LUCAS SAYS, “I THINK PROM

is a lot like New Year’s Eve.” He and Chris and I are hanging out in the nurse’s office, because she is out to lunch, and she doesn’t care if we lie on her couch. Since we’re so far into senior year, all the teachers are in a pretty generous mood.


“New Year’s Eve is for basics,” Chris sneers, picking at her nails.


“Will you let me finish?” Lucas sighs and begins again. “As I was

saying

, prom buckles under the weight of all the expectations you put on it. One perfect high school night that every American teenager is supposed to have. You spend all this time and money and you feel obligated—no,

owed


an epic night. What can possibly live up to that amount of pressure?”

I think the perfect high school night will end up being some random little nothing moment that you didn’t plan or expect; it just happened. I think I’ve already had like twelve perfect high school nights, with Peter, so I don’t need prom to be epic. When I picture my prom night, I picture Peter in a tux, being polite to my dad, putting a corsage on Kitty. All of us taking a picture by the mantel. I make a mental note to ask Peter to get an extra little corsage for her.

“So does that mean you aren’t going?” I ask Lucas.

He sighs again. “I don’t know. There’s no one here I would even want to go with.”

“If I wasn’t going with Peter, I would ask you,” I say. Then I look from Lucas to Chris. “Hey, why don’t you guys go together?”

“I’m not going to prom,” Chris says. “I’ll probably go clubbing in

DC

with my Applebee’s people.”

“Chris, you can’t not go to prom. You can go clubbing with your Applebee’s friends anytime. We only get one senior prom.”

My birthday’s the day after prom and I’m a little hurt that Chris seems to have forgotten. If she goes clubbing in

DC

, she’ll probably stay all weekend and I won’t even see her on my actual birthday.

“Prom’s going to be lame. No offense. I mean, I’m sure you’ll have fun, Lara Jean; you’re going with the prom king. And what’s that girl’s name you’re friends with now? Tammy?”

“Pammy,” I say. “But it won’t be fun if you’re not there.”

She puts her arm around me. “Aww.”

“We always said we’d go to prom together and watch the sun rise over the elementary school playground!”

“You can watch it with Kavinsky.”

“That’s not the same!”

“Calm down,” Chris says. “You’re probably going to lose your V that night anyway, so I’ll be the last thing you’ll be thinking about.”

“I wasn’t planning on having sex on prom night!” I hiss.

My eyes dart over at Lucas, who is looking at me, bug-eyed.

“Lara Jean . . . you and Kavinsky haven’t had sex yet?”

I look to make sure no one’s in the hallway listening. “No, but please don’t tell anybody. Not that I’m ashamed of it or anything. I just don’t want everyone knowing my business.”

“I get it, obviously, but wow,” he says, still sounding shocked. “That’s . . . wow.”

“Why is it so wow?” I ask him, and I can feel my cheeks warming.

“He’s so . . . hot.”

I laugh. “That’s true.”

“There’s a reason why having sex on prom night is a thing,” Chris says. “I mean, yes, it’s tradition, but also, everybody’s dressed up, you get to stay out all night . . . Most of these people will never look as good as they do on prom night, grooming-wise, and that’s sad. All these lemmings getting their manis and their pedis and their blowouts. So basic.”

“Don’t you get blowouts?” Lucas says.

Chris rolls her eyes. “Of course.”

I say, “Then why are you judging other people for—”

“Look, that’s not my point here. My point is . . .” She frowns. “Wait, what were we talking about?”

“Blowouts, manis, lemmings?” Lucas says.

“Before that.”

“Sex?” I suggest.

“Right! My point is, losing your virginity on prom night

is a cliché, but clichés are clichés for a reason. There’s a practicality to it. You get to stay out all night, you look great, et cetera, et cetera. It just makes sense.”

“I’m not having sex for the first time because it’s convenient and my hair looks good, Chris.”

“Fair enough.”

I don’t know for sure, but I imagine my first time will probably be at college, in my own room, as an adult. It’s hard to imagine it happening now, at home, when I’m Lara Jean the sister and the daughter. At college, I’ll just be Lara Jean.

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