The Upside of Unrequited Page 36

When I get to work, Reid’s at the front of the store, taking down the Fourth of July display. Or, at least he’s making it a little less conspicuously red, white, and blue. He leaves the burlap tablecloth and vintage Coke crates, but he’s stacking the Americana painted mason jars into a cardboard box. It’s pretty interesting watching Reid work. He gets really hyper-focused and methodical, like he’s in the zone. He doesn’t even notice me until I’m literally standing next to him.

“Hey—you’re here!” He lays the final mason jar down in a nest of bubble wrap and nudges the box aside with his shin. “Okay, I have to tell you something. Your cookie dough was the best thing I have ever tasted in my entire life.”

“Really?”

“It’s all I can think about.”

I laugh. “Oh wow.”

“Molly, I am not joking. I don’t know how something so wonderful even exists on this earth.”

“You know there’s still a few left over, right?”

“What?” He clutches his heart.

“You should come over after work,” I say.

And then I immediately regret it.

It’s not the fact that I’m being extremely uncareful. That’s a good thing. Uncareful is exactly what we’re going for.

Except the person I’m supposed to be uncareful around is Will. Because Will takes me a step closer to Cassie. Reid takes me further away.

But still. My heart is beating so quickly. I open my mouth to speak again but the words fall away. My entire brain empties in a single whoosh. Like driving through a tunnel in a rainstorm.

And now I should probably say something, but that would involve words, and WHAT EVEN ARE WORDS, and he’s looking at me with the hazelest eyes and the softest, most upturned mouth.

I can’t.

But I’m saved. By Deborah, who corners us, smiling. God, she even looks like Reid, sort of. I think their mouths are similar. I don’t know how I didn’t notice this.

“Hey. Sorry to interrupt,” she says, “but I need some heavy lifters. Someone bought that vanity. You guys up for it?”

I don’t know why I feel so nervous.

“Sure. The white one?” Reid asks.

“Yup. She’s pulling her car around now.”

Reid and I head over to the back corner of the store, where there’s a wooden vanity table painted a distressed white, with a big, rectangular mirror. It’s one of my favorite pieces in the whole store.

“You ready?” Reid asks, gripping one side, bracing for its weight.

“Ready.”

We lift it on three and carry it a few feet before setting it down slowly. Then, we lift it again, walk, and stop. Lift, walk, stop. And as it turns out, Reid and I are pretty good at carrying heavy stuff together, even though he’s over half a foot taller than me, and I’m the least athletic human on the planet. I think it helps that we take it slowly.

We set it down again, and he looks at me. “So, your sister’s dating Mina Choi?”

“Yeah. They’re kind of inseparable these days.”

“Oh, that’s cool.”

We pick up the vanity again and walk a few steps.

“So, what’s she like?” I ask when we set it down again.

“Mina?”

“Yeah. Like, should a protective sister be worried about this?”

“Oh, I don’t think so. She’s pretty cool. She’s artsy, I guess? I don’t know her that well.” He shrugs.

We lift the vanity again, and this time, we get it almost to the door—and then it takes two more lift-walk-stop cycles before we reach the woman’s car. She has a big, open SUV with all the back seats folded down, and the three of us manage to wedge it in there somehow.

Then the woman drives off, and Reid brushes his hands on his jeans.

“Okay, that was really impressive of us,” I say. “Right? Like, as a feat of strength?”

“It was a feat of strength,” he agrees, smiling, and I think he likes the way I phrased it. Then he pauses. “Okay, question.”

“Yup?”

He tilts his head. “Are you serious about this cookie dough situation?”

“You mean the situation of extra cookie dough existing at my house?”

His dimple flickers. “Yes.”

“Oh, I’m serious. I am dead serious.”

“That is very good to know.”

“And there may also be vanilla ice cream,” I say, “if you’re willing to help me with my moms’ wedding centerpieces.”

“I see.” He grins. “Okay, but I’m not very artistic.”

“I can talk you through it,” I say—and there’s this quiet little yank below my stomach.

When our shift ends we take the back streets to my house, and Reid tells me about this fireworks-viewing party he went to at his parents’ friend’s condo. Which has a rooftop. Because of course Deborah and Ari go to rooftop parties downtown.

“And it was interesting,” he says, “but it was basically a bunch of adults drinking craft beer and asking me where I’m applying to college.”

“Oh my God. Why are adults so obsessed with that?”

“I know.” He shrugs. “Anyway, my friend Douglas lives near Capitol Hill, so my brother and I snuck off to his house to play World of Warcraft.”

“You missed the fireworks?”

He looks sheepish. “Yeah . . .”

“Not very patriotic, Reid.”

“I know.”

“But hey—you’re wearing red, white, and blue today.”

“I am?” He looks down. He doesn’t remember what he’s wearing. I love that. “Oh, I am.” He pauses. “But where’s the white?”

“What?”

“On my outfit. I’ve got a red shirt, blue jeans . . .”

I grin up at him. “Your sneakers.”

“Ohhhh.” We step into the crosswalk.

“They’re very white,” I tell him.

“Yeah, that’s actually funny,” he says, “because one of the only real conversations I’ve had with Mina Choi was about that.”

“About your sneakers?”

“Yup.”

“Really? What did she say?”

“Oh, you know.” He blushes. “It wasn’t a big deal.”

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