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Page 23

“You don’t even know what we’re talking about, so calm down.”

“I know you’re cackling about it like a witch. Also, I do so know about Hamilton, because you play the soundtrack all day long.” She sings, “Talk less; smile more.”

“For your information, it’s a cast recording, not a soundtrack,” I say, and she makes a big show of rolling her eyes.

In truth, if Kitty’s anyone, she’s a Jefferson. Wily, stylish, quick with a comeback. Margot’s an Angelica, no question. She’s been sailing her own ship since she was a little girl. She’s always known who she was and what she wanted. I suppose I’m an Eliza, though I’d much rather be an Angelica. In truth I’m probably And Peggy. But I don’t want to be the And Peggy of my own story. I want to be the Hamilton.

* * *

It rains all day, so as soon as we get home from school, the first thing Kitty and I do is get back into our pajamas. Margot never got out of hers. She’s wearing her glasses, her hair in a knot at the top of her head (it’s too short to stay put), Kitty is in a big tee, and I’m happy it’s cold enough to wear my red flannels. Daddy is the only one still in his day clothes.

We order two large pizzas for dinner that night, plain cheese (for Kitty) and a supreme with the works. We’re on the living room couch, shoving oozy slices of pizza into our mouths, when Daddy suddenly says, “Girls, there’s something I’d like to talk to you about.” He clears his throat like he does when he’s nervous. Kitty and I exchange a curious look, and then he blurts out, “I’d like to ask Trina to marry me.”

I clap my hands to my mouth. “Oh my God!”

Kitty’s eyes bulge, her mouth goes slack, and then she flings her pizza aside and lets out a shriek so loud that Jamie Fox-Pickle jumps. She catapults herself at Daddy, who laughs. I jump up and hug his back.

I can’t stop smiling. Until I look at Margot, whose face is completely blank. Daddy’s looking at her too, eyes hopeful and nervous. “Margot? You still there? What do you think, honey?”

“I think it’s fantastic.”

“You do?”

She nods. “Absolutely. I think Trina’s great. And Kitty, you adore her, don’t you?” Kitty’s too busy squealing and flopping around on the couch with Jamie to answer. Softly, Margot says, “I’m happy for you, Daddy. I really am.”

The absolutely is what gives her away. Daddy’s too busy being relieved to notice, but I do. Of course it’s weird for her. She’s still getting used to seeing Ms. Rothschild in our kitchen. She hasn’t gotten to see all the ways Ms. Rothschild and Daddy make sense. To Margot, she’s still just our neighbor who used to wear terry-cloth booty shorts and a bikini top to mow the lawn.

“I’ll need your guys’s help with the proposal,” Daddy says. “Lara Jean, I’m sure you’ll have some ideas for me, right?”

Confidently I say, “Oh, yeah. People have been doing promposals, so I have lots of inspiration.”

Margot turns to me and laughs, and it almost sounds real. “I’m sure Daddy will want something more dignified than ‘Will You Marry Me’ written in shaving cream on the hood of somebody’s car, Lara Jean.”

“Promposals have gotten way more sophisticated than in your day, Gogo,” I say. I’m playing along, teasing her so she can feel normal again after the bomb Daddy just dropped.

“My day? I’m only two years ahead of you.” She tries to sound light, but I can hear the strain in her voice.

“Two years is like dog years when it comes to high school. Isn’t that right, Kitty?” I pull her toward me and hug her tight to my chest. She squirms away.

“Yeah, both of you guys are ancient beings,” Kitty says. “Can I be a part of the proposal too, Daddy?”

“Of course. I can’t get married without you guys.” He looks teary. “We’re a team, aren’t we?”

Kitty is hopping up and down like a little kid. “Yeah!” she cheers. She’s over the moon, and Margot sees it too, how important this is to her.

“When are you going to propose?” Margot asks.

“Tonight!” Kitty pipes up.

I glare at her. “No! That’s not enough time to think up the perfect way. We need a week at least. Plus you don’t even have a ring. Wait a minute, do you?”

Daddy takes off his glasses and wipes his eyes. “Of course not. I wanted to wait and talk to you girls first. I want all three of you to be here for the proposal, so I’ll do it when you come back for the summer, Margot.”

“That’s too far away,” Kitty objects.

“Yes, don’t wait that long, Daddy,” Margot says.

“Well, you’ll have to help me pick out the ring at least,” Daddy says.

“Lara Jean has a better eye for that kind of thing,” Margot says serenely. “Besides, I barely know Ms. Rothschild. I haven’t a clue what kind of ring she’d like.”

A shadow crosses over Daddy’s face. It’s the I barely know Ms. Rothschild that put it there.

I rush to put on my best Hermione voice. “You ‘haven’t a clue’?” I tease. “P.S., did you know you’re still American, Gogo? We don’t talk as classy as that in America.”

She laughs; we all do. Then, because I think she saw that brief shadow too, she says, “Make sure to take tons of pictures so I can see.”

Gratefully Daddy says, “We will. We’ll videotape it, whatever it is. God, I hope she says yes!”

“She’ll say yes, of course she’ll say yes,” we all chorus.

* * *

Margot and I are wrapping slices of pizza in plastic and then double wrapping in foil. “I told you guys two pizzas would be too much,” she says.

“Kitty will eat it for her after-school snack,” I say. “So will Peter.” I glance toward the living room, where Kitty and Daddy are snuggled up on the couch, watching TV. Then I whisper, “So how do you really feel about Daddy asking Ms. Rothschild to marry him?”

“I think it’s completely bonkers,” she whispers back. “She lives across the street, for pity’s sake. They can just date like two grown-ups. What’s the point of getting married?”

“Maybe they just want it to be official. Or maybe it’s for Kitty.”

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