I give her a look. “Chris, I trust Peter.”
“I know—I’m not talking about him! I’m talking about random girls on his floor. Dropping by his room. You should give him a picture of you to keep him company, if you know what I mean.” She frowns at me. “Do you know what I mean?”
“Like, a sexy picture? No way!” I start backing away from her. “Look, I’ve gotta go to class.” The last thing I want to do is think about Peter and random girls. I’m still trying to get used to the idea that we won’t be together at UVA this fall.
Chris rolls her eyes. “Calm down. I’m not talking about a nudie. I would never suggest that for you of all people. What I’m talking about is a pinup-girl shot, but not, like, cheesy. Sexy. Something Kavinsky can hang up in his dorm room.”
“Why would I want him to hang up a sexy picture of me in his dorm room for all the world to see?”
Chris reaches out and flicks me on the forehead.
“Ow!” I shove her away from me and rub the spot where she flicked me. “That hurt!”
“You deserved it for asking such a dumb question.” She sighs. “I’m talking about preventative measures. A picture of you on his wall is a way for you to mark your territory. Kavinsky’s hot. And he’s an athlete. Do you think other girls will respect the fact that he’s in a long-distance relationship?” She lowers her voice and adds, “With a Virgin Mary girlfriend?”
I gasp and then look around to see if anyone heard. “Chris!” I hiss. “Can you please not?”
“I’m just trying to help you! You have to protect what’s yours, Lara Jean. If I met some hot guy in Costa Rica with a long-distance gf who he wasn’t even sleeping with? I don’t think I’d take it very seriously.” She gives me a shrug and a sorry-not-sorry look. “You should definitely frame the picture too, so people know you’re not someone to mess with. A frame says permanence. A picture taped on a wall says here today, gone tomorrow.”
I chew on my bottom lip thoughtfully. “So maybe a picture of me baking, in an apron—”
“With nothing underneath?” Chris cackles, and I flick her forehead lightning quick.
“Get serious then!”
The bell rings again, and we go our separate ways. I can’t see myself giving Peter a sexy picture of me, but it does give me an idea—I could give him a scrapbook instead. All of our greatest hits. That way when he’s missing me at UVA, he can look at it. And keep it on his desk, for any “random girl” who might happen by. Of course I won’t mention this idea to Chris—she’d just laugh and call me Grandma Lara Jean. But I know Peter will love it.
I’M ON PINS AND NEEDLES all day, waiting to hear the news from William and Mary. My entire focus is on my phone, waiting for it to buzz, waiting for that e-mail. In AP English class, Mr. O’Bryan has to ask me three times about the slave narrative tradition in Beloved.
When it does buzz, it’s just Margot asking me if I’ve heard anything yet, and then it buzzes again, and it’s Peter asking me if I’ve heard anything yet. But nothing from William and Mary.
Then, when I’m in the girls’ room in between classes, it finally does buzz, and I scramble to zip up my jeans so I can check my phone. It’s an e-mail from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, telling me my application has been updated. I stand there in the bathroom stall, and even though I truly don’t expect to get in, my heart is pounding like crazy as I click on the link and wait.
I should be happy about it, because UNC is so competitive and the wait list is better than nothing, and I would be happy . . . if I had already gotten into UVA. Instead it’s like another punch in the stomach. What if I don’t get in anywhere? What will I do then? I can see my Aunt Carrie and Uncle Victor now: Poor Lara Jean, she didn’t get into UVA or UNC. She’s so different from her sister; Margot’s such a go-getter.
When I get to the lunch table, Peter is waiting for me with an eager look on his face. “Did you hear anything?”
I sit down in the seat next to him. “I got wait-listed at UNC.”
“Aw, shit. Well, it’s impossible to get in there out of state unless you’re a basketball player. Honestly, even getting on the wait list is impressive.”
“I guess so,” I say.
“Screw them,” he says. “Who wants to go there anyway?”
“A lot of people.” I unwrap my sandwich, but I can’t bear to take a bite, because my stomach’s tied up in knots.
Peter gives a begrudging shrug. I know he’s just trying to make me feel better, but UNC is a great school and he knows it and I know it, and there’s no use pretending it’s not.
All through lunch I’m listlessly sipping on my Cherry Coke and listening to the guys go on about the game they’ve got coming up in a few days. Peter looks over at me at one point and squeezes my thigh in a reassuring way, but I can’t even muster up a smile in return.
When the guys get up to go to the weight room, it’s just Peter and me left at the table, and he asks me worriedly, “Aren’t you going to eat something?”
“I’m not hungry,” I say.
Then he sighs and says, “It should be you going to UVA and not me,” and just like that, poof, the traitorous little thought I had last night about me deserving it more than him disappears like perfume mist into the air. I know how hard Peter worked at lacrosse. He earned his spot. He shouldn’t be thinking those kinds of thoughts. It’s not right.
“Don’t ever say that. You earned it. You deserve to go to UVA.”
His head down, he says, “So do you, though.” Then his head snaps up, his eyes alight. “Do you remember Toney Lewis?” I shake my head. “He was a senior when we were freshmen. He went to PVCC for two years and then he transferred to UVA his junior year! I bet you could do that too, but you’d be able to do it even sooner, since you’re going to a regular four-year college. Getting in as a transfer is a million times easier!”
“I guess that’s true. . . .” Transferring hadn’t occurred to me. I’m still getting used to the idea that I won’t be going to UVA.
“Right? Okay, so this fall you’ll go to William and Mary or U of R or wherever you get in, and we’ll visit each other all the time, and you’ll apply to transfer for next year, and then you’ll be with me at UVA! Where you belong!”