- During the writing of the contract
It’s the strangest thing, but after Peter tells Lara Jean that he’ll write her notes, he wants to kiss her. He’s kissed her already, twice now. Three times if you count seventh grade. But he wants to kiss her now, as she’s softly asking him if he’d really write her notes every day. There’s something about her voice, and the way she’s looking at him, and he has a split second moment where he wants to lean across the picnic table they’re sitting at and kiss her smile.
He immediately goes and ruins it by telling her that Gen always wanted him to write her notes and it would drive her nuts if he did it for Lara Jean, especially if she doesn’t ask him.
That’s okay. There’s no reason he should want to kiss Covey again. They’re just doing this so he can get Gen to break up with that asshole college guy and he can have his girlfriend back. He mentally adds that to his own contract: No wanting to kiss Lara Jean and being disappointed that he can’t.
- At the Diner
After Gen corners him in the bathroom at Greg’s party, he snaps; all he wants to do is leave, and as soon as he can, and with Lara Jean in his car. That’s all he wants.
So he finds her jacket among the pile and goes to find her, almost hesitant to break up her conversation with Lucas but ecstatic when her friend shoos her on her way and she shows no other remorse that he’s taken her away from the party early.
At the diner, she sits next to him, which is a dumb thing to be excited about because they’re not dating, but there are three whole seats to choose from and she sits directly next to him. While they talk, he forgets the ruse, forgets they aren’t really a couple, and he’s able to easily ask her questions and answer hers the best he can.
It’s so far gone from his mind that he asks Lara Jean why she’s not afraid to be with him – as if this was real, as if this was a genuine date, as if they were really going through that thing where they spill all their secrets and dig up their pasts.
“I think it’s funny, you say you’re scared of commitment and relationships, but you don’t seem to be afraid to be with me.”
“Well, there’s no reason to be.”
“Yeah? Why’s that?”
If he’s being honest with himself, he wants to hear her say something like “It’s because you’re so easy to talk to” or “You make it easy to forget my fears” and he wonders if he’s been reading her romance novels by accident or something.
“’Cause we’re just pretending,” is what Lara Jean actually ends up saying. The whole façade that Peter had built around the moment collapses and he’s in a diner with his fake girlfriend, having a fake bonding conversation, as they finish out their fake date night after a party.
He remembers stammering out something and then grabbing the check, at least remembering to look at her and thank her for coming to the party.
It’s second nature to post the picture of them, and it’ll help keep up appearances. It’s all about that contract, after all. So, he posts the picture with the cute caption and is utterly surprised when Lara Jean comments on it right after she probably got the tag notification.
The kissing emoji is the closest he’s getting tonight, so that’s what he replies.
- Dinner with Mom and Owen
It’s somewhere in the middle of dinner with his family that Peter admits to himself that he’s wanted to kiss Lara Jean plenty more times than just the obvious few. It doesn’t help that they stay in the kitchen, talking and cleaning up. She hoists herself onto the counter and tells him he’s a great listener, and he recognizes that she’s the perfect height for him to fit between her knees and tangle his fingers in her hair. This, too, is added to the list of perfect kiss moments.
Like the day he showed up at the diner when he got the letter and then dropped her off, proposing this whole fake-dating thing in the first place due to a momentary lapse in brain activity.
Maybe even in his car the first time he picked up Lara Jean and Kitty, as Kitty bossed him around from the back seat. When he leaned over to tell her he’d made progress, what he really wanted was a “good job” kiss for charming over her sister so quickly. Of course, it helps that he has a car and he’d just told her he’d be giving her rides to school from then on.
He wanted to kiss her when she said he wasn’t allowed to kiss her anymore. He wanted to kiss her when she looked adorably confused about his Fight Club reference. Peter Kavinsky has wanted to kiss Lara Jean Covey so many times that he’s surprised he hasn’t started gravitating towards her lips every time they’re in the same room.
He might as well just start doodling their initials inside hearts on the covers of his folders for how freaking love sick he sounds right now. This fake dating bullshit was the worst idea ever . Officially.
- After Fighting in the Hallway
After Gen infers they might be back together by the ski trip, he can’t even think straight. There’s this light-headed feeling where he should be elated, because this is what he wanted. Right? This was the whole reason?
And then he sees Lara Jean with Josh Sanderson out in the open as if she’s already moving right along without him, and he feels his heart fracture just a bit.
Because he’s still in this, even if she’s not. He’s all in, even if she doesn’t realize it. Hasn’t realized it. Why can’t she realize it? Hasn’t he made it obvious that this is more than just the game?
And so he practically tells her straight out as they argue in the hallway.
We are still together.
She has to realize what he’s saying, right?
You’re just trying to pull out because you’re scared.
That should do it, right?
“What do I have to be scared about?” she asks him, indignation written on her features and her arms crossed as if to keep him tightly out of her bubble.
“You tell me, Covey.”
This is gonna be the moment. She’s going to use that brilliant mind of hers and she’s going to come up with the answer. Have the last three months meant nothing at all to her? If he could only kiss her, if he could just show her how he feels, how much this isn’t fake to him, but he won’t break the contract, because that’s what this whole fight is about anyway.
“I’ll go if Chris goes,” is her answer.
And what the fuck is he supposed to do with that?
- The Hot Tub
If there’s one thing Peter knows, it’s that he doesn’t know up from down anymore. He thought he’d ski away most of his feelings but he ended up with achy muscles and more insinuating comments from Gen.
But he doesn’t want Gen.
