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Lara Jean was nervous.

She had never been to a bar before. She would much rather be at home, having a Golden Girls marathon with her sister, Kitty or baking some cookies for move in day tomorrow.

She shivered slightly, the cold breeze outside hitting her every minute or so. She ran her hands down the black strapless dress and white lacy top she was wearing, smoothening the fabric out. She had on her favourite pair of boots as well.

She didn’t know what people wore to bars, so she just wore what she wanted. But her two old best friends from high school, Chris and Lucas, were in town before they all went back to college. Chris insisted that since they were twenty one they had to go to a bar together before summer ended. Her guilt trip eventually got Lara Jean on board.

It was the night before moving into her dorm, so Lara Jean wouldn’t be staying out too late. She was heading into her third year of college at UVA in her hometown, whilst Lucas was in NYU in New York and Chris was going to an art college in California.

“It’s my favorite bar here. Around midnight, it turns into a club so we can danceeee,” Chris sings the word, winking at Lara Jean as she twirled Lucas around in a spin as they moved up in the line to get into bar.

A warm fuzzy feeling brewed inside her chest. After their high school graduation, she wasn’t sure if they would ever be back together again. Yet here they were, at a bar of all places, together.

They finally got to the bouncers and flashed their ID’s, and the door was opened for them. The crowded bar was lit up. There were neon signs and fairy lights everywhere. It was actually quite cool. Of course Chris loved it, she always found the nicest spots. All the tables were made of glass, with retro stools surrounding them. Behind the bar, there was walls covered with bottles of beer, wine and spirits.

They grabbed a table and Chris went up to buy the first round, and then Lucas. Lara Jean wasn’t the best drinker. She had tried beer at college parties and there had been one disastrous night of accidentally having too many jello shots. She had presumed they were just jello.

Parties, nightclubs and bars were not her scene. She preferred movie marathons and baking on Friday and Saturday nights,

So tonight, she was sticking with Rosé. She could handle Rosé.

“I’ll go get the next round,” She announced, standing up from their table, chuckling as Chris and Lucas debated over who was the best Batman and she headed over towards the bar. She looked up and down the busy bar, trying to get the bartender’s attention.

She felt someone touch her shoulder.

It was Derek. Derek was a boy who Lara Jean knew from college. They had taken the same classes together and were both in the Korean society.

He was slightly taller than Lara Jean, with curly auburn hair and crystal blue eyes. At first, she had thought he was cute and sweet. That was until she got to know him.

Her old roommate, Cassidy, used to call him a stalker. Lara Jean would always scold her, saying that was too harsh. He was harmless. He was just….eager.

Very eager.

He never seemed to pick up on the fact she was not interested. She had tried dry hard to make it obvious. She was 21 and still had never had a boyfriend. She had been on dates in college, but there hadn’t been that click people talk about. When you kiss someone, everything just clicks into place.

Derek was never going to have that click.

He just wasn’t her type. She wasn’t even sure what her type was. All she knew was, it definitely wasn’t Derek.

He asked her out multiple times, she was always running out of excuses to say no. He had gotten her phone number for homework purposes in one of their classes, reluctantly from Lara Jean, and managed to send her at least five text messages daily.

He smothered her, from always sitting beside her in class, following her around Koren Club like a lost puppy and

He once took one of her cookies without asking. Her last cookie. He reached right into her purple tupperware box and grabbed it, giving her a crumb filled wide grin afterwards.

She never would have the heart to be cruel to him, but there was certain times she was nearly pushed to her breaking point. The cookie incident was one of those times.

It got to the point where she was jumping behind trees to avoid him on campus. One time, her vintage mustard plaid skirt ended up getting caught in a branch and tearing after she ducked.

“Hey Lara Jean.”

“Hi,” She pauses, swallowing slowly. “Derek. How are you?”

“I’m good. Super good,” He leans forward slightly and his beer spills over the side of its glass, splashing her biker boots she had found in a charity shop for fifteen dollars.

She had been so happy with the bargain, she went home and baked four rounds of white, dark and milk chocolate chip cookies.

He doesn’t ask her how she is.

“Oops,” He chuckled as some of the beer spilling from his lips and Lara Jean was trying very hard to prevent her facial expression resembling pure disgust.

“How about you and I get out of here?”

Lara Jean stared at him, her eyes so wide they began to feel strained. Her mouth went dry. She was incapable of forming words.

A handsome, tall dark stranger puts an arm around her shoulders. If she was frozen before, she’s melting right now.

Well, she wished she would just melt into a puddle and disappear.

“Hey babe,” The attractive stranger says, supposedly to me. He has an adorable dimple on his right cheek. “Did you get your drinks okay?”

This attractive stranger is smiling right at me. He’s tall, dark and handsome. His hair was cut neat around his head but long at the top, where a few curls were resting.

Derek’s face twists and turns into many expressions until he settled with pure unadulterated shocked.

“Hi, I’m the boyfriend. Peter Kavinsky,” The attractive boy extends his hand towards Derek, who shook it limply. He looked like he had seen a ghost.

“I better get back to my friends. Bye,” Derek practically sprints away from them, his beer splashing the ground.

“That dude is a mess,” The attractive boy says, shaking his head as removed his arm from my shoulders, turning to lean against the bar. He’s acting casual, as if that did not just happen.

Was she drunk right now? She didn’t feel drunk. She had only had two Rosés. Chris had helped finish the second one.

He seems to catch on a few seconds later, from the look on her face. She is gobsmacked.

And he just laughs.

“Sorry about that. I couldn’t help but overhear and you looked like you needed help,” He extends his hand. “I’m Peter.”

“Lara Jean,” She says slowly, shaking his hand cautiously. He has a firm grip and the skin on his hands feel rough. From his muscular toned upper body, it’s probably from sport.

“Thank you,” Lara Jean managed to mumble. “I’ve been trying to figure how to get out of that one situation a long time.”

“Hey,” He says, waving his hand. “Some people won’t get the message until you write it on your forehead.”

“Speaking from experience?” She teases, gaining some confidence. It surprised her since talking to attractive boys at bars was not her speciality.

He laughs, taking a swig of his beer. “The sharpie wouldn’t come off for days.”

“Lara Jean, where are those drinks?” Chris appears between them. . “We were beginning to think you had ditched us. Oh.”

Chris glances between the attractive stranger, Peter, and Lara Jean and a wide smirk grows on her lips, the upper corners turning up. “Don’t mind me, I’ll just take these,” She lifts their cocktails, “Carry on.”

She blatantly winks at me before she shakes her shoulders suggestively, before strutting off.

She mouths at me, “STAY”, before walking back to our table.

Peter doesn’t seem weirded out by that interaction. He just laughs, rolling his beer bottle on the bar by holding the top of it with his fingers. “A friend of yours?”

“Old friends,” She said, nodding her head and taking a small sip of her prosecco. “We went to highschool together.”

“No way,” He said, turning his head slightly and pointing to a group of guys in the back of the bar at the dart board. They were quite rowdy. “I’m here with high school buddies myself. Where did you go to high school?”

“Rochford.”

“Ah,” He said, nodding his head. “I went to Grafton. We always kicked your asses in lacrosse.” He tilted his head slightly with a satisfied smirk. His school was the other high school in the district, about twenty minutes from her old one.

“Is that what you play?”

“Yeah. Could you tell?” He moves his shoulders, flexing his muscles through the thin fabric of his t-shirt.

Lara Jean’s cheeks burn red as she takes a long sip of her drink. He was arrogant alright. It did kind of suit him, though. “No. But I could lie if that makes you feel better?”

Wow. Lara Jean was flirting and she liked it.

He seemed to like it too, unless she was deluded and couldn’t read any of the signals he was giving. “Ouch. Do you come to bars to break guy’s hearts?”

“Not usually,” She took a long sip of her drink. “I guess you’re special.”

They sit by the bar for at least an hour, talking about everything and anything. They don’t even talk about personal little details. She doesn’t know if Peter Kavinsky goes to school, but she knows he loves pepperoni on his pizza.

The more they talked, if she measured him on an attractiveness scale, he was just going up and up.

Margot always said you don’t find the right boys at bars, but Peter Kavinsky seemed to be just right to Lara Jean.

Lara Jean may have just met him, but his aura felt good. Those feelings you get when you meet people were rarely wrong. Bad people don’t tend to give off a good auras. People just decide to proceed cautiously.

She felt bad for leaving her friends but she couldn’t seem to walk away from Peter Kavinsky.

Gorgeous by Taylor Swift starts blaring through the speakers, a jolt bolting through her body. She jumps slightly.

Lara Jean can’t help but gasp when she heads it. “Oh my god, I love this song.”

His nose wrinkles in the most adorable way, followed by a little smile. “Do you want to dance?”

He slips his hand into hers, their fingers interlinking as they make their way to the dancefloor.

He twirls her around and her head falls back laughing. She’s not a good dancer, and neither is he, but somehow they make it work together. She tries to twirl him which ends with him squatting considering she is barely 5’2 and he’s at least 6ft. She can’t stop laughing the entire time.

They eventually take a break and sit down at a table in the corner of the dance floor, both of them out breath and slightly sweaty.

They start talking about movies and tv shows they like, which leads to Lara Jean making a startling discovery.

“How have you lived for 21 years without watching Sixteen Candles?” She asks, shaking her head. She looked offended. She adored any John Hughes movie.

He shrugs, looking at her with an amused expression. “I’m more of a Fight Club kind of person.”

Her brows furrowed in confusion. She had never seen fight club, but she didn’t want him to know that. She had to play it cool, “Okay.”

He gasps, shaking his head and putting a hand on her shoulder. “How have you lived for 21 years without watching Fight Club?”

Lara Jean shrugged his shoulder off, scowling at him. “Touché.”

It takes her a few seconds to notice they’re both leaning in closer towards each other. She is leaning her arms against the table, touching his arm, and he had one elbow on the table with his hand supporting his chin. It makes her blush and flustered.

“Lara Jean?”

She looked up at Peter through her eyelashes. She was always looking up at him, he is quite tall and she is quite small.

“Yes, Peter?”

“Can I kiss you?”

There was something magical about being asked to be kissed. It sent this warm feeling through her entire body, which tensed up slightly as she held her breath.

She nods slowly, watching as he smiles before cupping her cheek and pressing his soft lips against hers. In that moment, fireworks explode in her brain. Peter moves his stool closer to hers while still kissing her so he’s closer, his hand resting on his lower back.

Lara Jean felt that click.

They kiss for what feels like forever, but in reality it lasted for about half an hour They pulled apart every few minutes, both smiling and blushing and they’d start to talk before one of them closed the distance between their lips again.

Kissing a handsome kind stranger in a bar was definitely one of Lara Jean’s top moments.

“I’m really sorry to break up the party, but Chris is getting kicked out.” Lara Jean pulls back from Peter’s lips, startled as Lucas stands in front of their table, shouting at them over the loud music.

Lara Jean looks over her shoulder, and sure enough, Chris is shouting at two girls and two bouncers are trying to get her down from the table and out of the bar. This was not her first Chris rodeo.

“Oh no,” Lara Jean starts to scramble, grabbing her purse and coat. “I have to go. I’m sorry,” Peter’s face drops slightly as he stands up.

“Do you need help? Is she okay?” Peter follows their eyes and his widen slightly as he sees Chris dodge one of the bouncers hands.

Lara Jean shakes her head, “Chris does not do well with strangers. We’re the only ones who can get her to calm down when she gets like this. What did they say to her?”

Lucas sighs, pacing back and forth. “Feminism was stupid.”

Oh no. Chris was going to murder someone.

“Can I get your number?” Peter asks, grabbing onto her hand and squeezing it. “I want to see you ag-“

There is a scream as Chris jumps onto one of the bouncers backs and Lucas squeals.

“We have to go,” He pleads to Lara Jean, pulling her other hand as she lets go of Peters. “I’m sorry!” She shouts as she watches his figure get smaller and smaller as they race through the crowd.

She managed to convince Chris to get down from the bouncer’s back, taking both of her hands and dragging her from the bar. Both her and Lucas profusely apologise to the bouncers. They will definitely not be welcome in that bar again.

Later that night, when they’re all safely home, Lara Jean lies on her childhood bed, gazing up at the ceiling.

Peter Kavinsky. She had kissed a boy named Peter Kavinsky. Even thinking of his name made her stomach flutter.

He was the last thing she thought of before she finally fell asleep, particularly their kiss, one of her fingers touching her lips as her eyes closed.

 

The following morning, Lara Jean sleaps in an hour and a half later than she had planned. Kitty woke up her up by jumping on her bed and throwing a pillow at her head. Her head felt heavy but she didn’t feel sick. She was just exhausted. Her dad, little sister Kitty and stepmom Trina were helping her move into her dorm today.

She adds three sugars into her coffee in an extra large mug.

Her house was only twenty minutes from her college, so the drive to the dorms was quick. Despite having lived on campus for two years, Lara Jean always overpacked. She couldn’t help it, she might need her glue gun or entire romance novel collection. She was not taking that risk of not having them.

They finally got everything into her dorm room, 105, after four trips to and from the car. There was no sign of her roommate yet, but they had left their stuff on the right side of the room.

“Bye sweetie, we’ll see you this weekend.” Her Dad said, pulling her into a hug as they stood outside the car to say goodbye.

“Have fun!” Trina squealed, wrapping her arms around Lara Jean next and kissing her forehead. “I’m going to miss you LJ.”

Lara Jean hated goodbyes. No matter how many times she had to say them, they never got easier. “Bye Lara Jean,” Kitty murmured, hugging Lara Jean last and the tightest. She was going to miss her little sister. They had spent a lot of the summer together, just like they did everyday when she was back in high school.

No matter where Lara Jean was, she always missed her sisters. Margot, her older sister, couldn’t be here today because she was working in Washington DC. Lara Jen promised they would FaceTime later.

Lara Jean eventually made her way back to her dorm once her family left, walking back into her room and seeing a girl lying on the other bed in the dorm.

“Hey. I’m Zoey.” The tall blonde smiles at her from her bed, her laptop open on the bed while the rest of her belongings remained unpacked around her. She did not look like she planne on unpacking anytime soon.

“Hi, I’m Lara Jean,” She smiled, rather forcefully and very awkwardly. She was never good with introductions. Zoey slammed her laptop closed quite suddenly which made Laura Jean jump.

“Have you seen our RA?” Zoey stands up, grabbing her hand and directing her towards the door. “He is a sex god.”

“Really?”

“He’s in the hallway. Come look,” It was like we were in middle school, watching a cute boy from behind our lockers. Not that Lara Jean did that in middle school, she was too busy bedazzling everything she could get my hands on.

Her dad was not pleased when she bedazzled his doctor’s coat.

The door opposite theirsnopens and Zoey stepped out of the room, smiling widely. She seemed very happy. Lara Jean liked her already. “Karen, this is Lara Jean.”

“Hi,” Lara Jean said, fumbling slightly as she extended her hand.

She giggles, shaking her head slightly before shaking her hand. “Hi, Lara Jean. I’m Karen. Your skirt is adorable.”

A wide smile broke out on Lara Jean’s face, it meant the world to her when people complimented her outfits. “Thank you, I love your-“

“Oh my god, he’s coming our way,” Karen whispers loudly, squeezing Lara Jean’s upper arm softly. The excitement radiating off her was nearly visible.

Lara Jean turned her head to finally look at this attractive stranger. Once she looked at him, casually strolling down the hallway like he owned the place. Most girls eyes were glued onto him.

Like Lara Jean’s lips were to his last night.

Peter Kavinsky, the boy from the bar, was walking right towards her.

Peter stops in his tracks as his eyes land on her. His eyes widen momentarily and he reaches a hand up to ruffle his hair, a grin breaking out on his face.

“Hi.” He finally says, making direct eye contact with her. He looked so attractive in his blue jeans and green jumper.

Zoey and Karen looked between Lara Jean and Peter, both of their expressions confused.

Lara Jean’s legs felt wobbly, like jello.

“What are you doing here?” Lara Jean manages to say, swallowing slowly, avoiding meeting his eyes.

He clears his throat, starting to look uncomfortable. “Eh, I’m this floor’s RA. Resident assistant,” He pointed to the white laminated badge with the letters ‘RA’ in black bold letters on it.

Everything started to feel light, quite dizzy. “Wha?” She faintly hear herself say, before she started to fall back, her eyes rolling and it all goes black.

“Lara Jean!”

Chapter Text

“Lara Jean? Lara Jean?”

Lara Jean groggily opened her eyes, her vision slowly becoming more clear.

She felt something supporting her head, a hand, cupping the top of her neck.

It was an arm.

Attached to Peter Kavinsky.

Who was looking straight down at her.

In that moment, she really wished she was still unconscious.

“Are you okay?” He asked softly, looking down at her quite concerned. She slowly sat up, groaning slightly as she pushed her weight on her arms to sit up. His arm moved with her, moving to support her back.

“Sorry, I skipped breakfast. I didn’t get a lot of sleep,” She murmured, rubbing her eyes softly and starting to stand up. “I’m really fine.”

“Not a lot of sleep, eh?” Peter murmured quietly, helping her stand up and smiling at her. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

Lara Jean’s cheeks felt like they were on fire. He did not just make a joke about last night.

Could they not just pretend it never happened? That’s what Lara Jean always did. Pretend things didn’t exist until they eventually went away. That’s what happened with Josh, Margot’s ex boyfriend. Their friendship broke down after Margot and him broke up. After that, Lara Jean and Josh would still talk, send a happy birthday or merry christmas text. They even went to the same college, but it was never the same. So Lara Jean avoided him until they stopped talking altogether.

She didn’t like to think about Josh. It made her heart hurt.

Her complicated feelings for Josh had never properly gone away, the ones that existed long before his and Margot’s relationship and long after they ended.

“You should lie down,” Karen advised, snapping Lara Jean out of her thinking bubble. Lara Jean tended to do that a lot, zone out of any situation.

“He has excellent reflexes, he caught your head before you fell,” Zoey said, looking admirably at Peter but also with a hungry look.

He helped Lara Jean to her bed, ignoring Zoey’s comment and nodded, “I’m just down the hall if you need anything. The RA room.” He paused awkwardly before nodding his head and leaving the room, closing the door behind him.

Zoey opened up her polka dot mini fridge, taking out a chilled water bottle and handing it to Lara Jean.

“Thank you,” Lara Jean smiled at her roommate’s sweet gesture, opening the bottle and taking a small sip. The freezing water made her brain freeze for a second, before it calmed down.

“So, how do you and that beautiful piece of art know each other?” Zoey asked, standing beside Lara Jean’s bed with her arms crossed and head tilted to the side curiously. She still had to make her bed and set up the rest of her side of the room.

“We met before, once,” Lara Jean mumbled. “We don’t know really each other. It was nothing.”

“He was not looking at you like it was nothing,” Zoey raised an eyebrow at her with this look, it was similar to the look Margot gave her whenever she knew Lara Jean was lying.

“Oh my god,” Zoey gasped, putting a hand over her mouth. “Have you two hooked up before?!”

“No!” Lara Jean didn’t like people knowing her business. She could barely talk about kissing or sex with her sisters, much less with a girl she has known for less than an hour. She also had never had sex. Which she was perfectly happy with. She just didn’t want everyone to know about it.

“We just met at a bar once and talked a lot. He was really nice. That’s it, really,” Lara Jean’s voice stutters slightly. Her hands were clammy. She felt uneasy. How was she supposed to live in a dorm he was an RA for?

“There….might have been a kiss. Just a kiss. You have to promise you won’t tell anyone else. Please,” She pleaded, looking over at Zoey desperately. It would be mortifying if word got back to Peter she was going around telling people they had kissed.

She couldn’t even manage to look him in the eye right now, much less speak to him.

“My lips are sealed. I pinky promise,” Zoey walked over and wrapped her pinky finger around Lara Jeans before walking back over to her side of the room.

“Congratulations on kissing that,” Zoey laughs. “Wow. I feel faint just looking at him.”

“What am I supposed to do? He’s our RA,” Lara Jean clutched her pillow to her chest, staring into nothing.

“Just own it. You had a fun night. He seems like a good guy. Things will only be weird if you make them weird,” That answer didn’t make Lara Jean feel any better. Zoey seemed to pick up on that. “Or, you could avoid him like pink eye in a frat house.”

She didn’t understand what Zoey meant, but Lara Jean perked up and smiled. That was the perfect plan. Avoiding Peter Kavinsky. It relaxed her slightly and she pulled out her knitting basket, resuming where she left off. Kitty said her scarf looked like it had caught in a sewing machine, but Lara Jean knew it just needed more work.

“Damn Lara Jean, you really are not what I expected you to be,” Zoey said, sitting on the edge of her own bed and smirking over at her. “You and I are going to have so much fun together.”

 

Later that night, after a few hours spent contemplating her existence followed by a much needed nap, and eventually unpacking her room, Lara Jean went to take a shower. She needed to relax under hot water and coconut body wash. She had on her dusty pink silk robe her grandmother had sent from Korea.

She waited until it was late so everyone would be in bed. She hoped at least Peter would be.

When she stepped out into the hall, she heard loud voices. Someone was shouting. It sounded like a girl.

At the end of the hall, Peter is standing there with a blonde girl who reaches his shoulder. She’s wearing a pair of shorts and a tank top. From the expression on her face, she is very, very angry.

Lara Jean could see the vein popping out of her forehead from the other end of the hall.

“Peter! I’m still talking to you.”

“And I’m done listening. Go home, Gen.”

Peter’s voice dies down as he sees Lara Jean over Gen’s shoulder. She was hoping to remain unseen, but she failed miserably. His whole face lights up, his eyebrows raising simultaneously as if he’s having an epiphany.

“Babe!”

Lara Jean stands in the middle of the hallway, her shower shoes on her feet and shower caddy in her hand, looking behind her and then back at Peter. She was planning on making a quick escape but she was pretty certain he was looking at her.

Who was he talking to?

Peter strides towards Lara Jean, his shoulders back, his neck standing tall, looking determined.

He wraps one arm around her waist, dipping her and kisses her.

“Just go with it,” He whispers against her lips as he pulls back an inch. Lara Jean is frozen in the spot. He closes the distance between them and resumes kissing her, and for a few seconds, Lara Jean kisses him back.

The blond, Gen, behind them screeches at the top of her lungs, which makes Lara Jean flinch slightly. She throws her hands up in the air before storming off in the direction of the elevators.

“I better go, I’m meeting the boys.” Peter pulls back but he doesn’t fully let her go, glancing over his shoulder to make sure Gen was gone.

“Enjoy your shower,” He murmurs into her ear, smiling as he walks backwards before completely turning around and disappearing down the hall.

What on earth just happened?

She spends her whole shower thinking about the kiss. Peter Kavinsky, the attractive boy from the bar, kissed her. For whatever reason, Lara Jean had no clue.

It clearly had something to do with the girl, Gen, who had potentially damaged Lara Jean’s hearing. But he had still kissed her.

Maybe she was hallucinating. She was probably just exhausted. Maybe she had hit her head hard when she fainted. She just needed a long, relaxing sleep and this would all go away.

“There was a note left under the door for you,” Zoey announced as Lara Jean walks into their dorm from her shower. “I left it on your bed. Want some chocolate?” She extends the box of chocolate in her hands.

Lara Jean shakes her head, “No thank you. And thank you,” She murmurs, distracted by the note left for her. Who would leave her a note? The last time she had received a note was in middle school, from Chris, who would always get into trouble for talking to Lara Jean in class so she started sending notes.

A lot of Chris’ notes contained rude drawings Lara Jean would scold her for. There are some things one can never unsee and never want to see. Especially during history class.

Lara Jean sits on her bed, crossing her legs as she puts away her shower caddy and slowly opens up the note. The writing is cursive and quite neat, but it does look like it was written slightly rushed.

Lara Jean. We need to talk. Breakfast tomorrow? Meet me at the dining hall, 10am? - Peter.

“On second thought,” Lara Jean says, standing up and walking towards Zoey’s bed. “I’d love some chocolate please.”

She was going to need a lot of it.

 

The next day, her classes didn’t start until 1pm, so Lara Jean set her alarm for 9:20am. She was slightly peeved she didn’t get to sleep in longer, especially since she hadn’t gotten much sleep last night. She was constantly tossing and turning and waking up every hour or so.

Zoey was still fast asleep in her bed, her pink eye mask covering her eyes. Lara Jean tried to be quiet, going to have a quick shower before coming back and getting dressed.

The outfit she had chosen last night was a denim jacket, blue satin shorts and a white blouse with blue flowers stitched into it.

She put on a small bit of makeup. Mascara, lip balm, a dab of highlighter and some bronzer. Lara Jean didn’t tend to wear a lot of makeup. She had never been good at it and when she put on too much of it, she ended up looking like a Barbie doll.

She tied her hair up into a ponytail with her favourite rainbow coloured scrunchie. She had found it in a flea market a few years ago in Scotland visiting Margot, and she hadn’t stopped wearing it since.

Lara Jean picked up her phone and the times read 09:52.

Shoot. The dining hall was a ten minute walk away. She quickly grabbed her purse, pulled on her black loafers and ran.

She gave up on running about three minutes into it because Lara Jean was not fit. Whatsoever. Her legs felt hot and strained. Her breath was heavy.

Wow, she really needed to work out more.

Lara Jean makes it to the dining hall at 10:03 according to her watch, and she looks around the crowded hall for Peter. They didn’t have each other’s numbers, there was no way of contacting him.

“Hey there, stranger.”

Lara Jean turns around to see Peter Kavinsky standing in front of her. He’s wearing a camouflage t-shirt and a pair of denim blue shorts. His eyes look tired and his hair is tousled. He looks like he just woke up.

“Hey,” Lara Jean’s voice comes out as a whisper. This boy seemed to take away her ability to speak properly.

“How about we get some food and talk?” He suggests, and she nods. She fills up her tray with a bowl of yoghurt, fruit and granola, also choosing a banana and a kiwi. She fills up a glass with apple juice.

When she’s finished, she looks around for Peter but he’s suddenly right there beside her. He had a tendency to do that.

“Let’s sit?” He says, nodding his head toward an empty table which they both sit down at, facing each other.

“Firstly, I wanted to apologize for kissing you like that. I know it was unexpected. I still enjoyed it though,” He winks at her and Lara Jean feels something inside her burst. He really had an effect on her and she didn’t know why.

“The girl who was there, shouting and screaming like a toddler, is my ex-girlfriend Gen. We broke up at the start of the summer, and when college is back she suddenly decides she needs to talk to me,” Peter’s tone is bitter and low. Lara Jean doesn’t think it suits him.

“I told her I didn’t want to see her and that I was dating someone else. I needed to get away from her and show her we were done, for good. So when I saw you, the idea just popped into my head considering we, y’know.” He butters his bread roll and Lara Jean stares at him with a look of utter confusion.

She didn’t know. She did not have a clue what was going on right now.

