up and tries to high-five Peter, who swats him away with a growl.

Lucas comes up to me when I’m alone at my locker trading out my books. “I’m not going to mince words,” he says. “I’m just going to ask. Is the girl in the video really you?”

I take deep, calming breath. “It’s me.”

Lucas lets out a low whistle. “Damn.”


“So . . . did you guys . . .”

“No, we definitely did not. We are not.”

“Why not?”

I’m embarrassed by the question, though I know there’s no reason for me to be. It’s just that I’ve never been in a position to talk about my sex life before, because who would ever have thought to ask me anything? “We aren’t because we aren’t. There’s no big reason behind it, other than I’m not ready yet and I don’t know if he is either. We haven’t even talked about it.”

“Well, it’s not like he’s a virgin. Not by any stretch of the imagination.” Lucas makes his cerulean blue angel eyes go wide for emphasis. “I know you’re innocent, Lara Jean, but Kavinsky definitely isn’t. I’m saying this to you as a guy.”

“I don’t see what that has to do with me,” I say, even though I’ve wondered and worried about this myself. Peter and I had a conversation about this once, about whether a guy and a girl who’d dated for a long time were automatically having sex, but I don’t remember if he ever said what his take on it was. I should have listened harder. “Look, just because he and Genevieve did it like . . . like wild rabbits or whatever—” Lucas snickers at this, and I pinch him. “Just because they did it doesn’t mean we automatically are, or that he automatically even wants to.” Does it?

“He definitely wants to.”

Gulp. “Well, too bad, so sad, if that’s the case. But honestly, I don’t think it is.” In this very moment I decide that Peter and I will be the relationship equivalent of a brisket. Slow and low. We will heat up for each other over time. Confidently I say, “What Peter and I have is completely different than what he and Genevieve were. Or had. Whatever. The point is, you shouldn’t compare relationships, okay?” Never mind the fact that I’ve been doing that constantly in my head.

In French class, I hear Emily Nussbaum whisper to Genevieve, “If it turns out she’s preggo, do you think Kavinsky will pay for the abortion?”

Genevieve whispers back, “No way. He’s too cheap. Maybe half.” And everyone laughs.

My face burns in mortification. I want to scream at them, We didn’t have sex! We are brisket! But that would only give them more satisfaction, to know they’re getting a rise out of me. That’s what Margot would say anyway. So I hold my chin up even higher, as high as I can, so high my neck hurts.

Maybe Gen did do it. Maybe she really does hate me that much.

Ms. Davenport grabs me on my way to my next class. She puts her arm around me and says, “Lara Jean, how are you holding up?”

I know she doesn’t care about me, not really. She just wants gossip. She’s the biggest gossip of all the teachers, maybe even the students. Well, I’m not going to be faculty-lounge fodder. “I’m great,” I say sunnily. Chin up, chin up.

“I saw the video,” she whispers, eyes darting around to see if anyone’s listening. “Of you and Peter in the hot tub.”

My jaw is clenched so tight my teeth hurt.

“You must be really upset about the comments, and I don’t blame you.” Ms. Davenport really needs to get a life if all she’s doing over her winter break is looking at high school kids’ Instagrams! “Kids can be very cruel. Trust me, I know this from personal experience. I’m not that much older than you guys.”

“I’m really fine, but thanks for checking in.” Nothing to see here, folks. Keep it moving.

Ms. Davenport’s lower lip pushes out. “Well, if you need to talk to someone, you know I’m here for you. Let me be a resource. Come hang out with me anytime; I’ll write you a note.”

“Thank you, Ms. Davenport.” I slither out of from under her arm.

Mrs. Duvall, the guidance/college counselor stops me on my way to English. “Lara Jean,” she begins, then falters. “You’re such a bright, talented girl. You’re not the type of girl to get caught up in these sorts of things. I’d hate to see you go down a wrong path.”

I can feel tears coming up the back of my throat, pushing their way to the surface. I respect Mrs. Duvall. I want her to think well of me. All I can do is nod.

She tips my chin up tenderly. Her perfume smells like dried rose petals. She’s an older woman; she’s worked at the school forever. Mrs. Duvall really cares about the students. She is the one kids come back and say hi to when they’re home from college for winter break. “Now is the time to buckle down and get serious about your future, not high school drama. Don’t give colleges a reason to turn you down, okay?”

Again I nod.

“Good girl,” she says. “I know you’re better than that.”

The words echo in my ears: Better than that. Better than what? Than who?

