“I don’t like that photo of you,” said Kitty. Kitty reached over the couch to grab the phone out of Lara Jean’s hands.
“What, no.” Lara Jean tightened her grip and shielded her phone from her younger sister’s grasp. “I think I look just fine.”
“Let me be the judge of that.” Chris held out her hand for Lara Jean’s phone.
Begrudgingly, Lara Jean relinquished possession of her phone and placed it in Chris’ palm. She convinced herself it was for the best.
“Lara Jean, you cannot use a photo of you in an apron with teddy bears all over it on your dating app profile.” Chris emphatically hit the delete button to remove the existing picture and began to scroll through Lara Jean’s camera roll for better options. “You only get one photo for your profile and the only people you will be attracting with that apron are pre-teen middle school boys and men with mid-life crises who are overly attached to their grandmothers.”
Lara Jean crossed her arms, slightly insulted. “Way harsh. That’s my favorite apron.”
“And this is an intervention,” replied Chris. “Work with me here.” After another few minutes of scrolling and unsolicited commentary, Chris triumphantly selected a photo and held it out for Kitty to review.
Kitty gave a thumbs up in approval. “Much better.”
Chris chose a photo of Lara Jean at a Korean night market last summer. Lara Jean wore her hair down in the picture instead of in its characteristic high ponytail and her eyes were heavy with dark makeup because she had gone out with Margot earlier in the night. The nighttime market lighting illuminated Lara Jean in a soft neon halo, making her look almost angelic in the chaos of the street.
“Why did I let the two of you do this to me again?” Lara Jean propped her head against her arm and looked powerless in the situation unfolding before her.
“You need to get out more. Pull your head out of those romance novels and find someone nice to date,” replied Chris. “The Tattle app is your magic potion.”
“It’s blind dating for the internet,” added Kitty bluntly.
“See, the youngest Song sister knows what’s up. Now we need to catch this one up to speed.” Chris looked at Lara Jean pointedly. “The point of this is that you fill out a profile and get matched to three people each week. You can only communicate with your matches through text.”
“So I am texting three random strangers each week and moving on if I get bored? How is this any different than handing out my phone number to random people on the street and hoping they give me a call?” Lara Jean raised her eyebrows as if she were missing the obvious logic behind what she was being kindly-coerced into signing up for.
“Texts are sweet and succinct. Great if you need to figure out if someone wants to hookup in under five minutes, no strings attached,” said Chris. She gestured to her own profile on Tattle. “Hasn’t failed me yet.”
Lara Jean still looked skeptical, like she would rather her phone get run over by a car than continue using a dating app suggested by her best friend and little sister.
“It will be fine, I promise. The guys on here aren’t creepy like other apps. You won’t find any of those dreamy leading male types from your romance novels, but most of the people are decent. If you get stuck, the app sends you helpful prompts to keep the conversation going,” Chris opened her eyes wide and gave Lara Jean a pleading look. “If at any point you feel uncomfortable, you can always delete the app and no questions asked.”
Lara Jean nodded slowly to concede the point. She could always back out if she wanted to. If she hated it, and she was sure she would, she could delete the app off her phone forever and continue on with her perpetually single life.
“Lara Jean, how do I put this in old-timey terms you’ll understand?” Kitty racked her brain for the proper explanation, as if she were cupid and held the key to everyone else’s heart. “Think of writing text messages on a dating app like leaving little love notes to a secret crush. Cute, usually harmless, and if done correctly, almost guaranteed to find you true love.”
Lara Jean Song Covey, 18 | @larajeans
Without you, today’s emotions would be the scurf of yesterday’s.
baking · scrapbooking · movies
Welcome to TATTLE
we don’t use any secret algorithms or magical spells.
we simply look for commonalities in profiles and pair you with three matches each week we think you will have a good conversation with. we’re tired of fake profiles and edited photos; whatever happened to old-fashioned talking over the internet?
Lara Jean, here are your three matches for the week:
- Kenny Camp @kennycmp
- Josh Sanderson @joshhsanderson
- Peter Kavinsky @pkavinsky
Both Kitty and Chris repeatedly reminded Lara Jean to check the Tattle app for potential matches. Now that the names of three real guys stared back at Lara Jean, she no longer knew what to do. She could hear Kitty’s voice in the back of her head: “Lara Jean, what are you waiting for?” It was nearly certain nothing would happen if she waited around to see if anyone would text her. She had to go for it first, even if it killed her to do it.
Lara Jean braced herself and opened a new message thread with the first guy on her match list. She slowly typed out her greeting message and paused over the send button. After a few seconds of hesitation, she hit send and then immediately threw her phone down in a fit of anxiety.
A loud chirp brought her attention back to her phone. She was surprised how quickly he had responded.
larajeans x kennycmp
[larajeans] Dear Kenny, my name is Lara Jean. It’s nice to meet you.
kennycmp is no longer an active user.
If the first guy on Lara Jean’s list no longer existed, it could be a warning sign from the universe telling her to quit straightaway and go no further. Undeterred, Lara Jean steeled herself and decided to move on to the next person on her list. She was zero for one so far.
Lara Jean copied the message she sent to non-existent Kenny Camp and pasted it into a new message thread with the next boy, Josh Sanderson.
larajeans x joshhsanderson
[larajeans] Dear Josh, my name is Lara Jean. It’s nice to meet you.