“How long were you together?” Lara Jean asks, beginning to eat her yoghurt bowl. Her appetite was weak, but she knew if she didn’t eat now her stomach would rumble for all of her classes. She didn’t need to sound like a whale on her first day.

“On and off for six years,” Peter replies and Lara Jean begins to choke on the food in her throat. Or just on air. Peter looks startled, sitting up slightly and not knowing what to do.

Six years was a long time.

“Sorry, I’m good,” Lara Jean’s voice sounds hoarse and she downs her juice like a shot of tequila. She’s never done a shot but she’d seen Chris do plenty in high school. “Six years is a long time.”

“Yeah I guess,” Peter dismisses the fact as if it’s a minor detail in the story he’s telling.

“So your ex girlfriend thinks we’re dating?” Lara Jean slowly puts it together and her stomach drops. His ex-girlfriend already terrified Lara Jean. Lara Jean liked to stay on the good side of people and Peter had put her on Gen’s bad side in a matter of seconds.

Not even on her bad side. Lara Jean was probably on Gen’s hit list.

“Don’t worry,” Peter says, taking a bite of his the sandwich he made. “Next time I see her, I’m going to say we broke up. Problem solved.”

Lara Jean lets out a sigh of relief, “Thank god.”

“You don’t have to worry about me kissing you in the halls,” Peter teases, taking a sip of his gatorade. That was not a healthy breakfast choice. “Or anywhere on campus.”

“Well, guess I’ll see you around,” Peter said, nodding his head as Lara Jean bit her lip. Well, this was awkward.

They both start walking in the same direction and they both paused.

“Dorms?”

“Yeah.”

“Cool,” Peter chuckles as they walked side by side.

Lara Jean couldn’t seem to think of anything to say. She hated forced conversations just as much as she hated ready made cookie mixture packets.

“So, what’s your major?” Peter asked, attempting to make conversation.

Lara Jean opened her mouth to reply but stopped in her tracks when she saw who was walking towards them.

Derek.

“Peter,” She spoke slowly but seriously, stepping in front of him and turning to face him. “I’m really sorry about this.”

“Huh?”

Lara Jeans yanks his arm, pulling him down towards her and she leaps into his arm. She kisses him smack on the mouth, wrapping her arms around his neck. He’s frozen in place for a few seconds before his arms are under her legs, holding her up and against him and he’s kissing him back.

Oh my god. He’s kissing her back.

It’s been long enough that when Lara Jean peaks through her left eye, she can see Derek has walked past them. She pulls back, jumping off and landing on her two feet.

“Thank you,” She says, lifting a hand up in acknowledgment at Peter before she starts to walk backwards.

Peter looks like he’s been smacked in the face. In a way, he has. With her lips. “You’re welcome,” He says slowly, looking at her carefully.

“I better go. Bye!” Lara Jean makes a run for it. She’s pretty sure she can hear Peter calling her name behind her but she sprints all the way back to the dorms.

Thankfully, Zoey wasn’t in their dorm by the time a heaving Lara Jean arrived back.

She collapsed on her bed, chest rising and falling heavily. Lara Jean had kissed the same boy in three consecutive days.

She had only kissed three people in her entire life. Never the same person more than once.

Until Peter Kavinsky. Her RA.

Lara Jean groaned loudly.

This was going to be a long year.

Lara Jean managed to avoid Peter Kavinsky for the rest of the week. Classes began so she spent a lot of her time at lectures and then at the library, color coding her notes, highlighting textbooks and getting held starts on assignments.

Lara Jean hid under bed the two times Peter knocked on their door and Zoey covered for her. Afterwards, Zoey gave her that judgemental look she had been wearing a lot lately.

“If I were you, I would be on his bed,” Zoey shook her head. “Not hiding from him under yours.”

It was finally the weekend and Lara Jean was home. Last night, Friday, Kitty and her had watched the Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink with snickerdoodles Lara Jean had baked and takeaway pizza.

It was Saturday afternoon when the doorbell rang. Kitty was at soccer practice and Trina and her dad were out on a hike. It was just Lara Jean at the house.

She had just baked some brownies which she planned on eating while reading the latest romance novel she had picked up. ‘With my last breath’ was screaming her name.

The last person Lara Jean expected to see through the peephole was Peter Kavinsky.

Lara Jean opened the door slowly so her head only peaked out. “What are you doing here?”

“Hello to you too,” Peter says sarcastically which makes Lara Jean scowl. She never understood or liked sarcasm.

“You really need to stop running away from me.”

“Wait a second,” Lara Jean’s eyes widen. “How do you know where I live?”

Peter shrugs. “I got your address from the dorm booklet.”

“Isn’t that illegal?”

“It isn’t murder, Lara Jean. Can I come in?”

Peter Kavinsky seemed like someone who belonged in a Frat house, not as an RA in a dorm.

She nodded solemnly, opening up the door and letting him follow her through.

“Wow,” Peter says, closing the door behind him. “Something smells amazing. Are those brownies?”

She snaps his hand that was reaching for one, “My brownies, yes.”

Peter raises an eyebrow, “Did Barney never teach you sharing is caring?”

“Did Barney never teach you to not stalk people and show up at their homes?”

Peter’s mouth drops open. “I am not a stalker! If anyone’s a stalker, it’s that weirdo at the bar that made you jump me like a koala yesterday.”

Lara Jean blushes and scowls. “Koala’s don’t jump.”

His eyes narrow, “I’m pretty sure they do-“

Lara Jean grabs a large knife, beginning to cut her brownies into perfectly even squares. “What are you doing here, Peter Kavinsky? You did not show up at my house to talk about Koalas.”

“No,” He said, sitting on a stool at her kitchen counter and eyeing her brownies. “I came here with a proposition.”

Lara Jeans stops cutting her brownies, looking up at him. “A proposition?”

“You have your stalker, I have a difficult ex-girlfriend. Let’s say we keep this girlfriend-boyfriend arrangement going for a while. Your stalker will be too terrified of me to go near you and Gen will get the message I’m over her.” Peter looks pretty proud and satisfied with his plan. He must have thoroughly thought it through. “It’s a win-win.”

Lara Jean stared at him for a few seconds and then she shoved a brownie in her mouth. What did he just say?

“Why would Derek be terrified of you?” Lara Jean asks, ignoring the actual idea he was proposing.

“Come on,” Peter stands up, gesturing to his entire body. “Look at these muscles. He’ll take one look at me and run in the opposite direction. I’ll have a word with him on Monday, if you want. I’ll kick his ass if he harrasses you.”

“You really think highly of yourself,” Lara Jean takes out a napkin, placing a brownie and placing it in front of Peter, who looks excited and shoves the entire thing in his mouth.

“Thank you,” Peter says with his mouth full.

“I don’t want you to kick his ass. He’s harmless. I just want to make the message extremely clear,” Lara Jean explains, eating the crispy edges she cut off the brownies.

She thinks about his offer for a moment. In a bizarre way, his idea actually made sense.

“Let’s do this,” She says impulsively, extending her hand towards him, pushing her shoulders back. Peter glances at her extended hand and then back up at her face. He looks amused, but he shakes her hand anyway.

“Awesome. I better go, I’m meeting my brother,” Peter stands up, pushing his hands against the counter as he hops off the stool as he heads towards the door.

Lara Jean was relieved. Finally, peace. After this conversation, she needed her brownies, romance novel and a korean face stat.

“How are you getting back to college?” Peter asks as he opens the front door.

“My dad’s going to drive me.” Lara Jean left her car in college. Driving did not like Lara Jean and Lara Jean did not like driving. She didn’t drive unless it was completely necessary. Like a trip to the craft store when she ran out of sequins or if she was having an ice cream craving.

“I’ll give you ride tomorrow night,” Peter offers, beginning to walk down the porch steps. “Pick you up at seven?”

Lara Jean is surprised at his offer but nods. “Yeah. That would be great. Thank you.” He doesn’t wait for her reply, he’s already jogging towards his car.

Lara Jean closes her door and slides down it as it clicks shut.

What had she just agreed to?

She had no idea how they were going to do this. She hadn’t even read a book with a plot like this.

Maybe she should google it?

Whatever happened, in that moment, she definitely needed some of that vanilla ice cream in the freezer.

 

It’s 7:15pm on Sunday evening and Peter is late.

Lara Jean had been sitting on the couch for a while, glancing at the door every few minutes so she could make a quick exit in case Peter arrived early. Her entire family was home and she didn’t want them to see Peter, much less meet them.

“Lara Jean, do you have your phone charger?” Kitty asks, her finger scrolling through an app on her ipad. Probably Twitter, Kitty’s latest obsession was arguing with everyone on Twitter whose opinion she didn’t agree with.

That’s where her and her sister were not alike.

Lara Jean was about as confrontational as a leaf.

“Oh! I left it upstairs. I need that for college,” She gets up from the couch, taking the stairs two steps at a time as she grabs her phone charger from her bedroom.

Lara Jean hears the doorbell ring downstairs and panic fills her body. “I’VE GOT IT!” She shouts downstairs but it’s too late. She hears the front door open.

“Lara Jean, it’s for you!” Kitty shouts upstairs, turning to narrow her eyes at the boy in front of her. “Who are you?”

“Hey, I’m Peter. Lara Jean’s boyfriend.”

When Lara Jean makes it downstairs, Kitty has one arm on the door and her mouth is hanging open, her head turned to stare at Lara Jean.

“You have a boyfriend?” Kitty practically shouts, her gaping mouth moving between Lara Jean and Peter.

“No time to explain. We really have to go. Bye Kitty,” Lara Jean grabs her bags and kisses Kitty’s cheek before pushing Peter out of the door and racing to the car.

“Nice meeting you Kitty!” Peter shouts over his shoulder.

“It’s Katherine to you!” Kitty shouts after them. “We are talking about this later, Lara Jean!”

“So, it’s not just me you run away from,” Peter teases as they climb into his black audi. It’s a two seater, so Lara Jean keeps her bag on her lap.

“I can’t believe you just told my sister you’re my boyfriend,” Lara Jean says as she puts on her seatbelt. Her voice sounds defeated. She hadn’t even thought about getting her family involved.

“Well, that’s what I am,” Peter puts his indicator on, starting to drive down the road.

“We need to talk about out how we’re going to do this. Are you even allowed date someone in your dorms?” Lara Jean asked, turning to look at him. She hadn’t even considered that might be an issue.

“Of course, they can’t stop people from doing that. We’re going to do this until both Derek and Gen get the message,” Peter was so casual about everything. Had he done something like this before? Merely thinking about it made Lara Jean’s brain implode.

“You may know what you’re doing but I have no idea how to do any of this,” She bites her lip, not wanting to say the next few words. “I’ve never been in a relationship before.”

The car was silent for about a minute. Lara Jean watched Peter from the corner of her eye. He looked like he was thinking about something. Was he even listening to her? First he was late and now this. She could feel herself getting angry.

“Do you like frozen yoghurt?” Peter asks, completely changing the topic of their conversation.

“Yes?”

“Cool,” He looks behind him as he changes lanes, putting on his indicator. “Let’s get frozen yoghurt and talk.”

All Lara Jean knew right now was she was going to need a lot of extra sprinkles to get through the next few weeks.

Chapter Text

“Okay, we need to set some ground rules.”

Lara Jean opens up her notebook, taking out one of her pink pens and putting the cap on the top of it.

They had decided to stop and grab some frozen yoghurt before they got to campus in a small frozen yoghurt shop.

“Why do we need rules?” Peter asked, taking a large bite of his chocolate frozen yoghurt covered with strawberries.

Lara Jean chose the natural flavour with kiwi, sprinkles and cookie crumble on top.

“We need rules so we have boundaries,” She explains. “So we can keep the alive.”

“Like a contract?” Oh, he was so pre-law. Peter planned on becoming a lawyer and as she got to know him, she couldn’t imagine him as anything else.

“Exactly,” Lara Jean wrote the title at the top of the page, Peter and Lara Jean’s contract. “We’ll both sign our full names at the bottom so it’s official.”

“What’s your second name?” Peter asks, frowning. “I don’t know it.”

“Covey.”

“Covey? I like that.”

Lara Jean bit her lip, smiling slightly. “So. The first rule. We obviously can’t tell anyone that we’re pretending.”

“Obviously,” Peter nodded in agreement. “If anyone ever found out, we’d never live it down.”

Lara Jean began to write the rules down.

“I don’t want us to kiss,” Lara Jean said abruptly, not meeting Peter’s eye as she ate a piece of kiwi.

“How are people going to believe we’re together if we don’t kiss?” Peter asked, finishing off his yoghurt and leaning against the back of his seat.

“Well, we can hold hands?” She suggested and scowled as she could see Peter was struggling to hold back his laugh. Not struggling-he was now blatantly laughing.

“If you’re just going to laugh at me, let’s just forget this.” She snapped, slamming her notebook shut and standing up but Peter reached out and put his hand on her arm.

“No, no. I wasn’t laughing at you. I promise. You’re just really cute. Please, sit?” He pleaded, looking at her with his big baby blue round eyes.

Ugh. Grudgingly, she sat down.

“We’ll only done whatever you’re comfortable with. Okay?” Peter is trying to get back into her good books. “The real way to sell the relationship anyway is by spending time together and being seen in public. We live on the same floor, so that’ll be easy. You’ll need to come to parties with me and my lacrosse games, you better write that down.”

“I don’t really go to parties,” She said slowly, not liking the sound of either of those suggestions. Sport wasn’t her thing either. For Lara Jean, watching sports was like watching paint dry.

“Well Covey, relationships are all about compromise,” Peter was teasing her, the tone of his voice was playful.

“Well, you have to drive me anywhere I want to go whenever I want to go. With no complaints,” She retorted. She might as well get something out of it that was beneficial to her.

Lara Jean wrote down the rest of the rules, carefully and neatly. She took pride in things being neat. Except her bedroom. That was a lost cause. Zoey wasn’t fussed by a little mess so far, she was quite messy herself, so it worked out perfectly.

She finishes writing out the contract, reading over it.

1. Lara Jean and Peter won’t tell anyone.
2. Lara Jean and Peter will not kiss each other without asking first.
3. Lara Jean will go to Peter’s lacrosse games.
4. Lara Jean will sometimes go to parties with Peter.
5. Peter will drive Lara Jean whenever and wherever she wants.

“That makes me sound like your chauffeur, not your boyfriend. Do you not have your license?” Peter asks as she finishes writing the fifth rule.

“I do,” She replies, making sure to dot all her i’s. “I just don’t like driving very much.”

“Can I ask why you don’t want to kiss?” Peter asked, looking directly at her. Lara Jean really hated direct eye contact. It was too intense.

“I just don’t want all my firsts to be pretend,” Her voice turned quiet, like it usually did when she felt uncomfortable or awkward.

“You’ve never had a boyfriend?” Lara Jean shakes her head.

A daunted look appears on Peter’s face. His whole face drops. “That night in the bar, I wasn’t your….first kiss, was I?”

“No!” Lara Jean exclaims, shaking her head. “I had my first kiss long before you, Peter.”

“Phew,” He let out a sigh of relief. “I am not ready for that kind of responsibility. Plus, I would have liked to be nicer if it was.”

This time, it was Lara Jean’s eyebrow that rose. “Why? You were really nice.”

This seems to please him because he smiles a small smile, one Lara Jean hadn’t seen before. It was a shy one. “So were you,” Peter replies.

This is the first time they’ve spoken about the night at the bar. They both seem to realize that as a two minute silence takes over.

“Okay, how about we can kiss, when we need to, as long as the other person asks first and the other consents,” She suggests, ignoring the voice inside her that’s saying somewhere deep down, why was she making it harder for him to kiss her when she clearly wanted to kiss him again.

Peter seems to think this is a great idea, as he’s nodding his head very enthusiastically. “Perfect.”

“I’ve got to admit, I’m surprised you haven’t been in a relationship before. I didn’t get that impression from you at the bar,” Peter says and Lara Jean frowns.

Lara Jean had never been an outgoing or confident person. In high school, she attended some parties and dances with Chris and Lucas, but that was about it. She found boys, and people in general, quite daunting. She had always preferred the company of her sisters and dad, and now Trina.

Trina was her new puzzle buddy. She had sent Lara Jean a picture of a 5000 word puzzle she had bought the other day in Target that they planned to tackle over Thanksgiving weekend.

“What do you mean?” She finishes off her yoghurt, putting her tub into his and standing up to put them in the nearby bin.

“Just, you had this thing about you. It was like you were the only person in the room. And you looked really hot,” He compliments her so easily, it’s as if he’s trying to make her blush. Which she certainly is. Constantly, around him. “It’s just surprising you haven’t had a boyfriend yet.”

“Just haven’t met the right person, I guess,” She replied, puckering her lips slightly. She tended to make faces when she was uncomfortable.

“You aren’t missing much. Relationships can be great but they can also be a living hell,” His tone turns quite bitter and he takes his phone out of his pocket, pushing it toward her.

“My games are on Fridays. Put your number in my phone so I can send you the details,” He leans back and ruffles his hair while Lara Jean taps her phone number into his phone. She adds the blushing smiley face beside her name before handing his phone back to him.

“We can’t forget to sign the contract,” She signs her name at the bottom of the page before handing the pen over to Peter. He signs quickly, pushing the pen and the contract towards her. “And there we have it.”

Peter stands up, his keys dangling from his hand as he takes them out of his pocket. “C’mon Covey, let’s get you back home.”

 

The first month of fake dating Peter Kavinsky is interesting. Lara Jean talks to more people in the space of the month than she has in the last two years of college. It turns out, Peter knows a lot of people.

When they are both studying in the library, people walk up to him and say hi. When they’re picking up drinks in the starbucks drive-thru, he still gets caught in a conversation.

Derek stays away from her. Especially when Peter is beside her. Which is where he tends to be, most of the time.

About two weeks ago, Derek came up to her in the dining hall when she’s waiting in line for a soda. They made small talk, which was fine, until he brought up how they should start studying together and if she felt like going to Starbucks with him. He continued to keep asking her , despite Lara Jean being visibly uncomfortable and trying to exit the conversation.

When Peter walked into the dining hall a few minutes later, Lara Jean sees him over Derek’s shoulder. He mouths ‘KISS?’ at her, and she nods subtly. Peter walks right up to her, his arm around her waist and leans down to press a long, soft kiss against her lips. For a moment, she forgets how to breathe.

Derek gets so flustered, he slips and spills his entire tray all over himself.

Peter found it hilarious but Lara Jean handed Derek some napkins and helped him clean it up before dragging Peter away. Peter found Derek creepy, so he didn’t feel bad. So did Lara Jean, but she still felt bad for him.

Lara Jean learns Peter is a magnet people are drawn towards. He’s sarcastic, moody and arrogant but he’s also kind, funny and caring. Lara Jean watched him help an old lady grocery shop and then help her load them all into her car when she request he bring her to buy some baking ingredients.

His good parts outweigh his bad parts by a mile.

She sometimes catches herself wondering why Gen ever broke up with him in the first place.

Genevieve and Peter talked a lot. Lara Jean would see her name pop up on his phone and then he’d become distant, glued to his phone and looked stressed. Occasionally, on her way to class, she’s seen them sitting on benches and talking or sitting in the dining hall together. He would text Lara Jean saying he was busy and she would sometimes see him sitting with Genevieve on the grass around campus.

Peter doesn’t like to talk about her. All Lara Jeans knows is she broke up with him at the start of the summer for some rich guy Genevieve met during spring break.

Lara Jean had never had a real boyfriend, much less an ex-boyfriend. She didn’t know a lot about relationships. She did know there was something strange about constantly hanging around with an ex you were supposedly over.

She asked Zoey about it when they were having dinner one evening.

“If someone hangs out with their ex a lot, what do you think that means?”

Zoey popped some fries into her mouth, “It means there is a lot of unfinished business and probably unresolved feelings. Cutting off an ex is hard. Especially if they were together for a long time. I moved across the country away from my highschool boyfriend and I still find myself stalking his instagram every once in a while.”

Lara Jean just nodded.

“Is this about Peter?” Zoey asked, cautiously looking at Lara Jean’s worried expression.

Lara Jean denies it, taking a sip of her tea. “No, no. It’s about a friend.”

Zoey doesn’t seem to believe her.

She quickly distracts Zoey with some cookies she had stress baked the other evening, but her worries stay in the back of her own head.

 

The start of October marks Peter’s first lacrosse game of the season. They had been delayed because of the bad September weather until now. Lara Jean had carefully painted his jersey number, fifteen, onto one of her cheeks and a lacrosse stick on the other in black eyeliner, outlining it in white.

She’s nervous, her clammy palms make her grip slip slightly on the tupperware box with the cookies she had baked Peter.

Zoey tags along with her because Lara Jean doesn’t want to watch the game alone. They sit in the stands and Lara Jeans cheers when everyone else cheers. She hears Genevieve scream when Peter scores a goal, so Lara Jean makes sure she screams louder when Peter scores the next goal.

Zoey leaves before the game finishes to finish a paper, so Lara Jeans lingers along the sidelines alone waiting for Peter after the game finishes. They win by Peter’s last minute goal. Lara Jean’s impressed, he’s a really good player. He has a lacrosse scholarship for a reason.

Earlier in the week, they started talking about baking and Peter mentioned how much he missed his mom’s cooking, especially her cookies. Cookies were Lara Jean’s speciality, so she baked some fresh ones for him after class to bring to the game.

People are hugging Peter and clapping his back. He looks around, his head moving until his eyes lock onto Lara Jean. A huge grin breaks out on his face.

He starts to run off the pitch, straight towards Lara Jean.

Lara Jean stands there with a tupperware box filled with cookies, in a striped white and blue t-shirt under a black dungaree dress.

“You baked for me?”

“Yeah, I figured that’s a thing girlfriends do,” Her eyes widen in alarm. Should she have brought chopped orange slices instead? She figured that was something for kids. “Was I wrong?”

Lara Jean can’t quite figure out the expression on Peter’s face. He was hard to read sometimes. Had she just completely embarrassed herself?

“Not at all,” Peter said, smiling softly at her. He opened his mouth to say something but there a few loud voices started shouting his name.

A few of the other players appeared beside him. “Oh my god, Peter’s girl brought cookies!”

Peter’s girl. Those words nearly make Lara Jean’s pulse jump out of her throat. It’s something she still wasn’t used to.

Peter slaps their reaching hands. “Yeah she did, dipshits. For me. Guys, Lara Jean. Lara Jean, this is Noah, Gabe and Simon.”

Peter points to each of the three boys as he says their name.

“How do you do,” Noah lifts Lara Jean’s hand up and kisses it, which makes her laugh and the other boys roll their eyes. They all say hi to her, eyeing the box in her hands.

“Please can we have a cookie?” Gabe begs.

Peter shakes his head, wrapping his arms around Lara Jean’s shoulders from behind her. “Mine.”

“Come on Peter,” Lara Jean smirks up at him, echoing his words. “Didn’t barney teach you sharing is caring?”

The boys erupt into laughter and they start jumping around, ruffling Peter’s hair. “Yeah, Peter!” They tease him, eventually getting the cookies they wanted.

Peter shakes his head at Lara Jean, biting his lip to stop the grin forming on his lips.

 

After the game, Peter is taking Lara Jean to a party at one of the frat houses. She sneaks off to her dorm while he takes a shower, hoping to get out of it. She wipes his jersey number and stick off her face, fixing it with some bronzer and blush.

Peter finds her in her room, shaking his head as he lifts her off her bed. “Covey, come on.”

“Nooo,” She whines, pulling back against his grip. “I’m tired.”

“It’s in the contract!” He points out, giving her a look. Lara Jean’s upper lip curls up in disdain. “Fine. But I will be in my bed by 1am.”

“Yes, sweetheart,” He ruffes her hair, and she swats his arm away and they end up chasing each other down the hallway until they reach the elevator.

They reach the frat house quite quickly. Except it’s not a frat house. It’s a sorority.

There’s a blonde girl standing at the top of the steps with a clipboard and a murderous expression. She’s looking straight at Lara Jean and Peter.

It wasn’t just any sorority.

It was Genevieve's sorority.

“Sorry, you can’t come in,” Genevive, Peter’s ex-girlfriend, stands in front of them with her arms crossed. She points her pen at Lara Jean. “That’s not the dress code.”

There was a dress code? Lara Jean had just seen a boy in his boxers run screaming into the house. He wasn’t even dressed.

“Just let her in, Gen,” A boy says sitting on the porch. Lara Jean doesn’t know him but he nods at Peter. Genevieve holds up her hand to shush him.

“What dress code?” Peter asks, and Lara Jean feels his whole body stiffen behind her. Genevieve had that effect on Peter.

Lara Jean glances down at her outfit and back up at Genevieve. “Sorry?”

“I think you’re in the wrong place. The daycare is two blocks away,” The smirk on Genevieve's lips was as malicious as her tone. She lifted a red cup up to her lips, taking a small sip.

“Leave her alone, Gen,” Peter intervenes, moving in front of Lara Jean but Lara Jean holds her hand up.

“No, it’s fine,” She takes off her denim jacket, handing it to Peter and then pulls her scrunchie out her hair, her long black hair falling down her back. Lara Jean reaches into her bag, applying some of her lip gloss.

“Excuse us,” Lara Jean reaches behind for Peter’s hand, linking their fingers as they step around Genevieve and head into the house, him trailing behind her.

“Nice job,” Peter leans down and shouts into her ear, an impressed look on his face. Peter quickly takes over leading them in whatever direction because Lara Jean has no idea where to go. They end up at the drinks table, which has multiple liquor bottles, cups, straws and soda bottles. A large keg sits on it.

Peter makes them two beers, handing her a red cup and she takes a small sip. She can’t help but make a face, which Peter laughs at. Beer just tasted so weird.

“Pete, beer pong. Come on!” A tall blonde Lara Jean didn’t recognize shouts at Peter over the loud music. Peter glances at her for approval and she nods her head, following them over to where the table tennis was.

“LARA JEAN!”

Lara Jean whips her head around, a few strands hair getting stuck in her mouth as she looked for the source of the voice.

The brunette girl running towards her with her arms wide open was Cassie. Cassie had been her roommate last year and her and Lara Jean had gotten on so well.

Cassie was one of the coolest people Lara Jean had ever met. They used to stay up late all the time watching movies and discussing books. They would bake together. They both agreed nothing great happened after 2am. She was the roommate from heaven.

They had lost touch over the summer as Cassie was volunteering in India and Lara Jean had never gotten a response from the few texts she had sent her. Cassie was not a social media type of person, she had always struggled with basic technology. So, Lara Jean had no other way of contacting her.

“When did you get back?”

“About two weeks ago. I missed the first week of college or so,” Cassie shrugged, when it was actually a month. “It was insane. Magical. I wish I could go back,” She squeezed Lara Jean’s hand. “I missed you LJ. Did you text me? I couldn’t text anyone because I dropped my phone in a river trying to take a picture of a monkey.”