During lunch, I escape to the girls’ bathroom so I don’t have to speak to anybody. And of course there Genevieve is, standing in front of the mirror, dabbing on lip balm. Her eyes meet mine in the mirror. “Hi there.” It’s the way she says it—hi there. So smug, so sure of herself.

“Was it you?” My voice echoes against the walls.

Genevieve’s hand goes still. Then she recovers, and screws the top back on her lip balm. “Was what me?”

“Did you send that video to Anonybitch?”

“No,” she scoffs. Her mouth turns up to the right, the smallest of quivers. That’s when I know she’s lying. I’ve seen her lie to her mom enough times to know her tell. Even though I suspected it, maybe even knew it deep down, this confirmation takes my breath away.

“I know we’re not friends anymore, but we used to be. You know my sisters, my dad. You know me. You knew how much this would hurt me.” I clench my fists to keep from crying. “How could you do something like this?”

“Lara Jean, I’m sorry this happened to you, but it honestly wasn’t me.” She gives me a pseudosympathetic shrug, and there it is again: The corner of her mouth turns up.

“It was you. I know it was. Once Peter finds out . . .”

She raises one eyebrow. “He’ll what? Kick my ass?”

I’m so angry my hands shake. “No, because you’re a girl. But he won’t forgive you either. I’m glad you did it if it proves to him what kind of person you really are.”

“He knows exactly what kind of person I am. And you know what? He still loves me more than he’ll ever like you. You’ll see.” With that she turns on her heel and walks away.

This is when it dawns on me. She’s jealous. Of me. She can’t stand that Peter’s with me and not her. Well, she just played herself, because once Peter finds out she’s the one who did this to us, he’ll never look at her the same way again.

When school lets out, I race to the parking lot, where Peter is in his car waiting for me with the heat on. As soon as I open the passenger side door, I gasp out, “It was Genevieve!” I scramble inside. “She’s the one who sent the video to Anonybitch. She just admitted it to me!”

Soberly he asks me, “She said she took the video? She said those exact words?”

“Well . . . no.” What were her exact words? I walked away feeling like she’d confessed, but now that I’m going over it in my head, she never out-and-out admitted it. “She didn’t admit it per se, but she practically did. Also, she did that thing with her mouth!” I turn up the corner of my mouth. “See? That’s her tell!”

He raises an eyebrow. “Come on, Covey.”


“Okay, okay. I’ll talk to her.” He starts the car.

I’m pretty sure I know the answer to this question, but I have to ask. “Have any teachers said anything to you about the video? Maybe Coach White?”

“No. Why? Has anyone said anything to you?”

This is what Margot was talking about, this double standard. Boys will be boys, but girls are supposed to be careful: of our bodies, of our futures, of all the ways people judge us. Abruptly I ask him, “When are you going to talk to Genevieve?”

“I’ll go over there tonight.”

“You’re going over to her house?” I repeat.

“Well, yeah. I have to see her face to know whether she’s lying or not. I’ll check out this ‘tell’ you’re so excited about.”

Peter’s starving, so we stop and get hamburgers and milkshakes on the way. When I finally get home, Margot and Kitty are waiting for me. “Tell us everything,” Margot says, handing me a cup of cocoa. I check to see if she’s put mini marshmallows inside, and she has.

“Did Peter fix it?” Kitty wants to know.

“Yes! He got Anonybitch to take the video down. He told them how he has an uncle who’s a top lawyer, when in actuality he owns a pizza parlor in New Jersey.”

Margot smiles at this. Then her face gets serious. “Were people horrible at school?”

Blithely I say, “Nah, it wasn’t bad at all.” I feel a swell of pride for putting on a brave face in front of my sisters. “But I’m pretty sure I know who did it.”

In unison they say, “Who?”

“Genevieve, just like Chris said. I confronted her in the bathroom and she denied it, but then she did that thing she does with her mouth when she’s lying.” I demonstrate for them. “Gogo, do you remember that thing?”

“I think so!” she says, but I can tell she doesn’t. “What did Peter say when you told him it was Genevieve? He believed you, right?”

“Not exactly,” I hedge, blowing on my hot cocoa. “I mean, he says he’s going to talk to her and get down to the bottom of it.”

Margot frowns. “He should have your back no matter what.”

“He does, Gogo!” I grab her hand and link my fingers through hers. “This is what he did. He said, ‘It’s you and me, kid.’ It was really romantic!”

