I’m breathless by the time I’m in my seat. He turns around and shoots a web in my direction, and I explode into giggles again and Mr. Meyers glares at me. “Settle down,” he says, and I nod obediently. As soon as his back is turned, I giggle into my robe. I want to still be mad at Peter, but it’s just no use.
Halfway through class he sends me a note. He’s drawn spiderwebs around the edges. It says, I’ll be on time tomorrow. I smile as I read it. Then I put it in my backpack, in my French textbook so the page won’t crease or crumble. I want to keep it so when this is over, I can have something to look at and remember what it was like to be Peter Kavinsky’s girlfriend. Even if it was all just pretend.
WHEN WE PULL UP IN my driveway, Kitty runs out of the house and over to the car. “Spider-Man!” she shrieks. She’s still in her ninja costume, though she’s taken the mask off. “Are you coming inside?”
I glance at Peter. “He can’t. He has to go condition.” Peter spends an hour a day conditioning for lacrosse. He’s very dedicated to it.
“Condition?” Kitty repeats, and I know she’s imagining Peter washing his hair.
“I can hang out for a little bit,” Peter says, turning the engine off.
* * *
“Let’s show him the dance!”
“Kitty, no.” The dance is something Margot and I made up when we were bored one night a few summers ago at the beach. Let’s just say neither of us is particularly talented at choreography.
Peter’s eyes light up. He’ll take any opportunity for a laugh, especially at my expense. “I wanna see the dance!”
“Forget about it,” I tell him. We’re in the living room; each of us has our own couch or armchair. I poured us iced teas and put out a bowl of potato chips, which we’ve already finished.
“Come on,” he pouts. “Show me the dance. Please, please show me the dance.”
“That’s not going to work on me, Peter.”
“What’s not going to work?”
I wave my hand in his Handsome Boy face. “That. I’m immune to your charms, remember?”
Peter lifts his eyebrows like I’ve dared him. “Is that a challenge? ’Cause I’m warning you, you do not want to step into the ring with me. I’ll crush you, Covey.” He doesn’t take his eyes off mine for several long seconds, and I can feel my smile fade and my cheeks heat up.
“Come on, Lara Jean!”
I blink. Kitty. I’d forgotten she was still in the room. I scramble to my feet. “Cue up the music. Peter just challenged us to a dance-off.”
Kitty squeals and runs to turn on the speakers. I push back the coffee table. We take our places in front of the fireplace, backs turned, heads down, hands clasped behind our backs.
When the bass kicks in, we jump and turn around. Hip thrust, swivel, then move into our knee slides. Then the running man, then this move Margot made up called the treadmill. The music stops, and Kitty and I freeze in our crunking positions—and then it starts up again, and we’re doing the butterfly, then back into the knee slides. I forget what the next move is so I sneak a peek at Kitty, who’s shimmying and clapping her hands. Oh yeah.
Our big finish is splits, with our arms crossed for emphasis.
Peter’s bowled over, laughing his head off. He claps and claps and stomps his feet.
When it’s over, I try to catch my breath and manage to say, “Okay, you’re up, Kavinsky.”
“I can’t,” Peter gasps. “How do I follow a performance like that? Kitty, will you teach me that pop-and-lock move?”
Kitty gets shy all of a sudden. She sits on her hands and looks at him through her lashes and shakes her head.
“Please, please?” he asks.
Kitty finally caves in—I think she just wanted to make him work for it. I watch them dance all afternoon, my little sister the ninja and my pretend boyfriend Spider-Man. First I laugh, but then a worrying thought comes out of nowhere—I can’t let Kitty get too attached to Peter. This is temporary. The way Kitty looks at him, so adoringly, like he’s her hero. . . .
When Peter has to leave, I walk him out to his car. Before he gets in, I say, “I don’t think you should come over anymore. It’s confusing to Kitty.”
Frowning, he says, “How is it confusing to Kitty?”
“Because . . . because when our . . . our thing is over, she’s going to miss you.”
“I’ll still see the kid around.” Peter pokes me in the stomach. “I want joint custody.”
All I can think of is how patient he was with her, how sweet. Impulsively I get up on my tiptoes and kiss him on the cheek, and he jerks back in surprise.
“What was that for?”
My cheeks feel scalded. I say, “For being so nice to Kitty.” Then I wave good-bye and I run into the house.
IF I DON’T BUY GROCERIES today, it’s scrambled eggs for dinner tonight. Again.
Margot’s car is fixed and sitting in the driveway, where it’s been sitting for the past few weeks. I could go to the store if I wanted to. I do want to. But I don’t want to drive. If I was a nervous driver before, the accident has only made me worse. What business do I have behind the wheel of a car? What if I hurt someone? What if I hurt Kitty? They shouldn’t just give out driver’s licenses so easily. I mean, a car is a really dangerous thing. It’s practically a weapon.
But the store is less than ten minutes away. It’s not like I’d be getting on the highway. And I really really don’t want to eat scrambled eggs for dinner tonight. Besides . . . if Peter and Genevieve are getting back together, he won’t be giving me rides anymore. I’ve got to learn how to do for myself. I can’t depend on other people to help me.
“We’re going to the store, Kitty,” I say.
She’s lying down in front of the TV, propped up on her elbows. Her body looks so long; it’s getting longer every day. Pretty soon she’ll be taller than me. Kitty doesn’t look away from the TV. “I don’t want to come. I want to watch my shows.”
“If you come, I’ll let you pick out an ice cream.”
Kitty gets to her feet.
On the drive there, I’m going so slow that Kitty keeps telling me the speed limit. “They give tickets for going under the limit too, you know.”
“Who told you that?”
“No one. I just know it. I bet I’m going to be a better driver than you, Lara Jean.”