Jemilla knows a lot about her friends. Keeri likes to talk about the stars. Emberly pushes her glasses up with her left hand, never her right one. Grant doesn’t know how to pronounce minimum . And Zazzalil likes to flirt. With every single one of their friends. Always.
That’s why it’s not weird when she steps into the kitchen and winks at her. “What’s cookin’ good lookin’?” It’s ordinary and not special in the slightest. It’s just how Zazzalil is and it doesn’t mean anything, no matter how much Jemilla wants it to. “It smells almost as delicious as you look.”
“Oh Zazz. You’re too sweet.” Jemilla smiles at her and Zazzalil smiles back. “It’s just garlic, onions and olive oil so far. I’m making a pasta dish.”
Suddenly, there’s a pair of arms around her and Zazzalil’s head is resting on her shoulder. It makes Jemilla hold her breath because oh gosh . “That sounds great. You’re great.”
She laughs a little and tries her very best to pretend not to be phased by this. Stupid feelings, getting in her way and making her act like a complete dumbass. “You’re great too. I assume you guys have already gotten started with the welcome drink?”
“Super very yes. I’ve had four glasses. It’s really good.”
Part of her wants to let Zazzalil know that aside from being great, she’s adorable too. But she’s afraid that it’s too much and she doesn’t want to end up in an awkward situation. Hiding her feelings seems much smarter than actively making things more tough between them by confessing.
Luckily, Tiblyn enters the kitchen and says hi. Zazzalil greets her with a hug and soon after, they’ve left Jemilla alone in the kitchen to cook in peace.
But just because they have doesn’t mean everyone else shares that idea. Not even thirty seconds passes and someone else is in the kitchen: Molag. She takes a look at what Jemilla’s cooking and then asks her the worst question she possibly could. “So when are you going to tell her?”
Jemilla knows exactly what she means. That doesn’t stop her from living in denial, however. “Who? Her? Tell her what?”
It makes Molag smile. It also makes her shake her head. “You know exactly what I mean.”
“I–” She sighs. She sighs because she knows Molag is right and because Molag knows that as well. “I’m not. It’d just ruin things. It’s better if she doesn’t know. More peaceful that way.”
Molag rolls her eyes and gives Jemilla a gentle, playful push. “Alright. Have it your way. But don’t you say I didn’t encourage you.”
She leaves with a laugh and Jemilla laughs too, although hers far more nervous than Molag’s. It’s hard being a girl in love. Far harder than cooking pasta, anyway. So instead of focusing on her stupid feelings for stupid, adorable, flirting Zazzalil, she focuses on the pasta.
Emberly and Grant help set the table and soon after, they all gather in Jemilla’s living room to eat dinner. Zazzalil, Keeri, SB and Tiblyn are all giggling and Jemilla suspects the nearly empty bowl of welcome drink might have something to do with it.
But hey. The dinner’s a success and they all talk and have a good time and no one focuses on the stupid crush that Jemilla totally doesn’t have on Zazzalil.
The party isn’t half bad either. No one throws up, which Jemilla appreciates. No one breaks anything either and Jemilla appreciates that even more. Ducker shows up later than everyone else and Zazzalil pretends to be disappointed in him, but then he says he’s brough Werewolf and suddenly, all is forgiven.
Jemilla looks at her card. She’s a werewolf, which is cool and exciting. She’s never been a werewolf before. Then Ducker asks them all to close their eyes.
He runs through the night. He asks the werewolves to open their eyes and Jemilla makes eye contact with SB and Zazzalil. Then they’re told to go to sleep again. Then he asks the Cupid to open their eyes and point out two Lovers. Jemilla feels a tap on her shoulder and they’re then told that the lovers have been notified. He asks them to open their eyes.
She once again makes eye contact with Zazzalil, though this time it’s only Zazzalil. Zazzalil, who winks at her and blows her a kiss and makes her weak in the knees before they’re asked to go back to sleep.
They kill Molag first. And of course, of course , Molag’s the Cupid.
After another two nights, Jemilla is tragically killed. It causes Zazzalil to pout, which makes sense. It means she dies too. “Oh no. Not Jemilla! I loved her!” She holds her hand out for Jemilla to take, then plays dead in her seat.
It’s absolutely adorable and Jemilla hates it. Who allowed her to say those words? They’re not allowed, because they make her heart beat a little faster and she doesn’t like feeling like this.
SB is eventually killed as well and the villagers celebrate their victory. Then they decide that that’s enough Werewolf for one night and all gather on and around the couch instead.
It’s a nice evening, but eventually people start going home. And eventually, it’s only her and Zazzalil who’re left in the apartment. Jemilla tells her to just go home: She’ll clean up on her own, it’s really no issue.
It only makes Zazzalil shake her head. “No. No, no, no. I’m sticking around and I’m helping.”
Jemilla sighs. But then she lets Zazzalil help, because there’s probably no harm in it. Them being alone isn’t an issue and she isn’t thinking about Zazzalil or how she said the L-word so casually or how she’s so happy to have her in her life and how she wishes they could be so much more. She’s just cleaning up. That’s all.
Lots of glasses and bottles turn into not as many glasses and bottles and eventually, the living room is looking a lot better. Zazzalil helps her clean up the kitchen too and as much as she wants to deny it and live in a world where she’s capable of doing it on her own just as fast, having an extra pair of hands really helps.
She follows Zazzalil to the entrance and waits for her to put on her shoes and jacket. Zazzalil pulls her in for a goodnight hug and then goes to open the door.
But something strange happens. Or perhaps not strange. Perhaps just unexpected. Zazzalil freezes for a while, then she turns around and looks back at Jemilla. “I wasn’t lying, you know.”
Jemilla raises an eyebrow. “What do you mean?”
“I wasn’t lying when I said that I loved you. I’ve been trying to find a way to tell you for a while and this probably wasn’t the right way, but… I do.” She can feel her jaw drop and she wishes it hadn’t, because it makes Zazzalil’s face drop. “I better get going. Goodnight.”
And with that, Zazzalil’s on her way out the door. Jemilla tries to think quickly. “Wait!” Zazzalil waits. She steps back in the door and almost closes it behind her. “I love you too. Come back tomorrow? Let’s talk about it?”
Zazzalil is smiling again. That’s a good thing. Then she nods. That’s good too. “I’ll see you tomorrow.” There’s a newfound excitement in her voice and Jemilla gets it. She’s trying really hard to let herself believe that this is really real. Then she feels a pair of lips press against her cheek and yeah, okay. It’s definitely real. Dream-Zazzalil would have kissed her without second thought. Luckily, she prefers real-Zazzalil.
And luckily, real-Zazzalil actually kisses her when she comes back in the morning.