[joshhsanderson] Hi Lara Jean. It’s nice to meet you too.
Lara Jean smiled to herself. She had finally gotten a response from someone, not that Kenny Camp counted for anything. At least Josh seemed halfway decent so far. He replied promptly and capitalized correctly, which was one of her biggest texting pet peeves. The shift button was not that far from a person’s thumb and they only needed to do it once before starting a sentence.
[joshhsanderson] Look Lara Jean, I want to be honest with you upfront and I don’t want you to take this the wrong way.
[joshhsanderson] I have a girlfriend. We’re in an open relationship, but I would like to get to know you better.
[joshhsanderson] You seem like a cool girl.
[larajeans] No thank you, goodbye.
She almost couldn’t believe it. With a groan, Lara Jean fell back onto her bed and tossed her phone aside. Zero for two.
She laid her head against her pillow and thought about what she would tell Chris after her first fifteen minutes on Tattle. She imagined saying something like, “I tried it like you suggested, but I am just as undatable online as I am in person.” If she told her older sister Margot about it, Margot would probably chastise her for deigning to sign-up for a dating app in the first place.
Lara Jean studied her hands for a few minutes and wondered whether the app was completely flawed. Chris was Chris, but there had to be a reason Chris was meeting perfectly decent and cool people while Lara Jean was stuck with one guy who ghosted her in his non-existence and another guy who only needed an excuse to get away from his girlfriend. She would hate to be the other girl.
Refusing to wallow in any self-pity, Lara Jean pushed herself off the bed and went downstairs to the kitchen. The next best thing to getting over two fake love interests was cupcakes.
When Lara Jean finally returned upstairs, she was exhausted from baking. She had a smudge of flour on her forehead that she tried to scrub off earlier, but it had only gotten worse. Kitty was downstairs frosting the rest of the cupcakes with the special buttercream mix Lara Jean prepared.
Lara Jean went to the bathroom to wash off the rest of her face and wearily returned to her room. Her phone was lost among the covers of her bed somewhere and she was having trouble locating it in the messy sprawl. When her fingers finally found her pastel pink phone case, Lara Jean was surprised to see another notification from Tattle.
She nearly dropped her phone when she realized she had received a message from her third match.
larajeans x pkavinsky
DAY ONE | say hi, introduce yourself. to kick things off, let’s start simple: ask your match about their favorite food. if the zombies suddenly attacked or you were stranded on a desert island together, what food would you want to have with you? is there something you like to eat that instantly feels like home to you? is there anything you wish you could eat every day for the rest of your life? tattle away!
[pkavinsky] Hi Lara
[pkavinsky] nice to meet you
Lara Jean’s eyes widened in surprise. Not only had she not expected him to text her, but she also had not expected him to get her name wrong when it was clearly written at the top of her profile.
[larajeans] My name is Lara Jean.
[pkavinsky] sorry sorry, my b
[pkavinsky] it looks like Jean is your middle name
[pkavinsky] but Lara Jean together is a pretty name
[larajeans] Nice to meet you too, Peter.
Lara Jean searched for the right thing to follow up the initial greetings with. It had gotten awkward. She couldn’t let the conversation die after seven texts, but that in total was already more texts exchanged than her first two matches combined. Her eyes bounced around for the next thing to say when she remembered the conversation prompt Tattle provided at the beginning of each day.
[larajeans] So Peter Kavinsky, what is your favorite food?
[pkavinsky] I don’t have a favorite food
[pkavinsky] i like everything
[larajeans] What do you mean? What’s your favorite? Like your favorite favorite?
[larajeans] Is it mac and cheese or fried chicken or steak or pizza?
[pkavinsky] honestly, I like all that stuff
[larajeans] But if you had to choose? For the zombie apocalypse or desert island or whatever?
[pkavinsky] fine, if you insist
[pkavinsky] I like cinnamon toast
[larajeans] You would pick cinnamon toast over crab legs? Over cheeseburgers and barbecue?
[larajeans] Even over mocha sugar donuts?
[pkavinsky] I stand by my choice
She waited for him to text back and ask about her favorite food. A minute went by, then another, but the three typing dots never resurfaced. She decided to volunteer her own answer.
[larajeans] I like a lot of foods too.
[larajeans] I would probably pick cake.
[pkavinsky] what kind of cake??
[larajeans] It doesn’t matter. I choose all cake.
[pkavinsky] I call bullshit
[pkavinsky] that’s not fair
[pkavinsky] you have to choose a type of cake
[larajeans] It’s so hard to pick!
[larajeans] There’s coconut cake and lemon cake and cheesecake and carrot cake.
[larajeans] Plus red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting and chocolate cake.
[larajeans] Have you ever had olive oil cake? It’s delicious and totally unlike any other cake you’ve ever tasted.
[pkavinsky] that was a lot of cake
[pkavinsky] I noticed on your profile you like baking
[pkavinsky] would you bake for me sometime?
Never mind the fact that Lara Jean had sent four straight texts to him about her favorite cakes, but he had checked out her Tattle profile before she had even thought to look at his.
[larajeans] I’ll make you an olive oil cake! Guaranteed to change your life.