Lara Jean’s face fell but she secretly relieved there was a reason she didn’t reply. “Oh god, that’s awful.”

“It’s all good. I have a whole photo album to show you. Give me your number! We have so much to catch up on.
Come on,” Cassie pauses. “Wait, who are you here with?”

Lara Jean’s eyes widen and her cheeks burned. Ever since Peter came into her life, she never stopped blushing. “My boyfriend.” It still felt so weird to say.

Her boyfriend.

“Shut the front door,” Cassie gasped, her head moving around in all directions. “Where! Show me this boy.”

Lara Jean pushed herself up on her tippy toes to look for Peter. When she sees him over at the beer pong table, throwing a ping pong ball and high fiving everyone when they all start to cheer.

He really loved a crowd.

“Excellent work.” Cassie began to clap which made Lara Jean laugh, shaking her head at her friend.

“Come on, let’s get you a real drink. Ew,” She takes a sip of Lara Jean’s drink and empties into a nearby plant pot. “That’s gross. I have people who will want to see you. Come!”

Cassie leads her outside to the backyard, where the pool was. People were swimming and standing around. This party was really packed.

“Here,” Cassie hands her a paper cup with a straw. Lara Jean inspects the drink, which looked exactly like a blue slushee.

Lara Jean takes a cautious sip, expecting a horrific alcoholic taste but it mostly tasted like a blue slushie.

“Good, right?” Cassie grinned at her as she led her down towards the pool area towards the end of the garden. There was a group of five people sitting on sun lounges, animatedly chatting amongst themselves.

“Lara Jean!”

She instantly recognized the people in front of her. Camilla, Tommy and Jeremy. Their dorms had all been in the same building last year, they were all on the same floor. Cassie became friends with them and so did Lara Jean. Cassie had always made sure Lara Jean was included and taken care of. That’s why Lara Jean adored her so much.

“Hey guys,” Lara Jean hugs everyone, and introduced herself to Tommy’s boyfriend Kyle and Camilla’s friend Tony.

Lara Jean takes a seat beside Jeremy, who hugged her and they started to catch up. Jeremy and her had taken a few of the same classes last year and ended up becoming quite close, sitting in classes together, taking study breaks, exchanging notes and helping each other with essays and finals.

As they talked, they discovered they had some of the same ones this year too.

It was a warm feeling. Knowing you had someone to sit next to in class. Lara Jean had gotten used to sitting alone and doing things alone since coming to college. Being away from her family, even by twenty minutes, it could be a lonely place.

“I’ll message you on facebook and we can meet up. I can’t believe we haven’t seen each other yet. I don’t know anyone in most of my classes. This is great,” Jeremy smiles warmly at her and she smiles back. In one of her classes she sat with Peter, but she really relieved she could sit with Jeremy too. Peter was too distracting. He had spent an entire lecture sticking notes onto her arms and legs.

Lara Jean had always liked this group of people. She had figured hanging out with them was in the past, but maybe not.

They go onto play a rather gruesome game of ‘Would you Rather’, and everyone is taking turns going to get drinks and Lara Jean is on her fourth slushie by the time it’s her turn to go get them.

Lara Jean feels off as she walked towards the slushie machine, swaying slightly with everyone’s cups stacked into one in her hand.

Lara Jean felt tipsy. Drunk, possibly. She had a ticklish feeling all over her body. She makes it to where the slushie machine is, standing behind two boys.

“Pete and Gen are arguing again,” A tall auburn haired boy says, who Lara Jean recognizes as Noah, from Peter’s lacrosse team. He’s standing in front of her, pouring himself a slushie. “I wish he would leave it and focus on his new girl. Gen is toxic.”

The boy beside him sighed, “I know. We’ve just got to be there for him until he figures that shit out on his own. I think he’s on his way. Did you see how happy he was about those cookies earlier?”

They don’t notice her whatsoever and then they walk away, still continuing their conversation.

Peter was arguing with Genevieve?

Lara Jean’s brain felt too heavy to think about that right now. Why was she seeing two slushie machines?

“Covey! There you are! I’ve been looking for you everywhere.”

Peter Kavinsky strolls up to her, raising his arms towards her and letting them fall down to his side once he reaches her.

“What’s up, Peter K?” Lara Jean does an impression of one of his friends, which goes horrifically wrong and just makes her voice sound like a teenage boy’s voice cracking its way through puberty.

“Covey, are you drunk?” Peter is grinning down at her like she’s an exotic animal on display at the zoo for the first time.

“No,” Lara Jean objects, sounding out the two letters, shaking her head. “I’m Lara Jean.”

“How many of those have you had?” Peter asks, taking the cups out of her hand and inspecting them.

Lara Jean glances down at the new slushie in her other hand and back up at him. “I’m not sure that’s any of your business.”

Peter tries to take the new slushie out of her hand but she pulls it back just in time. “Those slushies are full of tequila.”

The fact doesn’t seem to register with Lara Jean so Peter spends a few minutes chasing her around trying to get her to stop drinking it before he finally pried it out of her grip.

“I have to go give some to my friends!” She protested as Peter helped her put on her coat, leading her down the steps of the porch and keeping an arm wrapped around her.

“No, you need to go to bed. Tequila, meet Covey. Covey, meet Tequila,” Peter teased, laughing as Lara Jean groaned and leaned her head against his side. Her legs didn’t feel like moving anymore.

“Time to get my girl home,” Peter clapped his hands and lifted her up, bridal style.

“My girl? I love that movie,” Lara Jean says in a loud whisper as she lets her head fall back, finding Peter’s arms quite comfortable.

They eventually make it back to the dorm. Lara Jean’s more tired than tipsy, and she curls into her bed as Peter lays her down on it.

Peter grabs a wipe from her nightstand and softly wipes the remaining makeup off her face before he stands up, flicking off the light. “Goodnight, Covey.”

“See you later alligator,” Her voice was muffled by her pillow, but she could still hear Peter’s quiet laugh echo down the hallway.

——-

It was a week from Halloween, and Peter and Lara Jean were on a study break grabbing drinks in a coffee shop on campus. Fall was finally here, so Lara Jean was bundled up in a long jumpsuit, a beanie and wool scarf.

“Okay. Couples costume. Ideas?” Peter had suggested they do one since he had gotten Lara Jean to promise she would go to a party with him. She did her complain everyone would think she was a manga character, Halloween was quite limited for Asian girls. She had always dressed up as an Asian characters. It didn’t take very long for Peter to convince, he promised he would make sure everyone knew who they were dressed up as and the idea seemed fun.

“We can be Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, from Pride and Prejudice!” Lara Jean suggests excitedly and Peter groans.

Lara Jean takes a sip of her hot chocolate, walking backwards in front of Peter with a smirk. “We can dress you up in a high collared shirt and long blazer!”

Peter’s mouth dropped open In horror. “Over my dead body Covey.”

“Why not?” She teased, looking him up and down in his jeans and lacrosse hoodie. “It would be a major improvement.”

He gasped, reaching out to grab and tickle her, and she squealed, turning around and running away from him.

Her fitness had improved since they began fake dating. Peter was so fast paced and he was always nagging her to go on walks with him.

Peter chases her for about two minutes and they’re both laughing so hard, Lara Jean nearly spills half of her hot chocolate everywhere.

“I surrender,” She comes to a stop, lifting one of her hands up and raises the other to her mouth, taking a bite of her mocha sugar doughnut Peter had introduced to her and gotten her obsessed with. Peter leaned down towards her hand and steals a bite. He was always stealing her food. He wouldn’t buy his own because he was trying to be healthy for lacrosse but he had no problem eating her treats.

She didn’t talk to him for twenty minutes last week when she walked in in him eating the cookie dough she had left to cool in the fridge.

“Lara Jean?”

She knew that voice anywhere. Lara Jean turned around and standing in front of her was her neighbor, her old best friend, Margot’s Josh Sanderson. She had not properly looked at him in ages. She would see him at home from time to time, but it was always a quick hello. They hadn’t had a proper conversation in a long time. His mom had told her he was traveling around Europe for the summer.

He looked older, his brown hair was longer, just above his ears. He had slight stubble on his cheeks. But he still had the same smile on his face like he did when he was ten years old.

 

“Josh? Hi!” Her voice squeaks slightly as she walks towards him. “How are you?”

“I’m good, thanks.” Josh glances between the two of them, his eyes pausing on Peter. “You?”

“I’m great!” She glances up at Peter, suddenly remembering they didn’t know each other. “Oh, this is-“

“Her boyfriend, Peter,” Peter finishes her sentence, shaking Josh’s hand. “Nice to meet you, dude.”

“You too,” Josh said uneasily, his fingers bending slightly as he let go of Peter’s firm handshake. “I’m late for class but we should grab a coffee soon. I’ll text you? It was good seeing you, LJ.”

Lara Jean nods her head, smiling as he starts to walk away. “Sounds great! You too, Josh. Bye!”

Peter gives her a look as they start to walk again, and Lara Jean turns to glare at him. “What are you looking at?”

“Who was that?” Peter asks, still giving her that look like she was hiding something from him. She hated when Peter tried to read her.

“He’s my older sister Margot’s ex boyfriend, Josh Sanderson.”

“Why are you acting weird?”

“It’s just weird,” She shrugs. “Seeing him. We used to be friends. Anyway, how about we go as Ferris Bueler and Sloane?”

Peter dropped it, but he clearly didn’t believe Lara Jean and they went back to discussing halloween costumes, but every once in a while Lara Jean would catch him looking at her with a puzzled expression.

Lara Jean was distracted.

Her thoughts kept going back to Josh Sanderson.

The first boy Lara Jean ever loved.

 

 

Lara Jean was walking back from the a shower a few days later when Karen, one of the girls who lived in the dorm opposite her, opened up her door as Lara Jean was opening up her own.

“Hey Lara Jean?” Karen says, her bottom lip disappearing. She looked worried.

“Hey,” Lara Jean pauses, looking at her. “Is everything okay?”

“I wanted to talk to you. I just thought you should know because I know I’d want to know,” Karen bites her lip. “I had to pee at about 2am last night and on my way back, I saw a girl leaving Peter’s room.”

Lara Jean’s stomach dropped. “What did she look like?”

“She was blonde,” Karen reached out and squeezed Lara Jean’s hand. Genevieve. “It could have been nothing. Maybe just a friend? I don’t want to cause any trouble, I just thought..”

Lara Jean shakes her head, “I really appreciate you telling me. Thank you.” Lara Jean’s embarrassed. Peter was making her look like a fool. She says goodbye to Karen before shutting the door behind her, closing her eyes and leaning against it.

Her phone buzzes and she puts in her passcode, seeing Peter’s sent her a funny meme of two penguins. She doesn’t reply.

Lara Jean ignores Peter’s texts for the rest of the day.

Later that night, Lara Jean’s in the library studying when her phone buzzes on the desk. She ignores it at first, but temptation takes over and she glances at the name on her screen.

16:04 Josh Sanderson: *Hey Lara Jean, do you want to grab some food at the diner tonight? Like old times? 6pm?*

16:06 Lara Jean: *Only if I can order my own cheese toastie.*

Her phone buzzes.

16:07 Josh Sanderson: *I’ll allow it.*

Peter doesn’t even cross Lara Jean’s mind as she smiles down at her screen, sighing softly.

Oh, Josh Sanderson.

The first boy who broke her heart.

Chapter Text

Lara Jean changes her outfit three times for her and Josh’s hangout. It wasn’t a date. She’s nervous. It was just Josh. Josh who she used to ride her bike with around their neighborhood. Josh who she lit sparklers with on New Year’s Eve. Josh who used to date her sister for two years.

Lara Jean had a secret. A secret she hadn’t even shared with her sister’s.

When she was younger and Lara Jean would get a crush, they would take over her life. Her crushes would consumer her.

To get over her crushes, she would write them love letters. There was Kenny from camp, John Ambrose from middle school and Josh. Lara Jean would pour her heart into each letter, and once they were sealed, so were her feelings.

Was she betraying Margot by meeting Josh? She had stopped being friends with Josh for Margot. It was just dinner. But at their diner, where the three of them would go and hang out for hours, ordering cheese toasties and cherry cokes.

Her phone starts to ring, snapping her out of her thoughts and her heart stops when she sees who it is. Margot.

Lara Jean presses the green button, accepting Margot’s FaceTime call and Margot’s face appears on her screen.

“Hi Gogo,” Lara Jean says softly, her chin resting on her knee which she tucked against her chest.

“Hi! What are you all dressed up for?” Margot asked, her phone in front of her sink as she washed her dishes in her kitchen. She lived in a two bedroom apartment with her boyfriend of three years, Richard. They had met when she moved to Washington.

Margot and Kitty were the Covey sisters who had luck with love.

In high school, Margot had a steady high school boyfriend. Kitty was still in high school with an active dating life and was very popular. Lara Jean was quiet in high school, pining after the boy her sister was with.

Lara Jean’s face turned white at her sister’s question . She can’t tell Margot who she was meeting. She would never break her sister’s heart. But it’s been years. Maybe Margot wouldn’t care? Of course she would. Josh was her first love. You never stop caring about your first love. They become apart of you. Josh would always be apart of Margot.

“Lara Jean? What’s wrong?” Margot could always see right through her.

“Nothing! I actually have something I wanted to tell you,” Lara Jean lets out a breath. She had never lied to her sister before. Well, she had, but not a proper lie. One that could hurt her sister. “I’m going out to meet my boyfriend. I have a boyfriend.”

“What?” Margot drops the pan she was cleaning into her sink, lifting up her phone and bringing the camera to her face. “Since when? Who?”

“I met him the day before school started and we got together just at the start of September. His name’s Peter. He’s 21. He goes to UVA too, he’s here on a lacrosse scholarship. He’s going to be a lawyer.” Lara Jean talks about Peter proudly, smiling widely at the camera. She keeps the fake aspect of the relationship to herself.

“A jock? Really, Lara Jean?” Margot responds, frowning slightly.

That wasn’t the response she was expecting.

“He’s a lot more than a jock,” Lara Jean says, frowning back at her older sister. “He’s really kind, funny and thoughtful. He gave me an antique button from the 1920s from his mom’s antique shop the other day. ” Peter had surprised her with it the other day. She had screamed so loudly one of the boys in their hallway, Jack, had ran into her dorm to make sure she was okay.

Lara Jean adored vintage things. Margot did too, when she was home they always went thrift shopping together.

“Does he make you happy?” Margot asked, looking slightly guilty.

“Very,” Lara Jean wasn’t even lying. Peter did make her happy.

“Well, that’s good. Will I be able to meet him at Thanksgiving? Where does he live?” Margot asks and Lara Jean bites her lip. She doesn’t even know if her and Peter will still be together by then. She presumed they would be finished by Christmas.

“He actually lives about fifteen minutes from us. So yeah, maybe!” Lara Jean’s voice doesn’t sound very convinced. She glances at the the time at the top of her screen. “Oh, I’ve got to go Gogo. I’m going to be late!”

“Have fun! Bye!” Margot tells her before hanging up.

She meets Josh in the parking lot outside her dorm, he’s driving his car over to pick her up. She appreciated it, he knew how much she hated driving. He was an unfortunate witness to her dangerous and disastrous learning to drive days.

When she sees Josh’s car pull into the parking lot, anxiety build ups in her chest. What if it’s uncomfortable and not like they used to be?

“Hey,” Josh said as Lara Jean climbed into his car, pulling on his seatbelt as Josh started to drive.

“Hey, Josh,” Lara Jean replies, moving in the passenger seat slightly as she looked straight ahead.

“This is kind of weird, right?” Josh says, breaking the tension building up the air and Lara Jean chuckles.

“Yeah, it kind of it,” She looks over at him shyly. “But a good kind of weird. So, have you achieved your lifelong dream of attending San Diego Comic Con yet?”

Josh groans and Lara Jean laughs. “That is a very sensitive topic. Please, Lara Jean. Give a man a break.”

“You’re not a man,” She teased. “You’re still Joshie who wiped his boogers on my Barbie helmet, forgot and wore it afterwards.”

“It’s been 13 years! You really need to let go,” He replies, shaking his head but he’s smiling.

Just like that, It’s just like old times. When they get to the diner, she orders her own cheese toastie, yet Josh still steals a bite of hers. Josh tells Lara Jean about his summer backpacking with his friends in Europe. She doesn’t have a lot to say, but she is happy listening to Josh. Josh is one of those people she could listen to for hours. He made the simplest things sound incredible.

She’s finished her third cherry coke by the time they decide to leave, since it’s nearly 10:30pm and Josh has work in the morning.

“So, how long have you and that guy been going out?” Josh asks as they drive back to college.

“Only two months,” Lara Jean replies, quite surprised by his question. She didn’t think he remembered.

“Wow, really?” He nods his head. “That’s surprising. You guys seemed like you’ve been together for a while.”

“Why do you think that?”

He shrugs, “I don’t know. You just gave off that impression, I guess.”

They don’t talk about Margot. He asks how her family is, and mentions he talks to her Dad and Kitty every once in a while, but not Margot.

When she broke up with him, Margot broke Josh’s heart. Lara Jean doesn’t know if you ever really get over something like that.

“Thanks for tonight, Josh,” Lara Jeans says as he pulls up into the parking lot in front of her dorm, pulling up the parking brake. “I had a really good time.”

“Me too,” Josh paused, biting his lip. “I’d really like if we could hang out more, like we used to. Everything in the past was years ago. We could have a fresh start. I’ve missed you.”

As Josh talks, her stomach starts to flutter. Josh was offering her the fresh start she had secretly wished for. Their friendship had always been so special to her and so had her feelings. Those feelings were tucked away in a love letter, but it didn’t feel like they were fully sealed away.

“I’d really like that,” Lara Jean replies, smiling at Josh and wrapping her arms around him as he leans forward to hug her.

Oh, Josh.

She wanted to feel happy, Josh had been her friend first long before Josh and Margot. But what about Margot?

As her hand opened up the car door, Lara Jean noticed a group of noisy people standing in the parking lot in front of her dorm building.

One of them is staring straight at her.

Peter.

Lara Jean knew what Peter expects her to do. He expected her to walk right up to him and talk to him, explain what she’s doing in a car with Josh Sanderson.

When she says goodbye to Josh as she steps out of the car, she doesn’t even glance at Peter. She starts walking straight towards the dorms. She struts slightly, and she’s not sure if it’s from the sugar or sass in her body.

“What the hell, Lara Jean?” Peter says as he walks right in front of her, blocking her route. “First you ignore my texts all day. Now you’re with him. How do you think it looks when my girlfriend is getting out of another guy’s car?”

Lara Jean scoffs loudly. “How do you think it looks when my boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend is seen coming out of his dorm in the middle of the night?”

Peter stiffens, he was clearly not expecting that. “Are you spying on me?”

She snorts this time. He was so arrogant. “No, actually. I was told.”

“By who?” He narrows his eyes at her.

“By someone who doesn’t want me to embarrass myself. Is that what you’re trying to do, Peter? Embarrass me? You’re doing an awfully good job at it,” She tries to walk around him but he just moves in her way again.

“We were just talking, Lara Jean,” Peter says, sighing. “You don’t understand. She was upset and she needed me.”

“There’s always a reason, Peter. What is the point in doing this if you’re always going to be at her beck and call? And in the end, she goes straight back to her boyfriend when she’s finished with you?” A hurt expression flashes across Peter’s face and he stiffens. Lara Jean knows she’s being cruel and the guilt creeps in.

“So what were you and him doing then?” Peter gestures with his hand in the direction where Josh’s car was parked. “That isn’t embarrassing me?”

“No! Josh is my friend,” Lara Jean doesn’t even convince herself when she says it. Peter snorts loudly and she wants to scream at him.

“I’ve known him forever. Josh and I were just talking,” She retorts, and they’re both just standing there glaring at each other. “He wasn’t the one in my room last night.”

Peter doesn’t have a reply to that. Ha.

“I’m not going to do this anymore, Peter,” She pushes some of her hair out of her face. “You’re making me look like an idiot.”

“No. Listen to me, Covey. It won’t happen again. It really was a one time thing. Okay? Please Covey. This is working. It’s killing Gen and Derek’s leaving you alone,” Peter pleads, and she can feel herself start to break. What happened to her willpower?

Peter happened.

“I’ll bring you fresh Mocha sugar doughnuts and those Korean yoghurt drinks you like for a week,” Peter offers.

She frowns, “You can’t bribe me with food and beverages.”

“Two weeks?”

She was stubborn, but she wasn’t stupid.

“Deal.”

 

 

The following day, Lara Jean and Peter meet up to grab dinner in the dining hall.

“So, why do you want to be a doctor?” Peter asks her as they sit down at an empty table, digging into their dinners.

“My dad’s a gynecologist, so I grew up watching him be a doctor. When I got to college, it just seemed like the only thing I could see myself being,” She shrugged.

“That’s cool. What does your mom do?” He asks, taking a bite of his bread roll.

Lara Jean clears her throat, looking down at the table. “My mom died when I was little.”

Peter stops chewing, looking up at her with a sad expression. “I’m so sorry, Covey.”

“Thank you. But she was a lawyer. An amazing one,” She forces a small smile, eating some of her chicken curry.

There’s a silence between them for a minute or so, before Peter breaks it.

“My dad left my mom, brother and I when I was a freshmen. In high school.” His fork stabs his broccoli and she looks up, surprised.

“I’m really sorry, Peter,” She bites her lip. “Do you still see him?”

“No. He reached out my last year of high school, but it was too late. My brother sees him sometimes,” He pauses. “He has a new wife and kids now. His replacement family.” She had never heard Peter sound so bitter. “He still tries to talk to me, but I don’t want to see him. I don’t care anymore. I’m over it.”

She messes with the food on her plate, watching Peter carefully. His jaw was clenched. She puts down her fork. “We don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to. He hurt you, but he’s still your dad. You’re allowed to care and not be over it.”

Peter looks up from his food and looks at Lara Jean. She gives him a small smile. He returns it.

“You know,” She changes the subject, seeing how visibly uncomfortable he was. “We could go as Shrek and Fiona for Halloween.”

Peter throws his head back groaning, flicking one of his peas at her. “You have the worst ideas, Covey.”

When they walk back to the dorms, Peter puts his arm around her shoulders even though it’s dark outside and no one else is around.

Lara Jean thinks he does it because he wants to.

She hopes that’s why.

****

 

(*content warningas mentioned above in the beginning notes: the following contains sensitive content that some could find triggering. please do not read on if this kind of material could upset you in anyway, thank you.)

 

****

 

Lara Jean and Peter go as Tony and Elvira, Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer’s character from Scarface. Peter makes her watch the movie one evening to prepare. It’s a little too violent for her taste, but she still enjoys it.
Still, she’s nervous and complains to Peter everyone going to think she’s a manga character but he promises he’ll make sure everyone knows who they are.

Peter’s wearing the suit he wore to his prom. Lara Jean and him went to a thrift shop, where they found a cheap white shirt for a few dollars that they splattered in fake blood. They get his fake gun from a toy store.

Lara Jean finds a short blonde wig with bangs. Zoey has a blue silk dress that is perfect for her costume she borrows. She slips ona pair of small black heels. Trina lent her a pair of long earrings, with fat square diamonds in the middle.

They go to a halloween party at a frat house on Halloween night. Halloween that year fell on a Sunday, so classes would be empty on Monday morning or full of hungover students. Some of Peter’s friends were in the fraternity, so they were guaranteed entry on one of the busiest nights of the year.

Peter asked his friends if Zoey could come too. She’s dressed up as Elle Woods from legally blonde. His friends let Zoey come easily. Lara Jean wasn’t the only person who had trouble saying no to Peter Kavinsky.

When they get to the frat party, the house is packed with people and music is blaring. Gabe, Noah and Simon are in the fraternity. The party is zombie themed and the guys really went all out with the decorations and their costumes. There’s guts and blood all over the walls.

It reminds Lara Jean of that awful show Kitty watches, The Walking Dead. Peter likes it too and tried to get Lara Jean into it. She couldn’t make it through an episode and forced him to change over to Friends.

They bump into Genevieve as they walk through the front door. She’s wearing a tight red dress and has a pitchfork in her hand and horns on her head. She’s dressed up as the devil.

“Fitting,” Lara Jean murmurs into Peter’s ear as they see her and Peter laughs.

They’re in the kitchen, making drinks when a few guys wander in and start talking to Peter and Gabe.

“‘Sup, Peter.”

“Hey, Dale.” Peter doesn’t even look up from making his drink. He had already made Lara Jean’s, which was just a virgin mojito. After the tequila incident, she was having a sober night.

“Wow, man.” He does a double take of Lara Jean’s outfit. “Do you really let your girl wear that kind of stuff?”

“She’s my girlfriend,” Peter’s voice is monotone.“Not my property. I don’t let her do anything.”

Zoey scoffs, throwing a chip at Dale. She had started drinking in their dorm while they were getting ready. She claps her hands at Peter, “Yes, Peter. Say it louder for the PEOPLE IN THE BACK.”

“Whatever,” Dale mumbles, sulking out of the kitchen.

Gabe high fives Zoey. She smirks at him. They had been flirting since Peter introduced them. Lara Jean and Peter both notice it, sharing a knowing look.

Lara Jean’s phone buzzes in her hand. It was a text from Cassie.

Lara Jean had been texting Cassie all day, who was currently at a party that was her photography club’s fancy dress competition. They had been hanging out in Cassie’s dorm a few days ago and Lara Jean helped her paint the lense on her Polaroid camera costume she had made out of cardboard. It turned out amazing. She sends Lara Jean a selfie of her in her costume with a gold ribbon with ‘first place’ written on it.

Lara Jean laughs, texting her back.

Lara Jean 11:02: CONGRATULATIONS!!! :)

Cassie 11:04: thank u!!! This is the proudest moment of my life. Send me a pic of your costume!!

Lara Jean puts her cup down and lifts her phone up in the air, trying to get her whole costume in the picture.

“Do you want me to take it for you?” Peter asks, giving her an amused look as he catches her mid-selfie.

“I’ll take one of you two,” Zoey offers, taking Lara Jean’s phone before she could reply. Peter wraps his arm around her waist, his chin resting on her shoulder. Peter then kisses her cheek. Behind Zoey, Genevieve walks into the kitchen. Straight away, she sees them and looks furious.

Lara Jeans turns her cheek and catches Peter’s mouth with her own. She startles him but he smiles against her mouth, kissing her back. Just as Lara Jean pulls back, she sees Genevieve storm out of the kitchen. Peter doesn’t seem to notice her.

It turns into a mini-photoshoot consisting of cheesy, cute and silly pictures.

Zoey takes a lot of pictures from all angles, bending down and standing on the kitchen counter before handing Lara Jean back her phone.

Lara Jean sends Cassie the picture where Peter is looking down at Lara Jean grinning, his arm around his waist and she’s smiling at the camera.

