“You want me to what?”
Amity sighed, and reached out to massage her temples when she felt her head throb. Her thoughts were strewn about, unorganized for the first time in a while. Wisps of green hair stuck to her face because of the humid air in the eccentric café, her choker and wrist accessories tightening around her skin as she suppressed the irritation at the question.
But at the same time, she knew she had no right to feel that way; her companion sat from across her, currently unhelpful in their predicament.
Luz Noceda stared at her as if she had grown a second head. Her eyebrows were furrowed, and an unwelcoming frown was plastered on her lips, all while her arms were crossed. The infuriating bomber jacket she often wore was hanging on the chair. But she still wore the stupid beanie Amity wanted to burn so much, on her head, despite the stuffy air in the muggy café. Who would wear a beanie inside a warm café? Why do that to yourself? Luz patiently waited for an answer that Amity took her time in giving.
Serves her right for her odd fashion sense.
“Clean your ears, Noceda, I said I want you to…date me.” Amity gritted her teeth as a shiver ran down her spine. A blank look appeared on Luz’s face, as if the girl with dyed hair spoke to her in an alien language.
Earlier that day, Amity had had the last straw. Her mother asked her to attend another dinner party with their “friend” from work. She had seen it as another guise to set her up with one of the many stuck-up, rich, male suitors her parents were inviting over for the past three months. Amity attended most of the unpleasant events and made sure to gross them out as much as possible, or at least silently glare at them just as much for them to back away. She would get quite a scolding from her mother afterwards, something about “unbecoming” of a Blight, but it was worth more to go through that than to find herself stuck with someone unpleasant for life.
Certainly, Amity would have already committed arson if those narcissistic men had lived closer. But no, of course they just had to have large hectares of unused land out of the valley and lived off on them.
Now here she was, sitting in The Owl House where apparently, they did not fry up owls. While the coziness was undeniable, with the color hues of the café giving off a homey vibe, Amity would not have come here if Luz had not been so insistent. She was vaguely aware that the owner was an interesting woman in her forties, who served up weird combinations that, to Amity’s shock, had been much, much better than the ones her parents’ hired cooks had conjured in all her years in the Blight Manor. She had no complaints eating here. In addition, none from her forcedly made clique would ever step inside the rusty shack-like diner. It was more than enough to get Amity to agree.
“First, you ask me out to dinner. Not to our usual parking lot fights,” Luz started out slowly, and while she played with the black ring on her finger and tapped it loudly against the polished, wooden table Amity sat helplessly and observed the gears that turned in the other girl’s head. Before she spoke up with an astounded amount of assurance, going, “Are you sure, you’re not going soft on me, Blight?”
Of all the conclusions she could come up with, this was uncalled for. Amity scowled and waved her off, opting to change her earlier statement, “I’ll correct myself. I want you to fake date me. For six months.”
Her plan was flawlessly brilliant. Surely, her parents would be startled with her sudden streak of rebellion. Amity thought that six months of pretending to be in love with a girl and then breaking-up would get them off her back no matter if it were temporary. At least, there would be a period where they would leave her alone as if to give her space to move on from a relationship with not so much emotional attachments. At this point, Amity was willing to do anything if it meant a few months of peace.
She hoped so, anyway. She had the feeling that Luz Noceda and peace would not work well together.
When she explained it to Luz, she expected questions. There would always be questions in business, and this was purely business. Luz listened in amusement as she sipped a strangely blue drink. Amity passed it off as blue lemonade. The Dominican-American coughed afterwards, and tried not to burst into laughter, which made Amity’s ears flare up in embarrassment.
“Look here, Blight. We’re sort of enemies sometimes friends. Why did you ask me of all people? Why not Boscha? Or one of your dumb friends? Did I mention Boscha?”
Amity wrinkled her nose, shooting Luz her infamous Blight glare. Luz raised her hands in surrender, the playful smile on her face still unwavering. She offered up her strange drink as a peace offering which Amity would have flicked away if it were not in a glass cup.
“Hey, you’re the one asking help from me. Also, stop trying to kill me with your looks, Blight. It doesn’t work on me.” Luz continued sipping from the straw, eyebrows raised mockingly.
“Ugh. One, ew. I will not date Boscha. She’s hardly my friend. I am not that desperate. Even if I did, it’ll just boost her arrogance and she'll just show me off like an object. I didn't attend Hexside and worked this hard only to become a trophy wife, Noceda. The thought that it would make my parents happy and make them more insufferable than before is unbearable. I would still be playing their games.”
Just imagining the scenario filled Amity with disgust. She shook her head, eyes locked with Luz, who listened intensely and without disinterest in return. The hairs on her arm stood as Amity went over her plan once more in her head; There was no one else she could count on in her circle. So logically, she had to search for someone outside of it.
“I hate to say this, but it has to be you, Noceda. They wouldn't see this coming. Besides being a girl and the fact that they won’t be expecting me to…not be straight after having straight A’s and being top student, you made a lot of changes in school policy just by transferring in. They abhor that. In addition, it could be believable since Hexside students are kind of familiar with our fights already and making up the cover story would take lesser effort. It would definitely reach my parents and cut me some slack.” Amity admitted, fingers unconsciously fiddling with the hem of her pink dress.
“It-It’ll just be for six months. Surely, that would be enough time for them to give up or at least get them off my back…” Her voice faltered as she became more uncertain by the minute, the bundle of nerves leaving her palms clammy.