[pkavinsky] looking forward to it
Peter Kavinsky, 19 | @pkavinsky
lacrosse · movies · kombucha
Lara Jean was waiting in line at the Korean grocery store when she decided to check Tattle again. She had been standing with a basketful of groceries (choco pies, yakult, honey twists, and all the other snack essentials) for ten minutes and she was sure she had only moved one and a half steps.
After her initial exchange with Peter yesterday about favorite foods, they texted a few more times throughout the day. He sent her a goodnight text last night and they hadn’t spoken since then.
Lara Jean scrutinized Peter’s Tattle bio closer: “You’re welcome.” She had no idea what that was supposed to mean. It wasn’t like she was thanking him for anything. She opened the message thread from yesterday.
larajeans x pkavinsky
DAY TWO | now that you’ve said hello, talk about things you have in common. bring out your inner conversationalist and find out more about the other person’s likes and dislikes. remember, you two were paired to talk for a reason.
[larajeans] I didn’t know you drank kombucha?
[larajeans] Isn’t it really vinegary?
[pkavinsky] nah you get used to it
[pkavinsky] heard it’s good for digestion
[larajeans] I’ve never tried it.
[pkavinsky] most people don’t like it their first time
[pkavinsky] so you like movies too?
[larajeans] Yes! I love anything John Hughes.
[pkavinsky] who is john?
[larajeans] John Hughes? Sixteen Candles? The Breakfast Club? Pretty in Pink?
[pkavinsky] are those movies from the 70s?
[larajeans] No, the 80s!
[larajeans] Promise me you’ll watch Sixteen Candles at least once. It’s a classic.
[pkavinsky] you know what’s a classic?
[pkavinsky] fight club
Lara Jean had most definitely never seen Fight Club. Peter must have noticed the hesitation in her reply because he launched into a flurry of texts.
[pkavinsky] are you serious
[pkavinsky] woah LJ, don’t tell me you’ve never seen fight club
[pkavinsky] it’s in the contract of life
[pkavinsky] you have to watch it
[larajeans] … no?
[pkavinsky] put that on the list
[pkavinsky] I’ll watch the candles movie with you if you watch fight club
[larajeans] You have a deal.
[larajeans] We can virtually shake on it.
Lara Jean eyed the drink case near the checkout aisle and reached for a glass bottle of kombucha. She wouldn’t know unless she tried.
Lara Jean needed the legendary social media stalking skills of her friend Lucas. He agreed to meet her for a slice of pie at the nearby dinner and promised he would bring a fully-charged phone and his detective A-game. Lara Jean tried to find out more about Peter Kavinsky online, but she could only find a few posts on his Instagram and an athlete profile page of lacrosse stats. Apparently, he was a lacrosse star, something she wouldn’t have known otherwise except for whenever he apologized to say he would text her later because he had to go condition.
She imagined Peter doing the same thing and looking up her name on social media. She doubted he would find much because most of her online profiles were set to private, but she liked the thought of him looking for more breadcrumbs on the internet because he wanted to know more and couldn’t get enough of her through text.
“Lara Jean, you have it bad,” Lucas said over a mouthful of cherry pie.
“I’ve only been talking to him for two days,” said Lara Jean, though she couldn’t suppress the color that was rising in her cheeks.
“I wouldn’t be here if you didn’t promise me free pie and a life-altering crush.” Lucas waved his fork at her and glanced at the number of texts she had exchanged with Peter in the Tattle thread. “That is a lot of talking for forty-eight hours.”
“He’s easy to talk to.” She shrugged. “We talk about whatever. It’s nice, different from talking to you or Chris or my sisters.”
“Tattle should start using you two in their ad campaigns because you are lovestruck,” said Lucas as he pulled up Instagram on his phone. “The last time I used Tattle, one of the guys asked to meet me in coffee at the end of the week but ditched me at the last minute for a ‘family emergency.’”
“I’m sorry, Lucas.” Lara Jean gave a sympathetic smile. She also made a mental note to tread carefully in the realm of real-life meetings.
“No, it was good riddance. I saw on Instagram he got back together with his ex two days later.” Lucas forked another piece of pie into his mouth. “So much for love and mobile dating.”
“Lucas, I don’t know how you manage to uncover so much online. I would be scared if I wasn’t here using your services for good.”
“Keep the baked goods coming and we won’t have any problems.” Lucas made a surprised face like he finally found what he was looking for on his phone and then his face scrunched up. “Speaking of, your boy Peter has been tagged in multiple photos with a pretty blonde girl.” Lucas gave his phone to Lara Jean to review.
The girl was very blonde and very pretty. In some photos, the girl was draped over Peter. She thought of the way long capes wrap around the muscular bodies of superheroes in the action movies Kitty sometimes forced Lara Jean to go to.
Lucas took back his phone and checked the timestamps on each of the posts with a laser-like focus. He was looking for forensic fingerprints that would sway for or against Peter’s favor. “These are mostly from eight months ago. They don’t appear on his profile either. They probably broke up and haven’t interacted online much since.” He looked up to gauge Lara Jean’s reaction.
It didn’t bother her that Peter had an ex-girlfriend that was floating around online somewhere. She probably expected that he had exes, given how attractive he had looked in his profile picture. He was on a dating app, of course he had been in relationships in the past. Lara Jean decided she wouldn’t let that color how she felt about him or how far their relationship went, if it would even continue past the week.
