The Upside of Unrequited Page 44

But it’s not. It’s not dumb. I stare at Olivia’s plate, feeling stupidly jealous. God, I always forget how artistic she is. Like, every once in a while, I fool myself into thinking I am, too, but I’m not. Not like this.

Olivia’s plate is stunning. She’s covered the background in the palest green paint, with a thin line of gold around the outer edge. And in the middle, there’s a half-finished dragon, exquisitely detailed, with carefully defined scales.

Reid would flip over this. Holy shit.

“Can I take a picture of this?” I ask.

Olivia looks confused.

“The dragon,” I add. “It’s beautiful.”

“Oh, thanks.”

“I’m serious.”

“I mean, it’s not done, but sure.”

I snap a picture with my phone. Then we settle in at Olivia’s table, and she sets us up with plates and paint and brushes. First, we’re supposed to sponge the plates down with water. Then, Olivia reminds us to do three coats of the background color.

“Look how hardcore she is,” Cassie says. “Don’t even try to skip one of the coats. She will lose her shit.”

Olivia nods. “Shit will be lost.”

It’s like, I’d almost say she was acting normal, except for the fact that I know something’s up with Evan. So now I can’t help but read sadness and heartache into every single paint stroke. I kind of want to just ask her. I can’t believe Cassie hasn’t.

But instead, we work in almost total silence. I cover the full surface of my plate with three coats of white paint, which feels slightly ridiculous. When it dries, I leave the entire middle of the plate white, but fill in tiny colorful flowers around the edges. Mina’s across from me, working on her penguins, leaning forward on her elbow. And Cassie appears to be trying to copy Olivia’s dragon design. It’s not going well.

“This looks like it was painted by a fetus,” she grumbles.

Mina rests her chin on Cassie’s shoulder. “I like it,” she says.

Cassie smiles. “You would.”

“So, you guys went to a party last night?” Olivia asks.

“Yeah, it was all right. And you just got back from Philly, right?” Mina asks.

I give her a huge internal high five. I cannot believe how quickly she just brought the conversation around to Philly. She is truly the child of psychologists.

“Yeah, I got back last night,” Olivia says, and then she sighs.

Cassie jumps in. “You okay? What’s up?”

“Well.” Olivia shrugs. “Yeah. So, Evan broke up with me.”

“Oh, Livvy.”

“Yeah.” She gives me this wavery smile.

“Oh my God. What happened?”

She shakes her head calmly. “I honestly don’t know.”

Then she shrugs again.

Then she bursts into tears.

“That fucker,” says Cassie.

And then Olivia tells us everything. “I was just going to stay until Wednesday. And, like, I don’t know.” She sniffs. “Everything was normal, for the most part. Like, I guess he was acting sort of distant, but I didn’t realize it at the time, you know? Just in hindsight.”

“This was at his parents’ house?” Cassie asks.

“Yeah.” She nods. She takes a deep breath. “Yup, I mean. His parents were there, his sister was there, so it wasn’t like there was drama.”

Evan Schulmeister’s parents. I’m pretty curious to know what they’re like. Also, maybe this is really nosy, but a part of me wonders how this all works. Like, what happens when you visit your long-distance boyfriend at his parents’ house? Do you just not have sex? Or do you risk it and hope his parents don’t bust in? Because something tells me Evan Schulmeister’s family is very, very involved. Though that’s strictly speculation. And it’s clearly beside the point.

But then again:

“Did you have sex?” Cassie asks matter-of-factly.

Olivia blushes. “I mean, yeah.”

“So he had sex with you and then he dumped you.”

“I guess so.”

“I will fucking destroy him,” says Cassie, and Mina nods solemnly.

“I don’t even understand,” I say.

Olivia fidgets with her paintbrush. “I don’t either. Everything was fine, you know? He asked if I could stay until Friday, so I even rearranged my work schedule . . .”

Cassie practically hisses. “This is so fucked up.”

“And I guess it was because he was planning to break up with me, but hadn’t worked up the nerve yet? Like he needed an extension.”


Across the store, the two little girls and their mom look up from their piggy banks abruptly.

“Shit. Sorry.” Cassie drops her voice to a whisper.

“It’s fine,” Olivia says. “Yeah. I’m not even kidding. So, yesterday morning, he comes into the guest room with tea and a bagel and everything, and I thought it was sweet. He’d never made me breakfast in bed before, you know? But then he literally waits until my mouth is full of bagel and says, ‘So I wanted to talk to you.’ And I’m like, ‘Okay.’ And he says, ‘I don’t think I’m ready to be exclusive.’”

“Jesus Christ,” Cassie says. “You’ve only been dating since eighth fucking grade.”

“I know.” Olivia shrugs.

“So then what?”

“I mean, it’s not like I was going to argue with him.”

“I cannot fucking believe this.”

“Oh, there’s more,” Olivia says. “So, I’m basically quiet this whole time, and he keeps saying he’s very concerned that I’m not reacting.”

“Which is bullshit,” Mina interjects.

“Right? So he finally says he’s going to leave me alone to process this.”

“Ugh.” Cassie snorts.

“Except right before he leaves, he seriously turns to me and says, ‘I just want you to know we can still hook up.’”

This makes me gasp. “He did NOT.”

“Oh, he did.”

“Fucking Schulmeister,” says Cassie. “Tell him I’ll hook him up with my fucking fist. This motherfucking douchebag.”

Holy shit, I forgot how terrifying Cassie is when she’s really, truly angry. I don’t think I’ve seen her like this since middle school. Since the boner-deflating womp womp womp guys. And I guess that’s the thing about Cassie. She has zero tolerance for this kind of cruelty. She will smack boys down, with no hesitation.

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