The Upside of Unrequited Page 25

I keep turning my head toward the door.

It’s a little ridiculous, but I think I’d really like him to show up.

Before I can stop myself, I open my chain of messages with Reid.

Wait, are you coming?

Three dots. He’s typing.

Coming where?

So, he was kidding. And now I wish I hadn’t said anything. I feel awkward and stupid. I try to play it off. To claim the cookie dough I originally saved for you but then totally just ate myself.

He writes back immediately with a very tearful series of emojis. I’m actually sort of surprised he does emojis.

Anyway, I don’t care. I’m not going to care. I’m going to lean back on my hands and be very mindful about this.

I do not care.

I do not want.

Hours later, Cassie’s completely freaking out.

“Oh my God. Where are they?” She has her whole face pressed to the window, much like the Applebaums’ cat. Outside, it’s raining so heavily, it seems to come down in waves.

“Probably stuck in traffic,” Nadine says. “Rush hour and airport and rain, Kitty Cat. But they’ll be here.”

Cassie huffs into the living room and collapses onto the couch, and I sink down beside her.

“It’s gonna be fine, Cass.”

“Yeah, well, I really need Grandma to get here before Mina.”


Cassie raises her eyebrows. “Because you know she’s going to say something racist, and I need to, like, intervene before it happens.”

I laugh. “Intervene how?”

“I don’t know. Tell her not to say anything racist.”

“She’s going to anyway. She’s Grandma.”

“Yeah. Fuck.” Cassie sighs. “What do I do?”

“I mean, it’s not like it reflects on you. Just talk to Mina. Give her a heads-up.”

Cassie leans back, laughing bitterly. “Right. Hey, Mina. My grandma is probably going to act like you don’t speak English, or tell you about the Chinese lady in her building, or something really awesome like that.” She covers her face. “Fuuuuuck.”


She slides one hand off her face and peeks up at me.

I hook my arm around her shoulders and hug her. “Gonna be okay.”

She exhales. “I know.”

“This is a good thing, right? You have a girlfriend. She’s coming to dinner.”

I try to say it nonchalantly, but my voice seems to snag.

Cassie rolls her head toward me. “You’re pissed off that I didn’t tell you.”

“No I’m not!”

“That is such bullshit.” She smiles.

“I was surprised you didn’t tell me.”

“And pissed off. Look, I get it.” She leans into me. “I know I’m an asshole.”

“No you’re not.”

“This is just weird for me, you know? And talking about it is weird. It’s fucked up. Like, it’s so easy for me to tell you about some random hookup, because who cares? And we can laugh about it and whatever.”

“You know I’d never laugh at you about Mina, right?”

“No, I know. It’s just.” She shuts her eyes. “Like, I don’t know how to say this without sounding like a dick, but, like, maybe it’s one of those things you’re not going to understand until you get a boyfriend.”

For a moment, it just hangs there.

“Oh,” I say.

“Okay, that came out wrong, but you know what I mean.”

“Yup,” I say, standing abruptly.

I mean, it’s pretty clear. Cassie’s had a girlfriend for two days, and now she’s the expert on the wonders and mysteries of true love. Whereas I clearly understand nothing. I guess I’m some kind of naïve, sexless child.

“Molly, come on. I’m sorry, okay? I told you it came out wrong.” She sighs. “Can you give me a break? Just this once?”

Suddenly, her phone buzzes on the coffee table. A text. She picks it up.

“She’s here!”

“Grandma or Mina?”

But already, Cassie’s sprung off the couch and out the front door, running through the rain. There are only a few yards between our door and Mina’s car, but Cassie’s soaked within moments. She doesn’t seem to care. She slips into the car on the passenger side, and they lean toward each other over the gearshift.

I blush and turn away.

Patty and Grandma pull in about thirty minutes later, and then we all settle around the dining room table. And the first thing Grandma says is this: “Cassie, you didn’t tell me your girlfriend was Oriental!”

“Grandma!” Cassie hisses. She shoots Patty a desperate look.

Patty winces. “Mom, you can’t say that.”

“I can’t?”

I shake my head.

“Grandma, Mina is Korean American,” Cassie says. “Okay? You can’t say Oriental.”

“Unless you’re talking about rugs,” I add.

“Well, they just keep changing the terminology on me.” She laughs. “Mina, dear, I hope you don’t take offense. It’s so nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you, too.”

Mina definitely looks overwhelmed.

Nadine brings out this giant turkey—the kind you roast for Thanksgiving. It’s the kind they always label young turkey, which makes you wonder how epic old turkeys must be. Everything gets passed around, and I feel strangely self-conscious. I think it’s sympathetic self-consciousness. I think I feel it on behalf of Cassie. Or maybe Mina. God. Poor Mina.

“So, you live in Bethesda?” Nadine asks. “That’s a fun place.”

Mina smiles faintly. “I don’t know if I’d call it fun.”

“Mom, fun is like H Street,” Cassie says.

“Not true,” Nadine says. “Fun exists wherever you make it. Am I right, Xavor Xav?”

Xavier is currently mashing a slice of peach into his hair.

“He looks a lot like you,” Mina says, looking back and forth between Xav and Nadine.

“Aww—thanks,” Nadine says.

“Told you,” Cassie says. “He’s her mini-me.”

People notice that all the time. Xavier looks so much like Nadine, and Patty’s old pictures look exactly like Cassie. I’m the oddball. I secretly think I must look like the donor, but I’ve never seen a picture of him. Of course, Grandma always says I look like her. I don’t exactly see it, but she loves to bring it up.

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