“Thanks Lucas.” Lara Jean smiled sincerely at him and took a sip of her cherry coke. “Now tell me everything about the guy who stood you up, so I can tell you how much better you are.”
larajeans x pkavinsky
DAY THREE | a wise philosopher once said compliments are the way to a person’s soul. actually, we might have made that one up, but there’s no reason not to live by those words. brighten up someone’s day and say something nice.
[pkavinsky] you look pretty today.
[pkavinsky] I like you in blue
[pkavinsky] in the photo you posted on Instagram earlier I mean
Chris was sprawled on Lara Jean’s bed with half of a chocolate chip cookie stuffed in her mouth. Lara Jean finished a baking a batch of cookies earlier, and she was glad Chris was a willing guinea pig for her baking experiments however successful or disastrous. Her most recent edition of cookies came out better than the last, more crisp than crumbly and the chocolate more evenly distributed, but she still had a nagging feeling they were short of perfect. She knew was missing something important, an ingredient or secret technique of some sort, yet she couldn’t put her finger on it.
“No crumbs,” Lara Jean reminded Chris. Chris cupped her other hand beneath her chin to catch any potential crumbs.
Chris finished chewing and made a delighted noise. “Lara Jean, you have outdone yourself this time.” Chris wiped her fingers on her shirt and turned to Lara Jean with newfound vigor. “The new guy I’ve been talking to is British.” Chris held out her phone for Lara Jean to look at his profile picture. He looked older and had the faint scruff of a beard that Lara Jean didn’t find particularly appealing. “I haven’t heard him speak yet, so he could be lying for all I know, but guys with British accents are attractive. I’m sold.”
Lara Jean nodded in agreement. “It is a very distinguished accent.” She envisioned a teenage Darcy on his phone swiping through different profiles and holding out for the perfect girl. This was most definitely not who Chris had in mind for her Tattle match.
Chris abruptly looked up from her phone. “What about you, Lara Jean? Word on the street is that you have been very involved in texting a mystery man.”
Lara Jean tried to contain her surprise. “Where is this word on the street coming from?”
“Kitty,” said Chris like it was obvious fact.
She should have seen it coming. “I don’t know what’s going to happen when Kitty is old enough to date on her own.”
“Kitty would probably say your love life is boring and she’s ready to move onto something more interesting,” replied Chris with a teasing smile.
“Chris!” Lara Jean swatted her best friend on the arm. “Boring is not the word I would use.”
“Uneventful? Uninspired?” continued Chris as Lara Jean’s phone chirped with a new notification. Amused, Chris pointed at the incoming message while Lara Jean scrambled to block her phone screen out of sight. “Although Prince Charming might change that.”
larajeans x pkavinsky
[pkavinsky] what are you thinking about?
Lara Jean honestly wished she had something cooler to say than eating cookies in her bedroom and debating the merits of British accents with her best friend. She glanced over at Chris who was texting her British Tattle guy again. Her eyes bounced around for inspiration and her thumbs hovered hesitantly over her keyboard as she searched for the right response. She couldn’t wait too long to reply back, but her mind was blank.
[larajeans] The usual, you know
[larajeans] Hanging out with my best friend
[pkavinsky] that’s cool
[pkavinsky] what are you doing?
[larajeans] umm I made cookies earlier
[pkavinsky] what kind?
[larajeans] I’m on a mission to bake the perfect chocolate chip cookie.
[pkavinsky] chocolate chip is good
[pkavinsky] I ate fruitcake cookies once.. never again
[pkavinsky] my cookie standards have been low ever since
[larajeans] That is unacceptable, Peter K.
[pkavinsky] okay describe the perfect cookie to me then
[larajeans] The theory behind any good chocolate chip cookie is that it must have three rings.
[larajeans] The center should be soft and gooey and the middle is the right amount of chewy.
[larajeans] Most importantly, the outer ring is crispy. This is where most fail. Crispy can easily turn to burnt, or it goes the other way and becomes too puffy.
[pkavinsky] oh the horror of a burnt and puffy cookie
[larajeans] I’m serious. I tried everything from imported sugar to chocolate fèves.
[pkavinsky] what the hell is a five?
[pkavinsky] a feve? however you spell it
[larajeans] A chocolate disc. They melt perfectly into streaks but cost more than $30 a bag. But once you bake with them, you never go back to ordinary chocolate chips.
[pkavinsky] woah woah
[pkavinsky] $30 for discs of chocolate?
[pkavinsky] I could buy so many cookies with that money
[larajeans] That’s what the uneducated say. Wait until you have had the perfect cookie.
[pkavinsky] Lara Jean, you know I’m waiting
larajeans x pkavinsky
DAY FOUR | share a secret. not a big one, because we might get in trouble if you do, but maybe a harmless little white lie you once told a friend or an embarrassing truth you have suppressed since the sixth grade. be bold, be brave.
[pkavinsky] hey lara jean
[pkavinsky] I think it’s time we do our double feature
[pkavinsky] you will thank me after you watch fight club
[larajeans] Prepare to be forever changed by the ending of Sixteen Candles.
[larajeans] The ending is the most romantic thing I have ever seen.
[pkavinsky] let’s skype tonight
[pkavinsky] we can watch both movies back to back
“Hey, Covey!” Peter’s cheerful voice reverberated through Lara Jean’s laptop speakers. Taken aback by his presence on her screen, Lara Jean gave a startled look that could only be compared to a deer caught in the headlights of suddenly seeing the boy she had abstracted in her head finally appear in real-time.
