The Upside of Unrequited Page 22

He laughs. “Nope.”

“They just think they’re supposed to like it because they’re trying to look classy.”

“Trying and failing,” says Reid.

“Utterly failing.”

We pull into the parking lot of Giant, and Reid picks a spot by the cart return. Then he twists off the ignition and looks at me with this solemn expression. “Are you ready for the grocery experience of a lifetime?”

“Well, I’m pretty sure I’ve been here before.”

“But not with me,” he says firmly.

“Not with you.” I feel suddenly shy.

It occurs to me, as we’re crossing the parking lot, that people probably assume we’re a couple. Like maybe we’re a college-age couple grabbing food for the night. Young lovebirds. Boyfriend and girlfriend. It’s like when someone mistakes the random guy sitting next to you on the Metro for your dad.

There’s a line of carts near the entrance, but as soon as I ease one out, Reid tugs the front end and guides me over to a bench outside the store. Then, he pushes the cart to the side and sits, looking up at me expectantly. I sit down next to him.

“So, now you need to take out your phone.”


“You’ll see.” He pulls his own phone out of his pocket. “And get into your notes app.”

“Okay.” I’m smiling. He’s being kind of bossy, and I’m sorry, but it’s hilarious. It’s like when your teacher leaves the room for a second and puts a Well-Behaved Kid in charge. Reid is a Well-Behaved Kid on a power trip, and it’s so cute, I have to play along.

“You got it?” He peeks over my shoulder. “Good. Now write down the titles of three pop songs from the early 2000s.”

“What? Why?”

“Because those are the rules.”

“So I just write down . . . any pop songs?” I ask.

“Yup. But choose wisely.”

I pause for a moment, finger poised above my keypad. I want to pick the absolute worst ones. I want the ones that almost ruined music. They come to me quickly.

1. Stacy’s Mom

2. Sk8er Boi

3. I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman

“Excellent,” Reid says.

“Let’s see yours.” He tilts his phone toward me, and I burst out laughing. Because in another life, I’m pretty sure Reid was someone’s dorky dad. He even looks proud of himself.

1. Find me in da club

2. The one with the girl playing the piano singing about if she could fall into the sky

3. Justin Timberlake

“So now what?” I ask.

“Good question. The rules are as follows: if any one of your songs gets played, you get twenty points.”

“If the supermarket plays them?”


“So, out of every song in the entire world, you think this supermarket will play one of the six random songs we happened to choose.”


I laugh. “Why?”

“It’s magic.” He shrugs. “And because all grocery stores play early 2000s pop music. It’s federal law.”

I’m skeptical until the moment we walk into the store and “Stacy’s Mom” is playing.

“Oh hey. Twenty points to me,” I say.

Reid groans, leaning into the cart handle. “Beginner’s luck.” He eases the cart down the baking aisle, and literally makes it three steps before getting distracted by tubs of frosting. “Ohhh. Hey.” He picks up some Duncan Hines chocolate. “Oh man. I would sit and eat this with a spoon, like yogurt. Is that weird?”

“Is that a real question?” Seriously, I want to know: is there anyone who wouldn’t eat a tub of chocolate frosting like yogurt?

All of a sudden, I’m inspired. “Can I add a rule to our game?”


“Okay.” I grin. “Quick challenge. Ten points to whoever finds the grossest flavor of frosting in the next minute, starting . . . now.”

I set the stopwatch on my phone, and we both fall silent. I’m feeling very competitive, for some reason, which isn’t like me at all. Maybe this is what it’s like to be Cassie. She used to win all the competitions at camp: hot dog eating, pig latin speaking, watermelon seed spitting, and all the other things I never really cared about.

But I care about this. I want the ten points—these ten nebulous points that count toward literally nothing. And it’s exhilarating. I scan the shelves, and almost everything is pretty standard: home-style chocolate and Funfetti and cream cheese. There are a few contenders, like coconut pecan and key lime, but in the end, I have to throw my shade at Betty Crocker’s Limited Edition maple bacon. Not okay, Betty.

Reid is flailing at the forty-five-second mark. “Molly, help! They all look good.”

“You are joking.”

“Maybe I just like all frosting?”

I shake my head sadly. “I don’t even know what to say to that.”

My phone stopwatch beeps, and I reveal the maple bacon—which Reid hadn’t noticed. “Oh, that’s really funny,” he says.

“I know. I have to take a picture of this for my sister.”

He laughs. “Will you send it to me?”

“Um. Yeah. If you give me your number.” I feel my cheeks grow warm. I hope he doesn’t think I’m Asking For His Number. I don’t think I’m Asking For His Number.

I’m just asking for his number.

“Oh, right!” He gives it to me, and I text him the picture and add him to my contacts.

Then he pulls out his phone to add me to his.

It’s funny, but I almost wonder if he wanted us to exchange numbers. Because he totally could have snapped his own picture, instead of having me text mine.

For a second, I’m speechless.

But I’m saved by Avril Lavigne. “Sk8er Boi” starts playing, loudly and suddenly, and I finally exhale. “Twenty points,” I say, grinning.

“What? How are you so good at this game?”

I shrug, palms up. I become the shruggie emoji.

“I’m psychic,” I say.

God, this phone number thing. Not that it’s a thing. It’s definitely not a thing. And I don’t know why I’m suddenly so breathless. I guess lungs are giant traitors. As are stomachs. As are heartbeats.

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