Amity tuned out the background noise of the café, where the crowd bustled around, and conversations were exchanged. The table fell eerily silent and all Amity could hear was the pounding of her heart against her chest. Her heart sank when she considered the fact that Luz was going to say no. But she did not expect Luz to say yes either; they were not exactly emotionally close. The closeness they had was physical, where they would fight until their bodies were covered in bruises and then bandage each other up afterewards, doing each other’s make up to keep their little secret before going to school. It was a mutual agreement implied so they would not be involved in ridiculous nonsense conjured up by passing students. Which, the prestigious girl notes, was needed now.
Amity would never admit it out loud, but those were her favorite nights. She did not need to be Little Miss Perfect nor did she have to pretend to be able to speak so eloquently to the point she bet no one else understood what she was saying and were only nodding along.
The answer snapped her out of her depreciating thoughts. She looked at her companion, wide-eyed and mouth agape-another unbefitting reaction from a Blight. But Amity stopped caring about what she looked like in front of Luz because the latter had once told her that she was ugly no matter what. (At some point, that got her a black eye from Amity.)
However, Amity had never seen Luz looked as serious as she was now; even during their play fights, Luz had the tendency to joke around verbally even though she had never held back against the heiress.
“I’ll do it, but I have to set my conditions.” Luz leaned back in her chair, the stupid beanie still clinging to her head, even as brown strands started sticking out chaotically. Amity was not surprised. Of course, Luz wanted to offer her own terms. She was basically rejecting Amity’s earlier offer and turned things around-now Amity had the power to say yes or no. Unfortunately for her, she had to accept the potestative condition and the consequences even if they would be unequitable. Nothing could beat the terrible fate of being Boscha’s girlfriend or being a trophy wife. Or both.
“Absolutely no lip kisses.”
“See here, Blight. I have no time for dating, much less, fake date you now.” Luz sighed, hand rubbing her nape. “But I will. I want you to throw away any expectations because I am not going to make out with you, neither will I take your first kiss because I am a hundred percent sure that you haven’t had that yet. I will not give you mine and force you either. That’s all I want, kapeesh?”
While she had the sudden urge to hit the girl for being certain that she has not kissed anyone yet even if it was factual, Amity had not thought about kissing. She forgot all about that. Oh, dear God, how could she have forgotten an essential part of dating? It must have shown on her face because Luz looked at her in disbelief.
“You didn’t think about kissing, did you?”
“I did not.”
Luz snorted and tried not to slam her fist on the table as she seemed to find the whole thing hilarious. “Blight, be glad you’re asking me. If it were anyone else, they would have surely kissed you without permission and you wouldn’t even have time to process it! Heck, you might have even punched them and the whole plan would fail a few minutes after you introduce them to your parents.”
Amity clenched her fists, face flushed. She hissed at the other girl, helplessly trying to step on her foot underneath the table.
“Shut up, Noceda!”
Luz did just the opposite, she howled with laughter, kicking Amity back. Amity sputtered curses and threats that did not reach the former’s ears, sadly. They were making so much noise that attracted onlookers who watched the debacle as Amity had snatched the half-empty blue drink and was trying to pour it over Luz’s head. Luz grabbed both of Amity’s wrists, making them look more foolish than Amity had thought possible.
“Okay, okay! I give! Does this mean you agree then?”
Amity paused, shooting the giggling girl a suspicious look. It was a favorable condition to both parties and Luz seemed genuine enough. Amity may not have known much of her personal life, but she has heard about how honest Luz was with her friends and had not exactly deceived anyone yet. Not to Amity’s head knowledge anyway.
She had one question, however. What made Luz agree?
It was either she was bad at masking her expressions or Luz caught on quickly, because she answered even before Amity had voiced out her thoughts.
“You should really work on your negotiating skills, Blight. Speak in my language! Give me the benefits I’ll be receiving. If you’re wondering why I put up no fight, I think the greatest reward is seeing your reactions after you experience my amazing girlfriend skills. It’s a win-win for me!” Luz had said so sweetly it made Amity’s stomach flip for no good reason.
She gave Luz a deadpanned look. “Pray I won’t break-up with you after three days.”
Luz shrugged and stuck out her tongue childishly. “You need me, princesa.”
Before Amity could reply about when they started to be on a nickname basis, Eda, the owner, had come up to them and laid the bill down in front of Amity. Eda gave her a once-over and crossed her arms over an apron with the sown words, “30 and Flirty,” in messy font style. She tried to look menacing, but all Amity could focus on was the golden tooth that stuck out in the corner of her red lips.
“This kid bothering you, Luz? Do I need to scam her? Make her pay more?” Amity should take offense to that and point out that telling the victim what one planned to do would render it ineffective and that this person can go to jail for raising a proposal of committing a crime, but Luz only shook her head and smiled at Amity-or smirk, (most likely the latter), resting her chin in her palm.
“Nah, Eda. My girlfriend and I were just playing footsie.”
What in the world is footsie?
Amity stiffened in her seat; a bit shocked at the words that came out of her-friend? Girlfriend? Enemy?- her person’s mouth. Something fluttered in her chest, as a surge of sudden warmth coursed throughout her whole body, giving color to her pale skin. It was absolutely foreign to her. There was a tug on the corner of Luz’s lips and Amity swore she could feel the enjoyment radiating from the girl as she stared the heiress down.
She had the inkling that Luz would not be as miserable as Amity in pretending for the next six months. Eda looked startled at the news before shrugging it off. “What is up with kids these days and their show of affection.” She muttered to herself, walking away as a small, black dog that Amity did not notice before, trailed behind her.
“So Blight, do you like flowers?”
When she turned back to gaze at Luz in spite, the girl was unfazed and was wiggling her brows in a teasing way. Amity felt a lump forming in her throat as she sighed. Maybe she should have thought this over for the thirty-eighth time.
“Oh, by the way, you should get used to Spanish.”