She sets it as her lock screen when Peter wasn’t looking.

“Quick, please.” Peter asks as he hands Zoey his phone, and she takes a boomerang of Peter twirling Lara Jean, her dress blowing in the air which he uploads onto his snapchat and Instagram story. He scrolls through Lara Jean’s camera roll and sends himself some of the pictures.

He uploads onto his Instagram the picture where his arms are wrapped around Lara Jean’s waist and they’re both smiling.

“No caption?” She asks, taking a sip of her drink.

Peter shrugs, “I like to be mysterious.”

“Mysteriously dorky,” She teases and he pokes her in her side.

They head outside to the back yard where Peter introduces her and Zoey to a lot of people.

“Hey, we’re just going to go to the bathroom,” Lara Jean leans up on her tippy toes to say into Peter’s ear.

Peter nods his head, smiling at her.

“Use the one upstairs, opposite the blue door,” Gabe says, smiling at them. “There will be no line.”

As they’re heading upstairs, Zoey squeezes her hand. “Gabe is so nice, isn’t he?” She says to Lara Jean, which makes her nod her head enthusiastically. Zoey and Gabe were hitting it off. She couldn’t wait to tell Peter.

Lara Jean goes to the bathroom first and waits outside as Zoey goes in. It’s a tiny bathroom and she insists on giving Zoey some privacy.

Curiosity gets the best of her and she sneaks into Gabe’s bedroom opposite the bathroom, curiously walking around the room.

“Hey, Lara Jean.”

She hears something click and the door close.

Lara Jean’s body turns around and she sees Derek. She gulps. She also sees the key to the door in his hand.

The click. He has locked the door. Panic floods her body.

“Hi, Derek.”

He only walks as far as the first bed in the room, which is against the wall that the door is connected to. Lara Jean’s on the other side of the room, beside the window.

“Derek, why did you lock the door?” She asks, trying to remain calm. “Please unlock it. You’re scaring me.”

“I just want to talk alone for a second, without getting interrupted,” Derek slurs his words. He puts the key down on the table beside the bed. “That’s all.”

“Derek, I really need to get back to the party-“ She takes a step forward but he doesn’t move. She isn’t close to him but she can smell the stench of alcohol off him. He reeks of it. His eyes look glazed. Was he on something? He was swaying slightly. He was definitely intoxicated.

“We could be so great together, Lara Jean,” He says, taking another sip. “If you just gave us a chance.”

She feels her phone vibrating, seeing Zoey’s name on her phone screen. Where u??

She clicks the call button subtly, seeing Zoey’s answered her call. She puts her phone in her open bag, lifting it up into the air near her mouth. “Derek,” Lara Jean says very loudly, she’s shouting at the top of her voice. “Please unlock the door to the bedroom opposite the bathroom. Now. This is not okay. I need to get back to the party.”

Derek just looked confused and sits down on the bed closest to the door. “Please don’t be mad, Lara Jean. I’m sorry. I just want us to be something. That asshole isn’t good enough for you.”

She keeps the other bed between them, standing as far away from him as possible.

“Derek,” She repeats slowly. “I have a boyfriend I,” She pauses, “I love. Very much. Please. You’re really scaring me. Open the door.”

He sighs, bending over slightly before standing up. “Okay. I’m sorry Lara Jean,” His voice whines slightly.

The doorknob starts to move, someone is trying to open the door. Lara Jean nearly cries with relief. There’s a barge against the door. “Get the fuck away from the door,” A voice shouts on the other side of the door and after a few bangs, the door splits in half and comes flying down onto the ground. Peter Kavinsky is standing in the doorway, his eyes blazing.

His head moves frantically until be finds Lara Jean, who is stunned in the corner.

“Covey, are you okay?” He asks, his voice steadily calm. Zoey’s right behind him, running past him and straight to Lara Jean, wrapping her arms around her. “I heard you on the phone,” Zoey murmurs into her ear, rubbing her back and kissing her cheek.

“I’m absolutely fine,” She replies shakily, nodding her head.

That’s all the confirmation Peter needs as he charges towards Derek, grabbing him by the collar to lift him up, Gabe and Noah right behind him. Peter lets go once Derek is on his feet. He doesn’t touch Derek again.

“Get the fuck out,” Peter spits at him, pointing at the door and Gabe pushes Derek towards the door and they all follow him down the stairs. Lara Jean and Zoey quickly follow, as do others who have noticed the commotion.

Peter, Gabe and Noah are the boys Lara Jean recognises of the group of about ten guys surrounding Derek at the top of the front lawn.

“You’re fucked, dude. You're going to reported to campus security and the college board tomorrow. There will be a restraining order too. We have evidence to prove what a fucking little creep you are. Witnesses too. Expect to hear from her lawyer.” Peter pauses, towering over Derek. “Listen to this very carefully. If I ever see you near Lara Jean again, I won’t hurt you. I will destroy you. I won’t say this again. Do you understand?”

Derek is slowly edging backwards, his head very still. He doesn’t make a sound.

Peter growls. “I said do you fucking understand?”

Derek manages to speak, “I-I understand.”

Peter is already turning around, walking back towards the porch. “Leave.”

Derek looks towards the porch, where Lara Jean is standing. “I’m so sorry Lara Jean,” He shouts as he begins to run down the road. Gabe and Noah put a hand on Peter’s shoulders, stopping him from turning around and pushing him towards the porch.

Peter is shaking when he reaches Lara Jean. She has never seen him so angry. She stands up from the chair she was sitting in when he’s in front of her which Peter sits down in and pulls her to sit in his lap.

“Covey,” He murmurs, his lips near her ear. “Are you okay? Did he?” His voice cracks, he can’t finish the sentence.

Their friends walk away to give them some privacy, but Peter and Lara Jean don’t notice.

“He didn’t go near me. He just locked the door and stayed on that side of the room. All he wanted to do was talk. That’s all that happened,” She murmurs and feels his sigh of relief.

“Zoey heard you on the phone and came sprinting downstairs to find me,” He replied, his arms tightening around her. “That was the most terrifying thirty seconds of my life.”

“Thank you,” She whispers against his neck and he holds her, whispering comforting words as she sobs against his neck.

About half an hour later, Lara Jean has stopped crying and Zoey reappears with Lara Jean’s jacket and Peter starts to stand up, lifting her with him. “C’mon Covey, let’s go home.”

“I don’t want to go home,” Lara Jean protests, rubbing her eyes. If they went back to the dorm, she would think about what had just happened and continue to cry. She didn’t want that. “It’s Halloween. He’s not ruining our night,” Lara Jean pleads, but Peter and Zoey don’t seem convinced. “Please. Just for a while.”

She gets her way, but Peter doesn’t leave her side all night. He doesn’t even let go of her hand. He completely ignores Genevieve when she asks if she can speak to him. Lara Jean is just as shocked as Genevieve.

A while later, they’re sitting on the couch with Zoey and Gabe who are having a heated debate over who was a better Batman.

Lara Jean is curled into Peter’s lap. She laughs as she watches their debate, turning her head to see Peter gazing down at her.

“Thank you,” Lara Jean murmurs, not breaking their eye contact. Peter’s eyes were

“You know I would do anything for you Covey,” He murmurs back. Peter leans down towards her so their noses are touching. She thinks he’s going to kiss her but someone is hitting Peter’s leg, and he grunts before turning his head. Their moment is over.

“Dude! Please back me up here! Christian Bale is the best batman!” Gabe’s hands are moving around the air.

“I just think Ben Affleck surprised everyone with his performance!” Zoey argues back.

“Yeah,” Gabe replies, shaking his head. “His performance of sucking!”

Peter joins in, completely backing Gabe and Lara Jean just watches her friends, smiling softly as they argued back and forth.

Peter insists they leave an hour later. Lara Jean doesn’t object.

When they get back to the dorms, Peter lets go of her hand and her fingers cramp slightly as she moves them.

“Wait a second,” Peter walks into his dorm, and walks straight back out in a t-shirt and pair of sweats with his duvet and pillow tucked under his arm.

Lara Jean raises an eyebrow at him, “What are you doing?”

“You’re not sleeping alone,” He says simply, holding the her dorm door open for her. She opens her mouth to protest but Peter shakes his head.

“No arguing Covey. Just go to sleep.” Peter’s voice is firm and for once, she doesn’t argue.

Lara Jean makes him hide under his pillow as she gets dressed into her pajamas.

Truthfully, she’s really grateful. The sound of his breaths are quite comforting, and they talk nonsense until she eventually falls asleep, exhaustion taking over.

 

 

The following morning, Peter convinces Lara Jean to call her dad. Lara Jean’s dad is furious and upset, continuously asking if she was alright. Lara Jean gets so upset that Peter takes over and explains the whole story to her father.

Trina and her dad are at her dorm within half an hour. They both hug her and along with Peter, they head straight to the Dean's office. Peter had woken up early before Lara Jean and had already reported it to campus security and the Dean’s office, sending multiple emails to different faculties of the college.
Margot even drives down from Washington and arrives in the afternoon when she hears the news.

The minute they step into the Dean’s office, Peter starts shouting. He only stays quiet when Lara Jean talks, going into explicit detail about what happened at the Dean’s request and Derek’s past behaviour towards her in the past, before the party.

Peter doesn’t care if Derek didn’t physically assault her. Peter even threatens to leave the college’s lacrosse team if Derek isn’t expelled. Which is ridiculous but the look on the Dean’s face is uneasy. Peter is their best recruit in years and by far their best player. They had won two championships in a row on their hands mainly due to Peter’s goal scoring ability.

Margot holds Lara Jean’s hand the entire time, even when they all leave the Dean’s office so he can speak with Lara Jean’s father. Peter paces outside the door. “I like him,” Margot whispers into Lara Jean’s ear, squeezing her hand.

They’re told it will take a few days to analyze the situation.

Peter thinks the school is responding too slowly. Gabe has an idea.

Gabe’s stepdad is a millionaire. He’s also UVA alumni. They gave him some honorary award last year, according to Peter. He’s one of the biggest donors to their college. He makes a call, and they’re notified the following morning Derek is no longer a student.

When Peter tells Lara Jean, she hugs him and jumps on Gabe. “Thank you. Thank you,” She repeats over and over. It was all over.

“Large, don’t be silly,” Gabe says, hugging her tightly back. He found it hilarious that Lara Jean’s name sounds like ‘Large-y’ when spoken fast, so it’s the only thing he calls her.

Lara Jean takes the week off college and stays at home. Peter goes straight to her house from college every evening after practice for the rest of the week. Kitty and him become inseparable. He has dinner with them every night. He helps her dad clean out the gutters. Kitty, Lara Jean and Peter play competitive games of basketball and they always team up against her. They go to the movies and Kitty and Peter have a popcorn war. Trina and her get started on that puzzle. Peter tries to help but he gets bored easily and plays Uno with Kitty.

Peter tried to talk about what happened with Lara Jean, but she isn’t ready to talk about it. She decides she’ll talk about it with a therapist, her dad’s suggestion, which Peter thinks is a great idea.

He doesn’t mention it again, but reminds her he is always there if she needs to talk to anyone.

They have an intense four hour game of Monopoly which Kitty wins and Peter sulks for an hour afterwards. They have movie marathons, Kitty and Lara Jean forcing Peter to watch every John Hughes movie and romantic comedy known to mankind. He stops complaining when he starts enjoying them.

“You know,” Kitty says one evening after Peter’s gone back to college and they’re lying on the couch, having a golden girls marathon. “If you and Peter break up, I’m still going to ask him to my prom.”

Lara Jean laughs, nudging her little sister with her foot. “Wow. Thanks Kitty.” She didn’t blame Kitty. Peter would be an excellent prom date.

She grabs her phone and texts Peter, instantly regretting it when she her phone buzzes with his reply.

20:06 Peter Kavinsky: What can I say? I’m irresistible to all. Especially Coveys.

She decides to go back to campus the following week, she doesn’t want to miss any more of her classes. On Sunday evening, Peter stays for dinner and drives them back to college afterwards.

She hugs her family extra tight, especially Kitty. Peter goes to shake her Dad’s hand, “Thank you for Dinner Dr. Covey,” Peter says but her dad hugs Peter, patting his shoulder. “Thank you Peter. For everything. And please, call me Gabe.”

Peter looks touched. He high fives Kitty and hugs Trina before they climb into the car. As Lara Jean gets into Peter’s audi, she spots Josh on his porch.

Josh waves at them from his front door. Lara Jean remembered he said he’d be home this weekend. He had asked her to hang out a few days ago, but she didn’t want him knowing about what happened.

“You never told me he was your neighbour,” Peter’s eyes narrow.

“I didn’t think it was important.” She shrugs, waving back at Josh as Peter drove off.

“It is. He’s clearly into you. If he makes a move on you, I’ll kick his ass.”

Lara Jean rolls her eyes, taking one of the mocha sugar doughnuts out of the bag and shoving it into his mouth. “Oh, pipe down Peter.”

 

Despite her protests, Peter insists on spending the following week sleeping on her dorm floor. He has to make sure she’s okay. She sort of was, okay. She goes to the therapy appointment her dad scheduled for her. She was quite anxious the first week back, always looking over her shoulder and feeling like everyone was talking about what had happened. It would get better.

She accidentally steps on him getting out of bed at least three times that week. Zoey gives up on day three and offers her bed to Peter, opting to sleep in his bed in his dorm.

Lara Jean Covey doesn’t know a lot of things. But as she lay in her bed, listening to Peter Kavinsky’s loud snores, she does a lot of thinking. She wants to be annoyed about his overbearingness but as she watches him sleep, she feels her heart tug in her chest.

The last week of her life had been tough. Extremely tough. But Peter had been there every step of the way, never leaving her side. Even before the incident, the nature of their fake relationship meant they were spending nearly everyday together. She had never spent that much time with someone outside of her family.

Over the last two months, Lara Jean had gotten to know Peter Kavinsky in an intimate way she had never never gotten to know someone before. The last week had proved to her she needed him in a way that terrified her.

She was falling in love with Peter Kavinsky. Hard.

She was so screwed.

She stood up, carefully making sure she didn’t step on or wake up Peter as she sat at her desk, switching on her light.

She knew what she had to do.

She got out her supplies, picking up her favorite pen and taking out a fresh blank piece of paper.

Lara Jean let out a deep breath before she began to write.

Dear Peter...

Chapter Text

It takes a while for things to return back to normal. Peter never leaves her side unless he has lacrosse practice or class. Lara Jean spends her time hanging out with her family, Cassie, Jeremy, Zoey and the lacrosse guys. Even Josh. They study in the library together.

Peter makes a few distasteful comments about Josh, from criticizing his Star Wars t-shirts to the way he smiled at Lara Jean as they walked passsed him in the dining hall.

Lara Jean’s glares in response shut Peter right up.

She does a lot of baking. Baking is her one of her stress relievers and coping mechanisms. She bakes everything from lemon squares to cookies, brownies and cupcakes. She gets to know some of her hallmates in her dorm building, who smell her treats and wander into the kitchen.

In the last week of November, she goes to her first party with Peter since the incident. It’s a party at one of the frat houses to raise money for the lacrosse team so the theme is Greek and Roman gods.

Lara Jeans makes them both togas and when she pins Peter into his, he won’t stop moving. “Ow!” He whines, rubbing his arm. “Stop poking me.”

“I’m only poking you because you won’t stay still,” Lara Jean says with a pin in her mouth, concentrating on the task at hand. She was flustered. She had to pin him into his toga and Peter had just his boxers on underneath. He was still very shirtless.

They both had sandals and metal leaf crows Lara Jean had spray painted gold. Peter uploads a picture of them onto Instagram with the caption ‘W. my greek goddess’ and it gets over a thousand likes.

On their way to the party, Peter takes out his phone and starts taking selfies of them.

“What are you doing?” Lara Jean asks, shielding her face.

“Sending a selfie to Kitty,” Peter says, extending his arm and winking at the camera. Lara Jean flashes an embarrassed smile quickly, putting her hands back up to block her face as he continued to take pictures.

“Don’t block your face,” He said, nudging her and holding her hand so she couldn’t cover her face. “You look beautiful.”

And right on cue, there was that fuzzy warm feeling in the pit of her stomach again.

Excellent.

 

It had started to snow at the start of December. Lara Jean trudged through campus with her snow boots, only going to and from the library and her dorm.

They were in the middle of finals and her brain felt heavy in her head. She needed a study break. Preferably one including Starbucks almond hot chocolate. Lara Jean and Peter were passed the point of knocking on each other’s doors, so she just walks right in.

“Hey, do you want to-“

Lara Jean froze. Genevieve and Peter were sitting on his bed, in his dorm room, alone. His arm is around her and she’s leaning against his chest, practically on his lap.

“Sorry to interrupt,” Lara Jean says cooly, walking straight back out and closing the door.

Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry.

“Lara Jean! Hey, wait!” Peter’s voice calls after her, but she’s practically sprinting to her dorm.

He still manages to catch her, pulling her around by her arm. “Relax, okay? It is not what it looks like. Gen’s just-“

“I don’t care what Gen is, Peter. I really don’t care. And neither should you,” She pushes his arm off her, shaking her head.

“Clearly you do care,” Peter’s voice is strained. “Covey, I was with Gen for years. I can’t just switch that off. But it’s not like that anymore. If you just-“

“Would you just listen to yourself?” Lara Jean finally snaps. “She dumped you and you’ll still welcome her back into your open arms. Even when she comes to you complain about the boy she left you for?” Lara Jean feels mean. “It’s pathetic, Peter. Feel free to embarrass yourself, but don’t embarrass me.”

“No worries,” His voice is venomous. She’s made his angry. “You already do a great job at that yourself. Trailing after your sister’s ex-boyfriend like a lost little puppy. Does your sister know you’re stabbing her in the back or?”

It’s a low blow and Peter knows it. “At least I know when to give up, Peter. Do you enjoy being at your ex-girlfriend’s beck and call? You might want to hurry back. She might be cold.”

“Grow up, Lara Jean.” He’s never looked at her like he does in that moment. Distant. Like she’s a stranger. “Don’t talk about things you don’t understand.”

“Oh, screw you. I don’t need this.” She shakes her head, spinning around to charge towards her dorm.

“Right back at you.”

They both storm off to their respective dorms and Lara Jean slams her door behind her.

Well, she tries to. The doors are quite heavy and it just shuts slightly louder than usual.

She turns on some music and ignores the tears that leak from her eyes as she curls into a ball on her bed.

 

Fighting with Peter was hell. They avoided each other in the halls and when they had to pass each other, Peter wouldn’t look at her and she wouldn’t look at him. Deep down, she wanted some sort of acknowledgment or reaction out of him but Peter was cold and emotionless.

He was acting like she didn’t exist.

It was strange, not seeing Peter everyday when he lived right down the hall. Out of spite, he does a room check when he knows Lara Jean has class and confiscates the two beers she has in her fridge and her glue gun, claiming it to be ‘hazardous to student’s safety’.

It’s extremely petty but Lara Jean is too stubborn to go fight him on it.

She would probably just scream the minute they started speaking anyway.

She had forgotten Peter was their RA, since he doesn’t seem to do anything. He’s pretty relaxed about everything and that’s why he’s so popular on their floor. He helps everyone out if they have issues with classes or in their personal lives and he’s light with the rules.

Lara Jean avoids her dorm because of Peter and she ends up spending a lot of the week with Josh.

Her guilty conscience feels heavy every time she sees him. She just thinks about Margot and how it would make her feel. They go to the diner twice to grab dinner after they spend their evenings studying together in the library.

“If you could be any animal, what would you be?” Josh asks her as they walk out of the movie theatre on Wednesday night. Josh had convinced her they deserved a break, since they were the first people in the library studying at 7am when it opened and the last ones to leave at midnight when it closed.

“I think I’d be a cat,” She replies, not really knowing why but it just felt right. She had always adored cats growing up. She liked to lay around all day and then disappear exploring where she wanted to go. “How about you?”

“I think I’d be a bear,” Josh replies which makes Lara Jean laugh. “Hey, what’s so funny?”

“Joshie, you’re too soft to be a bear.” Her face lights up. “Hey! You could be a panda.”

They stop outside the door to her dorm building. Josh shoots her a sarcastic smile, “Thanks Lara Jean. But..Panda’s are pretty cool. So I’m good with that.”

Lara Jean glances up at her tall building, rolling on her feet. She didn’t want the night to end yet.

“Do you want to come up for a while?” She asks, turning towards Josh. “Zoey is at Gabes tonight. We could play cards or something, like we used to,” She smiled at the fond memories. “If I go up on my own and start to write one more flashcard I think I’ll cry,”

“Sounds good,” Josh agrees quickly, not needing any convincing at all.

“I’m just going to grab some tea bags,” Lara Jean said, walking into the common room which a few people were in. Some people were playing pool and others were sitting on the couches around the TV.

One of them was Peter.

Josh trails in behind her and she opens up a cupboard, taking a few bags out of her her mint infused green tea packet. “All done,” She says to Josh, fighting every temptation in her body to see if Peter is looking at her as she walks out of the room.

As she leaves the common room and turns the corner towards the dorm, she sees his head pointing in her direction.

He looked pissed.

Lara Jean shouldn’t get this much pleasure from annoying Peter Kavinsky, but she did.

She really did.

Once they get to her dorm, Josh and Lara Jen sit on her floor, talking and playing all sorts of cards game from Russian Roulette to Snap.

There’s a moment, when they both put their hands on the deck of cards to take a card and their fingers touch. They both just looked at each other, not saying anything. Lara Jean broke the moment by glancing at her cards, refusing to look at Josh. “Do you have any twos?”

The moment leaves her unsettled for the rest of the night.

“Lara Jean?” There’s a knock on the door and Karen opens it softly. “It’s nearly midnight. If your friend doesn’t leave, he’ll get fined. It’s like 150 dollars.”

Her face falls. “What? The rules are never followed.”

“Peter made an announcement in the common room just there that they have to be followed, especially the no guests past midnight rule,” She explained, biting her lip and giving Lara Jean a sad smile. “Apparently it’s a rule. Weird, right? He’s never cared about any of the rules. Until now. He seemed really pissed off.”

She glances at the back of Josh’s head, mouthing the next few words. “Are you two okay?”

Lara Jean shook her head, mouthing back she would talk to Karen later “Thanks for warning us, Karen.” She turns to Josh. “You better go.”

“Who is your RA? He sounds like a douche,” Josh says, slightly disgruntled as he pulls on his jacket and stands up. He clearly didn’t remember who Peter was.

Lara Jean clenched her jaw. “You have no idea.”

After Josh leaves, Lara Jean grabs a sharpie and writes ‘DOUCHE’ in block capital letters on a sticky note. She sticks it right in the middle of his door and walks back to her dorm, falling asleep with a satisfied smirk on her face.

The next day, as she heads to the library she sees the note has been removed from his door by there is no retaliation. It hurts a little. It’s quite said how desperately she wants any attention Peter Kavinsky will give her.

She knew there was a lacrosse party tonight after the last game of the year, she had penciled it on her calendar a while ago when Peter had mentioned it.

Zoey was out going to the party to see Gabe. They weren’t officially dating but they did spend a significant amount of time together.

“I don’t have to go,” She says softly, sitting on the edge of Lara Jean’s bed.”I can stay in and we can watch a movie and talk about how much boys suck.”

“You’re going,” Lara Jean says, ending the possibility of that happening and smiling at her roommate. “Now,” She sits up on bed. “Do you want me to curl your hair?”

Zoey left in a sparkly pink sequin dress, heels as tall Lara Jean and requested not to be let into their dorm until at least 4am. She was celebrating finals being over.

Peter could have all the fun he wanted. It probably included Genevieve.

How was Lara Jean celebrating finals being over? She planned to put a facemask on, pop a bag of popcorn and open up a bag of m&ms. She had crazy, stupid love loading on Netflix.

It was her usual wild Friday nights.

At around nine o’clock, someone knocks on her her door.

“Who is it?” She called, not really wanting to get up or have anyone see her like this. Her hair was in two buns on either side of her head, she had her fluffy dressing gown on which matched her pink fluffy hairband. She looked like a marshmallow. She had on her favourite pair of striped cream pajamas with bunnies all over them.

No one replied.

Lara Jean groaned, pushing herself off her bed and opening up the door.

Peter Kavinsky was standing in front of her.

Peter doesn’t seem phased by her appearance. He walks straight past her, pacing around the room.

Lara Jean open her mouth to say something but nothing comes out.

At first, she feels angry. Who did he think he was, showing up after over a week of not talking to her? But it fades when she properly studies him.

Lara Jean was frightened. Not of Peter, but of how he was acting. He’s physically shaking in front of her. He’s still in his lacrosse gear, the smudges of dirt and grass on his face, arms and knees. He still has his stick in his hand.

Something was very wrong.

“Peter?” She says slowly, looking alarmed. “What happened?”

“My dad just showed up at the game,” Peter’s voice is deeper than usual. “After all this time, he just shows up. We had a screaming fight in the parking lot. Then I came here.”

Lara Jean stepped forward, carefully taking his stick out of his hand and placing it in the corner of her room. “Sit down,” Her voice softly asks, her hand on his arm as she pushes moves her laptop and snacks to the end of the bed.

Peter still doesn’t say anything, the room is silent. Lara Jean can hear her heart breaking by just looking at him.

She had never seen Peter look so broken.

Lara Jean carefully wraps her arms around him, letting him rest his face against her neck. Her neck starts to feel damp but Peter doesn’t make a sound.

Peter eventually pulls back, letting out a long, deep breath. They don’t say anything.

She grabs her packet of rose scented wipes on her bedside locker, delicately wiping the grease and dirt off his legs, arms and face.

Peter lets her.

Lara Jean knew in that moment all Peter needed was someone to take care of him. He had done it for her, and she was going to do it for him.

Lara Jean runs to his room to grab him a spare change of clothes, a soft t-shirt and sweatpants.

She let out a screech when he just started stripping and changing in front of her. She covered her face with a pillow.

“Lara Jean, I have boxers on.”

“Still!”

However, she doesn’t mind the glimpse she gets of his defined arms and legs. He has a toned stomach, but it’s also soft. She loves how it’s soft.

Lara Jean sits with her legs crossed against the wall while Peter lies with his legs spread out on the bed. She tries to distract him as much as she can.

“Come on, it’ll open up your pores!” Lara Jean waves her makeup brush in the air. “They’re clogged.”

“Are you calling me ugly?”

“Yes, Peter Kavinsky,” She lifts up her brush and paints his cheeks and forehead with her lime green seaweed mask before he can object. “You’re the ugliest person I’ve ever met.”

He fakes a smile, the first one she has seen from him all night. “Thank you.”

She pops an M&M into her mouth, satisfied. “You’re welcome.”

After their spa moment, in which she snaps a few pictures of Peter with a green face. Peter makes her pinky swear she’ll never show them to anyone.

