As we step out the door, I notice a bakery across the street called Almondine and another one on the opposite corner called One Girl Cookies. New York is truly a city of baked goods.
Peter and I walk back to the ice cream shop holding hands. Everyone is out on the pier, sitting on benches, eating their ice cream, and taking selfies with the Manhattan skyline behind them. New York keeps surprising me with how pretty it is.
Peter must be thinking the same thing, because he squeezes my hand and says, “This city is awesome.”
“It really is.”
* * *
I’m sound asleep when there is a knock at the door. I wake up with a start. It’s still dark outside. In the bed across the room, Chris doesn’t stir.
Then I hear Peter’s voice on the other side of the door. “Covey, it’s me. Want to go watch the sunrise on the roof?”
I get out of bed and open the door, and there is Peter, in a UVA hoodie, holding a Styrofoam cup of coffee and a cup with a tea bag hanging out the side. “What time is it?”
“Five thirty. Hurry, go get your coat.”
“Okay, give me two minutes,” I whisper. I run to our bathroom and brush my teeth and then I fumble around in the darkness for my jacket. “I can’t find my jacket!”
“You can wear my hoodie,” Peter offers from the doorway.
From under her blanket Chris growls, “If you guys don’t shut up, I swear to God.”
“Sorry,” I whisper. “Do you want to watch the sunrise with us?”
Peter shoots me a pouty look, but Chris’s head is still under her blanket, so she doesn’t see. “No. Just leave!”
“Sorry, sorry,” I say, and I scurry out the door.
We take the elevator to the top, and it’s still dark outside, but it’s beginning to get light. The city is just waking up. Right away Peter shrugs out of his hoodie, and I put my arms up and he slips it over my head. It’s warm and smells like the detergent his mother uses.
Peter leans over the edge, looking across the water to the city. “Can’t you picture us living here after college? We could live in a skyscraper. With a doorman. And a gym.”
“I don’t want to live in a skyscraper. I want to live in a brownstone in the West Village. Near a bookstore.”
“We’ll figure it out,” he says.
I lean over the edge too. I never would have pictured myself living in New York City. Before I came here, it seemed like such an intimidating place, for tough people who aren’t afraid to get into a fight with someone on the subway, or men in suits who work on Wall Street, or artists who live in SoHo lofts. But now that I’m here, it’s not so scary, not with Peter by my side. I steal a look at him. Is this how it goes? You fall in love, and nothing seems truly scary anymore, and life is one big possibility?
It’s a six-hour trip back to Virginia, and I’m asleep for most of it. It’s dark out by the time we pull into the school parking lot, and I see Daddy’s car parked up front. We’ve all had our own cars and been driving ourselves around for so long, but pulling into the school parking lot and seeing all the parents waiting there for us feels like being in elementary school again, like coming back from a field trip. It’s a nice feeling. On the way home, we pick up a pizza and Ms. Rothschild comes over and she and Daddy and Kitty and I eat it in front of the TV.
After, I unpack, do the bit of homework I have left, talk to Peter on the phone, and then get ready for bed. But I end up tossing and turning for what feels like eternity. Maybe it’s all the sleep I got on the bus, or maybe it’s the fact that any day now, I’ll hear from UVA. Either way, I can’t sleep, so I creep downstairs and start opening drawers.
What could I bake this time of night that wouldn’t involve waiting for butter to soften? It’s a perpetual question in my life. Ms. Rothschild says we should just leave butter out in a dish like she does, but we aren’t a leave-the-butter-out family, we are a butter-in-the-refrigerator family. Besides, it messes with the chemistry if the butter is too soft, and in Virginia in the spring and summertime, butter melts quick.
I suppose I could finally try baking the cinnamon roll brownies I’ve been playing around with in my head. Katharine Hepburn’s brownie recipe plus a dash of cinnamon plus cinnamon cream cheese swirl on top.
I’m melting chocolate in a double boiler and already regretting starting this project so late when Daddy pads into the kitchen in the tartan robe Margot gave him for Christmas this past year. “You can’t sleep either, huh?” he says.
“I’m trying out a new recipe. I think I might call them cinnabrownies. Or sin brownies.”
“Good luck waking up tomorrow,” Daddy says, rubbing the back of his neck.
I yawn. “You know, I was thinking maybe you’d call in for me and I’d sleep in a little and then you and I could have a nice, relaxing father-daughter breakfast together. I could make mushroom omelets.”
He laughs. “Nice try.” He nudges me toward the stairs. “I’ll finish up the sin brownies or whatever they’re called. You go to bed.”
I yawn again. “Can I trust you to do a cream cheese swirl?” Daddy looks alarmed and I say, “Forget it. I’ll finish making the batter and bake them tomorrow.”
“I’ll help,” he says.
“I’m pretty much done.”
“I don’t mind.”
“Okay then. Can you measure me out a quarter cup of flour?”
Daddy nods and gets out the measuring cup.
“That’s the liquid measuring cup. We need the dry measuring cups so you can level off the flour.” He goes back to the cupboard, and switches them out. I watch as he scoops flour and then carefully takes a butter knife to the top. “Very good.”
“I learn from the best,” he says.
I cock my head at him. “Why are you still awake, Daddy?”
“Ah. I guess I have a lot on my mind.” He puts the top back on the flour canister and then stops and hesitates before asking, “How do you feel about Trina? You like her, right?”
I take the pot of chocolate off the heat. “I like her a lot. I think I might even love her. Do you love her?”
This time Daddy doesn’t hesitate at all. “I do.”
“Well, good,” I say. “I’m glad.”