He’s in the hot tub hoping to boil the emotions right out of his head and then Lara Jean is there, acting as if she didn’t send another fragment of his heart down the drain. So he’s kinda mean to her, but he’s upset. She messed with his plans with the snacks and the seating, so the anger slips out just a little bit to start.
When Lara Jean mentions that he should thank her because he got to sit with who he wanted to, he decides it’s enough.
“For someone who has such good grades, you can be so dense sometimes,” he tells her, resting his arms up on the lip of the hot tub. Wide open, exposed. No more hiding behind a fake relationship.
“Yeah. I wanted to sit next to you , Lara Jean. I even packed the snacks. I asked Kitty where to find those yogurt drinks you like so much.” And finding a way to be sneaky about asking Kitty about said drinks was not easy .
When she points out that the Korean grocery store is all the way across town, he lays it out like a simple word problem. If he was willing to do that, why? Why would Peter go through all that effort for a fake girlfriend?
“You are impossible,” he tells her after she (he hopes jokingly) surmises that it must be because he really likes yogurt.
When she kicks off her slippers and puts her feet in the water, he can’t help the way his heart jumps.
“I’m sorry I didn’t sit next to you,” she says, her eyes unwavering from his. She’s staring at him so intently that he can’t hold eye contact, even after he forgives her. He glances around the courtyard, his eyes meeting hers every couple sweeps as they sit there considering each other, and he’s inexplicably nervous all of a sudden.
He has every right to be. She strips off her coat and climbs into the hot tub in her nightgown and he’s pretty sure he’s going to have a heart attack and he’ll probably have wet dreams for the rest of his life about the way she glides through the water explaining she didn’t bring a bathing suit.
“There’s no one like you, Covey,” he admits, and then finally. Finally , Lara Jean is kissing him. Their first real kiss. This isn’t spin the bottle. This isn’t for show for anyone else. This is Peter and Lara Jean, this is about them and their feelings and all he can do is be thankful she didn’t bring a bathing suit because he’s not sure he’d be able to handle that much skin on skin contact right now, not with this being the first time he’s ever gotten to really show her how he’s wanted to kiss her.
It’s thoughts along those same lines that winds him back down, eventually ushering her out of the hot tub and back into the lodge.
They don’t go to bed until both of them are dry, and he pulls her back for another kiss before letting her go for the night. As he walks away from #209, he smiles again, because this is right. This is finally right.
And now the only thing left to do is make sure that Gen understands exactly what page they’re on. Because he doesn’t want anything getting in the way of what he has with Lara Jean.
- The Hot Tub Aftermath
He doesn’t really understand how he can hurt so much from losing something he had for less than a day. One moment, he’s basking in the memory of Lara Jean’s sweet smile in the hot tub, and the next, he’s trying – brokenly, because he just can’t get the words out there – to explain that she was never second best.
The whole thing is a mess.
And then the video shows up on Instagram. There it is: his perfect moment with Lara Jean, where everything finally fell into place, and contracts didn’t matter, and they were finally in complete harmony with each other. There it is for everyone to see, and no one to understand like he and Lara Jean understood.
The messages start pouring in, but he hedges away from all of them, laughs off a great deal of them, but doesn’t do anything to outright fix it. But what can he do? He doesn’t know who took the video. (But he does.)
Christmas is fake smiles and acting his part for the parties he goes to. He keeps his distance from Gen, because her fingerprints are on every single thing that’s gone wrong, from Lara Jean’s outburst after they got off the bus and beyond, even if he keeps trying to convince himself it can’t be true.
Then comes the picture that Chris shoves into his chest after Lara Jean storms down the hallway crying, and he has to do something about this. There’s no more passive denial.
“Hey everyone, listen up! Not that it’s anyone’s business, but nothing happened in the hot tub. If I hear anybody talking about Lara Jean or that video, I’m gonna kick your asses.”
It’s a tall claim, but he’d do it if he had to, if it would show Lara Jean that he meant it, all of it…
He goes after her, trying to make sure she’s okay but instead seeing something more than pain. She’s hurt, all right, but there’s sharp anger in her eyes, and she confirms what he hasn’t wanted to believe – that they both know who’s behind the video, and now the picture. When she says she’ll fight this one on her own, Peter wants to kiss her. There’s new determination that replaces the fear she once claimed she had of Gen, and while his heart still aches, he’s proud. So, he watches her go, rubbing his hand over his heart and hoping for all the best.
Ten minutes later, Gen bursts out of the bathroom down the hallway. She gives him a seething look and stomps off in the opposite direction. He just barely manages to fight down the smile of knowing that Lara Jean must’ve accomplished her goal. He waits for another minute, hoping to catch her, but he’ll be late to his next class if he doesn’t get a move on. She probably won’t want to talk to him anyway.
- After the Credits
“Covey, what is this?”
“It’s my car.”
She says it like he doesn’t know, and he’s almost worried about the state of his heart when it tightens painfully in his chest. She’s too cute, too Lara Jean, and he loves her so much already.
“I can see that,” he says when she doesn’t say anything else. “But did you notice that it’s… well, forget it.”
“What, was I supposed to perfectly park between the lines before coming to profess my feelings for you?”
“Profess them, huh? You been reading your books again, Lara Jean?”
“No,” she says, leaning against her perfectly imperfect parking job. “I figured our story makes for better reading than any of the books I boxed up and gave away.”
Turns out it doesn’t matter how a car is parked, since kissing her as she leans against the cool metal feels just the same as if it were in the lines. Maybe she just parked like they’ve dated: a little off center, but still getting where it should be.