Do you remember last Christmas Eve? Never mind. I know you do. Well, I can’t stop thinking about it. About you. About us.
Come have a Christmas Eve mocha with me, Jeb. Three o’clock at Starbucks, just like last year. Tomorrow’s my day off, but I’ll be there, waiting in one of the big purple chairs. We can talk . . . and hopefully more.
I know I deserve nothing, but if you want me, I’m yours.
I could tell when Dorrie finished reading, because she turned and looked at me, biting her lip. As for Tegan, she made a sad ohhhh sound, got up out of the chair, and hugged me tight. Which made me cry, only it wasn’t crying so much as a spasm of weeping that took me totally by surprise.
“Honey!” Tegan cried.
I wiped my nose on my sleeve. I took a heaving breath.
“Okay,” I said, giving them a watery smile. “I’m better.”
“No, you’re not,” Tegan said.
“No, I’m not,” I agreed, and lost it all over again. My tears were hot and salty, and I imagined them melting my heart. They didn’t. They just made it mushy around the edges.
Big, trembly breath.
“Did he write back?” Tegan asked.
“At midnight,” I said. “Not last night’s midnight, but the midnight before Christmas Eve.” I swallowed and blinked and swiped again at my nose. “I checked my e-mail, like, every hour after I sent him the message—and nothing. So I was like, Give it up. You suck, and of course he didn’t write back. But then I decided to check one last time, you know?”
They nodded. Every girl on the planet was familiar with one-last-time e-mail checks.
“And?” Dorrie said.
I leaned over them and tapped on the keyboard. Jeb’s reply came up.
Addie . . . he’d written, and I could feel the complicated Jeb-silence inside that dot-dot-dot. I could imagine him thinking and breathing, his hands hovering over the keyboard. Finally—or at least, that was how I pictured it—he’d typed in, We’ll see.
“‘We’ll see’?” Dorrie read aloud. “That’s all he said, ‘We’ll see’?”
“I know. Classic Jeb.”
“Hmm,” Dorrie said.
“I don’t think ‘we’ll see’ is bad,” Tegan said. “He probably didn’t know what to say. He loved you so much, Addie. I bet he got your e-mail, and at first his heart lifted up, and then, because he’s Jeb—”
“Because he’s a guy,” Dorrie interjected.
“He said to himself, Hold on. Be careful.”
“Stop,” I said. It was too painful.
“And maybe that’s what his ‘we’ll see’ meant,” Tegan said anyway. “That he was thinking about it. I think that’s good, Addie!”
“Tegan . . . ” I said.
Her expression faltered. She went from hopeful to uncertain to worried. Her eyes flew to my pink hair.
Dorrie, who was quicker on the uptake with these things, said, “How long did you wait at Starbucks?”
She gestured at my hair. “And after that, that’s when you . . . ?”
“Uh-huh. At the Fantastic Sam’s across the street.”
“Fantastic Sam’s?” Dorrie said. “You got your breakup haircut at a place that gives out Dum-Dums and balloons?”
“They didn’t give me a Dum-Dum or a balloon,” I said glumly. “They were about to close. They didn’t even want to give me an appointment.”
“I don’t get it,” Dorrie said. “Do you know how many girls would have died for your hair?”
“Well, if they’re willing to dig through a trash can for it, they can have it.”
“Honestly, the pink is growing on me,” Tegan said. “And I’m not just saying that.”
“Yes, you are,” I said. “But who cares? It’s Christmas, and I’m all alone—”
“You’re not alone,” Tegan argued.
“And I’ll always be alone—”
“How can you be alone when we’re right here next to you?”
“And Jeb . . . ” My voice hitched. “Jeb doesn’t love me anymore.”
“I can’t believe he didn’t come!” Tegan said. “That just doesn’t sound like Jeb. Even if he didn’t want to get back together, don’t you think he’d at least show up?”
“But why doesn’t he want to get back together?” I said. “Why?”
“Are you sure it’s not some kind of mistake?” she pressed.
“Don’t,” Dorrie warned her.
“Don’t what?” Tegan said. She turned to me. “Are you absolutely positive he didn’t try to call you or anything?”
I grabbed my phone off my bedside table. I tossed it to her. “Look for yourself.”
She went to my call history and read the names out loud. “Me, Dorrie, home, home, home again—”
“That was my mom, trying to figure out where I was, since I was gone for so long.”
Tegan frowned. “Eight-oh-four, five-five-five, three-six-three-one? Who’s that?”
“Wrong number,” I said. “I answered, but no one was there.”
She pressed a button and lifted the phone to her ear.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Whoever it was, I’m calling them. What if it was Jeb calling from someone else’s phone?”
“It wasn’t,” I said.
“Eight-oh-four is Virginia’s area code,” Dorrie said. “Did Jeb take some mystery trip to Virginia?”
“No,” I said. Tegan was the one grasping at straws, not me. Still, when she held up her finger, my pulse quickened.
“Um, hi,” Tegan said. “May I ask who’s calling?”
“You’re the one who’s calling, you doof,” Dorrie said.
Tegan blushed. “Sorry,” she said into the phone. “I mean, um, may I ask who’s speaking?”
Dorrie waited for about half a second. “Well? Who is it?”
Tegan fluttered her hand, meaning, Shush, you’re distracting me.
“Me?” she said to the mystery person on the other end of the line. “No, because that’s insanity. And if I had thrown my cell phone into a snowbank, why would I—”
Tegan drew back and held the phone several inches from her ear. Tiny voices spilled out from the speaker, sounding like Alvin and the Chipmunks.