WITH ONLY THREE DAYS LEFT
of school, yearbooks arrive. There are several blank pages in the back for signatures, but everybody knows the place of honor is the back cover. Of course Iâve saved mine for Peter. I never want to forget how special this year was.
My yearbook quote is âI have spread my dreams under your feet; / Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.â I had a very hard time choosing between that and âWithout you, todayâs emotions would be the scurf of yesterdayâs.â Peter was like, âI know thatâs from
, but what the hell is a scurf?â and honestly, he had a point. Peter let me write his. âSurprise me,â he said.
As we walk through the cafeteria doors, someone holds the door for us, and Peter says, âCheers.â Peterâs taken to saying cheers instead of thanks, which I know he learned from Ravi. It makes me smile every time.
For the past month or so, the cafeteriaâs been half-empty at lunch. Most of the seniors have been eating off-campus, but Peter likes the lunches his mom packs and I like our cafeteriaâs french fries. But because the student councilâs passing out our yearbooks today, itâs a full house. I pick up my copy and run back to the lunch table with it. I flip to his
page first. There is Peter, smiling in a tuxedo. And there is his quote:
âYouâre welcome.â âPeter Kavinsky.
Peterâs brow furrows when he sees it. âWhat does that even mean?â
âIt means, here I am, so handsome and lovely to look at.â I spread my arms out benevolently, like I am the pope. âYouâre welcome.â
Darrell busts out laughing, and so does Gabe, who spreads his arms out too. âYouâre welcome,â they keep saying to each other.
Peter shakes his head at all of us. âYou guys are nuts.â
Leaning forward, I kiss him on the lips. âAnd you love it!â I drop my yearbook in front of him. âWrite something memorable,â I say, leaning over his shoulder. âSomething romantic.â
âYour hair is tickling my neck,â he complains. âI canât concentrate.â
I straighten up and rock back on my heels, arms crossed. âIâm waiting.â
âHow am I supposed to think of something good with you looking over my shoulder?â he says. âLet me do it later.â
I shake my head firmly. âNo, because then you never will.â
I keep bugging him about it, until finally he says, âI just donât know what to write,â which makes me frown.
âWrite down a memory, or a hope, orâor anything.â Iâm disappointed and trying not to show it, but would it be so hard for him to think of something on his own?
âLet me take it home tonight so I can take my time with it,â he says hastily.
I spend the rest of the day filling up my yearbook, and people write generic things like
Good luck at
You made freshman year gym fun
Add me on Instagram,
but also more meaningful things, like
I wish you had started coming out more sooner, so Iâd know you better.
Ben Simonoff writes,
Itâs always the quiet ones that are the most interesting. Stay interesting.
I hand the yearbook over to Peter at the end of the day. âKeep it safe,â I tell him.
* * *
The next morning, he forgets to bring it to school with him, which is annoying, because I want to get the whole senior classâs signatures, and I still have a few more to go. Tomorrow is the last day of school.
âDid you at least finish it?â I ask him.
âYeah! I just forgot it,â he says, wincing. âIâll bring it tomorrow, I swear.â
* * *
Beach Week is a tradition where weâre from. Itâs exactly what it sounds like. The day after graduation, the senior class packs up and goes to Nags Head for a week. Never in a million years did I think I would be going. For one thing, you have to gather up enough friends to rent a house togetherâlike ten friends! Before Peter I didnât have ten friends I could rent a beach house with. Somebodyâs parent has to rent the house in their name, because no one wants to rent out a house to a bunch of high school kids. Margot didnât go her year. She and Josh went camping with some friends. She said Beach Week wasnât really her thing. A year ago, it wouldnât have been my
thing either. But now I have Peter, and Pammy, and Chris and Lucas.
When the topic of Beach Week first came up months ago, Peter asked me if I thought my dad would let me stay at his house. I said no way. Instead Iâm staying with a bunch of girls. Pammyâs older sister Julia rented the house, and Pammy assured me it had air-conditioning and everything. She said the boysâ house was on the beach and we were two rows back, but it was better this way because then we could junk up their house with sand and ours would stay pristine.
My dad said yes at the time, but Iâm fairly certain heâs forgotten about it, because when I bring up Beach Week tonight at dinner, he looks confused. âWait, whatâs Beach Week again?â
âItâs when everybody goes to the beach after graduation and parties all week,â Kitty explains, stuffing her slice of pizza in her mouth.
I shoot her a look.
âMy Beach Week was
,â Trina says, and a fond smile crosses her face.
I shoot Trina one too.
Daddyâs forehead creases. âInsane?â
âWell it wasnât
insane,â Trina amends. âIt was just a fun girls trip. One last fling with all the girls before college.â
âWhereâs Peter staying?â Daddy asks me, and now his forehead looks as wrinkled as a walnut.
âIn a boy house. I told you all about it ages ago and you
said yes, so you canât go back on it now. Itâs the day after graduation!â
âAnd there wonât be any adult supervision? Just kids?â
Trina puts her hand on Daddyâs arm. âDan, Lara Jean isnât a kid anymore. In a few months sheâll be living on her own. This is just practice.â
âYouâre right. I know youâre right. That doesnât mean I have to like it.â He sighs heavily and stands up. âKitty, help me clear the table, will you?â
As soon as theyâre gone, Trina turns to me, and in a low voice she says, âLara Jean, I know youâre not a drinker, but hereâs a pro tip that you can take with you to Beach Week and college and beyond. Always, always have a buddy system in place. Itâll go like this: One night, you get to drink. The next night, your girlfriend gets to drink. That way one person is always sober enough to hold the other personâs hair back and make sure nothing bad happens.â
Smiling, I say, âPeter will be there. Heâll hold my hair back if need be. Or I can just wear it in a ponytail.â
âTrue. Iâm just saying, for the future.â For when he isnât there. My smile dims, and she quickly goes on to say, âAt my Beach Week, we took turns cooking dinner for the house. When it was my turn, I made chicken parmesan and all the smoke detectors went off and we couldnât figure out how to make the beeping stop all night!â She laughs. Trina has such an easy laugh.
âI doubt my Beach Week will get that crazy,â I say.
âWell, letâs hope it gets a
crazy,â she says.