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Flatly she says, “You can’t wear a flower crown.”

“Why not?”

She spits out toothpaste. “You’re too old. That’s for flower girls.”

“No, you aren’t envisioning it correctly. I wasn’t thinking baby’s breath. I was thinking little pink and peach roses, with a lot of greenery. Pale green greenery, you know that kind?”

She shakes her head, resolute. “We aren’t fairies in a forest. It’s too cutesy. And I know Gogo’s going to agree with me.”

I have a sinking feeling she will too. I decide to put this argument aside for now. It won’t be won today. “For dresses, I was thinking we could wear vintage. Not off-white, but tea-stained white. Sort of nightgown-style. Very ethereal—not fairy, more like celestial being.”

“I’m wearing a tuxedo.”

I nearly choke. “A what!”

“A tuxedo. With matching Converse.”

“Over my dead body!”

Kitty shrugs.

“Kitty, this wedding isn’t black tie. A tuxedo isn’t going to look right at a backyard wedding! The three of us should match, like a set! The Song girls!”

“I’ve already told Tree and Daddy, and they both love the idea of me in a tux, so get over it.” She’s got that look on her face, the obstinate look she gets when she’s really digging her heels in. Like a bull.

“At the very least you should wear a seersucker suit, then. It will be too hot for a tuxedo, and seersucker breathes.” I feel like I’ve made a concession here, so she should too, but no.

“You don’t get to decide everything, Lara Jean. It’s not your wedding.”

“I know that!”

“Well, just keep it in mind.”

I reach out to shake her, but she flounces off before I can. Over her shoulder, she calls out, “Worry about your own life!”

 

 

16


IT’S AN EARLY-RELEASE DAY AND I’m hurrying down the hallway to meet Peter at his locker when Mrs. Duvall stops me. “Lara Jean! Are you coming to the mixer this evening?”

“Um . . .” I don’t remember hearing anything about a mixer.

She tsks me. “I sent you a reminder e-mail last week! It’s a little get-together for local students who were accepted to William and Mary. There’ll be a few of you from our school, but lots of other schools too. It’s a nice opportunity for you to meet some people before you get there.”

“Oh . . .” I did see that e-mail, but I forgot all about it. “I would love to go, but I can’t because I have a . . . um, family obligation.”

Which is, technically, true. Peter and I are going to an estate sale in Richmond—he has to pick up end tables for his mom’s antiques store, and I’m looking for a cake table for Daddy and Trina’s wedding.

Mrs. Duvall gives me a lingering look and says, “Well, I’m sure there’ll be another one. A lot of people would kill to be in your spot, Lara Jean, but I’m sure you already know that.”

“I do,” I assure her, and then I scuttle off to meet Peter.

The estate sale turns out to be a bust—for me, anyway. Peter picks up the end tables, but I don’t see anything appropriate for an ethereal backyard wedding. There’s one chest of drawers that is a possibility, if I painted it, maybe, or stenciled some rosebuds on it, but it costs three hundred dollars, and I have a feeling Daddy and Trina would balk at the price. I take a picture of it just in case.

Peter and I go to a place I read about on the Internet called Croaker’s Spot, where we get fried fish and buttery cornbread dripping in sweet sauce. “Richmond’s cool,” he says, wiping sauce off his chin. “Too bad William and Mary isn’t in Richmond. It’s closer to UVA, too.”

“Just by thirty minutes,” I say. “Anyway I was thinking about it, and it won’t even be a full year until I’m at UVA.” I start counting the months off my fingers. “It’s really like nine months. And I’ll be home for winter break, and then we have spring break.”

“Exactly,” he says.

* * *

When I get home, it’s dark out, and Daddy, Trina, and Kitty are at the kitchen table finishing up dinner. Daddy starts to get up when I walk in. “Sit down, I’ll fix you a plate,” he says. With a wink he says, “Trina made her lemon chicken.”

Trina’s lemon chicken is just chicken breasts with lemon seasoning cooked in Pam, but it’s her specialty and it’s pretty good. Sliding into a seat, I say, “No thanks, I just ate a ton of food.”

“Did they serve dinner at the mixer?” Daddy asks, sitting back down. “How was it?”

“How did you know about the mixer?” I ask him, leaning down to pet Trina’s dog Simone, who followed me into the kitchen and is now sitting at my feet, hoping for a crumb.

“They sent an invitation in the mail. I put it on the fridge!”

“Oh, whoops. I didn’t go. I went to Richmond with Peter to look for a cake table for the wedding.”

Daddy frowns. “You went all the way to Richmond on a school night? For a cake table?”

Uh-oh. I quickly pull out my phone to show them. “It’s a little expensive, but we could have the drawers kind of half-open, bursting with roses. Even if we didn’t get this exact one, if you like it, I’m sure I could find something similar to it.”

Daddy leans in to look. “Drawers of roses bursting out? That sounds very expensive and not exactly ecologically responsible.”

“Well I suppose we could do daisies, but it doesn’t really have the same effect.” I cast a look over at Kitty before continuing. “I want to circle back on the bridesmaid dresses.”

“Wait a minute, I want to circle back on you skipping out on your college mixer to go to Richmond,” Daddy interjects.

“Don’t worry, Daddy, I’m sure there will be a million of them before fall,” I tell him. “Kitty, about the bridesmaid dresses—”

Without even looking up, Kitty says, “You just wear the nightgown outfit on your own.”

I choose to ignore the fact that she called it a nightgown outfit and say, “It won’t look right if it’s just me. The beauty of it is the set. All of us matching, very ethereal, like angels. Then it becomes a look, a moment. If I wear it on my own it won’t work. It needs to be all three of us.” I don’t know how many more times I have to say the word “ethereal” to make people understand what the vibe of this wedding is.

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