She giggles. “You’re hopeless. Don’t ever change.”

“I wish you weren’t leaving tomorrow,” I sigh. I’m homesick for her already. Margot being here, making judgments and doling out sage advice, makes me feel secure. It gives me strength.

“Lara Jean, you’ve got this,” she says, and I listen hard, look hard for any doubt or falseness in her, any hint that she’s only saying it to bolster me. But there is none. Only confidence.


IT’S MARGOT’S LAST DINNER BEFORE she leaves for Scotland tomorrow. Daddy makes Korean short ribs and potatoes au gratin from scratch. He even bakes a lemon cake. He says, “It’s been so gray and cold; I think we’re all due a little sunshine by way of lemon cake.” Then he puts an arm around my waist and pats my side, and though he isn’t asking, I know he knows there’s something up with me that’s a lot bigger than my period.

We’ve barely had a chance to put our forks to our lips before Daddy’s asking, “Does this galbi jjim taste like Grandma’s?”

“Basically,” I say. Daddy’s mouth turns down and I quickly add, “I mean, it might even be better.”

“I tenderized the meat the way she said,” Daddy says. “But it’s not falling right off the bone the way hers does, you know? You shouldn’t even need a knife to eat galbi jjim if it’s prepared correctly.” Margot was sawing away at a piece of meat with her steak knife, and she stops short. “The first time I ever had it was with your mom. She took me to a Korean restaurant on our first date and ordered everything for us in Korean and told me about each dish. I was so in awe of her that night. My one regret is that you girls didn’t keep up with Korean school.” The corners of his mouth turn down for just a moment, and then he’s smiling again. “Eat up, girls.”

“Daddy, UVA has a Korean language program,” I say. “If I get in, I’m definitely going to take Korean.”

“Your mom would’ve loved that,” he says, and he gets that sad look in his eyes again.

Swiftly Margot says, “The galbi jjim is delicious, Daddy. They don’t have good Korean food in Scotland.”

“Pack some seaweed to take back with you,” Daddy suggests. “And some of that ginseng tea Grandma brought us back from Korea. You should take the rice cooker too.”

Kitty frowns. “Then how will we have rice?”

“We can buy a new one.” Dreamily he says, “What I’d really love to do is take a family vacation there. How great would that be? Your mom always wanted to take you girls on a trip to Korea. You still have a lot of family there.”

“Could Grandma come with us?” Kitty asks. She keeps sneaking bites of meat to Jamie, who sits on his hind legs, looking at us with hopeful eyes.

Daddy nearly chokes on a bite of potatoes. “That’s a great idea,” he manages. “She’d be a good tour guide.”

Margot and I exchange a little smile. Grandma would drive Daddy crazy after a week. What I’m excited about is the shopping. “Oh my gosh, just think of all the stationery,” I say. “And clothes. And hair pins. BB cream. I should make a list.”

“Daddy, you could take a Korean cooking class,” Margot suggests.

“Yeah! Let’s think about it for the summer,” Daddy says. He’s already getting excited, I can tell. “Depending on everyone’s schedules, of course. Margot, you’re going to be here all summer, right?” That’s what she was saying last week.

She looks down at her plate. “I’m not sure. Nothing’s been decided yet.” Daddy looks puzzled, and Kitty and I exchange a look. For sure this has to do with Josh, and I don’t blame her. “There’s a chance I could get an internship at the Royal Anthropological Institute in London.”

“But I thought you said you wanted to go back to work at Montpelier,” Daddy says, his forehead creased in confusion.

“I’m still figuring things out. Like I said, I haven’t decided anything yet.”

Kitty interjects. “If you do the royal internship, would you get to meet any royal people?”

I roll my eyes, and Margot throws her a grateful look and says, “I doubt it, Kitten, but you never know.”

“What about you, Lara Jean?” Kitty asks, innocent and round-eyed. “Aren’t you supposed to be doing stuff this summer to look good for colleges?”

I shoot her a dirty look. “I’ve got plenty of time to figure things out.” Under the table I pinch her hard, and she yelps.

“You were supposed to be looking for an internship for this spring,” Margot reminds me. “I’m telling you, Lara Jean, if you don’t act fast, all the good internships will be gone. Also have you emailed Noni yet about SAT tutoring? See if she’s doing summer school or if she’s going home for the summer.”

“All right, all right. I will.”

“I might be able to get you a job at the hospital gift shop,” Daddy offers. “We could ride to work together, have lunch together. It would be fun hanging out all day with your old man!”