They’re both lying on her bed, her laptop balancing on one of each of their thighs. “You pick the movie,” She murmured, her lips pouting to one side as she peaked up at him from the corner of her eye.

Peter insists on watching Crazy, stupid love, her original choice. The movie makes them laugh but they get distracted by their competition to see how many m&ms and pieces of popcorn they can throw into each other’s mouth.

It goes south when Lara Jean nearly chokes on an m&m Peter gets into her mouth from the other side of the room, but that just makes them laugh some more.

A while later, they’re just lying on her bed. Their arms are pressed against each other. She’s nervous, she’s never had a boy on her bed before. She’s never been this close to Peter before.

“Peter?” She says quietly.

“Mm?”

“I’m sorry about what I said.”

It catches Peter off guard, and he tilts his head to the side to look at her. “I’m sorry too.”

“I don’t like fighting with you,” He murmurs. “It’s very stressful.”

“Maybe from now on, you should always assume I’m right,” She couldn’t hold back her smirk.

Peter shakes his head. “I can’t believe you called me a douche. Not to my face. You indirectly called me a douche.” He shakes his head. “You're very passive aggressive, Covey.”

“I’m passive aggressive? You kicked my friend out of my dorm and confiscated my beer and glue gun!” She pokes his side. “Which I want back, by the way.”

“What was Sanderson doing here anyway?” Peter asks, fiddling with the fluffy pom-poms attached to her duvet.

“We were hanging out. We’ve been studying a lot together,” She rolls her eyes at the look Peter shoots her. “As friends.”

Peter scoffs, “Yeah, friendship is the last thing on his mind.”

“Oh pipe down,” She lets out a loud yawn, wiggling slightly to adjust her pillow. “Stop acting like a jealous boyfriend. We’re just pretending, remember?”

“I should go. You need to sleep,” Peter said, beginning to sit up and the atmosphere between them shifts.

“Peter, are you okay?” She asks, frowning slightly. Lara Jean didn’t like the idea of him being alone. Not tonight. He had taken care of her when she needed him, now it was her turn.

“You can stay, if you want.” Her mouth turns dry as she says it, her breath hitching in her throat. The thought scares her but tonight wasn’t about her. Lara Jean cared a lot about Peter Kavinsky, and she needed him to be okay.

“It’s okay,” His rejection hurts a lot more than it should. “It’s been a shit night. I’m just going to sleep if off.”

“Peter, are we okay?” He’s practically running out of the room before she can finish her question. Did she say something wrong?

His face softens as he opens her door, nodding his head. “We’re good, Covey. I’ll come get you for breakfast tomorrow morning, okay? Night, Covey.”

He shuts her door and she lays back down in her bed, completely and utterly confused.

What the hell just happened?

 

 

After that night, Lara Jean and Peter return to being pretty much inseparable. They eat every meal of the weekend together and they have a John Hughes marathon in her dorm room, in exchange for a Quentin Tarantino marathon in his room next week.

Peter even drives her to the craft store without one complaint, holding her basket as she spent fifteen minutes deciding between a packet of lilac or lavender buttons.

Peter didn’t see the difference. Lara Jean saw too many.

On Sunday evening, they went to go get some frozen yoghurt Peter was craving and as they were eating it, Peter reached over and wiped some yoghurt right off Lara Jean’s chin. Not even with a napkin. With his fingers.

It was one of the most intimate moments of her life.

Lara Jean was really struggling to notice what was real and what was fake.

“So, Gabe said something pretty cool to me the other day.” Peter says as they sit in her dorm room. Lara Jean was packing up her belongings for the holidays, making sure she had all of her family’s presents in her bag.

“What did he say?” Lara Jean responded, not looking up from her bag. She was double checking she has all her presents.

“Well, he owns this incredible skiing chalet. He’s invited everyone over this week, before we go on Christmas break,” Peter says, looking directly at her. “Including you and me.”

Lara Jean makes a sour face. Peter-“

“It will be so so fun! Just listen to me Covey,” He takes her hands in his. “We can ski and snowboard, it’s beside an amazing hotel that does the best hot chocolate. I’ll buy you one.”

“I can’t skii!” She protests.

“I’ll teach you. C’mon Covey, you know I’ve got you girl.”

Lara Jean doesn’t have any response to that.

Peter hasn’t given up. “There’s a few couples going! Gabe’s going to invite Zoey too. Pretty please with cherrys on top, Covey?” Peter’s doing that face again. The one where his eyes widen and his lips puff out.

It was adorable.

How could she say no to that?

Lara Jean was finding it increasingly difficult to say no to Peter lately. It was becoming quite the problem.

“Fine,” She grumbles, letting go of her hands and turning around so he doesn’t see her blush. “But you have to buy me two hot chocolates.”

The morning they’re leaving for the ski trip, Lara Jean sits at her desk, slowly opening her teal letterbox her mom gave her when she was little. She usually keeps it hidden under her bed in one of her storage boxes.

Oh, Mommy. I wish you could help me.

She reaches into the box, taking out two letters and holding them delicately.

The letters had Peter’s and Josh’s names and addresses on them.

She pulls out Peter’s letter, beginning to read it.

Dear Peter,

I like you. That’s a lie. I more than like you. But at the same time, you infuriate and annoy me. You confuse me. Is that what love is? I didn’t know before.

Now I know. I-

“Lara Jean!” She hears Peter shouting her name and she jumps off her chair, stuffing his letter back into its envelope.

Her dorm room door slams wide open.

She jumps up in front of her desk,

“We’ve got to go,” Peter looks at her with a frown. “What are you doing?”

“Nothing!” She shouts, throwing a bunch of her clothes on top of the letters and quickly grabbing her mini suitcase. “Come on! No time to waste,” She says, pushing Peter out of her dorm room.

They had a three hour drive ahead of them. They would get there by 10am and so would the others, but Zoey wasn’t driving up until the afternoon. She had to take one last final before she was finished for the semester.

Peter and Lara Jean spend the drive eating mocha sugar doughnuts, drinking her Korean yoghurt drinks and playing ISpy and guess the song. Peter gets every single one of her Taylor Swift songs right.

“Have you spoken to your dad?” She asks as they drive through roads surrounded by tall, dark forests. The mountains were truly beautiful.

“I don’t want to talk to or about my dad,” Peter says, shaking his head.

Lara Jean can’t help but make her ‘I know you’re lying’ face at him, which makes Peter scowl. “I don’t need your judgement.”

“I’m not judging you,” Lara Jean says, her voice softer. “I just don’t want you to regret not giving him a chance to talk to you. It doesn’t mean you have to forgive him.” She pauses. “You just need to stop being so mad at yourself for missing and caring about your dad, Peter. That’s all. Maybe talking to him will help you do that.”

She doesn’t say anything more, and neither does he, but he lets her play the Hamilton soundtrack for the third time. So that’s something.

 

Lara Jean knew Gabe was very rich. He had helped her out of an awful situation with his wealth.

When she sees the chalet for the first time, it’s like they had stepped into a winter wonderland storybook.

Everything was so picturesque. They were on the top of a mountain, with a crystal clear view of all the ski slopes and the woodlands.

It was just amazing to see it up close. His chalet was a mansion. The grounds were covered in snow and the chalet looked as tall as some of the mountains. Every piece of furniture looked soft and expensive. Lara Jean was nearly positive the doorknobs were real diamonds.

The group stood in the living room with their bags. It was Lara Jean and Peter, Gabe, Simon and his girlfriend Sarah and Noah was with Penelope. They weren’t together but they were. Peter had explained their friends with benefits but they actually cared about each other but refused to acknowledge their actual feelings situation to Lara Jean, but she didn’t understand it whatsoever.

Gabe was showing everyone where to sleep, unpack their bags and change for the day before they all hit the slopes.

Lara Jean would definitely be the one hitting the slopes.

With her body.

“Large and Peter, your room is on the second floor up to the right. Don’t worry, it’s a king bed. With an ensuite,” Gabe winks at Lara Jean, raising his fist to punch Peters. “I’ve got you boo.”

Peter reluctantly touches his knuckles with Gabes, mouthing an apology to Lara Jean.

Lara Jean just stared at them. Peter and Lara Jean’s room? She had presumed her and Zoey would be sharing.

It was so naive of her. Of course all the couple's would be sharing. Her and Peter were one of those couples. Everyone around them, including Gabe and Zoey, had had sex.

Everyone probably presumed Peter and her were having sex. Peter had definitely had sex. Genevieve and him had had a lot of sex. He might have had with other people too. Peter didn’t even know Lara Jean had never actually had sex.

“You can all relax now,” A loud voice announces, interrupting Lara Jean’s mini-breakdown as the chalet’s front door slammed behind them. “I have arrived.”

Lara Jean’s stomach drops.

She would know that voice anywhere.

Genevieve.

Chapter Text

The door to their bedroom closes sharply, Peter’s hand gripping the doorknob tightly.

“Covey-“ The noise that Lara Jean makes, a mixture between a groan and scream, cuts Peter off.

“You’re incredible,” Lara Jean shakes her head, bewildered as she throws her bag on the bed. “I can’t believe you didn’t tell me she would be here.”

“I didn’t know when I asked you and I didn’t tell you because then I knew you wouldn’t come!”

“Now I get why you wanted me here so much,” Lara Jean shook her head. It broke her heart, just a little. But it’s the only reason they were still fake dating. Genevieve was the reason.

She was so stupid to think he actually wanted her here. She was still just a pawn in this stupid game they were playing and she was so tired of playing it.

“Hey, that is not true Covey,” Peter’s tone is firm. “Gabe told me she was coming yesterday. I asked you because I wanted you here. Give me more credit than that.”

Lara Jean sits on the side of bed, sulking slightly as she played with her fingers. Peter wants her here. What does that mean? Does he want her here, or want want her here?

She needed someone like Zoey, who understood boys, to analyze her relationship with her pretend boyfriend that wasn’t feeling fake anymore.

“She is out to get me Peter! I did not sign up to be trapped in a small space with her. She’ll probably put hair removal cream in my shampoo!”

“That’s a bit over the top, Covey.” Peter raises an eyebrow at her.

Lara Jean had had minimal interactions with Genevieve, but all of them had been unpleasant.

There was the coffee incident. Genevieve had ‘accidently’ bumped into Lara Jean and spilled her iced coffee all over Lara Jean’s white sweater. Anytime they walked past each other, Genevieve would scoff and glare at her.

She was terrified of Genevieve. Sleeping under the same roof as her? Lara Jean’s life was already at risk with her attempting to ski, but living in the same house as Gen? She might not make it out alive.

“Who did she even come with?” She asks, biting her bottom lip hard.

“Gabe is good friends with Ashley. Ashley’s boytoy bailed so she asked if she could bring Genevieve along,” Peter said, dipping a tortilla chip into some dip and smiling weakly at Lara Jean.

How could he eat at a time like this?

“Do you want some?” He asked, extending the guacamole and bag of chils towards her.

“No I don’t want some!” She snaps, groaning but then she started to eye the bag of chips. She was a sucker for a good guacamole dip. It turns out, she could eat at a time like this.

It was quite comforting.

“Fine,” She sighs, putting her hand in the bag and dipping a chip into the dip. She ate when she was stressed. “I’m stress eating and it’s all your fault.”

“Listen,” Peter sighs, sitting on the bed beside her. “We’re going to have an amazing few days. I’m going to teach you to ski-“

“Not if she pushes me down one of the slopes first,” Lara Jean mutters, interrupting.

She didn’t know what appealed to her less, learning to ski or living with Genevieve for a few days.

Peter throws a chip at her. “Stop being such a drama queen, Covey. I’d never let her do that.”

“Aw, you’re a true martyr,” She mocks him, picking up the chip and standing up to put in the bin. “Don’t get crumbs on the bed!”

She freezes as she mentions the bed situation. It was their room and their bed. Which everyone expected them to share. She had only shared a bed with her sisters before. Definitely no boys.

Peter seems to pick up on her worries “About the bed situation, I’m sleeping on the floor. You don’t need to worry. Don’t go to Coveyland and get all worked up.”

“I don’t go to Coveyland,” She defends herself lamely, her mouth hanging open. She’s embarrassed. “That’s not a thing!”

“You do! You space out and get stuck up there,” He gestures towards her brain, his finger taps her forehead. “It’s cute and annoying at the same time.”

“Aw,” Her voice is sarcastic and she makes a sour face. “Anyway, you’re not sleeping on the floor. We can share,” She decides, nodding her head to confirm it to herself.

She could do this.

Peter made her feel safe and it was just a bed. Her and Peter sharing a bed.

Just two friends in a pretend relationship, who kissed and touched each other and ate doughnuts quite a lot, platonically sharing a bed in a romantic chalet.

It was totally normal.

Peter stares at her shocked, clearly not expecting her suggestion whatsoever. “Really? Are you sure? I seriously don’t mind sleeping on the floor.”

Lara Jean shakes her head with a small smile. “The bed alone is the size of my bedroom. Seriously. It’s really sweet, but it’s fine.”

“We’ll do heads and tails,” Peter suggests, eyeing her as if he doesn’t believe her.

He still sits up to move onto the floor, and she puts her hand on his forearm. “You don’t have to. We can’t go heads and tails because I am not having your smelly feet on these satin pillow sheets,” Lara Jean says, shaking her head. “We’ll just make a line in the middle.”

Her hands are sweaty because she’s nervous. But she’s doing agreeing to sharing the bed because she cares. And she wants it. Deep down, she wanted it. It wasn’t like it meant anything. She was nowhere near ready to have sex and they weren’t like that.

The conversation ends and they both get ready to go skiing. Peter gets ready quickly but Lara Jean takes longer, pulling on Margot’s old ski gloves, jacket and pants. They were white with pink lining and Lara Jean had one of her purple headbands on.

Her phone buzzes and when she picks it up, it’s a text from Josh.

12:03 Josh Sanderson: Good luck on the slopes! May the force be with you.

She smiles at her screen, typing back a quick response as she can hear Peter calling her from downstairs.

12:04 Lara Jean: Thanks, dork. I’ll text you if I make it out alive.

Peter teaching Lara Jean to ski involves a lot of screaming, frustration, laughing and occasional stress tears.

The laughing is mainly Peters, especially when Lara Jean faceplants into the snow.

She doesn’t even feel bad when she pushes him over and he falls slightly down the slope.

Lara Jean is terrified, but Peter is a natural. They’re on the baby slopes and Lara Jean feels a part of her inside die everytime a 10 year old flies past her.

She wouldn’t let Peter let go of her hands for the first hour.

When she insists on taking a break, she watches Peter snowboard down some of the slopes. He does it so easily, his body twisting and turning as he slides down the smooth snow.

When he makes it back up to the top of the baby slope, he takes off his goggles as he walks towards her. His hair moves with the breeze and she can see he’s sweating slightly.

How could someone make walking so sexy?

When she makes it down the baby slope without falling and completely on her own, Peter’s waiting at the bottom for her. When she comes to a safe stop and steps out of her skis, Peter is shouting and laughing.

“COVEY! You did it!” He tackles her to the ground, and they roll around the snow laughing. She grabs a bunch of snow and puts it on his face, some of it getting into his mouth. She shrieks when he puts some down the back of her jacket, and then they’re having a full on snow war on the bottom of the baby slope around confused and slightly concerned children and their parents.

When she’s done for the day, they head up to the main part of the hotel to grab the promised hot chocolates.

“I told you they’re amazing, didn’t I?” Peter says, watching Lara Jean as she collapses into a armchair beside a lit fireplace. She takes a sip, the warm deliciousness of the cream, marshmallows and hot chocolate melting in her mouth.

“Wow,” She murmurs, gazing around the lounge they were in. This was the perfect place to sip hot chocolate, relax and read the novels she had brought in blissful peace.

“Don’t get any ideas. You’re not spending the rest of the holiday cooped up in here reading those sex novels of yours,” Peter raises both of his eyebrows, knowing exactly what she was thinking. His face was saying ‘don’t deny it’.

“They are not sex novels!” She gasps quietly, cringing at the memory of Peter finding her secret romance novel collection in her dorm. He hasn’t let her live it down since. “They’re about romance!”

“As Gertrude pressed her hips against Bartholomew, they both knew what they were doing was so wrong,” Peter starts to narrate, putting a hand on his chest. “But why did it feel so right? Then Gertrude felt his hard member pressing against her-“

“Shut your mouth right now!” Lara Jean hisses at Peter, mortifyingly clutching a pillow against her chest. She couldn’t throw something at him in public. She glances around at the various families and couples around them. “People could hear you!”

“Who knew Lara Jean Covey had a kink for sex filled novels?” Peter teases, his tongue wiping the milk moustache off his top lip.

She would find that cute if she wasn’t so embarrassed and annoyed at his teasing.

“At least I can read,” Lara Jean replies, sipping her hot chocolate with a smirk and Peter doesn’t even glance around before he flips her off.

It makes them both laugh, even when she silently scolds him and they sit there, with the cackling fire beside them, talking and sipping their hot chocolates.

Lara Jean feels like if she had to stay in that moment forever, she wouldn’t mind it at all.

 

 

That night, they all head out to the nightlife area of the resort, ending up in a bar and a club.

Zoey and Lara Jean dance, eventually joined by Ashley and Stephanie. Genevieve and the boys stay at the table, laughing and talking. Lara Jean tries to stop herself glancing over to where Peter and Genevieve are talking.

Peter steps out of the bar on his phone, which makes Lara Jean curious. It definitely wasn’t Genevieve calling him and for the first time Lara Jean was certain of that since she had moved to the dancefloor, grinding on two Australian boys.

When they all leave the dancefloor to sit down at a table, she finds herself glancing at the door every few minutes. She was worried. He had been on the phone for at least twenty minutes. What if something happened?

When Peter walks back in, Lara Jean doesn’t know if she should approach Peter or not. He makes the decision for her, since he walks straight in her direction.

“Do you want to go?” Peter bends over the back of her chair, murmuring into her ear. Lara Jean was relieved, she was enjoying herself but it was nearly midnight and there was so much of bars she could take. He had her jacket on his arm, and it was the perfect opportunity for her to escape.

She nods, standing up and stepping over Zoey who winks at Lara Jean, lifting up and thrusting her hips in the air which nearly makes Lara Jean choke on air.

They leave the bar, the faint sound of the loud music in the distance as they followed the path back towards the chalet.

“I’m going to meet my dad when we get back. That was him on the phone,” Peter said, ruffling his hair. Their boots made a crunching noise in the snow as they walked back to the chalet. “I texted him and we talked. Obviously things are not okay, but I guess it’s a start.”

“I think that’s really a good idea, Peter.” She lifts up her gloved hand to squeeze his arm. “Sorry if you can’t feel that, my hands went numb about five minutes ago.”

Lara Jean had been encouraging Peter to reach out to his dad and talk about things after their argument. Most of the time, Peter didn’t want to hear it. He sometimes listened to her. She didn’t want to push him too far or become overbearing, but she knew deep down he missed his dad.

“Are you having a good time?” Peter asked, putting in the code to unlock the gate of the chalet.

“I am,” Lara Jean said, smiling up at him as they walked up the steps and unlocked the door. They kicked off their snow boots, heading inside. “Thank you for bringing me.”

“You’re welcome,” He replies, smiling widely down at her. “So, what do you want to do?”

In that moment, Lara Jean realized it was just them in the chalet. The others probably wouldn’t be back for at least another hour. It was just her and Peter.

Alone.

They had spent so much time together alone, but this felt different.

“I haven’t seen the backyard yet,” She says, not knowing what to answer to his question. She didn’t want to watch a movie or something boring, with no meaning to it.

Peter had wanted her here. Not Genevieve. Her.

That had to mean something.

Peter slides open the doors leading out to the large decking area that was a huge balcony. It had decking chairs draped with blankets and pillows. There was a fire pit, that would be perfect for smores.

Kitty would love it.

“Wow, the stars are amazing tonight,” She says, gazing up at the sky. “Whoa, is that a hot tub? That’s so cool.” She notices the large rectangle tub on the decking below them, the stairs to access it just to her right. The water was so blue it was glowing in the dark.

“We could get in? If you want,” He suggested slowly, looking slightly nervous at his suggestion.

Lara Jean bit her lip, “You never told me to bring a bathing suit.”

“You don’t need one.”

She gasped, pushing his arm. “Peter!”

“I meant you can wear whatever, Covey! It doesn’t matter!” He rubbed his arm. “You’re the one with the dirty mind. Not me.”

That made her scoff, shaking her head. “I’ll meet you down here in a few minutes.”

She runs upstairs, pulling her bag apart trying to find something to wear. She wouldn’t wear a bra and piece of underwear. The only thing she could wear was her silk nightgown.

Peter is in the hot tub when she walks outside, the cold air making her wrap her coat around her.

“Hi,”

“Hey.”

They’re both acting shy, glancing around at their surroundings and not at each other. Lara Jean doesn’t get in straight away, she dips her feet in the hot tub and sits on the edge.

“Do you ever think about that night at the bar?” Lara Jean looks up in alarm at his question.

Peter doesn’t break their eye contact. “You don’t need to look so scared, Covey. I know you think about it.”

That makes her sit up, pushing back her shoulders. “How do you know what I think about?”

“I know you, Covey.” Peter lifts his arms out of the water, resting them on the edge of the hot tub. “Besides,” He pauses. “I think about it too.”

“I guess it was the the only time we kissed for real,” She murmured, suddenly finding the lace on the edge of her nightgown quite interesting.

“You’re impossible,” He shakes his head and she’s so confused. “Do you really think that every kiss we’ve had has been pretend?”

Lara Jean doesn’t know what to say. She knows what she wants to be true, that they weren’t pretend,

“Covey. I always make sure I have a stock of those doughnuts and yoghurt drinks you like so much. I sit through endless romantic movies-“

“You love those movies! Don’t deny it,” She narrows her eyes at him.

He ignores her, continuing. “I have happily watched you choose choose between three shades of red lipstick for thirty minutes and then you ended up buying a mascara.”

Lara Jean had brought him to Sephora one time when they were at the mall. She was still hearing about it. “That was one time. And it was a special edition!”

“Those lipstick swatches took a week to get off my hand,” Peter pouts at her. “The guys on the team didn’t let me hear the end of it for weeks.”

They’re both laughing now, smiling at each other from across the hot tub. “I’m sorry, okay?”

Peter shakes his head, his hair moving and falling on his forehead. He brushes the curls out of his eyes, running a hand through his head. “There’s nothing to be sorry about. Don’t you get it, Covey? None of that matters. Not when it comes to you.”

Lara Jean is shaking slightly, her feet were warm compared to her shivering torso. She doesn’t even feel if. All she does is stare at Peter, absorbing every word that came out of her mouth.

“I’d pretty much do anything for you, Covey,” Peter breaks their eye contact, his fingers trailing through the water to make ripples on the surface. “All you have to do is say the word.”

It was one of those deciding moments where Lara Jean knew what she could do and what she wanted to do. She stood up, pushing off her red coat and she climbed slowly into the hot tub, her nightgown soaking in the water.

The water is warm and she can feel the pressure from the jets against her legs and feet. She moves slowly towards Peter, who is looking at her in a way that he has never looked at her before.

It’s the closest they have ever been, emotionally and physically. It has never felt like this before. That it wasn’t just Lara Jean on one side, feeling things from their relationship she had no right to feel.

“This is me saying the word,” She blinks at him through her long lashes. She feels his hands under her thigh, lifting her up and pulling her towards him.

Her hands wind around his neck, her damp fingertips getting lost in his hair. She is wrapped around Peter Kavinsky.

“Can I kiss you, Covey?” Peter asks, his voice raw and low. He’s so close to her, she can see the few freckles across his nose and his breath in the cold air.

She doesn’t reply. Her head tilts to the side as she leans in and presses her lips against his. When they touch, Lara Jean feels something inside her explode and goosebumps form all over her body.

Peter kisses her back with urgency, one of his hands moving to her lower back as he pulls her closer to him. He bites her bottom lip and Lara Jean’s eyes open in surprise, but it sends this wave of pleasure up her spine and it makes her squirm against him, pushing against his hips.

“Covey,” He pulls back and his voice is husky. His eyes are wide with hunger and they flick down to her lips as he talks. Both their lips are red and slightly swollen. Peter’s especially, a hint of her red lipstick stained his lips and the edges of his mouth.

“I’m not going to be able to continue this if you keep doing that,” He murmurs, his fingers trailing up and down her spine under water before touching her hips. “I’ll be reacting to you in ways I can’t control.”

Lara Jean pauses for a second, not understanding him until it clicks in her head. Her immediate reaction is to be embarrassed but a part of her is gleeful. She has that effect on Peter Kavinsky.

“Sorry,” She whispers with a giggle, leaning towards him to peck his lips softly. She pecks them a few times, her hands still around his neck as she leans her head back, closing her eyes. She could stay here forever.

“Do you want to go in and make hot chocolate? It’s getting cold,” He murmurs, pulling her back towards him and leaving a trail of kisses from behind her ear, across her jaw and down her neck to her collarbone.

Peter steps out of the hot tub first, hissing as his feet touch the cold snow as he grabs their coats and towels. He wraps Lara Jean in a towel and then himself, before they link their fingers and run inside the chalet.

They make their hot chocolates, but the process takes longer than usual. When Peter lifts her up onto the marble kitchen counter and starts to kiss her, she loses concentration on everything but him.

She pops a marshmallow into his mouth, her feet wrapped around his thighs as they wait for the milk to heat up.

When Lara Jean fills her mouth with marshmallows and tries to talk, Peter bends over and starts laughing until tears leak from his eyes. His hands are on the counter to balance himself, and Lara Jean covers them with her own. She loved how big his hands were, her smaller ones linked with them perfectly.

When he kisses her, he tastes of sugar and sweetness.

She tastes the marshmallows too.

They end up on the couch, sipping their hot chocolates out of big, white mugs. Lara Jean settled against Peter’s chest, sitting between his legs with his arms around her.

At one point, she lifts her head to look up at him and he looks down at her. He leans down to kiss her, nuzzling their noses together before pressing his lips against hers. It’s one of the sweetest moments of her life.

“Aw,” They look up to see Gabe standing in the doorway, a hand over his heart, his bottom lip sticking out. “Aren’t you two adorable.”

Peter groans and buries his face in her neck.

Lara Jean can’t stop the smile breaking out on her face, Peter’s lips tickling her neck. She sees Zoey jumping excitedly up and down behind Gabe, making a love heart with her fingers.

The rest of the group appears in the doorway. Gen frowns when she sees them, shaking her head as she pushes past Zoey and Gabe.

“Ugh, get a room.” She says, making a loud gagging noise as she walks past the couch and collapses on a chair.

“We did.” Lara Jean even surprises herself with her retort, which just rolls off the tip of her tongue.

There’s an eruption of laughter and she feels Peter’s chuckles vibrating against her.

Everyone sits down on the couches and chairs, and a debate erupts about what movie they should watch. They eventually settle on some slasher movie, but Lara Jean and Peter aren’t paying attention.

