The Upside of Unrequited Page 39

We got our plane tickets for the wedding! she tells me. And I’m bringing a plus one.

Nick’s coming? I write.

Yes!! AND HE’S GONNA WEAR A SUIT.

OMG, he doesn’t have to. He’ll be the only one, I say.

I don’t care, I want to see him in a suit. Are u bringing anyone? Winky emoji. Kissy-face emoji.

Why, yes, I write. If by “someone,” you mean eighty-four mason jars and a zillion buttercream cupcakes

And a handmade fabric garland, I add.

Molly, u are pinterest af, she writes.

I grin at the screen of my phone. Why, thank you

But u should bring a date. You should ask Hipster Will.

God. I don’t know what made her latch onto that. Especially when I’ve been spending so much time thinking about Reid.

Reid’s rain-soaked glasses. Reid pushing my wet bangs out of my eyes.

“Who are you texting?” Cassie asks, from the couch. She’s lying with her head on the armrest and her feet in Mina’s lap, while Mina makes some pretty halfhearted efforts as Luigi.

“The fuck, Mina,” Will says. “You missed an extra life.”

Cassie sits up suddenly. “Are you texting Reid?”

“Wait, is this the Reid I know?” Max interjects, looking up from his phone. “Husky pants Reid?”

I feel my whole body burn. “I’m texting Abby!”

Her eyes narrow. “Why are you blushing?”

“Shut up.”

My phone buzzes again, and I glance at it.

I notice u’ve gone mysteriously silent. I also notice there are no objections to the Will idea, Abby says.

I OBJECT, I type quickly.

Too late. Smiley emoji.

I look up, and Cassie’s expression is unreadable.

Unreadable. Even to me.

 

 

REID TEXTS ME ON FRIDAY.

Hey, so my friend Douglas and I are going to Medieval Madness.

I write back, That’s awesome.

Want to come? Smiley emoji.

Oh.

My heart thuds. I’m so sorry. I can’t!

Oh, no problem, he writes.

I’m going to a party with Cassie and Mina

Three dots.

Oh, okay, he writes.

I’m sorry.

Why are you sorry?

I don’t know!

But I am. And it’s stupid, because God knows what Medieval Madness even is. Something where you drink from flagons, probably. And wear tunics. Something so Reid. I really shouldn’t care.

But I do care. It sort of ticks in the back of my mind all evening.

We Metro to Bethesda after dinner, and Mina picks us up from the station. She and Cassie kiss in the car. Just a quick kiss, like parents do. And it occurs to me, suddenly, why they call it the Kiss and Ride.

“So, Max’s parents aren’t home?” Cassie asks.

“Yeah, they travel a lot.”

“There aren’t going to be adults?” I blurt. I feel like I’m Xavier’s age.

“Well, his sister is eighteen,” Mina says, catching my eye in the rearview mirror. “So, in the eyes of the law . . .”

Cassie twists around to grin at me. “Stop making the Molly Face.”

“I’m not,” I say, but my cheeks are warm. I shouldn’t be freaked out by the idea of a house party. It’s not like it’s an orgy. I don’t think it’s like an orgy.

Mina parks on the street, at the end of a long line of cars. I can’t believe how many cars there are. I have to admit, I had no idea house parties were even a thing. I fold my arms across my chest and try to act nonchalant.

But there’s something about tonight. Everything feels a little surreal. For one thing, it’s surprisingly chilly out. I’m actually wearing a jacket in July.

“Molly, you look so cute,” Mina says, putting an arm around my shoulders.

Which makes me blush.

“I’m cute, too,” Cassie says.

Mina smiles up at her. “You just look like you’re cold.”

“A.k.a., you’re a wimp.” Cassie grins. She’s wearing a tank top and these short yellow shorts. She’s just one of those people. She can throw on anything and look adorable. Whereas I’m completely camouflaged in careful layers. Under my jacket, I’ve got this belted dress—green, with tiny birds on it—and a camisole, and boots.

We’ve timed our arrival pretty carefully. It’s late enough that we’re not the first ones here, but not so late that everyone’s sloppy drunk already.

“Should we text Will?” Mina says.

Cassie shrugs. “Is he here?”

“He should be.”

The way into Max’s basement is through the backyard, which still has one of those giant playhouse structures, with swings and a rock climbing wall. And it’s perfectly maintained. Even though Max doesn’t have younger siblings. Parents are funny like that.

But inside, it’s not quite what I expected. Not that I had any idea what to expect. I guess I thought it would be more like a movie, with a beer pong table and a keg in the corner and guys in well-worn baseball caps. And yes, there are plenty of guys in well-worn baseball caps, but other than that, it’s just a normal basement. There are two Ikea-looking futons and a bunch of chairs, a foosball table, an air hockey table, and a giant drum set. The lights are dim, and there are lots of people holding red plastic cups.

“Mina!” someone shouts. It’s a girl I’ve never seen before, and she’s ridiculously gorgeous—tall, with light-brown skin and wide hips and a very twee blue patterned dress. She nudges a fallen hoodie aside with her toe as she walks toward us. “Hey! You must be Cassie.”

She’s talking to me. “Oh, I’m—”

“I’m Cassie,” says Cassie.

“This is Samar,” Mina says.

“Oh, you’re Samar,” Cassie says.

And now I’m wondering what planet I must have been living on, because I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard of Samar. But Cassie’s greeting her like she’s famous. I hate that. I hate feeling so utterly out of the loop.

“Oh, well, hi! I don’t know you,” Samar says to me.

“This is Molly,” Cassie says, with no point of reference. Just Molly. Like I’m some random girl.

“Are the boys here?” Mina asks.

Samar nods. “Yeah, Max is hooking up with someone, and Will—I just saw him. He’s . . .” She cranes her neck. “Oh, he’s by the booze table. Predictably.”

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