“Daddy, don’t you have any friends at work?” Kitty asks. “Do you sit by yourself at lunch?”

“Well, no, not every day. Sometimes I suppose I do eat alone at my desk, but that’s because I don’t have much time to eat. If Lara Jean worked at the gift shop, I’d make time, though.” He taps his chopsticks on his plate absentmindedly. “There might also be a job for her at the McDonald’s, but I’d have to see.”

Kitty pipes up, “Hey, if you got a job at McDonald’s, I bet they’d let you eat fries as much as you want.”

I frown. I can see a preview into my summer, and I’m not liking what I’m seeing. “I don’t want to work at McDonald’s. And no offense, Daddy, but I don’t want to work at the gift shop, either.” I think fast. “I’ve been thinking about doing something more official at Belleview. Maybe I could be the activities director’s intern. Or assistant. Margot, which sounds more impressive?”

“Assistant activities director,” Margot says.

“That does sound more professional,” I agree. “I’ve got a lot of ideas. Maybe I’ll stop by this week and pitch them to Janette.”

“Like what?” Daddy asks me.

“A scrapbooking class,” I improvise. “They have so many pictures and tokens and things that they’ve collected, I think it’d be good to bind it all up in a book so nothing gets lost.” Suddenly I’m on a roll. “And then maybe we could have a little exhibit, with all of the scrapbooks on display, and people can flip through them and see their life stories. I could make cheese puffs, there could be white wine . . .”

“That’s an amazing idea,” Margot says with an approving nod.

“Really great,” Daddy enthuses. “Obviously no white wine for you, but the cheese puffs, definitely!”

“Oh, Daddy,” we all chorus, because he loves it when we do that, when he gets to be the cheesy dad (pun intended!) and we all groan like we’re exasperated and say “Oh, Daddy.”

When we’re doing the dishes, Margot tells me I should follow up with the Belleview idea for sure. “They need someone like you to take charge of things,” she says, sudsing up the Dutch oven. “Fresh energy, new ideas. People can get burned out working at a retirement home. Janette will be relieved to have an extra set of hands.”

I mostly said all that stuff about Belleview to get everybody off my back, but now I’m thinking I really should talk to Janette.

When I go back upstairs, I have a missed call from Peter. I call him back, and I can hear the TV on in the background. “Did you talk to her?” I hope hope hope he believes me now.

“I talked to her.”

My heart thuds. “And? Did she admit it?”


“No.” I let out a breath. Okay. That was to be expected, I guess. Gen isn’t the type to lie down in the street and die. She’s a fighter. “Well, she can say whatever she wants, but I know it was her.”

“You can’t get all that from a look, Covey.”

“It’s not just a look. I know her. She used to be my best friend. I know how she thinks.”

“I know her better than you, and I’m telling you, I don’t think it was her. Trust me.”

He does know her better; of course he does. But girl to girl, ex–best friend to ex–best friend, I know it was her. I don’t care how many years it’s been. There are things a girl knows in her gut, her bones. “I trust you. I don’t trust her. This is all her plan, Peter.”

There’s a long silence, and I hear my last words ringing in my ears, and they sound crazy, even to me.

His voice is heavy with patience as he says, “She’s stressed out with family stuff right now; she doesn’t even have time to plot against you, Covey.”

Family stuff? Could that be? I feel a pang of guilt as I remember how Chris mentioned that their grandma broke her hip and the families were discussing whether or not to put her into a home. Genevieve was always close to her grandma; she said she was the favorite out of all the grandchildren because she looked just like her—i.e., gorgeous.

Or maybe it’s her parents. Genevieve used to worry about them getting divorced.

Or maybe it’s all a lie. It’s on the very tip of my tongue to say, and then he says, wearily, “My mom’s calling me downstairs. Can we talk about this more tomorrow?”

“Sure,” I say.

I mean, I guess it could be anything. Peter’s right. Maybe I knew her well once, but not anymore. Peter is the one who knows her best now. And besides, isn’t this the way one loses boyfriends, by acting paranoid and jealous and insecure? I’m fairly certain this is not a good look on me.

After we hang up I resolve to put the video behind me once and for all. What’s done is done. I have a boyfriend, a possible new job (unpaid, I’m sure, but still), and my studies to think about. I can’t let this bring me down. Besides, you can’t even see my face in the video.


