The Upside of Unrequited Page 46

I look up at Reid, and he shrugs. “Okay. Yeah.” He smiles.

And Olivia smiles, too.

I can’t tell if the lurch in my stomach is excitement or dread.



PATTY AND NADINE ARE ALL about the sleepover. I think they’d be twitchy if it was just Mina. I guess they recognize the rest of us for the vag-blockers we are.

I don’t even think they worry about me around boys. So, that’s a little sad.

Anyway, Nadine digs out some old sleeping bags from the linen closet, which is essentially an official endorsement. Mina’s eyebrows shoot up. “Your parents are so cool.”

“So are yours!” says Cassie.

“Mine are like low-key cool,” Mina says. “Not this cool. Do your parents let you drink?”

Cassie and I glance at each other. “Not technically,” she says.

Mina bites her lip. “Should I tell the boys not to bring vodka?”

“We’ll be discreet.” Cassie grins, and my heart beats faster. I’ve never felt quite so seventeen.

We carpet Cassie’s floor in sleeping bags. Our entire upstairs used to be an attic, so the rooms aren’t exactly huge. Cassie’s isn’t the biggest, but it feels like it is, because it’s the only room where the ceiling peaks high enough to fit the bunk beds.

Mina stays for dinner, and Nadine has picked up those giant double-fried Korean chicken wings from Bonchon to impress her. And honestly, I can’t decide if it’s a sweet effort, or if we’re wading into Grandma Betty territory. But Mina laughs it off. “That’s awesome,” she says.

“Well, we think you’re awesome,” Nadine replies.

But everyone’s acting awkward. Except Xavier, who’s doing drum solos on his high-chair tray with a plastic spoon. But the rest of us. I can’t explain it.

“So, who’s coming tonight?” Patty asks. “Olivia . . . ?”

“And Will and Max and Reid,” Cassie says.

“That’s a lot of dudes,” Nadine says.

We’re all silent for a moment.

“Yes,” Cassie says finally.

“So, are you guys feeling ready for the wedding?” Mina asks.

“I think so.” Nadine shrugs. “It’s very casual. We’ve got about thirty-five people coming, so it’s just about making sure we feed everyone.”

“And we’ll have kosher, gluten-free, vegan, everything,” Patty adds.

There’s another random silence. I don’t even know why. Maybe we haven’t found our rhythm with Mina.

“And our nephew is arranging the table and chair rentals,” Patty says.

“Isaac?” I ask. That’s Abby’s brother, and I’m having trouble picturing him on the phone with a wedding rental facility. He’s ridiculously smart—smart enough to get a full scholarship to Howard. But he loves to party, and not in the way that involves rented Chiavari chairs.

“He has hidden depths,” Nadine says.

“Maybe we should have a backup plan.”

“Right, what’s the plan if it rains?” Mina asks. “My mom was wondering that.” She takes a bite of her chicken wing and puts it down, reaching for her napkin.

“Our plan is to deny the possibility of rain,” Nadine says. And Xavier bangs his tray loudly, as if to add an exclamation point.

Everyone comes over after dinner, and I cannot get my mind to simmer down about this. Spending the night in Cassie’s room, with everyone. With Reid. I’m not entirely sure how to navigate this. I’m a certain version of myself when I’m around Reid. And I’m a different version when I’m around Mina’s friends. I’m not good at collisions of worlds. I feel jittery and on edge.

“This is a cool neighborhood,” Will says. “I’m jealous you can walk to the Metro.”

“It’s definitely convenient.” Cassie settles in next to Mina on the floor, their backs against the bedframe. Everyone’s leaning against something: Will and Max against the drawers of Cassie’s desk, Olivia against the door, and Reid and me against the wall. We’re all in a rectangle on the outer edges of the floor—but if we stretched our legs out, I think everyone’s feet would touch.

Will unzips his famous man-purse and pulls out a bottle of vodka—it’s the fancy kind, with frosted glass and a blue top. I have no idea how he gets all this booze. Maybe he has a fake ID. Maybe everyone does except me. I feel like I’m in a movie.

Cassie has a carton of orange juice from the Co-op, and the first thing she does is pour some into a big plastic cup. That’s Cassie’s favorite hack. If you make enough room, you can mix vodka right into the carton.

“I’ll drink that,” I say quickly. “I’ll have the plain cup.”

“Can I share it?” asks Reid, and I smile up at him. I had a feeling he wouldn’t drink.

But everyone else does, even Olivia. And it’s funny. I never really imagined myself as a person who would go to a boozy slumber party. Or a boozy house party. And definitely not both in one week. But I guess that’s the thing about being seventeen. You never know what you’ll do until you do it.

“So, guess what I read today,” Cassie says. “Did you know orgasms strengthen your core?”

“Sweet.” Max pumps his fist.

Olivia bites her lip. “I’ve never had an orgasm.”

And here’s the funny thing: when she says it, I actually feel this twinge of envy. Not because she’s never had an orgasm (which, go figure. Evan Schulmeister). I mean, it’s probably obvious that I haven’t either. And lack of orgasms aren’t something to envy. But I wish I were the kind of person who could just admit it out loud.

“Olivia,” Cassie says. “You are missing out.”

Does that even need to be said? It’s an orgasm.

“But I hear it’s like sneezing,” Olivia adds.

“Orgasms?” Cassie laughs. “Says who?”

“Says the internet.”

“Is that why you used to sniff cumin powder all the time?” Cassie asks.

“Scientific inquiry.”

Mina giggles. “Olivia, you are so cute.”

“You know what it’s like?” Cassie says suddenly. She leans back, her arm draped around the bedframe. “It’s like Super Mario Brothers. It’s like when Mario eats the leaf, and then he runs and runs and then he’s flying.” She zips her hand up into the air.

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