“Covey, that’s your last name right?” he asked for assurance after noticing her initial alarmed expression. “I can call you Covey?”
Lara Jean smiled and quickly pulled her face back to normal. No one had ever asked if they could call her by her last name before. “Yes, yes you can Peter K.”
When Peter grinned, his whole face lit up. His features were softer on video than they were in his profile picture or any of the Instagram posts Lucas had showed her. She couldn’t deny he was handsome, handsome like he had been a Hollywood leading man in a past-life. His voice was also a revelation for her, deep and gravelly in certain tones yet unmistakably clear in ways she hadn’t expected. Every text he had ever sent her now took on a new meaning, and she thought about this Peter reciting his messages out loud. It made his words sound more alive and electric.
“Are you ready for this?” he asked with an expectant smile. “I have Sixteen Candles queued up first and after we watch that, you will understand why Fight Club was the best movie ever made.”
She nodded in agreement and hit play.
“Let’s do this at the same time, when I say ‘go.’”
“Wait, I already hit play,” she exclaimed in a panicked voice and quickly pressed pause.
Peter laughed and shook his head. “Should have known you would be way ahead of me. Restart and we can try again.”
She rewound the movie five seconds back and gave him an affirming thumbs up.
“Okay, go.” They hit play at the same time.
Lara Jean had seen Sixteen Candles so many times in her life, she wouldn’t discover anything new by watching it again. Instead, her gaze kept wandering off her video player and onto the video chat with Peter. He had shrunk to a little rectangle in the corner of her screen, but she found her eyes drifting over to gauge his reaction whenever he laughed or smiled or made a funny comment. It was like he was there watching the movie right next to her.
Midway through the movie, Lara Jean’s phone lit up with a text.
larajeans x pkavinsky
[pkavinsky] Covey I know you think this film is the most romantic thing you have ever seen
[pkavinsky] but don’t you think some parts are kind of problematic?
[larajeans] I agree, we can talk about it when it’s over.
[larajeans] just watch the film!
[pkavinsky] I know but I get distracted easily
[pkavinsky] I guess I don’t fully get why you love this movie
[larajeans] two words: Jake Ryan
[pkavinsky] you can’t take this dude seriously he has two first names
[larajeans] Fair point.
[pkavinsky] plus I am way better looking than this jake ryan guy
Lara Jean’s eyes flickered up to Peter’s face in the corner of the screen and she pretended not to see his text because yes, yes he was.
Two potentially life-altering movies later, they were both exhausted yet fully awake. Lara Jean’s nerves buzzed with a tired, frenzied energy. She wanted to close her eyes and go to sleep, but Peter had pulled her into his orbit with his easy-going nature and charm. Talking to him easy and she felt herself loosen in the ebb and flow of the conversation.
“So, this is something we haven’t talked about yet: how did you end up on Tattle?” Peter seemed genuinely curious about her answer.
“My best friend and little sister, Kitty, made me sign up.” Lara Jean could hear Chris and Kitty’s collective chorus of “you’re welcome” in her head. “What about you?”
“I’ve had an account for a few months and checked it infrequently. Guess I became really active this week.” He shrugged like it was nothing, and also like it was everything and his week had been consumed by texting one girl in particular.
“How long have you been single?” She didn’t know what made her ask it, but the question formed before she had a chance to stop herself. After she said it, she wished she could take it back. She didn’t want to make the situation uncomfortable; they had come too far for that.
“I dated this girl for a while. For a long time, actually.” He looked away from his webcam. “We broke up less than a year ago when she left me for another guy she met a summer job.”
“I’m sorry,” Lara Jean said, empathizing as if she knew what it felt like to be cheated on or to watch a long-term relationship crash and burn or even to be so vulnerable and exposed to another person that their actions would cause this level of heartbreak. She had only ever read about those feelings or watched it happen to her friends, but never her. Never her, and not yet.
“No, no don’t be. It was a while ago and we’ve both moved on.” He paused and let out a deep breath. “It’s just hard to have history with someone, and then one day, it’s like they rewrote the history books without telling you.”
They were silent for a moment.
Lara Jean looked up from her lap and then back at Peter. “How did you know you were in love with her?” She bit her lip in anticipation.
Peter went quiet to think about her question and let out another deep sigh. “I don’t know if I ever loved her. How would I even know what that felt like?”
Lara Jean tucked a strand of loose hair behind her ear. “I’ve never had a boyfriend before,” she said suddenly. She was making a confession she didn’t know she was holding in. “I know plenty of people who have been in relationships but they’ve never once been in love. I thought I was the exception; I thought I was in love once, from afar.” She swallowed. “It turns out love doesn’t work that way.”
“Can I ask you a question?” He gave her a soft encouraging smile. “Why haven’t you ever had a boyfriend?”
Her eyes wandered away from the screen. “I don’t know. I guess nobody ever asked.”
“I don’t believe that. Be honest with me for a second, Covey.”
“Honest about what?”
“Hey, what did we just learn from this movie marathon? No secrets,” he said earnestly.
