Landon breaks up with Hope a month before homecoming. He says something about them not working out. He gives her a lot of excuses, but not a lot of explanation. He says he's sorry, and just like that, he leaves her standing in the middle of the school's parking lot. Tears are falling from her eyes and people are staring. Hope can't bring herself to care, she's heart broken. She doesn't know how to react. Landon was her first and only boyfriend, so this was her firt heartbreak. It didn't take long before her best friend came running to her, glaring at everyone who dared looking at her.
"Hey, what happened?" Penelope asks, her voice gentle.
"Landon broke up with me."
Hope speaks through her tears, and it hardly comes out. Looking back, she's a bit surprised that Penelope understands instantly, but the short haired girl does. Penelope's eyes grow wide with surprise at first, but then her whole face hardens. Nobody wanted to be on the receving end of Penelope Park's wrath.
"I'll kill him."
Her hold on Hope loosen for only a moment, but when Penelope hears the sob escaping her best friend, she decides that killing Landon Kirby could wait. The last time Hope cried like this was at her father's funeral. Penelope felt a pang of sadness at the memory. Hope had cried enough in her life, she definitely didn't deserve this.
"Come on, Hope. I'll take you home." Penelope says softly to her best friend.
Then she guides Hope to her car. The auburn haired girl lets her, the tears still falling from her blue eyes. As Penelope drives out of the parking lot, she steals quick glances to Hope. Her friend is looking out the window, often wiping her tears away. Penelope knows exactly how Hope was feeling at this moment. Her friend was heartbroken, yes, but she was also embarrassed. The whole school had seen her get dumped, then cry. One thing was sure about the Mikaelsons, they were proud people. Landon hadn't just dumped Hope, he had attacked her pride.
"Hope, come on, talk to me."
Hope turns her head to look at Penelope. Penelope's eyes leave the road for a second to meet her eyes. She sees a lot of things in the ocean of Hope's eyes. Pain, embarrassement, incomprehension, anger...
"How could he do this? We've been together for a year now." Hope says, there's a weird calm to her voice. "He told me he loved me at lunch."
Penelope doesn't say a thing. She just reaches for Hope's hand with her free hand. Hope intertwines their fingers, grateful for the comfort her friend was offering. Neither of them speaks after that. They ride in silence until Penelope stops the car in the parking of the Mikaelson mansion. Even though she's rich herself, Penelope is always a bit stunned when she witnesses the Mikaelson fortune. The mansion was so big that she used to lose herself in it when she first befriended Hope. However, now she could come through the door without knocking as the mansion was like a second home. Unsurprisingly, no one's home. Hope's aunt Freya and her wife Keelin were Hope's guardians since both of the girl's parents had passed away. Both women were still working, and Penelope was glad that they were.
"Go to your room, I'll be there in a second."
Hope doesn't argue, doesn't roll her eyes nor does she make a snarky remark about Penelope being bossy. The auburn haired girl just shrug and goes to climb the stairs and go to her room. Penelope sighs, she knows it will be a long ride to get Hope to open up about her feelings. She gets two tubs of ice cream from the fridge. A caramel tub for herself and a chocolate and mint one for Hope. Then she quickly walks upstairs and to Hope's room. The sight that greets her when she comes into the room breaks her heart. Hope is curled on herself on the bed and she's crying. Penelope sets the ice cream tubs on the night stand before getting under the covers. She cuddles Hope, spooning her.
"I got ice cream. Even your awful chocolate and mint stuff." Penelope softly whispers. "Let's watch Friends and eat ice cream, okay?"
"I hate Friends." Hope says.
Penelope snorts. "No, you don't. You always say you do, but deep down you love it."
Hope groans. "Fine!"
Hope gets out of Penelope's arms and sits up in bed, the short haired girl does the same. Hope motions for Penelope to give her her ice cream, and Penelope does. Hope takes the ice cream, but before opening it she turns on the TV. It takes her a couple of seconds to find the show on Netflix, but as soon as she does, Hope tosses the remote away. She opens the ice cream tub and quickly digs in. They don't talk, they just eat their ice cream while watching their show. It takes an episode and a half for Hope to start talking.
