The Upside of Unrequited Page 24

“Oh, did we wake you up?”

“Aww, Momo, no. It was the boobs.” These days, Nadine talks about her boobs like they’re sentient beings. They’re always waking her up or leaking through her nursing bras or demanding to be drained, like cows on a dairy farm. They have their own boobish agendas.

I pass Xavier to her, and she lifts up one side of her pajama shirt. Xav glomps right on. “So, I heard this rumor,” Nadine says, sitting up straight against the back of the couch.

“About Cassie?”

She grins.

“How did you know?”

“The mom chain.”

Otherwise known as Olivia’s mom. Olivia tells her mom everything. And her mom tells my moms everything. It’s a pretty foolproof system.

I settle onto the armchair with one of Xavier’s toys. It’s one of those interactive button-pushing ones that sings animal songs in an unnervingly chipper male voice.

“God, that thing needs to burn,” says Nadine.

“We should burn it.”

“Yeah, but you know another one will just spawn in its place. That’s right, Xavor Xav,” she adds. He’s popped off the boob to grin at her. “Hey. Hey. We’re spraying. Get back on there.”

“I made cookie dough,” I tell her.

“For dessert tonight?”

I nod.

“That’s what you were down here working on?”

I nod again.

“Momo, you know you need to sleep every once in a while.”

“I couldn’t.”

She tilts her head. “Aww, honey.”

“I’m fine,” I say quickly.

“Are you working today?”

I shake my head.

“Okay, well—oh, now we’re vibrating.” She scoots forward and gropes around for a minute under her butt. “I think I’m sitting on your phone.” She pulls it out and hands it to me. “You’re getting texts like crazy. Look at you, Miss Popular. Who’s texting you at seven in the morning?”

“Um, probably Abby?”

But when I glance at my phone, there’s this tiny hiccup in my chest.

I’ve missed two texts from Reid.

Need any help making cookie dough?

And by making, I mean sampling

Xavier’s still on the boob, but he swings his arm back to make a grab for my phone.

“Nice try,” I tell him.

Nadine snorts. “The kid wants an iPhone.”

Okay, I feel like a jerk, because now I want Nadine and Xav to leave, so I can write back to Reid. It’s funny, because Cassie texts girls at the table and in the living room and in the car, and everywhere. I honestly think she’d coordinate an orgy in front of all of us. On the couch between Nadine and Patty. As long as they’re not actively reading over her shoulder, she doesn’t care.

But I can’t text a boy in front of my moms. I just can’t. Not even Reid.

“So, Mina and Grandma tonight.” Nadine yawns. “How the hell did that happen?”

I laugh. “I don’t know. I think it was Mina’s idea.”

“Cannot believe Kitty Cat’s allowing it.”

“Maybe Grandma will be cool?”

“Mmmhmm, right.” Nadine grins. “I’m excited to meet this girl, though.”

“Yeah, you’ll like her. She’s—” My phone buzzes again, and I try to ignore it. But I’ve lost my train of thought. Sometimes not looking at my phone requires all my mental energy.

Maybe it’s Reid again. Not that it matters.

Xavier finally finishes his boob, and Nadine readjusts her top, standing. “Okay, I’ve got to take this little dude to the supermarket before storytime.”

Nadine never misses storytime in the summer. Patty says it’s because whenever Nadine did baby stuff with Cassie and me, people assumed she was our nanny. Which I imagine is a shitty thing to hear when you’re a mom.

As soon as they leave, I tap into my texts, and my heart feels like it’s skipping. My body has no chill whatsoever.

There are the two cookie dough ones from Reid.

And the new text. From a Maryland number, not in my contacts. It says, simply: What’s up. No question mark. Just two words, plus that little emoji with the dancing bee ladies.

So now I’m curious. A text from a mystery person. But it’s got to be someone I know. I don’t think you’re allowed to drop the bee ladies on a stranger.

I Google the number, but Google doesn’t know, and I feel dumb asking who it is. So I ignore it.

I mean, I try to.

Anyway, I still need to think of something to write to Reid. And it has to be funny and casual and badass. But it can’t seem like I’m trying too hard.

I type: Too late. Dough is already made and sealed away. Sunglasses smiley emoji.

Though I may be able to part with some . . .

For a price.

Right away, three dots appear. And a moment later: For a price, huh?

And suddenly, I’m mortified. I don’t know. It’s just hitting me how that sounds. For a price. Like it’s a sex thing. It reads like I’m flirting with him.


Must neutralize awkwardness immediately.

I accept payment in Mini Eggs.

I’M SO THERE, he writes. Where are you?

There’s this prickle in my stomach. Seriously, this body. No chill.

I’m home, I write back. And I carefully press send.

Honestly, I wouldn’t mind if he came over. I don’t think that’s weird. I mean, he’s my coworker. We’ve been grocery shopping together. And he dropped me off here on Monday, so I guess he knows where my house is.

He doesn’t write back.

But maybe he’s on his way. He did say he was so here.

I should stop staring at my phone. I should probably relax. I probably shouldn’t picture Reid standing in my doorway with his ridiculous sneakers and his cute almost-dimple.

I don’t know why my mind keeps going there.

I try to empty my head. I put my phone on the end table. Patty talks a lot about mindfulness and being fully present in the moment, but that’s actually really hard for me. I think I have a wandering kind of mind. When I’m able to rein it in, it’s a pretty cool feeling—it’s like, just for a minute, I stop wanting things. I didn’t even realize how much time I spend wanting. And yearning, and crushing, and aching. It’s like I have this perpetual sense that something’s missing.

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