Peter and her whisper throughout the movie, playing with Lara Jean fingers and tracing the lines on her palms.

It’s way past her bedtime by a few hours, so Lara Jean’s eyes are half closed by the time the movie ends. She still hasn’t moved from Peter’s lap, which she’s curled up in half asleep.

“I think it’s time for you to go to bed,” He murmurs, watching her with an amused look as she fights sleep.

“No, ‘m fine,” She insists, fighting to keep her eyes open but quickly losing that battle. She hears him laughing, which makes her frown through her half open eyes.

“What’s so funny?” She asks, adjusting her position in his lap so her head was against against his chest and she could spread her legs over his, using him as a bed.

“There is no one like you Covey,” Peter whispers into her ear, his lips brushing the top of ear lobe as he tucked some of her hair behind her other ear. Lara Jean’s chest slowly rises up and down, her soft little snores audible.

Lara Jean wakes up groggily, glancing at the clock on her bedside table. 6:05am. She’s in their bedroom on their bed, which means Peter must have carried her upstairs when she fell asleep. She turns on her side, frowning at the empty side beside her. When she puts her hand on it, it feels cold. Peter had never come to bed.

Where was Peter?

It was definitely too early for him to be out snowboarding. They had gone to sleep less than 3 hours ago.

She pulls on her slippers and dressing gown, wrapping her arms around herself as she quietly steps out of their bedroom. The lights on their floor are still on, but it’s silent. Everyone else’s doors were closed, so that must mean they’re asleep.

Maybe Peter was in the kitchen grabbing a snack or sitting in the living room.

Lara Jean is at the staircases when she hears a door crack open upstairs, followed by voices whispering and movement. Lara Jean lightly walked up the stairs to the third floor on her tippy toes. She peaked her head over the bannister.

It was Peter. He was standing outside Genevieve's door. They were talking in hushed voices. He had one of his arms leaning against the doorframe, and the expression on his face was a mixture of seriousness and softness.

Her hand was on his lower arm and he wasn’t shaking it off.

That was all she needed to see.

Lara Jean quietly returns to their room, making sure she doesn’t make a sound.

Lara Jean crawls back into their bed, pulling the duvet over herself and burying herself in it. She cries softly, the blankets covering most of her face. She’s right at the edge of the bed, practically falling off.

She hears the door open and Peter walks in, closing it softly behind him. He climbs into bed and it creaks slightly. She pretends to be asleep, squeezing her eyes shut to make sure the tears didn’t leak out.

She sleeps in until Peter is gone snowboarding at around 11am. He tries to wake her, whispering her name and brushing her hair softly but she stays still until he gives up and leaves.

Zoey was only able to stay one night because she was flying back home to California. She was driving back that afternoon. Lara Jean had texted her that morning that she was coming with her.

She had to get out of here. She couldn’t spend another night under the same room as Genevieve and Peter, even if they were all leaving tomorrow.

She packs up her belongings quickly, but she leaves Peter a note, putting it on his pillow.

I hope you had fun with Genevieve last night.

Zoey had already said goodbye to Gabe and the rest of the group, who were all gone skiing. Lara Jean makes an easy exit. They put their bags in Zoey’s car, closing her trunk and both climbing in to the car.

Zoey hadn’t asked Lara Jean any specific questions. She had just texted her back ‘Okay’ and had helped Lara Jean with her bags.

Zoey opens up her car compartment and pulls out a bag of Doritos, handing them to Lara Jean. “Okay LJ,” She says, “Tell me everything.”

And Lara Jean does. For the first time, she tells the truth about the mess she has gotten herself into.

As they’re driving away from the resort, Lara Jean glances in the rearview mirror, watching the chalet, Peter and her hopes for whatever she thought they could be become smaller and smaller until they disappeared entirely.

Chapter Text

Twenty minutes into the journey, Lara Jean starts to rethink everything.

“What if I’m making a huge mistake? I didn’t even give a chance to explain. I should go back. I’ll hitchhike back. I have my snow boots in my bag,” Lara Jean starts to panic, turning around to open the zip of her backpack.

“You’re making the right choice, Lara Jean.” Zoey’s tone of voice is firm, and it makes Lara Jean raise an eyebrow.

“Why do you think so?” She asks, scared of the answer.

“I didn’t want to tell you this,” Zoey takes a deep breath before continuing. “After you went to bed, we all went up a little later. When we all went up, Peter and Genevieve didn’t. I overheard Genevieve in the bathroom this morning, with Ashley. They were giggling and I heard her say something about Peter and last night. In her room. Together. When she came out, she was only wearing Peter’s lacrosse jumper.”

“But that doesn’t mean?” Lara Jean’s desperate to defend Peter. Her quick change of heart was holding on for its dear life.

“Gabe said to me before he left that Peter had a wild night last night. I know you said you kissed, but it wasn’t sex was it?” Lara Jean shook her head. “Gabe had to go before he could go into specifics.”

Lara Jean sinks into the passenger seat.

“I don’t know exactly what happened,” Zoey sighs. “It doesn’t look good, Lara Jean. Girls have intuitions about this kind of behaviour. He was with her for years. I think they had sex,” Zoey glances anxiously at Lara Jean in the passenger seat.

“Please don’t be mad at me. I swear I was going to tell you this morning, but then I saw your text and you already knew he was with her. I just didn’t want to hurt you more. He’s not worth it. He’s a pig for cheating on you.”

Lara Jean had always had a creative mind, easily creating and imagining stories and scenarios. When she closed her eyes, all she could see was Peter and Genevieve. Kissing. Touching. Hugging. Smiling.

She needed it to stop.

She needed her brain to erase all her memories of Peter Kavinsky. Instead, her brain focused only on him.

His name had a whole new meaning now.

Peter Kavinsky.

The boy who broke her heart.

 

 

Lara Jean’s phone started exploding with calls and texts from Peter that afternoon, just after Zoey dropped her home. He must be back from snowboarding.

14:03 Peter Kavinsky: You have missed (1) call from Peter Kavinsky.

14:03 Peter Kavinsky: Yo Covey, where are you? Let’s go get some lunch and then we can watch you fall on your butt on the slopes for a while xx

14:07 Peter Kavinsky: You have missed (3) calls from Peter Kavinsky.

14:08 Peter Kavinsky: Covey, whatever you think you know, it isn’t what you think. I found your note. Please pick up the phone.

14:20 Peter Kavinsky: Covey, did you seriously leave? I can’t find you anywhere. Gabe said Zoey drove you back. This is crazy. Call me back!!!

14:21 Peter Kavinsky: Lara Jean, please. I’m begging you.

14:34 Peter Kavinsky: Lara Jean, please talk to me. I’m going crazy here. I need to talk to you.

14:44 Peter Kavinsky: You have missed (7) calls from Peter Kavinsky.

Lara Jean switches her phone off for the rest of the day.

 

Later that evening, her whole family is sitting at the dinner table eating. Margot was in town for the week of Christmas with her boyfriend Ravi, as a surprise. When Lara Jean walked through the door and saw her older sister standing in the kitchen, she burst into tears.

She hadn’t hugged Margot that hard since she left for college in Scotland.

She hadn’t needed her this much in so long.

Lara Jean had dismissed Margot’s questions about if she was okay, instead insisting on hearing about Margot and Ravi’s recent trip to New York for a weekend break. She blamed the crying on missing Margot, but her older sister had always seen through her lies.

When they’re all cleaning up after dinner, Lara Jean’s washing the plates and Kitty and Margot are on drying duty. Ravi and her Dad are setting up dessert and Trina is setting the table.

Their house phone starts to ring and Lara Jean pays no attention to it, listening to Kitty talk about her annoying math teacher in school.

“Oh, hey Peter! Yeah, just hold on there a second,” Trina puts her hand over the phone, extending it towards Lara Jean.

Her face goes white and the plate in her hands slips and falls into the sink. She just shakes her head.

Margot walks right up to Trina, taking the phone out of hand and putting it up to her ear. “Hi Peter, it’s Margot. Lara Jean isn’t here, she’s at our grandparents. Mmm. Okay, I’ll pass on the message. Bye.” She presses the end call button and puts the phone down, walking back towards the sink.

“Thank you,” Lara Jean murmurs, and Margot squeezes her hand softly. Her big sister was her superhero.

“What happened with Peter?” Kitty asks, breaking the awkward silence in the kitchen.

Margot shakes her head, lifting up the plate from the sink and beginning to dry it. “Nothing you need to know about, Kitty. Keep drying those forks. Now, how’s that dessert coming?”

Christmas Eve and Day pass by quickly. She spends all of it with her family, visiting her mom’s relatives and her dads.
Lara Jean turns her phone back on Christmas Day to text her friends and it doesn’t stop buzzing with notifications for a whole two minutes.

You have missed (20) missed calls from Peter Kavinsky.

23/12/2018 06:35 Peter Kavinsky: Please talk to me.

23/12/2018 14:57 Peter Kavinsky: Covey, you can’t avoid me forever. Please just let me explain. I’ll come to your house and pick you up. Please.

24/12/2018 05:13 Peter Kavinsky: This is getting ridiculous, Covey. Please talk to me. I’m not explaining this over a voicemail or a text.

25/12/2018 09:04 Peter Kavinsky: Merry Christmas, Lara Jean. Please let me drop in my gift for you and let me talk. Just for five minutes, you can time me. Please.

25/12/2018 17:00 Peter Kavinsky: I dropped in your gift for you. Margot told me you didn’t want to see me anymore and to stop texting and calling. Could you not have said that to my face? Do you not think you owe me that much? Please let me talk to you, Covey. This can’t be it.

25/12/2018 23:58 Peter Kavinsky: You win. I’ll stop.

Her fingers linger over the text box, trying to think of a reply to type. Her eyes widen with surprise as she reads his latest text from today. Margot hadn’t told her Peter had dropped by. She knew he had showed up at her door two days ago, Kitty had answered the door while Lara Jean was taking a shower. Kitty had lied and said she wasn’t in.

With a few taps on her screen, Lara Jean erases all of his texts and her entire call log.

She erases Peter Kavinsky from her life, just like that.

He doesn’t text her again after that day.

“Are you ever going to talk about what happened with Peter?” Kitty asks later that night from the other side of the couch, during their Home Alone marathon. Margot’s already asleep in the armchair.

Lara Jean stuffs her mouth with the handful of popcorn in her hand before answering. “What I thought would happen happened. That’s it.”

That was a lie. She never thought Peter would shatter her heart into a million pieces. She never thought she would feel this way about him.

Kitty makes a sour face, but she doesn’t push the matter further. “Well, you should at least talk to him. He’s texted me five times in the last four days. He’s called the house phone at least six times. Whatever he did, he seems really sorry about it.”

Lara Jean fiddled with the pillow in her lap. Did Kitty have a point? Maybe Peter was sorry about whatever he did with Genevieve. Maybe he had just made an impulsive mistake.

Or maybe he was just sorry he got caught.

 

 

The Covey girls spend the day after Christmas Day shopping in the sales and Lara Jean finds a brand new pair of vintage black biker boots, dresses, denim skirts and tops. Margot leaves the day after Christmas with Ravi and Kitty spends a lot of her time with her friends, and with Lara Jean.

Over the next few days, Josh and Lara Jean spend a lot of time together. Josh is a good distraction and she misses her old friend. It’s as if they’re making up for all the lost time over the years.

They walk her family dog, Jamie Fox-Pickle, together everyday, strolling around their neighborhood and stopping off to grab hot chocolates at local coffee shops.

 

 

“So, would you rather eat anything but you could taste nothing or you could eat anything you wanted, but the aftertaste would taste like vomit?” Lara Jean asks, her legs stretching high into the air.

They’re both lying on his bedroom floor, eating a batch of freshly baked white-chocolate cranberry cookies. Josh’s favourite.

Josh makes a disgusted face. “Is death an option?”

She nudged her elbow with his. “I’d take the vomit. I can’t imagine never tasting cookies again.”

“Me too,” Josh nods in agreement, biting into a cookie. “If I couldn’t taste pizza, I don’t know what I would do. Pizza and noodles is how I survive during college.”

Lara Jean laughs, throwing her head back. “You have a dining hall meal plan. There’s a lot more there than pizza and noodles.”

Josh turned to her with a raised eyebrow, “Do you really expect me to not to rebel against the vegetables and greens I was forced to consume as a child?”

Lara Jean giggles, taking a bite of one of her snickerdoodles. “Josh Sanderson, a rebel with a cause: fighting back against society’s nutritional propaganda.”

He lifts his hand up, which she high fives. “I like the sound of that. I’ll get a plaque made.”

She sits up slightly, leaning back on both of her elbows. “That means you’ll have to sacrifice one of your posters if you want to make a room for a plaque. How about that one?” She raises her finger to point at one of the many posters covering his bedroom walls.

Josh was a big fan of pretty much any fantasy novels, comic books and science fiction movies. His walls were covered with posters and pictures of characters from Harry Potter, Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.

“Hey,” Josh pushes her pointed finger down. “You leave Frodo out of this. He doesn’t deserve that kind of dismissing treatment.”

“Oh, would you pass on an apology to him for me?” She teases, and he sticks out his tongue.

It’s still cute, ten years later.

“Okay,” He says, clapping his hands as he thought. “My turn. Would you rather pee blood or breathe out smoke?”

“Ew,” She thought about it for a second. “Would you feel the smoke?”

“Yup, as if you were smoking a cigarette. You’d stink as well.”

Lara Jean hated the stench of stale smoke. “I’ll go with the blood. Biologically, it’s worrying but at least I wouldn’t stink.”

Their game continues for the rest of the afternoon and Lara Jean laughs for the first time in days. She doesn’t notice it’s dark outside until she’s leaving his house, closing his front door behind her.

He doesn’t ask once about Peter, unlike the rest of her family who nag her daily for updates on the status of their relationship. Kitty had been acting especially salty towards Lara Jean, annoyed that Peter hadn’t been over once during Christmas break.

She appreciates it.

 

 

Josh and Lara Jean sit on his porch swing, covered in one of the blankets his mom had knitted. They’re both on opposite ends of the swing, their feet touching each other in the middle.

“How’s everything with your parents?” Lara Jean asks, biting her lip. Josh’s parents had fought for years until they finally divorced two years ago. She hadn’t spoken to Josh in a while at the time, but she had baked him a batch of his favourite white-chocolate cranberry cookies and told him how sorry she was.

“It’s just weird seeing them with other people. But when they were together, it just got so tiring, you know?” Josh doesn’t look at her as he talks. “I know that them splitting up was for the best, but it didn’t make it any easier.”

Lara Jean nods understandingly, her chin resting on her knee.

“What about you?” Josh asks, looking up at her. “How are things with Trina?”

“I love Trina,” Lara Jean says, biting her lip. “I love how happy she makes my dad. But then I think of my mom and I feel like we’re betraying her. She’s irreplaceable.”

“I don’t think we truly want our parents to move on, but we know we need them to be happy,” Josh says, sighing softly as he let his head fall back. “Even if that means with someone else.”

“Yeah,” She replied quietly, nodding her head in agreement. “I get that.”

Josh nudges her foot with hers, smiling softly at her. “Your mom would be really proud of you, Lara Jean.”

She feels her eyes water up slightly, and she nudges his foot back. “Thanks, Josh.”

She really hoped he was right.

It was the day before New Year’s Eve, and Lara Jean was in the house alone. Her Dad and Trina were out for dinner with friends and Kitty was at a party. She’s lonely and she accidental cooks a portion of spaghetti bolognese to feed a family of four.

She grabs her phone off the counter, ignoring the stab in her chest from the absence of Peter’s name on her screen, and she texts Josh.

18:05 Lara Jean: Do you want to come over for dinner? It’s just me and too much pasta.

18:07 Josh Sanderson: Be there in five.

Josh and her eat on the couch, their bowls on their laps as they settled down to watch Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Josh and her had gone through a rough patch, after his Margot’s breakup. Throughout those rough these years and before. when she had needed him, Josh had always been someone she could talk to after not speaking to him for months.

With Josh, besides her unrequited feelings and Margot, it was so easy.

They had always texted on birthdays and holidays, but now they were hanging out and talking like they used to. He was her old friend Josh. Not Margot’s Josh. Her Josh.

The past few days they had spent together made it feel like nothing had changed.

It made her feel warm and happy inside.

“Do you remember how we always sat up in the old treehouse?” Josh says once the movie credits start to roll. The treehouse in their backyard had been cut down a few years ago. They had spent their childhood in it.

“We played checkers and you always let me win,” Lara Jean felt a smile break out on her face. Josh and her had spent hours and hours playing up in that tree house. They played all sorts of games from intense monopoly battles to husbands and wives.

Seven year old Lara Jean quite liked Josh Sanderson playing her pretend husband.

She needed to work on breaking her pretending habit.

“I miss those days,” Josh says, chuckling softly as he crosses his legs. “Everything was so easy back then. All we cared about was going out to play.”

“Tell me about it,” Lara Jean would give anything to climb up into her old treehouse and escape her troubles.

Josh was no longer at the other end of the couch, instead he has moved up and they’re both sitting facing each other in the middle. Neither of them say anything, they just stare each other. Lara Jean feels scared but curious, her eyes glued onto Josh. Josh opens his mouth, but no words follow. Their legs are touching. His eyes flick to her lips.

“Oh my gosh,” Kitty shouts, announcing her arrival as she swings the front door open and shut. It closes with a slam. “I hate teenage boys!”

Lara Jean and Josh jump up from the couch, and whatever moment they had was over.

 

 

“Hello?” Lara Jean balances her phone between her cheek and shoulder as she rolls her cookie dough into evenly sized balls. Today, she was baking orange and white-chocolate cookies.

“LJ! It’s Chris. I’m in town and I need you to come to my stupid cousin’s birthday party. My mom is forcing me to go. Please please please. I’m forcing Lucas to come too. I’ll bring TEQUILA!” She sings tequila so loudly into the phone Lara Jean whinces.

“I’m really not in the party mood Chris,” Lara Jean says, pushing Kitty’s hand away as she tried to sneak some of the cookie dough to eat.

“You’re coming. It’s New Year’s Eve and I know the only other thing you could be doing is baking and watching some movie. I’ll pick you up at 9.” Chris hangs up before Lara Jean can open her mouth to respond.

It was three o’clock, and Lara Jean was in a baggy t-shirt and a pair of UVA grey sweatpants. Her hair hadn’t been washed in a few days and sat on the top of her head in a messy bun.

She wasn’t ready to go out in public, much less to a party.

Lara Jean hadn’t changed out of anything but t-shirt and sweatpants in days, except when she was out with Josh. Even then, it was just a plain jumper and Jean’s. Her dad had made a joke that she had a pair of sweatpants for everyday of the week and she nearly cried.

Ever since the ski trip, Lara Jean had been in a funk. Hanging out with her family and Josh had been a good distraction, but she still felt the funk. A Peter funk.

“Go!” Kitty throws a chocolate chip at her, twirling around on one of their stools. “You’re depressing everyone. All you do is sulk around the house looking like a crazy person. I’m sixteen and I’m going to a party tonight. Don’t be sad. Go.”

“Kitty!” Lara Jean scolds, shaking her head and suddenly feeling self conscious. “That’s way harsh.”

“The truth hurts Lara Jean,” Kitty says, shrugging her shoulders indifferently as she stuck a spoon in the cookie dough batter quickly before Lara Jean could stop her.

Kitty, without a doubt, was the most brutal one of the Song-Covey girls. She didn’t hold back when it came to anyone, much less her sisters.

“Honey, it will be good for you! It’s New Year’s Eve. You might have a good time.” Her Dad shouts from the couch, his eyes glued to the television.

“You can go through my closet for a dress if you’d like?” Trina suggests beside him, flicking through a magazine. Trina had a collection of party and clubbing clothes from her college days and then after she got divorced. She had a hard time letting any go.

Lara Jean wanders into Margot’s old room, which Trina uses as extra wardrobe space. Trina has a very different style to hers so most of the clothes weren’t her style, but she manages to find some potential outfits. She needed to wear something new, something that had not been near Peter Kavinsky.

She does find a little black tea dress that’s slightly too short, but she has the perfect pair of knee high white socks to fix it and her leather loafer platforms that would go perfect with it.

Kitty even offers to braid her hair, plaiting a waterfall braid on both the sides of her head and tying it with a scrunchie at the back. Her hair was long and naturally straight, and after a quick blow dry it lay all the way down her back.

When Chris picks her up, she’s wearing a black leather jacket with a matching a match crop top and skirt. Her hair has blue streaks in it and she’s wearing a black choked. She looks amazing.

“LARA JEAN!” Lucas is leaning outside of the window, trying to get most of his body out of the window so he could shake it.

“How drunk is he?” Lara Jean asks Chris as they walk down her porch steps.

“Remember that time he got so drunk during Christmas break and he jumped out of that moving car?”

“Yeah?”

“He’s two tequila shots passed that.”

Lara Jean’s eyes widen. As they help Lucas back into the car through the window, Lara Jean turns to Chris. “Why are you going to your cousins’ party? You don’t like your cousins.”

“I don’t like this one. The others have grown on me. I don’t even know why my mom is forcing me to go,” Chris sighs, turning on the engine. “She claims it’s because Gen wants me there, which is bullshit. We’ve always hated each other.”

“I thought this was your male cousin?” Lara Jean asks, glancing back at Lucas to make sure he had his seatbelt on.

“No, that’s Dustin on my dad’s side. He’s cool. I hate Gen. She’s satan. When we were growing up, the only game she liked to play was how to get me in trouble and ruin my life.” Chris says, offering Lara Jean her flask. Lara Jean hesitates before taking a swig of it, immediately gagging and trying to swallow the liquid. “Oh my god, what is this? Poison?”

“Worse,” Chris laughs at her, her eyes staying on the road. “It’s tequila.”

“It’s funny you’re saying that about your cousin,” Lara Jean murmurs as she recovers, her throat still burning from the tequila. It definitely wasn’t her drink. “I know an awful Genevieve.”

“Well,” Chris reaches over to squeeze her shoulder, “You better drink up and prepare yourself. My Gen is definitely worse and all her minions will be here. You’ll need this to get through it.” She takes a swig out of her task, offering it to Lara Jean.

Lara Jean nearly snorts. That’s highly doubtful. She shakes her head at the flask, crossing her arms across her chest. “I’ll take my chances.”

 

 

“Wow,” Lucas says, looking around the house. “It’s like someone projectile vomited glitter all over this place.”

The beige colour of the carpet and walls could barely be seen through the layers of multicoloured glitter, balloons, banners and streamers that covered the house.

Chris groans. “There’s not enough alcohol in the world that will get me through this night.”

“It’s not that bad,” Lara Jean says, not looking convinced. Lara Jean loved glitter and experimenting with craft materials, but even for her this was a bit much.

“Should we not say hi to your cousin?” She says to Chris over the loud music as they make their way through crowds of people towards the drink table.

“God no. If one good thing could happen tonight, it would be that we don’t speak to my cousin.” Chris says, distracted by the boy standing next to her.

Chris’ attention is quickly taken by a tall blonde boy. They are forgotten.

Lucas drags Lara Jean into the living room to dance, where all the furniture has been cleared to make a dance floor. There’s a disco ball on the ceiling, someone’s DJ’ing in the corner of the room and people are laughing and dancing. Lucas was stumbling as he danced, the alcohol clearly having an effect. Chris’ cousin had made an effort and it was working.

While they were dancing, for the first time since the ski trip, Lara Jean didn’t think about Peter Kavinsky. She just danced.

“Lara Jean,” Lucas pauses mid way through Dancing Queen, his hand slowly moving up to his mouth. “I don’t feel very well.”

He gags, and Lara Jean grabs his hand instantly and pulls him through the crowds until they reach the back yard. She takes him over to the side of the garden, and he starts to get sick into a bush.

Lucas has short hair, so she rubs his back until he finishes and then he lies down on the floor, groaning. He starts to apologize and cry, and then starts to heavily sob over a boy who isn’t his boyfriend but is his boyfriend back in New York.

Lara Jean soothes him, wrapping her arms around him in a hug as he cried it out. When a safe amount of time had passed, figuring he wouldn’t get sick again, she helped him up.

She manages to help him walk to one of the benches beside the back doors. Chris hadn’t answered any of Lara Jean’s texts or calls, so she would have to go find her. She sits him down, rubbing his back.

“Lucas, can you stay here for me? I’m going to get you water and then I’ll find Chris,” She grabs a cushion and blanket from one of the chairs, putting the cushion behind his head and the blanket over his body.

“Okay,” Lucas mumbled, his head was tilted to the side and his eyes were half closed, his chest. She felt anxious leaving him but she didn’t have any other options. He wasn’t in danger, he was just asleep.

After running around the house from room to room, she finally sees Chris sitting on the arm of a couch talking to a ginger haired boy.

“Chris!” She shouts to get her attention, walking right up to her.

Chris looks up as Lara Jean appears in front of her, out of breath slightly. “Chris, we need to-“ Lara Jean begins to say.

“Oh my god Lara Jean, you won’t believe who is here,”Chris says, cutting her off and lightly grasping her wrist. “I am about to make your year.”

She shakes her head, “Chris. Listen to me, Lucas is really sick and he needs to go home-“

“Lara Jean? What the hell are you doing here?”

Lara Jean spins around, hearing her name but not recognizing the voice over the loud music.

Genevieve is standing right in front of her, wearing a sequin pink bodycon dress and a disgusted expression on her face.

Lara Jean had come to learn that expression was reserved especially for her.

“She’s with me. How do you know Lara Jean?” Chris asks, frowning at Genevive as she takes a sip out of her red cup.

“I don’t. She’s not someone I’m particularly interested in knowing,” Gen’s spitting insults at Lara Jean, and she can tell Gen’s just getting started. This was her territory. There was no Peter to protect Lara Jean.

Lara Jean’s stomach sinks slightly, and something inside her hurts. There was no amount of baking or parties that could help her escape from her bitter reality.

There was no Peter.

“That makes sense. You’re mostly attracted to dim-witted, thin skulled individuals who have a tendency to be pure evil,” Chris retorts, wrapping her arm around Lara Jean’s shoulders. “LJ is ten times the person you’ll ever be, dearest Gen.”

Lar Jean swears she hears Gen growl. She was quite terrifying sometimes. Lara Jean wouldn’t let her see it. She wouldn’t give Genevieve the satisfaction.

Lara Jean could barely look at her. Her eyes were looking down at her loafers, which had pieces of pink glitter stuck to them. When she looked at Genevieve, it made her think of Peter kissing her, touching her-it made her stomach churn.

“How do you two…?” Lara Jean asks, pointing between Chris and Gen, her face dazed and confused. Virginia was not this small. Out of all the Genevieve's, this one couldn’t be Chris’ one too.

“This is my Gen. She’s my cousin,” Chris turns in Gen’s direction with a smirk. “Tragically.”

