The Upside of Unrequited Page 32

“Reid?” Mina asks.

“Yeah, like is he single?” asks Cassie, and my whole body goes on high alert.

I mean, Reid’s Facebook profile said Single. Capital S Single. But maybe he’s one of those people who never updates his profile. Not that it matters.

“Oh my God, this place is cute,” Mina says, peering up the staircase at the front of the bakery.

“Right?” Cassie says, taking the steps two at a time. Mina and I follow her up.

“So, this is literally a cheesecake bakery,” Mina says, laughing. “How did I not know about this?”

“I guess you should hang out here more or something,” Cassie says.

“I guess you’re right.” She smiles. And Cassie threads their fingers together, just for a minute. Probably no one even notices but me.

I look quickly away, eyes on the display cases. WHAT’S UP, CHEESECAKES? I’M JUST GOING TO STARE AT YOU FOREVER. Because when a tender moment happens between any two people, I turn into an eleven-year-old boy. It is my most consistent talent.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see Olivia show up.

We order some cheesecakes and bring them to a table. “So, wait. Back to Reid,” Cassie says, leaning toward her. “We still need the info on him.”

I could hug her.

Not that I care. I’m just curious. But still.

“Right,” Mina says. “Well, he’s definitely single. Oh God. How to explain Reid . . .” She tilts her head. “Like, he’s one of those Ren Faire guys. Season pass, full costume.”

Olivia smiles. “Aww. I love Ren Faire guys.”

“Yeah—I don’t know. I’d say he’s the kind of guy you marry, but not the kind of guy you date. Or have sex with.” Mina wrinkles her nose.

Which pisses me off. Are there really people who just aren’t the sex type? I mean, obviously there are asexual people, but that’s different.

I guess I’m wondering this: can a person be fundamentally sexually repulsive? I mean, maybe Reid’s not cool or muscular enough for sex. And if I like him anyway, what does that say about me? Is it because I’m scared to like someone hotter?

I’m not saying I like him. But if I did. Hypothetically.

I mean, Abby dates geeks. But when you’re that pretty, you can date anyone, and people know you picked the geek on purpose. Like, you could have had the hot guy, but you didn’t want him. But when you’re a fat geek who likes another fat geek, everyone assumes you’re settling.

I feel a little sick. I can’t explain it.

“Anyway, Will was seriously flirting with you last night,” Mina says.

“Um. Okay.”

I feel my face grow warm. I don’t know. I can’t entirely process the idea that someone like Will was actually flirting with me.

“It’s so perfect, too, because even if the boyfriend thing doesn’t work out, you could always hook up with him. He’s great about that. I promise, he wouldn’t even be weird about it the next day.”

I just look at her. To be honest, I kind of wonder how she knows that.

“Well, Molly would be weird about it,” Cassie points out. And under the table, she presses her foot against mine, side by side.

“I would not.”

“You would,” Olivia says.

I mean, they’re right. I’d be super weird. I’d get quiet and self-conscious, and I’d probably wonder for the rest of my life what Will thought about my kissing abilities. Or lack thereof.

I feel really jittery, all of a sudden, and I need to do something with my hands. I take out my phone, and I have two missed texts from Reid. I take a bite of chocolate cheesecake and tap into my messages.

Okay, so my official assessment of the cookie dough is:

Cat emoji with heart eyes. Thumbs-up emoji. Trophy emoji. Beefy muscle arm emoji. Blissful eyes-closed smiling emoji.

And there’s that same soft prickle in my abdomen.

He’s pretty good with emojis.

Olivia leaves to hang out with her mom, but Cassie, Mina, and I spend the afternoon wandering around the back streets. Just the three of us. I feel a little strange, like maybe I’m vag-blocking them just by being here. But every time I try to leave them alone, they follow me.

I have to admit, it’s kind of nice. I guess they actually want to spend the day with me, even if it means fewer opportunities for making out. Maybe my company is even better than making out—which is pretty much my goal as a human being, honestly.

After dinner, we walk down to the middle school for fireworks. The field behind the school is already packed with people—on lawn chairs, on blankets, eating organic kale chips and jiggling babies. We spread out our moms’ big “Fear the Turtles” blanket, and we settle in together, and then Mina takes a group selfie. And then I fold my hands behind my head and let my eyes slide shut, just listening. There’s this jumble of sounds: people laughing, kids shrieking, and my heart beating along with the community marching band. I feel almost electric.

“Hey.” There’s a tap on my arm. I open my eyes. “Look at this.” Mina stretches her arm over Cassie to pass me her phone.

“What am I looking at?”

“Just read it,” she says, grinning.

It’s a text from Will. I guess she sent him the selfie, and he wrote back: BRB, just sulking forever.

“Why is he sulking?” I ask, heat rising in my cheeks.

“Uh, because there’s a cute girl here, and he’s stuck at home babysitting.”

I can’t wrap my mind around it. The idea that not hanging out with me would drive Hipster Will to sulking. And if it’s true, I can’t decide if it’s thrilling or terrifying.

It’s funny. A few hours ago, I was obsessing over Reid.

Maybe obsessing is the wrong word. But running into him did something to my heartbeat. And when I thought he might hug me, I kind of definitely almost lost my shit. It’s like I’m thinking about him as a crush, not a coworker.

But suddenly, there’s Will.

It’s hard to know what to make of this. I’ve always been a very monogamous crusher.

But my head’s all mixed up about this. When I close my eyes, it’s so easy to picture Will beside me. The bright blue eyes and the wildly red hair, both dimmed by the sunset. Dating Will would feel like a seat belt clicking into place. Everything lined up just as it should be. Mina and Cassie. Will and me.

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