Lara Jean looked down at her fingers as they twirled the ends of her hair. “When it’s not all in your head and you have a real-life person in front of you, it’s different. A real person has wants and needs and expectations. What are you supposed to do when it’s two-sided?” She let out a shaky breath and looked up at the screen again. He was staring attentively at her and hanging onto each word she was saying. “It’s scary when it’s real.”
“I don’t know, isn’t love supposed to be scary? Don’t you want to be terrified?” Peter said like he had been thinking about it for a long time and had finally let it out.
She thought about racing heartbeats and the adrenaline of it, the intoxication she would never get enough of. She wanted it all.
larajeans x pkavinsky
DAY FIVE | time to take the training wheels off for this one. we are letting you lovebirds converse on your own today. we wish you good luck. by now, neither of you should need it.
[pkavinsky] hi gen
[pkavinsky] can we talk
Lara Jean’s heart stopped. She wasn’t sure who Gen was, but she was sure she wasn’t Gen. Peter probably confused Lara Jean for this Gen girl in his messages without realizing it.
[larajeans] Who’s Gen?
[pkavinsky] oh shit
[pkavinsky] I’m so sorry Covey
[pkavinsky] sometimes I get mixed up with these message threads
[pkavinsky] hard to keep track, you know
No, Lara Jean didn’t know. Her first match had disappeared and her second match was a cheater, and her third match was the only one who paid her any attention. The idea that Peter had two other matches hadn’t crossed her mind before, but she felt stupid in thinking Peter was exclusively messaging her. Of course, he was talking to other people. After all, he was the who messaged her first.
[larajeans] Oh okay.
She didn’t want to know more, but there was a voice in the back of her head urging her to pry further and ask. She winced as she typed each letter in her next message and pressed send.
[larajeans] So you’re in touch with all of your matches?
[pkavinsky] yeah I guess
[pkavinsky] it’s the point of the app I guess
[pkavinsky] I text you the most though
Lara Jean smiled to herself. It made her feel good to know that Peter liked talking to her best. She couldn’t remember what she did with her phone before she started texting Peter, but she found herself reaching for phone all the time as if it were an extension of herself—as if it were her only conduit to him.
[larajeans] I text you the most too.
[pkavinsky] the other girl gen is annoying and won’t stop texting me
[pkavinsky] I really like talking to you
[pkavinsky] I like your honesty Covey
Lara Jean was wearing her heart on her sleeve and these text messages were written proof.
“Lara Jean, what are you doing?” Kitty’s sing-song voice sounded from the doorway of Lara Jean’s room.
“I’m busy,” Lara Jean called back and made a motion for Kitty to leave. She quickly hit the mute button on her laptop and angled the screen away.
Kitty skipped into Lara Jean’s room. “Who were you talking to?”
“No one in particular.” Lara Jean started to say, although she knew that avoiding the subject would only raise Kitty’s suspicions. She opted for partial truth instead. “Just a new friend. We’re watching a movie together.”
Kitty did not seem satisfied. She slipped off her shoes and climbed onto Lara Jean’s bed to sit down next to her sister.
“Kitty!” exclaimed Lara Jean and attempted to nudge her off. Kitty reached around Lara Jean for the laptop.
Peter’s face came into view on the laptop screen and he gave a little wave. He was still on mute, but she could tell he was mouthing the words “Who is this?”
Lara Jean lunged to shut her laptop, but Kitty’s hand stopped her. Kitty searched for the button to unmute the microphone and speakers.
“Is that Little LJ?” Peter’s curious voice came muffled through the speakers.
Kitty centered herself in the webcam view and stared straight into Peter’s face on the screen, unflinching. “My name, thanks for asking, is Katherine Song Covey. Kitty to my friends.” Kitty’s easy smile dropped. “You can call me Katherine.”
Peter gave a little salute in acknowledgement. “Peter, good too meet you.”
Lara Jean couldn’t decide whether to be highly amused or completely horrified at the situation.
Kitty raised a skeptical eyebrow and moved closer to the screen. “That doesn’t explain who you are or how you know my sister.”
“Well, I guess it started when I met your sister five days ago on a dating app.” Peter sounded unfazed by the fact that Lara Jean’s little sister was questioning who he was and his place in her life.
Kitty let out a loud shriek of excitement.
Lara Jean quickly decided she felt horror, definitely horror. Her eyes widened and she felt that there was never a better moment for another meteor to strike the Earth and bury them all in ash.
“Is this Tattle?” Kitty rapidly looked between Lara Jean and Peter.
Lara Jean gave a slow nod as Peter asked, “What do you know about it?”
“Nothing! Everything I need to know.” Kitty bounced off Lara Jean’s bed and skipped out of the room. “I’ll leave you two to it. Bye Peter! Love you Lara Jean,” she called out behind her.
Lara Jean closed her eyes and opened them slowly, as if everything that just happened would reveal itself as a bad dream. “I am so, so sorry,” she apologized and buried her face in her hands.
Peter laughed loudly, a laugh that sent a shiver down her spine and a warm feeling in her toes.
larajeans x pkavinsky
DAY SIX | we have prompted you with ice breaker questions this entire week, but now it’s your turn to ask a question. what is something you have been waiting to ask the other person? anything you are dying to know? don’t hold back.
[larajeans] Hi Peter, are you free tomorrow afternoon?
[pkavinsky] yes probably
Lara Jean closed her eyes and took a deep breath. There would be no going back after this. The message would be out.