“Eat shit, Chrissy.” Gen says sweetly, still frowning sourly in Lara Jean’s direction.

Chris’ face lights up with excitement, ignoring her cousin as she starts to lightly slap Lara Jean’s arm, “Here’s your surprise!” She nods her head in the direction ahead of them, behind Genevieve.

Peter Kavinsky, in a pair of jeans and a buttoned down white shirt, was walking towards them. He was talking to two other guys, clearly not noticing Lara Jean or Chris.

She hadn’t seen him in over a week but it felt like months. His hair looked different. He must have gotten a haircut, it was neater around the edges and shorter. He only had a few curls on the top of his head.

Everything felt different. Did he look different because she looking at him in a different way?

Of course he was here. At Genevieve’s glamorous New Year’s Eve party. He belonged here.

Lara Jean didn’t.

“Gen, we’re out of red cups for beer pong-“ Peter’s voice breaks off as he freezes in front of them, his unfinished sentence hanging in the air as he stopped in his tracks. He was staring right at Lara Jean.

“Covey?” Peter’s question lingers in the air, and she could feel everyone’s eyes locked on her. Chris looked confused and excited and Genevieve looked unimpressed and disgusted.

She couldn’t bare to look at Peter.

She couldn’t face him. She

In that moment, in a time of crisis, Lara Jean did what she does best.

She grabbed Chris’ hand and ran for her dear life.

Chapter Text

Lara Jean was panting by the time she was outside, her breath visible in the cold ahir. Her hands were on her knees to keep her balance as she caught her breath.

Lucas was right where she had left him, his eyes closed as he let out quiet snores. Lara Jean grimaced at the drool dribbling down his chin from his mouth.

Whenever Lucas drank a lot, he always ended up getting sick and falling asleep. Alcohol and Lucas were not a good mix.

“Lara Jean! What the hell? You made me spill my drink!” Chris scowls at her, downing the rest of her red cup and crumbling it in her hand before throwing it to the side.

Lara Jean frowned. Even if it was Genevieve's house, Chris really shouldn’t litter.

“Also, you were supposed to make out with him, not run away from him like a crazy person!” Chris says as Lara Jean picks up her crumpled cup, placing it on a nearby table.

“Covey. We need to talk,” Peter’s loud voice says before Lara Jean could reply to Chris. Peter pushes through the crowd of people outside before stopping in front of them, staring at Lara Jean. Genevieve was right behind him, frowning.

If there was one positive thing to take from this situation, it was how annoyed Genevieve looked.

Lara Jean sat down on the bench with wide eyes, trying her best to ignore Peter.

Two boys dressed in suits walk past and Chris instantly starts to smirk, turning around as they walked past, twirling a lock of her blue hair around her finger. “Hey boys,” She says, her voice rising as she flirted with them.

They both turn around when they hear Chris. The tall one with curly hair looks Chris up and down with a smirk, while the smaller one raises his red cup to touch hers.

Genevieve steps between Chris and the guys, waving her hand in their faces to shoo them away before they can say anything.

“Can you not slime all over my friends?” Genevieve says, grimacing at her cousin. “It’s embarrassing.”

“I’ll do whatever I damn please,” Chris flips Genevieve off, winking at the boys walking away. “Where’s that boyfriend of yours, Gen? I’d love to meet the guy who would willingly date you.”

“He’s not here,” Gen says, flaring her nostrils as she examined her nails. She looked embarrassed and wouldn’t look Chris in the eyes. “We broke up like, three weeks ago.”

“Aw,” Chris pouts at her cousin who growls back at her. They really did despise each other. “So he made it out alive? Good for him.”

Lara Jean’s head was spinning from Gen’s revelation. She had forgotten about her relationship status completely. Genevieve had been in a relationship. Which was over.

They had broken up before the ski trip. Now it all made sense. Peter had just been waiting for her to be single to make his move and Lara Jean was the perfect pawn.

No wonder he was here tonight. That’s probably why he had wanted to talk to Lara Jean so badly.

She could already hear his practiced speech. Maybe not even practiced. ‘Sorry, Covey. Gen and I, we’re just meant to be together.’

“We need to go,” Lara Jean says to Chris through gritted teeth, her arm wrapped around Lucas’ shoulders and one of her hands was holding up his head. She was still ignoring Peter. “Lucas, can you stand up?

“I’ll drive you,” Peter offers immediately, stepping forward but Lara Jean puts up her hand to stop him.

“No thank you,” Lara Jean says curtly, trying to lift Lucas up and refusing to look at Peter. “We’re fine.”

“I can’t drive, I’ve drank. So have you,” Chris says, looking apologetic as she lifted up her red cup to her lips to take a sip. “What’s the issue? Just let him, Lara Jean.”
Chris could be so oblivious sometimes. She was winking at Lara Jean, bewildered that Lara Jean didn’t want to get into a car with Peter Kavinsky.

“Just let me drive you, Covey.” Peter wasn’t giving up.

“No thank you.”

“Would you stop acting like a child for five seconds?” Peter snaps at her, his voice rising slightly. She was winding him up like a jewelry box but he wasn’t going to start singing at the end.

“I don’t want you to drive us,” Lara Jean says, feeling Chris’ burning curious gaze on her. She needed an excuse. “You’ve drank.”

“I’m not drinking. It’s Kombucha,” He puts his red cup in front of her, shaking its contents. It didn’t smell like beer or vodka, it just smelled like vinegar.

“What is going on between you two?” Chris speaks up, glancing between them with a confused expression. Lara Jean hadn’t opened her mouth to Lucas or Chris about Peter. She had never thought it would go on this long or get this complicated.

“Nothing!” Lara Jean answers just as Peter replies, “Covey’s my girlfriend.”

“You’re what now?” Chris’ gasp is dramatically over the top as she glances between Peter and Lara Jean.

Lara Jean’s cheeks burn red.

Behind her red cup, Genevive glanced between Peter and Lara Jean suspiciously. She looked just as confused as Chris about what was going on between Peter and Lara Jean, annoyed she wasn’t in the loop.

That surprised Lara Jean. After Lara Jean had left the chalet, she had expected Peter to run to Gen and tell her everything.

“You horny little dark horse! You’ve been dating that and you don’t open your mouth about it?” Chris says, leaning down to press a kiss to Lara Jean’s cheek. “I’m so proud. When did this happen? After the bar?”

“What bar?” Genevieve asks, glaring at her cousin and stepping in front of Peter to be more included in the conversation.

“We all met him at a bar downtown,” Chris gestures towards Peter. “That’s the last time I saw you.”

“The last time I saw you,” Peter says, a hint of a smile on his face. “You were getting kicked out of said bar.”

“Wait,” Chris pauses, frowning in confusion. “So how do you know Gen?”

Peter shifts uncomfortably, his eyes still on Lara Jean. “We went to the same high school.”

Genevieve's mouth drops, shocked at Peter’s answer. She shoots Peter a dirty look before turning to Chris. “We used to date,” She says loudly, making a point and shoving the fact in Lara Jean’s face.

Lara Jean restrains her snort, her tongue makes a clicking noise. Had they ever stopped dating?

Chris’ starts to hysterically laugh. She bends over, her hands on her knees as she cackles. She eventually stands up, her hair flying in the air as she flicks her head up. “Out of everyone you could have ended up dating. Wow.” She shakes her head, wrapping her arms around Lara Jean’s shoulders.

Chris is the only one who seemed to find it funny.

“My sloppy seconds,” Genevieve says, smirking sweetly at Lara Jean while Peter turned to glare at Gen.

“Well, at least you upgraded to first class instead of where the bags are kept.” Chris says to Peter, just trying to get a rise out of her cousin but a tiny part of Lara Jean appreciated Chris defending her.

“Well, at least grandma loved me more and gave me her car!” Gen fires back and Lara Jean’s eyes widen. That was a sore spot for Chris, she had been so upset a few years ago when she had found out the car wasn’t hers but her evil cousins who had turned her grandma against her.

It was a low blow.

That was the most emotion Chris had ever expressed to Lara Jean. Lara Jean had spent the day with Chris when she had found about her beloved car being given to her cousin.

Lara Jean had ended up giving the car air freshener she had gotten as a new car present for Chris to Margot.

“How did you not know he was your cousin’s ex-boyfriend?” Lara Jean intervenes, tugging on Chris’ skirt to gain her attention and prevent her from jumping at and clawing her cousin.

“I hate my cousin,” Chris says bluntly, giving Lara Jean a look as if the fact should be obvious. “Duh.”

“So what’s the problem between you two then?” Chris asks, directing her question at Lara Jean and Peter. She was clearly amused about the situation.

“Believe me, I’m trying to find out.” Peter says, his eyebrows furrowed. He looked upset and frustrated and he wouldn’t take his eyes off Lara Jean, continuously trying to meet her eye.

How could he not know what the problem was?

Lara Jean hadn’t had a lot of experience with boys but she was already sick of them.

“Wait,” Chris holds her hands up, turning to Lara Jean with a serious expression. “Did he do something to you? Do I need to kick his ass?” She stomps her heeled boots on the ground, an intimidation tactic.

“I didn’t do anything like that,” Peter’s voice is incredibly defensive, assuming Chris was insinuating he had done something awful to Lara Jean.

Chris glares at him, “Did I ask you? No.”

“No,” Lara Jean answers, shaking her head. Chris’ had immediately assumed the worst, she had never had much faith in boys after her treatment in high school. “Peter didn’t do anything like that.”

Lara Jean hadn’t mentioned the Derek incident to Chris or Lucas when they would catch up on their occasional Skype calls, she hadn’t wanted them to know. No matter what had happened, Lara Jean would never want anyone think Peter would do something like that. He would never hurt her in anyway. Well, she was hurting, but not for a valid reason.

Peter was never hers. All Lara Jean was just his pretend girlfriend for a few months.

Chris doesn’t look convinced.

“It’s nothing like that. I swear,” Lara Jean looks Chris directly in the eye. “It’s complicated.”

Chris crosses her arms across her chest, not believing Lara Jean’s weak excuse.

“I don’t want you to drive us,” Lara Jean says to Peter without directly addressing him. “We’re fine. Come on Lucas, you’re okay,” Lara Jean said, trying to convince herself more than Lucas.

She wrapped her arm around his waist, trying to lift him up. She had little upper body strength and Lucas was quite tall, so he weighed a lot more than her.

“Oh, so that’s something that you want?” Peter says, shaking his head. “That’s funny.”

Lara Jean narrows her eyes, biting his bait and finally turning to look at Peter. “How is that funny?”

“You make it seem like want something and then the next day you run away from it,” Peter responds, “It’s hard to tell what you want, Lara Jean.” It was clear he wasn’t talking about driving her home.

“That’s a bit hypocritical, don’t you think?” Lara Jean bites back at him.

She was so angry in that moment, at him and at herself because although it hurt to see him, it felt so good to see him. She had missed him so much it physically hurt her.

“No,” Peter rebuts, stepping towards her. “I have made it very clear about who I want.”

Lara Jean snorts. “I can’t argue with you there.”

Peter lets out a frustrated groan, his hands running through his hair. “Come on, Covey.”

“Gen, do you have any snacks?” Chris asks as she sits down on the bench, crossing her legs . “Because this is getting interesting.”

Both Peter and Lara Jean turn to glare at her.

“I’ll call a cab,” Lara Jean takes out her phone, smirking at her quick thinking. Her nails started tapping against her screen, quickly googling local cab numbers so they could get out of there as soon as possible.

“Oh, your phone works?” Peter nods his head, his voice dripping with sarcasm. She despised sarcasm, it was mean and unnecessary. “That’s interesting.”

“Peter, she doesn’t want you to drive her,” Genevieve says, tugging at the sleeve of his jacket. She looks bored. Her voice is sickly sweet and she’s pouting up at him, her bottom lip puffing out. “Let’s leave these losers and get back to the party.”

“Mind your own business Gen,” Peter snaps, not looking away from Lara Jean. He’s trying to maintain eye contact. “I’m driving Covey home.”

“No, you’re not!” Lara Jean objects.
“You’re seriously going to leave my party?” Gen asks Peter, her hands on her hips and she doesn’t look impressed.

“Go away Gen,” Peter doesn’t sound angry, he just sounds dismissive. “I could give less of a shit about your party. Let me drive you, Covey. Come on.”

“Okay. Lucas might drown in his drool soon so why don’t you two sort your shit out while you drive him home?” Chris says intervening, glancing between Peter and Lara Jean suspiciously. “It’s New Year’s Eve Lara Jean. There will be no cabs tonight. It’s too busy.”

Lara Jean gaped at her friend wordlessly, not being able to think of a single objection to the idea.

“Sounds good to me,” Peter says, already wrapping his arm around Lucas’ waist to lift him up in his arms, already starting to carry Lucas through the house before Lara Jean could object further.

“You missy,” Chris shouts after her, pointing her finger right at Lara Jean who had reluctantly started to follow Peter. “Have a lot of explaining to do tomorrow. Now go sort your relationship out. I’m going to sort that out.” Chris winks, gesturing to the the curly haired boy she had flirted with earlier with a wink.

“Lucas, we’re going to get you home okay?” Lara Jean says into Lucas’ ear as she caught up with Peter. They made their way through the party, walking down the Genevieve's front steps, leaving the crowded party behind them.

“I don’t want your help Peter,” She protests stubbornly, glancing around for any escape routes from her current situation. She wouldn’t abandon Lucas, but she couldn’t ride him with Peter.

“Well, you can’t always get what you want.” Peter says, holding Lucas like his new bride in his arms. They walked down the long driveway, where multiple cars were parked. She couldn’t see his black Audi anywhere.

Peter pauses in front of a grey jeep, bending his knees as he pushed Lucas in the air to adjust his grip, one of his hands feeling his clothes for his keys. “Shit.”

“Don’t swear,” Lara Jean scolds, frowning at the back of Peter’s head. “What is it?”

“I need you to reach into my back pocket to get my keys.”

Lara Jean gasps, “No.”

“Covey, I’m holding an unconscious human in my hands,” Peter gestures with his head towards Lucas, who is blissfully unconscious in his arms. “Unless you reach in and grab them, we’ll just stand here forever.”

“Fine!” She was about to touch Peter Kavinsky’s bum for the first time. This was not how she imagined it going.

She reaches towards his back pocket slowly, gulping having to squeeze her fingers inside the tight pouch and fish out his keys quickly. Lara Jean leaps away when she grabs them, examining the keys in her head. His bum was firmer than she thought it would be. She frowns, “These aren’t your keys.”

“They are,” His head nods towards a grey jeep parked on the side of the street, starting to walk towards. “It’s my brother’s car. My brother borrowed the audi to impress his girlfriend. It’s known to have an effect on the ladies.”

He looks at her from the corner of his eyes, testing out a small smirk to see if he could get away with it.

“Don’t do that,” She warns.

“Do what?” He asks, feigning innocence.

“Don’t flirt with me,” She warns. It was a tactic Peter had learned well, distracting her from her anger with flirting or laughter that made her forget why she was mad in the first place.

“You’re the one touching my ass,” Peter shrugs and Lara Jean gasps, nudging his shin with her foot.

“Be quiet and put him in the car,” Lara Jean says, her mouth in a tight line as she clicks open the car, opening the car door. “Please.” She adds grumpily. She was mad but she wasn’t rude.

Peter doesn’t move a muscle. “Can we please just about this? What did I do? I can’t read your mind, Lara Jean. Believe me, I’ve tried.”

“You don’t know what you did?” The cackle that comes out of her mouth makes her sound like a hyena. “How nice for you.”

“Is this about Genevieve?” Peter asks, “Did she say something to you?”

“Genevieve was walking around in your lacrosse jumper after you spent the night with her. Right after you put me to bed, after we kissed. You were in her room,” Lara Jean lets out a frustrated sigh. “I can put two and two together. I’m not stupid, Peter.”

Peter’s eyes widen, he didn’t know she knew any of that. It was news to him. “You’re not stupid. But you’re also not right. I must have left it in her room. Just let me explain, we-“

Lara Jean scowls, “I don’t want to hear about your sex life.”

“My what?” Peter exclaims, turning around to stare at her with a horrified expression. “What the hell does any of this have to do with my sex life?”

“Eh, guys?” Lucas slurs, awakening from the dead. “Could we do this in the car? Oh, why hello there-Lara Jean! It’s the guy from the bar.”

Lucas shines his pearly white teeth as he smiles at Peter once he notices him for the first time, despite Peter carrying him for the last few minutes. Lucas’ head falls back and his eyes close.

Oh, Lucas. Her drunken sleeping beauty.

“My sex life? What the hell does this have to do with my sex life?” Peter asks again, breathless as he spoke, lifting Lucas into his back seat once the door was opened. Lara Jean opened the opposite car door, helping Peter push Lucas into the car. She began to buckle him in with seat belt in case he fell off.

They both looked so uncomfortable, it was a topic neither Lara Jean or Peter wanted to talk about.

“Gabe was telling Zoey all about your wild night! You were alone with her downstairs and in her room,” Lara Jean says over Lucas, who was lying asleep between them. ”Girls wearing boys jerseys is like….pinning them! It means they’re yours.”

“Yes, with you!” Peter says over Lucas’ body, strapping him in with a seatbelt. “Wild was not my words. I said an amazing night with you. That’s just Gabe, he can overaggeaterate sometimes. Covey, I did not have sex with Gen. I have not had sex with her for months.”

“I am not hers,” Peter says in a firm tone, looking Lara Jean straight in the face to show he meant it. “I don’t know what pinning means but she did not pin me to anything.”

“Not pinning in that way,” Lara Jean explains, her upper lip curling upwards in disgust. Everything these days had a sexual innuendo.“It symbolizes being with someone. Pinning them so they’re yours and you’re theirs. Genevieve claimed you a long time ago, Peter.”

“Hold that thought. Where does he live?” Peter asks, pulling on the seat belts and grabbing a bottle of water from the front seat, putting it in Lucas’ hands.

“24 Avonmore, it’s two blocks away from here.” Lara Jean replies, annoyed he hadn’t replied. He knew she was right. He couldn’t debate something that was true.

“Cool, I know it.” Peter nods his head, closing the back seat door.

Once Lucas is securely strapped in, they both climb into the front seat of the car. Lara Jean stares outside the passenger seat window, glancing behind her briefly to make sure Lucas was okay.

“We’re not finished talking about this,” Peter switches on the engine, turning his head behind him to look as he reversed out of the driveway. “I’m not Gen’s property. She didn’t claim me.”

“Yes she did. Well, I’m done talking about this.” Lara Jean says stubbornly, calculating in her head how long it would take to drop Lucas off and then to her house.

“Fine then. I pin you,” Peter says, turning right at the end of the street.

“You can’t pin me,” Lara Jean turns to stare at him, her eyes wide.

“I just did,” Peter says simply, taking one of his fingers and poking her with it. “See? Pinned.”

“That’s not how you pin someone,” Lara Jean says, pushing his hand away.

“Well excuse me if your metaphors and symbolism and their meanings are hard to keep track of, Covey,” Peter says sarcastically, “What did I need to do? Take my shirt off and give it to you right now?”

Lara Jean groans, “Do NOT take your shirt off.”

She had never thought she would complain about Peter Kavinsky taking his shirt off. That was a first.

“Can you please stop driving me crazy for a minute?” Peter asks her, turning to glance at her with frustrated wide eyes, before turning them back onto the road. “Just let me explain myself. Please.”

“Excuse me if I’m a little tired of your explanations, Peter. Even if you didn’t do that with her,” She makes a disgusted expression when she has to think about Peter having sex with Genevieve. The thought of it made her skin crawl. “I know what I saw.”

“I don’t know what you saw, your note was a little vague.” Peter indicates right with his blinker and pulls in at the side of the road, switching off the engine.

“What are you doing?” Lara Jean exclaims, her head moving between the wheel and the road. “We need to get Lucas home.”

Lucas’ louds snores could be heard from the backseat. He was lying across the three seats with two seat belts strapped across his body to secure him. Lara Jean had insisted upon it.

“The dude is passed out and he’s snoring. He’s fine,” Peter dismisses her excuse, turning towards her in the passenger seat. “We need to talk about that night. The only reason I was in Gen’s room that night was because I was telling her it was over. For good. She couldn’t keep reaching out to me, trying to start things with us again and trying to mess things up between you and me. I told her that because you and I were finally starting. For real.”

She clenches her jaw as she looks at him, “How do I know you’re telling the truth? All you do is run back to her, Peter. She’s always going to be number one. I deserve better than just to be someone’s second option.”

“I’m telling you the truth because that’s what we do, Covey. We tell each other the truth. I believe in you and you believe in me,” His hands are clutching the steering while so tightly they go white. “I’ve never felt anything like this before. I’ve known you for a few months and it feels like forever, Lara Jean.”

When she doesn’t say anything, still processing what he was saying, Peter opens his mouth to continue but she cuts him off.

“We have to drop Lucas home before we continue this conversation,” Lara Jean says abruptly, her face feeling hot. She would be mortified if Lucas overhead this conversation, that was not something Lara Jean wanted to explain. “I’m not continuing this here. Please. I promise I’ll talk after we drop him home.”

Peter sighs but he nods his head in agreement, turning on the engine. They drop off Lucas at his house, his older brother answering the door and coming out to help Peter and Lara Jean carry Lucas into his bed.

They climb back into the car, pulling on their seat belts and Peter starts driving towards her house. When it️ becomes clear Lara Jean wasn’t initiating the conversation, Peter does.

“You aren’t second best. You have never been my second option. I couldn’t help that Gen was at the chalet. But I was with her for years, Lara Jean. My relationship with her is complicated. She helped me through my dad leaving us and I helped her through-“ He stops talking, a guilty look ghosting over his face. “Her own shit.”

Peter runs a hand through his hair, breathing loudly through his nostrils before continuing.

“I know Gen isn’t an easy person to get along with,” He says, and Lara Jean has to bite down on her tongue to hold back making a noise. That was putting it lightly. She can’t help but make a face, her lips puckering and eyes widening. Peter notices and he lets out a sigh.

“Fine,” He says, giving in. “She’s been horrible to you and I’m sorry about that. I’m not excusing her behaviour. I won’t let her treat you like that. It’s just, at one point, she was the only person who took care of me. I had to make sure my mom and my brother were okay, but she made sure I was okay. I did the same when she needed me.”

Lara Jean feels her hard exterior softening slightly, watching Peter unfold in front of her and become vulnerable. “I was a mess when my dad left,” Peter says, continuing. “Gen helped me through a lot. It’s hard for me to fully let her go, even after she treated me like crap. But I don’t want her to be there if that means losing you. I want you, Covey. Just you. I want to be there for you and you for me.”

“It’s not that simple, Peter.” Lara Jean’s voice is quiet as she speaks, his words repeating in her head. He wants you. Not Gen. He wants you.

“She’s still a friend, but I have no interest in still being her friend if she doesn’t treat you with respect,” Peter says and it makes Lara Jean make a face. “There are still feelings that aren’t going to just disappear. But that doesn’t mean they mean anything. They’re like a tattoo that’s lost its meaning. She’s just a old tattoo.”

“You’re right. They’re never going to disappear,” She decides to ignore everything else, even though she knows she’s being unfair and irrational. It’s so frustrating that Genevieve still has a hold over Peter that Lara Jean never would.

“Why don’t you just drop me off and go back over to her house?” Lara Jean knows she’s being unfair but she can’t stop herself. Peter’s opening himself up to her, explaining everything and his feelings and it’s terrifying for her. “That’s where you’d rather be.”

“For your information, I’d rather be here because that night meant something to me. This means something to me,” His finger points to Lara Jean and himself. “Like that night in the bar. I don’t kiss people if I don’t mean it.”

“Are you kidding me Peter? That’s the literal root of our relationship,” She makes a frustrated noise. This back and forth they had going on was exhausting. If this was what real relationships were like, she’d happily pass. “It’s pretend.”

Peter starts to laugh. It’s a bitter, high pitched laugh and she feels as if he’s mocking her. But he just looks hurt by her words. “Nothing happened between Gen and I. I went to her room to tell her we were done. That’s it. But this isn’t about Gen at all. This is about you. You’re scared that this is real and you’re actually feeling things. You’re running away like you always do.”

Her face went blank. How was this being turned around on her? “That’s…..not true. I don’t always run away.”

Peter raises an eyebrow at her, “You ran away from me less than an hour ago. Just admit it. You’re scared.”

“What do I have to be scared of?” Lara Jean says defensively, her forehead wrinkling in frustration.

“For the first time in your life you’re confronted with actual feelings and it’s terrifying. I know you’re inexperienced when it comes to relationships and well, people, but this is how they work.” Her nose wrinkles in annoyance, the truth stung. “It’s okay to be vulnerable, Covey.”

Lara Jean shakes her head, his words hitting her hard. “The first time I see you since the trip is at her house-“

“Because you wouldn’t talk to me!” He exclaims, his hands moving as he spoke. “I showed up at your house twice like some stalker and you wouldn’t see me!”

“Things don’t just happen for no reason,” Lara Jean says, shaking her head. “You’re always going to go back to her Peter. We can’t start anything when you’re stuck in the past.”

Peter pulls up outside her house and parks the car, switching off the engine. Their discussion was far from over.

“No, I’m not stuck in the past. You are,” Peter’s voice is so firm and final, “When Derek locked you in that room, I was terrified Covey.”

Whenever she hears Derek’s name, a chill run down her spine and she gets goosebumps. Since the incident, she had refused to let herself think about it or speak about it with anyone but her therapist. Whenever she would start thinking about it, she reminded herself it could have been a lot worse.

That reminder didn’t make her feel any better.

“I don’t want to talk about that, Peter,” She says, looking out the window. “That’s not fair. That has nothing to do with what we’re talking about.”

“I’m sorry,” He murmurs, closing his eyes briefly. “But it does. It changed things. Ever since then, I’ve known.”

“Known what?” She asked, turning to look at Peter.

“I’m yours. Not Gen’s. Not anyone’s. Yours.”

He reaches to take her hand on her lap, squeezing it softly. “I’m trying to get you to see how much I care about you, Covey. But you’re too scared to give me anything back.”

“What do I have to be scared of?” She asks, biting her upper lip.

Peter looks straight into her eyes. “You tell me, Covey.”

It kills her how she can’t think of a single thing to say. Deep down, it kills her even more that maybe he’s right. She was twenty-one years old and had successfully avoided any type of commitment to anyone in her life but her family.

She fell in love with unattainable people. Kenny from camp, who lived two states away. Josh, her sister’s ex-boyfriend.

Peter.

After everything he had confessed to her, she couldn’t think of a reason to why she couldn’t be with him.

But she could.

She was scared of commitment. She was scared of getting hurt. She was scared of opening herself up to someone.

Peter represented all of these fears.