"I hate him" Hope says. Penelope looks at her and immediately sees the tears on Hope's cheeks. "I hate him because I love him. I don't understand P."
"I know it hurts Hope, but honestly if he leaves you just like that then you're better off." Penelope lets out a breath. "Boys suck. You deserve more than that."
Hope gives her best friend a teary smile. "I love you Pen, you know that right?"
Penelope smiles too, her noses scrunching up in the process. "You don't have to tell me you love me if you want us to cuddle."
Hope rolls her eyes, trying to act annoyed, but she still sets her ice cream down before leaning into Penelope. The dark haired girl sets her ice cream down too, and holds Hope close. She starts playing with the auburn hair, knowing full well how much Hope loves it. Maybe Hope hadn't said much, but at least she didn't shut her off.
A week had gone by since Landon broke up with Hope. She did her best to hide how she was feeling. She won her first volleyball game of the season, finished her first painting for her art class and even had the highest grades in all her classes. Still, Penelope knew it was all just a distraction. The short haired girl saw every time Hope would glance at Landon, only to be crushed when he wouldn't look her way. The boy seemed happy, and it made Penelope's blood boil.
"You need to make him jealous." Penelope drops at lunch one day.
Hope gives her a surprised look. "What?"
"You heard me. You need to show that mophead what he lost."
Hope rolls her eyes. "And how do you think I could do that?"
Penelope smirks. "Let's get you a date to homecoming."
"That won't work. He knows I don't like anyone here."
Penelope thinks for a second before replying. "Then we need to find someone he doesn't know. Let me handle it."
The bell rings before Hope could protest, and Penelope was soon gone, leaving a gawking Hope behind. The auburn haired girl loves her best friend to death, but she knew Penelope could have some questionning plans. Most of the times, Hope tried to stay out of it, but now she was directly involved. Hope sighed, she just hoped it wouldn't be that bad.
After class, Penelope pratically dragged Hope to her car. The short haired girl drove all the way to the Mikaelson mansion. Hope was a little scared to see such an excitement on her friend's face. It couldn't mean anything good. Penelope exposed her plan as soon as they were in Hope's room.
"So there's this app called 'The stand-in' and it's exactly what you think it is." Penelope says as she wiggles her eyebrows. "People sign up and propose their services to be stand-ins in exchange of money. They do it for all kind of occasions. To accompany people to weddings, to balls, to prom, to homecoming, and even just to make an ex jealous."
"No. No way. This is a horrible idea." Hope says as she shakes her head.
"Come on Hope!"
"I said no."
"Okay, look, let's just look into it. If no one seems fit, then you don't do it." Penelope says with hopeful eyes.
Since Hope knows full well Penelope won't drop it until they go through every profile of the app, she agrees. She lets Penelope open an account, dreading the next few hours.
On the other side of town, Josie Saltzman is having a really bad day. You see, she planned a whole trip to California with her friends for the summer. The only problem is, her car broke down a week ago and she had to get it repaired with the money she had saved for the trip. So now, no one could go because they were all supposed to ride with her. Josie's twin, Lizzie, is particularly upset about the events.
"You need to find money. We are not canceling the trip." Lizzie says before storming out of their room.
Josie sighs as she watches Lizzie go. Did the blonde really not realize how upset she is? That trip was her idea, her project, and now she couldn't even go. And how is she supposed to get money? Their father refuses to let them have a job. She had to save money for almost two years to even contemplate the idea of going to California.
Josie lets herself fall on her bed, tired and sad. If only this day could end already. Maybe she could just nap for a bit, she could find a solution to their problem later. As soon as she closes her eyes, Lizzie barges into the room again. Josie lifts herself onto her elbow to look at her sister. The brunette is surprised to see MG, her best friend, standing next to Lizzie.
"MG, hey." Josie says with an easy smile.
"Hey Jo." MG answers with his big goofy smile.
"Your favorite geek found a solution to our problem." Lizzie says.
"Really?" Josie asks, sitting fully on the bed.