[larajeans] Do you want to get coffee tomorrow afternoon?
[larajeans] You don’t have to if you’re busy. I thought it might be a good way to end the week.
[pkavinsky] yeah covey I’d love to
[pkavinsky] never thought you’d ask.
[pkavinsky] do you have a place in mind?
[larajeans] There’s this diner I like to go to. I think it’s near you too.
[pkavinsky] cool text me the address later
It was late, and Lara Jean couldn’t fall asleep.
Asking Peter to meet her in person wasn’t something she had expected to do. It was something the Lara Jean from six days ago never would have done in a million years, but this post-Tattle Lara Jean was too curious for her own good. Her invitation to meet at the diner wasn’t so much an impulse decision as it was the logical next step. Meeting Peter in real life seemed like a natural follow-up to their constant texting and Skype calls, and it sounded like he was expecting it to happen too.
Still, Lara Jean could not help but think about the weight and implications of meeting a person she had only known online. They hadn’t even known each other for a full week yet. She worried that Peter would think she was fine when confined to a little text bubble on his phone or a pixelated rectangle of her face on video chat, but the real her would be too much to handle. She would be a disappointment, and then he would forget her and move on to his next round of three matches. It was becoming real all too fast and she needed time to pause and catch up.
In her quest to find sleep again, Lara Jean found herself aimlessly scrolling through old messages. Texts where Peter sent her random thoughts (“I did more research on chocolate fèves last night and watched a twenty minute video where this french guy did this thing called tempering chocolate”) or asked for her help (“where do you buy that korean yogurt drink you were drinking last night? it looked good”) or even gave her fashion advice (“you look prettier when you wear your hair down, trust me”). Lara Jean smiled to herself as she rewound through a digital archive of his funny stories and daily musings. She could get over the fact that he never capitalized or punctuated his texts properly. It was odd to think that these texts gave her instant access to Peter Kavinsky whenever and wherever. These were bits and pieces of himself he had sent to her, messages meant for her eyes only.
Lara Jean had always wanted to receive an old-fashioned love letter. A letter where someone loved her so much, he would bleed his heart out in ink for her. She was enamored by the novelty of it: the intimacy of the handwriting and tangibility of paper in her hands, and the care with which someone would have to write their deepest feelings and desires and seal it up in an envelope.
She fantasized about drafting her own special message to Peter: “Dear Peter K., I like you a lot. Do you like me too? Check yes or no.”
larajeans x pkavinsky
DAY SEVEN | this is your swan song. this is a chance to say goodbye once last time, to thank the other person for seven days of great conversation. this is also a chance to take the conversation beyond Tattle, but no pressure.
after today, you two will no longer be prompted to converse and you will refresh tomorrow with a set of new matches. this message thread will remain active for an additional three months before all messages will be archived.
[pkavinsky] remember 4pm at the diner
[pkavinsky] be there or be square
[larajeans] See you then!
Lara Jean arrived at the diner at 3:50pm exact. She scoped out the perfect table, secluded enough to have privacy and close enough to the exit in case she needed to make a dash for it. After seven days of texting back and forth, Lara Jean’s axe murder radar wasn’t showing any red flags, but she liked to have insurance. She even told Kitty to keep tabs and call her with a fake emergency if Lara Jean was in desperate need of a realistic get-out card.
At 4:05pm, no one else had walked through the front door of the diner.
Joan, the waitress, walked by Lara Jean’s table and asked if she needed anything. Lara Jean shook her head and stated she was waiting for someone with a sheepish smile. The probability of her being stood up grew higher and higher. She should have learned from Lucas’ mishap and avoided any invitation to meet in the first place.
She decided she would give Peter Kavinsky another five minutes. If he didn’t show, she would walk out the door with at least part of her dignity intact and feel satisfied this was the last day they were supposed to text anyway. She would never have to see or talk to him ever again.
At 4:09pm, her phone chirped with a new text.
larajeans x pkavinsky
[pkavinsky] I’m sorry Covey
[pkavinsky] running very late be there in 5
[pkavinsky] i’ll make it up to you with fries
[larajeans] Okay. I already have a table.
[pkavinsky] great see you soon
At 4:14pm, Peter walked into the diner. He recognized Lara Jean immediately and sat down in front of her.
He smiled at her, a beautiful and uninhibited smile, and started apologizing for his lateness. It sounded something like a mishap with his car and helping an old lady across the street, but she couldn’t focus on any of the words he was saying. She just nodded along and accepted his apology.
Peter Kavinsky was exactly how Lara Jean had pictured him in her mind, but he was also different in ways she hadn’t expected. It was strange to finally see Peter up close and in person. He was taller than she thought he would be, although it wasn’t difficult for anyone to be taller than Lara Jean. She liked that about him: tall, dark, and handsome.
It was as if she had conjured this boy out of her own imagination, but here he was in front of her ordering a chocolate shake and asking if she wanted to split an order of fries.
“Covey, are you with me? How do you feel about fries?” Peter asked again.
Lara Jean snapped out of her reverie and nodded quickly in agreement. “Yeah, fries sound great.”
Peter finished giving his order to Joan and turned back to Lara Jean. He stared at her like he was studying her, constructing a venn diagram between the real-life Lara Jean Covey and the profile photo of the girl he spent the past week texting.
