“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.”