"It's just an idea." MG says, suddenly looking nervous.
"Tell her." Lizzie rushes him.
"It's an app. It's called 'The stand-in'. You basically sign-up and offer to accompany people to events and stuff, and they pay you to do it."
Josie's eyes grow wide. "Are you trying to pimp me out?"
MG quickly backtracks. "What? No! Of course not, it's not like, sexual or anything. You pretend to be their date. Nothing more. The app is like super safe. You have to put your own restrictions and the person paying you is well aware of your limits."
"So I basically get paid to go on a date." Josie says.
"Exactly! Since you're pansexual and really pretty, I'm sure you'll get a date in no time."
Josie blushes at MG's compliment. "Thanks MG."
"So what do you say?" Lizzie asks, impatient.
Josie looks at her friend and her sister. They both had hope in their eyes, and deep down, Josie knew she couldn't let them down. It would only be a date after all.
"Fine, let's do it."
Lizzie and MG shared the biggest smile before sitting down on each side of Josie.
"Okay, so we already opened an account for you. We just need you to fill the details."
Josie chuckles. "You knew I'd say yes, didn't you?"
"We strongly hoped you would." Lizzie says with a shrug. "Okay, so let's talk limits. Hand holding?" Josie nods. "Pet names?" Another nod. "It says... intimate touches."
Josie shakes her head. "No, no way. I'm not about to let a stranger molest me."
Lizzie nods. "Fair enough. Next is kiss on the cheek." Josie shrugs. "We'll write that you're okay with it. Kiss on the lips?"
"No." Josie says plainly. "I don't kiss on the first date."
MG gives her a sweet smile. "That's all for the limits. Do you want to see the pictures we chose for your profile?"
"What about this one? His name is Luke, he's 17, just like you. He's cute, don't you think?"
"No." Hope says for what feels like the hundreth time.
Penelope groans. "We've been through all the guys of the app, Hope. You can't actually tell me you think they're all ugly. I'm not even into them and I have to say some of them were pretty good looking."
"I don't want to go out with one of them. What if they turn out to be creeps?"
"Well there's definitely a possibility." Penelope thinks for a moment and then her face brightens. "Let's hook you up with a girl!"
Hope frowns. "I'm not gay."
Penelope rolls her eyes. "It doesn't matter. It's only a fake date, remember?"
"One little problem P. , Landon knows I don't like girls." Hope says.
"Don't you think it would make him really jealous to see you go out with a girl?"
Hope thinks for a moment. Maybe Penelope was right.
"Let's see the girls' profiles." Hope finally says.
Penelope beams and taps into her phone. Dozens of girls make their appearances on her screen and Hope feels a little weird suddenly. Penelope looks at the profiles, and suggests some of them to Hope. They're about to close the app when a new profile is added to the page.
"Josie Saltzman, 16, and lives here in Mystic Falls." Penelope says. "She's cute."
Hope takes a closer look. Okay, so this Josie Saltzman is indeed cute. But why does her last name sounds so familiar?
"She must go to the Salvatore School." Penelope adds.
"I guess so. Can I see?" Hope says.
"Oh my god, did someone finally catch your eye?" Penelope teases.
"Shut up, and give me the damn phone."
Penelope gives Hope the phone. Hope reads every line of Josie's profile, really taking her time to try and figure out who this girl is. She reads the girl's limits in the end, and Hope has to admit they kinda have the same. That's when Hope makes up her mind. She hands Penelope the phone.
"Write her a message." Hope simply says.
"Oh my god! Really?"
"Do it before I change my mind Pen!"
Without another moment of hesitation, Penelope taps on the message box. When she's done writing the message, she grins and sends it before checking in with Hope.
"What did you write?" Hope asks.
"Look for yourself." Penelope shrugs.
"What?" Hope snatches the phone from Penelope's hands. "You sent it without showing me! Penelope I can't believe you sometimes."
The short haired girl rolls her eyes. "You didn't even read it. I'm sure she'll think you're a real charmer."