“I thought it would be weird if I told you this on the first day, but I think you look beautiful in your profile picture online.”
Lara Jean beamed. It was the first time a boy had ever told her she looked beautiful like this, with so much care around the words.
“The lighting in the background was sick. Where were you?” asked Peter. He happily accepted his milkshake from Joan and took a long sip.
She smiled. “I was in Korea with my sisters last summer when I took that photo. Best trip of my eighteen years.”
“That’s cool. I’ve never traveled outside of the US, but I would love to go to Asia,” said Peter. He ran his fingers through his hair and Lara Jean wondered how often he did it, whether it was because he was anxious to finally meet her or because he was just that obsessive about his beautiful hair.
She didn’t realize she had said that last part out loud.
Peter laughed. “Yeah, I guess I’m a little nervous.” He ran his hand through his hair again. “Thanks for complimenting my hair, though.”
Lara Jean blushed and tried to look preoccupied with the ice cubes in her cherry coke. Talking to the real Peter was easy just as talking to virtual Peter was, except virtual Peter had terrible punctuation and only appeared real on video chat, whereas this Peter was living and breathing and sitting across from her. She felt closer this Peter, the real one, because the boy she had been texting for the past seven days was only a partial extension of the full Peter Kavinsky.
They talked about everything they had already talked about through text messages and everything they could only talk about as two people meeting for the first time in a diner. They found a natural rhythm of conversation as if this were something they did regularly, jumping from the best slice of cake in her life to his favorite movies to her sisters and his younger brother.
It felt like hours had gone by in their small table at the diner. Multiple groups of other customers had come and gone since Lara Jean first sat down. His chocolate milkshake was long gone, and she had already gotten two refills on her black-cherry soda. The late afternoon sun had bled into twilight, casting a warm evening hue inside the diner; as the night went on, the high artificial ceiling lights flickered on above them.
“Don’t forget you still owe me freshly-baked cookies, Covey.” Peter gave her a look that indicated he was completely serious about her promise and the prospect of baked goods.
Lara Jean’s perked up at his comment and she pulled an aluminum-foil lined Tupperware container out of her bag. “I have a surprise for you. Remember when I told you I was working on the perfect chocolate chip cookie?” She uncovered the lid with a flourish to reveal a neat stack of chocolate chip cookies. “These are the newest edition. Tell me what you think.”
Eagerly, he reached for a cookie. The cookie was still slightly warm to the touch and the chocolate chips had melted to the perfect consistency.
“Oh my god,” he said loudly in between bites. “I think I’m in love with you already.”
Lara Jean flushed and nudged the container of cookies closer to him. “I’m glad you like them,” she said, nodding.
Peter insisted on driving her home. They stayed in the diner well past midnight, after Joan had already left her shift and Joan’s replacement was much less patient with the two people in the corner who refused to leave.
He parked in front of her house and ran over to the other side to open the passenger door. As she stepped out of his car, the gesture did not go unnoticed by Lara Jean.
They stood in her driveway without saying a word. Her porch light flickered on and off intermittently, bathing them in a harsh yellow in the moonlight. She looked up at him and realized he was staring at her; she wondered how long he had been doing that.
Peter cleared his throat. “That was nice. I’m glad we met up.” His hands were in his hair again.
“Me too,” replied Lara Jean softly.
“This has been some week,” he remarked. He was searching, clumsily reaching for any words he could find to fill the quiet.
“Yes, it has.” She laughed awkwardly. “Not what I expected when I started.”
“The good kind of unexpected,” he said, and she agreed.
They were still staring at each other. She realized how much taller he was than her, how his face was hovering distantly above hers. It almost felt too far.
“I should probably head in soon. It’s getting late.” She pretended not to notice her feet made no effort to move.
“Okay,” he said.
Peter inched closer to her and lingered there. She could feel him against her and her heart was racing; she hoped he wouldn’t be able to feel the flurry of anxiety bubbling inside of her. Her breathing got shallower, but she never broke eye contact.
Lara Jean finally understood what Peter meant two nights ago. It wasn’t scary because it was real—it was real because it was scary. She was scared by how much she wanted him, how he unequivocally held her heart in his hands. That kind of power over someone else was terrifying.
She wondered if he was scared too.
Then he kissed her.
It was a moment born out of fantasy, played out like the climax of a movie when the boy drops the girl off on her front porch and stares intensely into her eyes; then in one grand, romantic gesture, the boy kisses the girl deeply and passionately while a sweeping instrumental track plays over them. Only, there was no soundtrack and this was no movie—he was Peter Kavinsky and she was Lara Jean Covey and they were still kissing.
She was up on the tips of her toes and her arms were curled around his neck. Her hands found his hair and she couldn’t think anymore after that. His hands wrapped around her lower back as he drew her closer to him, pulled her heartstrings even tighter.
“One last thing,” Peter said and broke away from her for a brief moment. “Can I have your number?”
Lara Jean’s heart soared as she smiled up at him. “As long as you promise to write to me.”
He leaned down to kiss her again.
Once she got inside her house, she shut the front door and waited for Peter’s car to pull out of the driveway. She leaned against the door and closed her eyes. Lara Jean held her phone close to her chest, as if it were a precious piece of her heart and she would never let it go.
Kitty popped out from the staircase with a satisfied smile. “I don’t want to say I told you so, but I told you so.”