THE NEXT MORNING BEFORE SCHOOL, we’re packing up the car so Daddy can take Margot to the airport, and I keep looking up at Josh’s bedroom window, wondering if he’ll come down and say good-bye. It’s the least he can do. But his lights are off, so he must still be asleep.

Ms. Rothschild comes out with her dog while Margot’s saying her good-byes to Jamie Fox-Pickle. As soon as he sees her, he leaps out of Margot’s arms and makes a run for it across the street. Daddy chases after him. Jamie is barking and jumping all over Ms. Rothschild’s poor old dog Simone, who ignores him. Jamie is so excited he pees on Ms. Rothschild’s green Hunter boots, and Daddy’s apologizing, but she’s laughing. “It’ll wash right off,” I hear her say. She looks pretty, her brown hair is in a high ponytail, and she’s in yoga pants and a puffy bomber jacket that I think Genevieve has.

“Hurry, Daddy!” Margot calls out. “I need to be at the airport three hours early.”

“Three’s a bit much,” I say. “Two hours is plenty.” We watch as Daddy tries to scoop up Jamie and Jamie tries to wriggle away. Ms. Rothschild snatches him up with one arm and plants a kiss on his head.

“With international flights you’re supposed to be at the airport three hours early. I have bags to check¸ Lara Jean.”

Kitty doesn’t say anything; she’s just gazing across the street at all the dog drama.

When Daddy returns with a squirming Jamie in his arms, he says, “We’d better get out of here before Jamie causes any more trouble.” We three hug each other fiercely, and Margot whispers to me to be strong, and I nod, and then she and Daddy are gone for the airport.

It’s still early, earlier than we would’ve woken up on a school morning, so I make Kitty and me banana pancakes. She’s still lost in thought. Twice I have to ask her if she wants one pancake or two. I make a few extra and wrap them in aluminum foil to share with Peter on the way to school. I do the dishes; I even send Janette over at Belleview a feeler email, and she writes back right away. Margot’s replacement quit a month ago, so it’s perfect timing, she says. Come in on Saturday and we’ll talk about your responsibilities.

I feel like finally, I’ve gotten it together: I’ve hit my stride. I can do this.

So when I walk into school that cold January morning, holding Peter’s hand, full on banana pancakes, with a new job and wearing Margot’s Fair Isle sweater she left behind, I am feeling good. Great, even.

Peter wants to stop in the computer lab to print out his English paper, so that’s our first stop. He logs in, and I gasp out loud when I see the wallpaper.

Someone has taken a still of the hot tub video, of me in Peter’s lap in my red flannel nightgown, skirt hitched up around my thighs, and across the top it reads HOT HOT TUB SEX. And on the bottom—YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG.

“What the hell?” Peter mutters, looking around the computer lab. Nobody looks up. He goes to the next computer—same picture, different caption. SHE DOESN’T KNOW ABOUT SHRINKAGE on top. HE’S HAPPY WITH WHAT HE CAN GET across the bottom.

We are a meme.

Over the next couple of days, the picture shows up all over the place. On other people’s Instagrams, on their Facebook walls.

There’s one with a dancing shark photoshopped in. Another one where our heads have been replaced by cat heads.

And then one that just says AMISH BIKINI.

Peter’s lacrosse friends think it’s hilarious, but they swear they don’t have anything to do with it. At the lunch table Gabe protests, “I don’t even know how to use Photoshop!”

Peter stuffs half his sandwich into his mouth. “Fine, then who’s doing it? Jeff Bardugo? Carter?”

“Dude, I don’t know,” Darrell says. “It’s a meme. A lot of people could be throwing their hat in the ring.”

“You have to admit, the cat-head one was pretty funny,” Gabe says. Then he turns to me and says, “My bad, Large.”

I stay quiet. The cat heads were kind of funny. But overall it is not. Peter tried to laugh the first one off, but now we are a few days in and I can tell it’s bothering him. He isn’t used to being the butt of the joke. I suppose I’m not either, but only because I’m not used to people paying this much attention to anything I’m doing. But ever since I’ve been with Peter, people are, and I wish they weren’t.


THAT AFTERNOON, WE HAVE A junior class assembly in the auditorium. Our class president, Reena Patel, is onstage giving a PowerPoint presentation on the state of the union—how much money we’ve fund-raised for prom, the proposal for senior class trip. I’m sitting low in my seat, relieved for the respite, where people aren’t looking at me, whispering and making judgments.

She clicks on the last slide, and that’s when it happens. “Me So Horny” blasts out of the speakers and my video, mine and Peter’