"Hey cutie, I need a date to homecoming. Wanna be my arm candy?" Hope's eyes are wide when she finishes reading out loud. "I sound like a total creep. I hate you so much right now."
Hope's eyebrows form a frown on her face as she thinks of a way to fix this. While the auburn haired girl is deep into her thoughts, Penelope is laughing by her side. She's laughing so much that Hope has to elbow her in the ribs to stop it. Then Hope types on her phone quickly before Penelope takes the phone back.
"Sorry about that. My friend thinks she's funny." Penelope reads as she tries to imitate Hope's voice. "At least I was trying to charm her. Now she must think you don't actually need a date. Let me fix that."
"Park, I swear if you..." Hope warns, but Penelope is already typing away on the phone.
"Hear me out. I wrote : 'I do need a date though. Would you fake go out with me?' How does that sound?"
Hope archs a brow. "Now you're asking me?"
Penelope thinks for a second, then nods. "You're right, I'll just send it."
Josie is cuddled up on MG's right side as they're watching a movie when her phone alerts her that she has a notification. MG and Lizzie both look at her, bot expectant to know if it's about the fake dating app. Josie rolls her eyes but still reaches for her phone. She's been dreading this moment, it all sounded so weird to her. Sure enough, when she unlocked her phone she found the notification was for the "Stand-in" app.
"So?" Lizzie asks.
"Someone messaged me." Josie simply says as she opens the app.
Josie goes straight to the messages, and she's pleasantly surprised to see it's from a girl. Hope Mikaelson, it feels like she heard that name before. Josie opens the message, and as she reads it she can't help but giggle. That was funny, it had to be a joke though. Then Josie feels MG and Lizzie get closer to look at the message.
"Hey cutie, I need a date to homecoming. Wanna be my arm candy?" Lizzie reads out loud. "Ew, he or she can't be serious. You should delete this."
"I think she's trying to break the ice. Or maybe she didn't even write this, maybe a friend did. Just like you guys wrote my profile." Josie says, feeling like she has to defend the girl.
"It's a she?" MG asks, and Josie nods. "What's her name? Does she live in Mystic Falls?"
"She lives in Mystic Falls and her name is Hope Mikaelson. It sounds familiar, right?"
Lizzie's eyes widen. "You are so not going out with that bitch! Hope is the captain of Mystic Falls volleyball team. She's basically my worst enemy!"
Before Josie has the chance to answer her sister, there's another message coming in. It's from Hope again.
"Is it her again?" MG asks, and Josie nods. "What does it say?"
"Sorry about that. My friend thinks she's funny." Josie reads out loud. "I told you it must have been a friend of hers."
Lizzie gasps and it takes Josie's attention away from her phone. She looks up at her sister who looks outraged.
"You actually think my worst enemy is cute." Lizzie narrows her eyes at Josie. "Do I need to remind you this is a fake-dating app?"
Josie feels the blush on her cheeks. "What do you mean?"
"I think she's talking about the way you were smiling goofily at your phone after you read the message." MG says with a teasing smile.
Josie sinks further into the couch as her sister scowl at her, and her best friend teases her. A third message comes to distract her though.
"'I do need a date though. Would you fake go out with me?'" Josie reads out loud again.
Before either her friend or twin can react, Josie writes a text back.
Hey! I'll do it. Let's make plans ;)
When Josie looks up from her phone, she's met with MG's proud smile and Lizzie's disbelieving face.
"You're dead to me!" Lizzie says as she storms out of the living room.
Josie quickly gets up and follows her, MG right behing her.
"I thought you wanted me to get money for the trip!"
"Not by going out with my literal worst enemy!"
Josie rolls her eyes. "You're so dramatic. She can't be that bad." She sighs. "Anyway, this is only a fake date. Nothing to be dramatic about."
Lizzie screams and starts walking to their room again. When she gets inside, she slams the door and locks it. When Josie gets there, she finds the door locked.
"Really Lizzie?!" Josie yells. "That's so immature of you! I can't believe it."
When she turns around, she's met with MG awkwardly standing there.
Josie sighs. "Did you bring Deadpool 2?"
Josie nods. "Good. Let's watch it."