“Life isn’t one of your fantasies, Lara Jean,” Peter’s voice interrupts her thoughts. “This is real. I’m right here in front of you telling you how I feel and all you can do is bring up my ex-girlfriend.”

“Can you really blame me?” She retorts, her defense weak.

Peter’s head leans back onto his seat, “You can’t use that excuse forever. I’m sick of playing this game with you, Lara Jean.”

“Then stop playing it.”

Lara Jean’s response is sharp and rash, and she instantly regrets it. She kept trying to push Peter further and further away, and she was doing a great job at it.

Peter doesn’t say anything, he just leans his head against the steering wheel and sighs. “I can’t tell you how you feel. I think you already know, but you need to decide and let me know. Take all the time you want.”

Peter leans over towards her, and for a split second she thinks he’s going to kiss her. He just opens the passenger side door.

“Thanks for the ride,” Lara Jean says, opening up the passenger door and getting out. Peter doesn’t say anything. /p>

When she closes the door, Peter just drives away. She stands on the edge of the curb, watching his car disappear down the end of the street.

She felt empty. Her eyes started to brim with tears, her throat feeling tight and painful.

“Lara Jean!” Josh shouts, he’s strolling up the street, stopping just in front of his house.

“Oh-Josh!” She says, startled. Her heart jumped in her chest. She turns her head to wipe her eyes, her thumb removing the dampness under her eyes.

“Who was that?” He asks, blissfully unaware of her heart breaking inside of her chest.

“No one, just a friend. Were you out?” She asks, turning her back to him briefly to wipe the tears brimming in her eyes.

“Yeah, one of the guys from high school was having a hangout but his parents kicked us out. I figured I’d just come home. Exciting New Years, eh?” He strolls towards her, his hands in the pockets of his jeans.

“Sounds eventful,” She sniffs slightly, wrapping her arms around herself. She wasn’t in the mood to make small talk, but it was Josh. She couldn’t be rude to Josh.

“Are you okay?” He reaches out a hand and puts it on her arm, rubbing it up and down softly. “Sit.”

They sit down on the edge of the curb, their knees barely touching. It was a chilly night, the cold breeze making Lara Jean tuck her dress under her thighs and pull up her socks.

“Seems like we could really use that tree house right now,” Josh jokes, and Lara Jean lets out a small laugh. It doesn’t reach her eyes. They always used to talk up there when they were younger, when they needed to escape or when they were upset.

“I’m such an idiot, Josh.” She says, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand. Her mascara was probably blurred, but she didn’t care.

“No you’re not,” Josh says, looking at Lara Jean with a concerned look. “You’re one of the smartest people I know.”

“Have you ever wanted something so badly but you’re terrified to take it? Because it feels like it isn’t truly yours?” Her hands rest on her forehead, the tips of her fingers knotted in the roots of her hair. “Or maybe you’re just making up excuses because you are terrified that you want it.”

“Yeah,” Josh’s voice is soft, “I get that. I think we always listen to the million reasons why not to instead of listening to the million reasons why to.”

Lara Jean groans, he was right. All she could do was focus on why she shouldn't be with Peter instead of the one important reason why she should be with him.

Because she wanted to be with him.

“I’m really glad we’re friends again, Lara Jean.” Josh says, bumping his shoulder with hers and distracting her from her

“Me too,” Lara Jean says genuinely, touched by his words but her mind was distracted.

She needed to get Peter back.

Lara Jean knew how she felt. She was in love with Peter Kavinsky. Lara Jean Covey was in love with Peter Kavinsky.

She wanted to scream it from the rooftops.

She had it bad for Peter Kavinsky.

The boy who had openly admitted he had feelings for her and had explained everything she thought he had done was wrong. He had told her he was hers.

And she just let him drive away.

She was the world’s biggest idiot.

In the distance, they can hear loud bangs and as they look towards the sound, they see the sky fill with multi colored fireworks exploding in the distance.

She opens up her phone and clicks on Peter’s contact. The picture was one Gabe had taken of them after one of his lacrosse matches. They were both smiling at the camera, Peter’s arms were around her neck and his chin was resting on the top of her head.

Peter’s hair was sweaty and messy but he still looked so good. No one should look that good after running around for an hour, but Peter Kavinsky did.

She clicks the message button, her thumb hovering over the call option before chickening out and beginning to type a message.

Would he even come back to pick her up? She glances at the top of the screen of her phone, it’s midnight. She turns towards Josh, glancing at the fireworks in the distance before smiling at him.

“Happy New Years Josh.” She says, smiling sadly at him.

“Happy New Years Lara Jean.” Josh replies, smiling back at her.

Her mind drifts to Peter. She should be with him. She should be kissing him as the clock turned twelve. She should be happy.

She was so stupid.

She was so in love with Peter Kavinsky. What was she doing here?

Lara Jean leaps up off the sidewalk, frazzled. “Josh, I’ve got to-“

Josh jumps up with her, his hands grabbing her cheeks and he pulls her towards him, pressing his lips against hers.

Lara Jean stands there in shock for a few seconds before she pulls away, her lips slightly open as she stares at Josh. Her hands remained in the air, completely still.

The kiss didn’t feel good. It didn’t feel right. Kissing Josh Sanderson didn’t mean anything that she dreamed it would.

It just felt wrong.

“Josh,” Her voice is quiet and she says his name like she doesn’t know who he is. “What-what are you doing?”

Josh stares back at her confused. “I thought all that stuff you were saying, it was about me?”

There’s a bright light driving down the street, pulling to a stop close to them. It’s so blinding Lara Jean lifts her arm to shield her eyes, stumbling on the grass slightly as she stepped backwards.

The bright lights die down as they’re switched off and Lara Jean recognizes the car instantly.

It’s Peter’s jeep. Which he steps out of, walking straight towards her.

Her stomach drops, dread filling her veins.

“Peter-“ She begins, her voice full of remorse.

“I should have fucking known,” Peter’s shaking his head as he speaks and he looks utterly broken. “This was always about him. Not Gen. The minute he reappeared, this became about him.”

“Peter,” She’s desperate, her head still spinning from Josh kissing her and Peter’s reappearance. “It wasn’t what it looked like. None of this has anything to do with Josh. It’s about you and me. I was stupid before-“

Peter doesn’t want to listen to any of it, cutting her off as he spoke with a wave of his hand. “I came back to tell you I wasn’t letting you go. But I never had you, did I Lara Jean?” He looks so wounded and she hates that she’s the reason why.

“You did, you do-“ Her voice breaks and she reaches towards him but he steps away from her like she’s poisonous.

“Maybe she’s realized she’s too good for you man,” Josh interrupts, standing up straighter and pushing his shoulders back as if it would make him intimidating.

It didn’t.

“Don’t you have some lord of the rings marathon to get to?” Peter’s voice is oddly calm. “You better hurry. Your actions figures will start to get worried.”

“Fuck you,” Josh shouts, moving towards Peter and Lara Jean jumps in between them. Peter hadn’t moved and he recoils at Lara Jean’s touch, stepping further away from her.

“Go home Josh,” Lara Jean says to him, her voice trembling as she turns back to Peter. “Peter, please listen to me. Please.”

“You’re a hypocrite, Lara Jean. For someone who preaches about me being stuck in the past, you’ve never even left it.” Peter looks so disgusted as he turns around, his hands falling to his side as he charges back to his car, climbing into it.

“Peter, please just listen to me,” She pleads, chasing after him but he’s a lot faster.

She pulls at his car door’s handle but it’s no use, it’s locked. The car starts to move, and he’s reversing away from her. He doesn’t even look at her through the window.

“Peter! I didn’t mean what I said in the car. I’m yours, please! I’m yours. Please Peter. He kissed me!” She shouts as she bangs on his window with her hands, but he’s already turned and driving down the street.

This was all her fault. She had Peter in her hands and she crumpled him up and threw him away. Just like that.

She sprints after his car, but it’s no use. He’s speeding down their road and she follows him until the end of her street, screaming his name before she sees his car turn and disappear into the distance.

Lara Jean collapses onto her knees on the road, and starts to sob. Her nose is runny and her body is shaking with sobs.

She isn’t sure how long she stays there, crying in the middle of the street. When she hears a car’s wheels squeak on the rode, a brief spring of hope appears inside her that it’s Peter before she sees it’s another car and she shakily stands up, running to the sidewalk to get off the road.

Of course it wasn’t Peter. It was all her fault. Why would he come back?

For the first time, Peter was the one who was running away. Not her.

It was probably for the last time too.

She tries to call his phone a few times, but it goes straight to voicemail. It’s no use.

When Lara Jean makes it back to her house, she is silently crying with her shoes in her hand from walking barefoot down the street. When she had ran after Peter, they had cut into the back of her feet. She wasn’t sure if her shaking was from the bitter cold night or the crying. When she sees her car sitting in their driveway, it hits her that she can drive after him. Quickly, she realizes it isn’t an option. She’s drank alcohol.

Lara Jean was desperate but she wasn’t irresponsible.

“Lara Jean? Are you okay?” A familiar voice calls from their porch.

Lara Jean notices a new car parked in their driveway.

It’s Margot. She’s staring at Lara Jean horrified, a look Lara Jean has never been on the receiving end of. It’s soul shattering. Her head flicks between Lara Jean and Josh. Margot was supposed to be in Washington.

“I heard some voices shouting, I was inside the house.” Margot explains slowly, walking towards her sister when she properly looks at her, very worried.

Lara Jean looked like a mess. She had no shoes on, black streaks of mascara down her cheek and her hair was a mess, knotted and bushy. Her eyes were swollen and puffy, her nose pink.

Josh’s head hangs low, and he won’t meet her eye.

That tells Lara Jean all she needs to know.

Josh has told Margot everything.

“Lara Jean-“ Josh starts to talk, stepping towards her.

“Go home Josh!” She says, her voice void of emotion. She didn’t have anything left in her to deal with Josh in that moment. “Please, just go home.”

Josh looks at her, completely defeated and his shoulders slump downwards. He stares at her for a few seconds before sighing, turning around and walking towards his house.

“I’m so sorry Margot,” Lara Jean runs up to her sister, reaching for her hands. “I know you must hate me and this is so selfish of me to ask, but I need your help. Please. I’ll explain everything in the car. I need to find Peter. I’ve made the biggest mistake of my life. Please, Gogo. I’m desperate.”

“Okay,” Margot’s keys are in her hand and she’s walking towards her Volvo, looking at Lara Jean with a concerned expression. “But you have to tell me what’s going on, Lara Jean. With Peter. With...Josh. Everything. I want the truth.”

As she climbed into her sister’s car, sniffling and shaking, Lara Jean did what she should have done a long time ago.

Something that could have avoided all of this mess.

She told the truth.

Chapter Text

“Peter, please pick up. It wasn’t what it looked like. I promise.” Lara Jean pleads into her phone, hanging up after leaving a fifth voicemail for Peter in the last hour. Margot and Lara Jean had spent the last hour driving all over town trying to find him. His house, UVA campus, everywhere Lara Jean could think of.

But there was no sign of Peter anywhere.

“So, all this time you were fake dating?” Margot breaks the silence in the car after a minute.

“Yes.”

Between phone calls. Lara Jean had told her older sister everything. The night in the bar, their fake dating plot, Peter’s confession to her last night and the Josh situation.

“To make his ex jealous and to get that creep away from you? But after the incident, it really became about his ex-girlfriend,” Margot frowns in confusion. “Honestly Lara Jean, I don’t understand why you carried on.”

“I just did,” Lara Jean sighs, struggling to find the words to explain her feelings. “He was Peter. He was there for me. He was my RA who only lived down the hall. I saw him everyday and spent hours with him. We ate meals together. He became a part of life,” A painful lump formed in her throat as she spoke. “I can’t imagine my life without Peter Kavinsky in it. I don’t want to.”

After everything that had happened, maybe she would have to.

“Why didn’t you tell me you were friends with Josh again?” Margot asks, turning to look at her sister as they stopped at a red light.

Lara Jean felt the guilt spread through her body, settling uncomfortably in the pit of her stomach. “I didn’t want to hurt you.”

Margot looks disappointed and Lara Jean knew she owed her older sister a proper explanation.

“I guess,” She continues. “When things started getting intense with Peter and I started to feel things, I panicked. Josh reappeared. I was drawn to him, I suppose. He reached out to me. I knew him. He was comforting and familiar. Peter is everything out of my comfort zone.”

“I don’t really care about Josh. He’s my past. You do know for the future you can tell me anything, right? You can be friends with whoever you like. You’d never truly hurt me, Lara Jean. We’re sisters. But more importantly, Peter,” Margot says softly, tilting her head towards her sister. “You love him.”

“Yeah,” Her eyes squeeze shut, finally admitting it to herself. “I really do.”

Lara Jean leans into the her chair, sighing softly and then turning to Margot with a raised eyebrow, suddenly remembering something.“What happened with you tonight? Why did you come home?”

Margot visibly tenses, her hands gripping the steering wheel slightly tighter. “Ravi and I had a fight.”

“Are you okay?” Lara Jean asks, concerned. It was unlike them to fight, they were pretty much the perfect couple. Well, maybe everything appears more intact from the outside. “About what?”

“He tried to propose to me.”

She gasps, “Margot!”

“I panicked and stopped him. We fought. He stormed out and I came here.”

Lara Jean gasps, her hand gripping the side of her seat so tightly her fingers were white.

“Do you,” Lara Jean thinks about her words carefully before speaking. “Do you want to marry him?”

Surprisingly, Margot is quick to reply. “Yes.”

Lara Jean gives her older sister a sympathetic smile, reaching over to squeeze her hand. “Love is terrifying. You just got scared. We all get scared. It’s going to be okay.”

“Wow,” Margot sighs, reflecting. “Us Song-Covey girls are truly talented at self-destructing our love lives.”

“Not Kitty,” Lara Jean says, shaking her head. “She’s invincible. She knows what she wants and she takes it.”

“She really does,” Margot replies, nodding in agreement. “She scares me sometimes.”

There’s a silence in the car as they circle around the block where Peter lives again, before Margot indicated and pulled in beside the curb. “Lara Jean, I think we should call it a night. He just needs time. Besides, you need to sleep and have a rested, clear mind for when you speak to him tomorrow.”

“I guess so,” Lara Jean agreed reluctantly, the lump in her dry throat hurting again. She was fighting back tears again, but she didn’t want to cry again. “New year, new opportunities. Right?”

Margot leans over to squeeze her hand. “You are going to get Peter back, okay? You’ll need a date for my wedding. If he still wants to marry me.”

“If?” Lara Jean squeezes her sister’s hand back, giving her a small smile. “That boy is so going to marry you.”

As Margot leaves Peter’s street and Lara Jean feels her heavy heart sink in her chest, the Song sisters don’t let go of each other’s hands.

As she climbs into bed, a buzz from her phone makes her jump straight up and leap to grab her phone.

Her wide eyes scan over her screen, a text popping up in a green bubble.

02:04 Peter Kavinsky: Stop.

After that, she couldn’t stop the tears if she tried.

 

Lara Jean spends New Year’s Day in bed. It’s the one day of the year when all the shops and restaurants are closed, so there’s not much to do.

The next few days are the same, she can’t be persuaded to leave the house. Not even a sale in their local thrift shop could nudge her out of her Peter Kavinsky depression.

In the afternoon, Lara Jean is lying on the couch with Kitty at her feet. They’re watching Pretty in Pink when they’re dad walks in, waving something in his hand.

“Lara Jean! You’ve got mail,” He says, dropping the letters on top of the cushion on her lap.

She frowns,

Her eyes glanced at the familiar red letter, flipping it over to read the address. It has a blue return to sender stamp stamped on the top right corner.

The name and address of the receipient is in her neat, curved writing.

The name Kenny sets off the alarm bells in her head.

Lara Jean lets out a high pitched scream, grabbing the letter off the counter and sprinting upstairs.

She trips over two piles of dirty clothes on her bedroom floor as she rushes into her closet, scanning the shelves for her letter box until she remembers that she left it in college.

The letters were out.

She had left it on the desk in her dorm. There was no hope of getting into her dorm building, campus and its accommodation didn’t reopen for another two weeks.

Someone must have sent them.

She lunges for her phone, quickly typing a text to her roommate. Zoey never answers calls, so Lara Jean types back a response to Zoey’s unanswered text from this morning.

“Hey! Did you see a teal letter box in our dorm? On my desk?”

Lara Jean stares intensely at her phone, waiting for the typing bubbles to appear. She lets out a few groans and screams, kicking her legs like a toddler.

She lets out a scream of relief when she sees Zoey typing.

“Oh yeah! Don’t worry, I mailed them all out for you. They’re Christmas cards, right? They looked quite fancy. You have to teach me how to write like that.”

Lara Jean’s stares at her screen in shock. Another buzz quickly follows, another text from Zoey. “Did I do something wrong?”

Lara Jean eventually musters the energy to reply, adding a few emojis to soften the text. She didn’t want to be mad at her roommate or for her roommate to think she mad. She was just trying to be nice.

“No, it’s fine. Thank you. I was worried about the….Christmas cards. I completely forgot. Thank you!”

Lara Jean lays on her bed for a long time, falling deeper and deeper into her spiral. She just screamed when Kitty and her father tried to talk to her, which she felt bad for and would apologize for later, but she was too busy trying to find a solution to her unfortunate existence.

All the letters were sent out. The love letters.

Including to Peter.

Peter.

She had to talk to him. She had to explain. Things were already complicated, but throwing a love letter into the mix had made things tragic.

Especially because his letter was like no letter she has ever wrote before. A letter no one’s eyes should see but Lara Jeans.

Before she can convince herself to not do it, she quickly gets changed into a pinstriped dress and tights, pulls on a black bomber jacket and a bakerboy hat.

She’s running out the door, grabbing her keys and closing it behind her before Kitty could finish her sentence from the couch.

“Lara Jean! I need to talk to you,” Josh shouts from across the yard, standing up from his porch swing. He must have been waiting for her.

He’s swinging his love letter in the air.

Oh my god.

Josh.

Not today, Satan.

Not today.

Lara Jean keeps on running towards her car, turning to look back at Josh with a pleading look.

“I wrote that years ago, Josh. Years. I’m so sorry, I have to go! We can talk later!”

She could barely remember what she had written in it when she was fifteen. She had stopped herself from re-reading it over the years, it had hurt too much. It had meant something then.

Now it was just words.

Josh isn’t giving up, he sprints towards her and stands in front of her car. “You still wrote it!”

She sighs, coming to a halt. “A long time ago.”

“Love letters don’t have expiration dates.” Josh pleads, the letter still high in the air, taunting her.

“Yours does.”

The hurt look that flashes across his flashes across his face makes her regret what she says instantly.

“I’ll always love you, Josh,” She leans forward briefly to squeeze his wrist, before stepping back and pulling away. “But not in that way. I know that now,” Lara Jean gives the boy she once loved one final glance before stepping around him and unlocking her car. “I’m sorry, I really have to go.”

And there, on her front lawn, she drives way from Josh Sanderson. The boy she once loved.

The drive to Peter’s was a rocky one. Lara Jean wasn’t the most confident driver but the adrenalin from the thought of seeing Peter prevented her from crying every time someone beeped at her or she had to make a tricky right turn.

She barely puts the car in park when she arrives at Peter’s house, sprinting towards Peter’s front door. When she presses the doorbell, she suddenly gets the urge to vomit.

A boy around Kitty’s age opens the front door. She’s thankful it isn’t his mom. Lara Jean hadn’t met his mom yet. Under these circumstances, it wouldn’t be ideal.

It’s Peter’s brother. He doesn’t look surprised to see her, so Peter must have said something. That makes Lara Jean even more nervous.

“Hi,” Her voice cracks. “Is Peter here?”

His response is blunt. He doesn’t look impressed. “No.”

“You’re Lara Jean. If I tell you where he is, you’re not going to go and hurt him, are you?”

“No,” Her hands shake. Peter often talked about his brother, and how close they were. “I promise. I’m trying to do the opposite.”

“Cool,” From his expression, that’s good enough for him. “He’s at the park. Look for the lacrosse goals. It’s down the street on the right.”

“Thank you!”

She drives down to the park, nearly hitting a cone as she parks paralell in a parking space.

As she half-walks half-runs across the park, the frozen strands of grass crunch under her feet. She’s quite close to the goals when she sees him, her heart stops in her chest and she momentarily forgets how to breathe.

There he is.

Peter Kavinsky.

The park is small enough, and it’s empty except for a couple and an old man walking his dog. It’s a big green field with lacrosse goals in the middle, the designated area slightly smaller than a lacrosse pitch but white lines mark the pitch out roughly.

He must have heard her footsteps because he turns around, his eyes widening as he realizes it’s her. He doesn’t look happy.

He can barely look at her, his eyes drifting down towards the ground or moving up to focus on her jacket or boots. He won’t meet her eyes.

Lara Jean opens her mouth to speak but nothing comes out. She tries to find the words to say, but her whole body feels frozen. It was freezing, but now that she was here and he was in front of her, she couldn’t decide on one out of the million things she wanted to say to him.

Peter Kavinsky seemed to always have that effect on her.

Peter is the first one to speak.

“My dad always used to take me here to practice when I was younger.” When he speaks, something warm in her stomach lights up and she feels how much she had missed his voice.

Had missed him.

Plus, he hadn’t told her to get lost or sworn, so this was already going way better than expected.

“Did you end up meeting up with him?” A pang of guilt struck her. The phone call with his father. He had planned to meet up with him to talk. She had ignored him when he had needed her.

She really didn’t deserve him. She was a terrible person.

Peter stiffens. “He cancelled. Something came up with one of his kids. Nothing new.”

Her breath catches in her throat. She wants to reach out and hold him, hug him. But she doesn’t know if she’s allowed to. “I’m so sorry, Peter.”

He had built up some hope about the prospects of meeting his father and it had been taken away from him. Again.

He shrugs his shoulders casually, as if it isn’t a big deal when she knows it is. “It’s not the worst betrayal I’ve experienced in the last few days.”

Ouch.

“That’s not fair. I came here to-“

“Get the letter back, right?”

She had completely forgotten about the letter.

“Actually no,” She pauses, her stomach flipping uncomrortably. “Have you read it?”

“It’s not mine to read, Covey. If you wanted me to read it, you woule have given it to me.” He answers her like she’s asked a stupid question. He pulls it out of his hoodie, extending it towards her.

“There. You can go,” He dismisses her, turning around to pick up his lacrosse stick, aggressively throwing the ball into the goal.

“I’ll read it then,” She raises her voice slightly, opening the envelope with shaking hands. She had spent extra time perfecting this letter, spilling her heart out in blank ink and perfect calligraphy. “Please, listen to me.”

She watches his back muscles tense up through his thin shirt, before he relaxes his shoulders and turns around, looking

Dear Peter,

I like you. That’s a lie. I more than like you. But at the same time, you infuriate and annoy me. You confuse me. You make me smile and laugh. Is that what love is? I didn’t know before.

Now I know. I think a part of me always knew how I felt, after a while. I know why you make me blush every time I think of you.. I know why my heart stops everytime you look at me or try to make me laugh. I wish you would stop looking at me. I understand why people do whatever for the people they love.

I know why I sit through those awful television shows you like so much, even the scary ones. I know why I paint your jersey number on my cheek.

But I can’t ever say this to you. That’s the first rule of fight club, right? You don’t talk about fight club.

I understand you heart isn’t mine.

Still, I will take whatever you give me. I could keep going like this if it meant we could still be us. Or maybe it would hurt too much. Even when we finish our arrangement, I will never forget what we had. You gave me my first love story, Peter Kavinsky.

I just wish it had been real.

Yours, Lara Jean

When she finishes it, she walks around him and into the middle of the goal. She picks up his ball, walking towards Peter and extending it towards him.
Then, she lifts the letter up and rips it in half.

“What the hell are you doing, Lara Jean?” Peter looks surprised and shocked, looking at her like she was crazy. He gave her that look a lot.

She really didn’t know what she was doing. She was sort of winging it, “I’m showing you I was wrong.”

“About what?”

“About certain things in that letter. I can tell you how I feel. I don’t care about anyone else. This is real. I just care about you. I know your heart is mine. If you’ll still let me have it,” Her voice softens slowly and she takes a step forward. “Because mine is completely yours.”

Peter doesn’t say anything for an extruianating second. She sees his eyes soften, the Peter she knows seeping through before they harden again. “What about Sanderson?”

She gulps. “When Josh kissed me-“

Peter flinches. “I don’t want to hear about that.”

“It’s important. Please,” She pleads, lifting her hand to touch his but pausing it in mid air. “When he kissed me, it wasn’t what I imagined it would be. I felt nothing. It didn’t feel like anything. Not like when I kiss you. All I could think about was you. You’re the only person I want to kiss, Peter Kavinsky.”

“Are you sure?” Peter’s eyes watch her, but he’s dropped his lacrosse stick and moves slightly closer to her, his eyebrows furrowed like they do when he’s serious and thinking about something.

“Ever since that night at the bar, I haven’t been able to get you out of my head,” Her words were lifting an invisible weight off her shoulders. They were feelings she’d harboured for months. “I am scared, but I’ve also never been so sure about anything in my life.”

She takes a brave step forward, standing right in front of Peter. She could see his breath in the cold air.

His face breaks into a huge smile, which he tries to hide by biting his bottom lip. When she starts to lean up on her tippy toes, he pauses.

“Just so you know, Gen and I are the exact same. It’s nothing, it hasn’t been anything for a long long time,” It wasn’t exactly what she was hoping to talk about just before they were about to have their kiss, that romantic moment in all the movies. But she appreciated him saying it. “No one compares to you, Covey.”

She nodded, giving him a soft smile. “I know.”

Peter moves down towards her, bending his neck as he playfully smirked at her. “Are you going to break my heart, Covey?”

Her arms wrap themselves around his neck softly, her fingertips touching and weaving themselves through his soft hair. “That’s the one thing I promise I’ll never do.”

“Good,” He leans down to pick her up, his hands under her thighs as he boosts her up to wrap her legs around his torso. She giggles loudly. “Actually, you can do whatever the hell you want with it. It’s yours, Covey. I’m too in love with you to care.”

She blinks at him, her body filling with warmth and excitement. “You are?”

He’s blushing, but he nods confidently.

“Well,” Her lips curve into a wide smile, her knees dipping slightly as she pushes up on her tippy toes to move closer to him. “That’s excellent timing.”

“How so?” He asks, licking his lips quickly. Their lips are a few inches apart, and she’s looking straight into his magical, beautiful hazel eyes. She doesn’t care how cheesy she’s being. This boy is hers and she is his.

This is it. This is what complete and utter blissful happiness feels like.

“Because I’m completely in love with you, Peter Kavinsky.”

She doesn’t get the chance to reply because the boy she loves kisses her, and they’re both smiling against each other’s lips and she giggles when he dips her with their lips still locked.

Out of all the boys she’s loved before, Lara Jean’s positive in that moment this is one she’ll love forever.