I open the envelope as soon as she leaves. And it’s Reid’s favorite card. The most badass of all greeting cards, with the most amazing Queen Elizabeth don’t fuck with me expression. I observe and remain silent.
On the inside, he’s written this: I’m watching your every move, and I choose not to say anything . . . yet. And he’s signed it Love, Elizabeth.
Oh my God. He’s such a goof. He is the actual weirdest. I can’t stop smiling.
And maybe I’m freaking out just a little bit.
Because we’re working the afternoon shift together today. And because, technically, the last time I saw Reid, I was making out with his face.
Which is good. Better than good. Better than best.
But now I don’t know what to wear. And my hair is kind of a catastrophe. And I can’t stop pacing around my room. Back and forth, from my closet to my mirror. Like, I just want to wear something normal. But I want it to be cute normal. I want Reid to think I’m cute. Pretty. Gorgeous. I don’t want him to think yesterday was a mistake. Not that he would think that. I just need to get this right.
Unfortunately, nothing—nothing—in my entire closet looks okay on me today.
I need to collect my shit and take my Zoloft and calm the fuck down.
I think I’ll wear a skirt. I have this dark yellow skirt, a tiny bit shorter than what I usually wear, but I think it’s okay, because I’ll wear it over tights. I pair it with this navy ruffled shirt with tiny flowers. But it looks dumb, so I take it off and try another. And another. And six more shirts after that. But then I finally go back to the navy one, which is fine, as long as I wear a cardigan, too.
A perfect fall outfit. In July. It’s just going to have to fucking be this way.
I step outside, and it’s one of those sun-kissed summer days. The air just has this softness. I’m running early, so I take the long way through town, past the purple house, past the shops. It’s quiet here on weekday mornings. Everything’s calm and hazy, except the commotion in my stomach. Which turns into fireworks and marching bands and atomic bombs as soon as I reach the entrance of Bissel.
Because of Reid.
There’s this thing Patty told me about, where your stomach pretty much functions like a second brain. They call it the enteric nervous system, and it lives in your gut, and when it thinks there’s an enemy nearby, you get this surge of hormones. It’s sort of a fight-or-flight response. And I guess it applies to crushes, too. Or boyfriends.
Not that Reid’s my boyfriend.
But my stomach thinks Reid is an enemy. I consider this scientific proof that I’ve stepped into something terrifying. Falling in love is terrifying.
Not that I’m falling in love. But maybe I’m a little bit lovesick.
When I see him, I smile. I honestly can’t help it. He’s working the register, alone behind the counter. Which looms between us like the Great Wall of China.
And then there’s Deborah. “Yay, you’re here,” she says. “We just got a new shipment of teacups. Want to unpack everything and get the price stickers on them?”
“Sure,” I say, eyes flicking up to Reid.
“I could help,” Reid says.
His mom looks surprised. “I thought you loved the register.”
“But I really love teacups.”
“Noted,” she says. Then she sends us to the storage room. I shut the door behind me, and for a moment, we just look at each other. I may not be capable of words.
He’s wearing a shirt that’s sort of different from his usual T-shirts—white, with blue baseball sleeves. His hair is kind of messy, and his eyes look almost gold.
I am utterly, enterically nervous.
“I don’t know how this is supposed to work,” I say finally.
He laughs. “Me neither.”
I settle onto the floor against the wall, tugging my skirt down over my legs. He slides down the wall, next to me.
“I got your card,” I say.
“My card?” He raises his eyebrows.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I got Elizabeth’s card.”
He nods solemnly. “That was nice of her.”
“Yeah. Except also kind of . . . threatening?”
“Hmm.” His dimple flickers. “Maybe she’s jealous.”
And there’s this tiny, hanging pause.
I bite my lip. “So, I guess we should talk?”
“Or we could not talk,” he says.
“Not talking is good,” I say softly.
His hand finds mine. Our fingers lace together.
“I really wish that door would lock,” I add.
“I wish my mom wasn’t on the other side.” He squeezes my hand. “I want to kiss you.”
He says it so quietly, it’s almost a sigh.
I laugh. “I’m so relieved to hear that.”
I nod, burying my face in his shoulder. I breathe in deeply. “You smell good.”
“Like deodorant?” he suggests.
I grin. “Like you.”
“I think that’s my deodorant.”
“Well, I’m glad you wear deodorant.”
He kisses my head. “Let’s go back to you being relieved I want to kiss you. Did I somehow not make that clear last night?”
“Or this morning?” He pulls out his phone, scrolling up through his messages. “Let’s see. Here’s the part where I said kissing you was the best thing that ever happened to my mouth. Here’s where I said you were better than Mini Eggs. Better than Mini Eggs, Molly.”
“How do you go from better than Mini Eggs to thinking I don’t want to kiss you again?”
“I don’t know.” I smile. “I just didn’t want to make any assumptions. . . .”
“Well.” He glances quickly at the storage room door, as if expecting his mom to burst through it. Then he draws in a breath and cups my cheeks gently.
And he kisses me.
“You can make assumptions with me,” he says. “You can assume anything.”
“You mean—” I begin.
He cuts me off. “Yes.”
I laugh. “You don’t even know what I was going to ask.”
“Doesn’t matter.” He kisses me again. “Do I want to kiss you? Yes. Do I want to do more than kiss you? Yes. But am I willing to take it slow? Yes. And do I want to be your boyfriend?” His voice cracks slightly, but the word comes out emphatically. “Yes.”