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.
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.”
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.”