Home > What If It's Us(17)

What If It's Us(17)
Author: Adam Silvera, Becky Albertalli

The kitchen’s fully stocked with coffee again—I guess Dad stepped up and bought some. And it’s the nice stuff—not Starbucks. It’s French roast artisan blend from Dream & Bean—

A tiny thrum in my chest. My heart’s the first to remember.

Dream & Bean. His shirt. How could I forget about his T-shirt? If I were a detective, the chief would fire my ass right now. This is the game-changing clue, and it was right under my nose. Who even wears shirts from coffee shops?

Coffee shop employees, that’s who.

I google it so fast, I almost misspell the word “bean.” But there it is, two blocks from Mom’s office. In the direction of the post office.

All my chill vanishes.

What if what if what if—

I’m going to find him. It’s going to happen. My heart slams in my chest as I picture it. He’ll be behind the counter, bored and dreamy and adorably disheveled. I’ll walk in, in slow motion, perfectly centered in a beam of flattering light. And obviously the handlebar twins from the post office will be there too, but we’ll barely notice them this time. Our eyes will be glued to each other, his Emma Watson lips trembling. Arthur? he’ll say, and I’ll just nod. I’ll be so verklempt. I thought I’d never see you again, he’ll say. I looked everywhere for you. And I’ll whisper: You found me. And then he’ll—

But wow. Okay. I need to strategize.

Because maybe he’s off duty tomorrow. I should bring the picture, just in case. Would that be unforgivably creepy? Showing his picture to the barista?

Maybe I could hang his picture on the bulletin board, like a real-life missed connection post. Like Craigslist, but old-school. I mean, coffee shops always have bulletin boards. I think.

All I know is this: I refuse to miss this chance.

I scramble back to my room, open my laptop, and type.

Are you the boy from the post office?

I feel super awkward right now, and I can’t believe I’m doing this, but here we go.

We talked for a few minutes at the post office on Lexington. I was the guy in the hot dog tie. You were the guy mailing stuff back to your ex-boyfriend.

I loved your laugh. Wish I’d gotten your number.

Want to give me a second chance here, universe?

[email protected]

Chapter Ten

Ben

“Kool Koffee coffee is the worst,” Dylan says as we step out of Dream & Bean with a fresh cup of coffee instead of refilling his thermos in my backpack. He’s become really bitter since telling Samantha she’s his future wife the way he’d normally tell no one but me. It’s fine and cool with me, but telling the girl? When it’s only been a couple days? That was never going to play out well. “Maybe it’s for the best. Bad coffee is bad coffee, and that’s what Samantha serves. If I had future-married her, I would’ve been leading this second life of lies. I might have told her on my deathbed so I could die an honest man.”

I shake my head. “Why are you the way you are?”

“Too many shitty cups of coffee, Big Ben.”

“It’s not over. I’m sure she’s already realized that you’re just so Dylan that you Dylan’d too hard.”

“Dylan-ing isn’t a bad thing. To Dylan someone is to adore them. Even if they brew the worst coffee on God’s green earth.”

We walk through Washington Square Park. There’s a cute Mexican guy with hipster glasses sitting on a bench, nodding along to whatever song is playing on his headphones while he eats ice cream. Ice cream is one of Hudson’s favorite foods—not dessert, food. We once played this game where I would close my eyes, he’d take a spoonful of whatever flavors were available in his freezer, and I had to guess which ice cream it was. This was back in early March, when doing little stupid things like that felt extra special. Something that was just for us.

Dylan’s phone rings. “It’s Samantha, Big Ben. Ha! I knew Wifey couldn’t get enough of Daddy D.”

“I hate everything you just said. Play it cool.”

Dylan winks, but I know he’s got to be freaking. He answers the phone. “Hey. I—” His smile goes away. “Oh.” My heart drops a little for him. He turns to me. “It’s for you.”

Okay, so maybe that wasn’t the happy plot twist we thought it would be.

I take the phone. “Hello?”

“I may have found your boy,” Samantha says.

“Say what.”

“It wasn’t easy, but I did some digging. I looked into law firms in Georgia with New York connections and came up empty. I jumped to Instagram and searched through the hashtag for hot dog ties, and the most recent photo was last year, so that was out. And I checked Facebook for Yale newbie groups and there’s a meetup for incoming freshmen in New York . . . today at five.”

“You’re kidding,” I say.

“I’m texting a link to the Facebook group now.”

The phone vibrates against my face. I open the text, click the link: class of 2022. Meetup at Central Park.

“There’s no promise he’ll be there,” Samantha says. “I searched through the list of people who RSVP’d yes, but people, like yours truly, often don’t RSVP, so I have hope.”

“Wow. You’re amazing,” I say.

“I’m also talking on company time, so I got to leave the stockroom, but best of luck with your search and tell Dylan I said bye!”

“Thanks,” I say, right as she hangs up.

“What happened? Was she talking about me?” Dylan asks.

“D, I’m sorry. She’s about to go run off into the sunset with Patrick,” I say. He tries taking his phone back, but I don’t let go. “I’m kidding. But look: she may have found Arthur. There’s a Yale freshman meetup thing today. It’s almost too convenient, right?”

“Yes, it’s very convenient that my future wife did all the work for you.”

“You know what I mean. There are so many things Arthur can be doing in this city he doesn’t live in. He’ll see all these people in school. There’s no way he’ll be there.”

“We don’t have to go.” Dylan snatches his phone and looks at the group. “Wow. Samantha is wasting her time at that sad excuse of a coffee shop. She can be the Hermione in our trio. Dibs on Harry.”

“But that means I’m Ron.”

“Sucks for you.”

“Ron ends up with Hermione.”

“Okay, but . . . I don’t want to be Ron. No one wants to be Ron. Rupert Grint probably didn’t even want to be Ron. How about this? I’m Han Solo and she’s Princess Leia. You can be Luke.”

“I don’t care,” I say. “Let’s focus.”

“Right, right. We should go to the meetup anyway. Maybe Arthur won’t be there. But maybe he will be,” Dylan says.

Knowing he could be there is more than enough to get me going. “Let’s do it.”

“May the Force be with you, Ron Weasley.”

“We should have aliases,” Dylan says.

We’re walking through Central Park and toward Belvedere Castle, where the meetup is happening. There’s something really enchanting about reuniting with Arthur at a castle like some bomb-ass fairy tale. Too bad I smell like my dad’s cologne and I’m wearing a polo shirt from last spring that’s now super tight on me because that’s the Yale bro look apparently.

“Aliases will only make this more complicated,” I say. I wish we hadn’t gone back home to change first. I just want to be in clothes I like.

“More awesome, you mean. I think I’m going to be Digby Whitaker. You can be Brooks Teague.”

“No.”

“Orson Bronwyn?”

“No.”

“Final offer: Ingram Yates.”

“No.” We’re approaching the stairs that lead up to the meetup. “Okay, D, real talk. I’m kind of freaking. I really want Arthur to be up there, but I’m also feeling weird getting my hopes up about someone new. I need wingman advice, Digby Wilson.”

“Whitaker,” Dylan corrects. He claps his hands. “Let’s say Arthur is here and you hit it off. He’s leaving at the end of the summer anyway, right? You can treat this like a rebound.”

   
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