The Upside of Unrequited Page 53

“Hi,” I say.

“Hi.” For a minute, we just stand there, not quite looking at each other. There’s this tuft of hair winging out above his ear. I have to shut my eyes. My heart and brain are jumping all over.

“Can we—”

“Molly, it’s fine.”

“Okay. Yeah.”

“Sorry.” I see him swallow, his Adam’s apple pressing outward. I cross my arms over my chest. He looks up at me, finally, and says, “I don’t want to talk about this here.”

“Okay,” I say again. I can’t catch my breath.

Then Ari calls him over to the register, and we don’t talk again for the entire workday.

He doesn’t walk me out. Our shifts end at the same time, but at the last moment, he disappears into the back room.

I take the back streets home, feeling heavy and dazed. My phone buzzes in my pocket, and it takes me a second to even register it. I feel almost like I’m floating. I’m barely aware of the weather and my body and my stiffly plodding feet.

It’s a text from Abby: Are u there? Can we Skype?

15 min, I type. Almost home.

As soon as I get there, I head straight to my room, settling onto my bed with my laptop. I log into Skype and dial Abby’s computer.

“Hey!” she says, her face super close to the webcam. And when she leans back, I see she’s not alone. “Molly, this is Simon!”

The famous Simon. He looks just like he does in photographs: messy blond hair and twinkly eyes behind hipster glasses. “Hi.” He grins.

“Hi.” I feel shy.

“Okay, so I don’t have a clue what any of this means,” Abby says, rolling her eyes, “but he has something very important to ask you. Just critically important.”

“Okay, this actually is important,” he says, nodding solemnly. “I need a second opinion. If you were sorting Abby into one of the Hogwarts houses, where would she go?”

“Obviously Gryffindor.”

“YES. Oh my God. Thank you.”

Abby shakes her head. “Yeah, so this one and his boyfriend just spent two hours arguing about whether I’m a Gryffindor or a Hufflelump.”

“Hufflelump?” Simon covers his face. “I can’t. Jesus Christ. Abby, you’re embarrassing yourself. Anyway,” he says, sliding his hands away, and giving me a thumbs-up, “Molly, you’re awesome.”

“Yup. She’s awesome. You’re awesome. Go gloat to your boyfriend,” Abby says, shooing him out.

As soon as he’s gone, her whole expression changes. “Hey. You okay?” Her brow furrows.

I nod slowly. I don’t know how Abby does this. Either she’s really perceptive, or I’m way more of an open book than I think I am. I’ve never quite been able to figure that out.

“Yeah, that’s not the nod of someone who’s okay.” She squints at me. “What’s up? Did you talk to your moms?”

“About . . .”

“About the booze.”

“Oh. No. This is . . .” I pause—and the silence just hangs there. The thing about Skype is that you can actually watch an awkward silence play out in real time. There’s Abby’s face, eyebrows knit, pressing her lips together slightly. And in a tiny rectangle in the corner: me, eyes cast downward. Probably because I’m watching myself and not the webcam. I’m sure there’s some kind of metaphor buried in that.

“Molly?”

“Hmm?”

“You’re in a daze.”

I blink. “I am? I am. I’m sorry.” I rub the bridge of my nose.

“Is it Cassie?”

“What?”

“Is she still pissed about orgasm-gate?” Abby stretches and leans back, and I catch a glimpse of her bedroom walls—pale pink, plastered with collages of Taylor Swift, The Fault in Our Stars, and the rest of her favorites. It’s just like her room in Takoma Park, but bigger—Abby’s world, expanded. “Because that’s dumb. Want me to yell at her for you?”

I laugh weakly. “Thanks.”

“Seriously, have you guys talked about this?”

“No.” I scoot back, leaning against the wall.

“You need to talk about it.”

“I know, but the wedding’s in ten days, and, just, you know. I don’t want everything to be weird.”

“You don’t want it to be weird? I think that ship has sailed.” She raises her eyebrows. “Seriously, just talk to her. You’ll feel better.”

“I know.”

“Good.”

We’re both quiet. I watch her draw a nervous breath.

“Okay, listen,” she says finally. “I don’t want to overwhelm you, but, uh.” She looks me in the eye. “Can we talk about this guy Reid?”

The breath whooshes out of me.

“What about him?”

“Well, Olivia called me.”

I feel this wave of panic. I touch my cheeks, and they’re burning. “What?”

“So.” She lifts her shoulders. “Who is he? What’s going on with you guys?”

“She said something was going on?”

“I’m just speculating.”

“With her and Reid?”

“Molly.” Abby rubs her eyelids. “No. Okay. That is not what Olivia said.”

My heart pounds. “What did she say?”

“Let’s start with this. Do you like this guy?” She twists her mouth sideways. It’s the Abby version of the Molly Face. It’s the patented Abby Suso don’t bullshit me face.

“I feel like we’ve been talking a lot about me. How are you? How’s Nick?”

“Oh, we’re great. Our relationship is great. You know what helped a lot with that?” She stares me down. “Admitting I liked him.”

She knows, and I know she knows, and she knows I know she knows, and onward to infinity. But I can’t make myself say it. Twenty-seven crushes, and the first time it actually counts, I can’t seem to make the words come. Honestly, there must be something wrong with my wiring. Because girls are supposed to tell each other everything. It’s the fundamental law of friendship.

I like Reid. I have a crush on Reid. I want to make out with Reid. I’m half in love with Reid. More than half. Way past half.

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