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stolen moments

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Penelope didn’t understand people who enjoyed living in suburban areas.  

For most of her life, she only ever lived in populated cities. Traveling from New York City to Los Angeles to Chicago and so forth. Penelope’s only ever really known the city life. Places that were always moving and something was always happening. For her, she could never get bored in those cities (to be fair, she was only ever there for a year to two years, tops). And now, she was in the middle of nowhere surrounded by minivans and trees (very many trees). And she was bored. 

Right now, school was out of session, which meant she couldn’t move into the dorms just yet. She was currently stuck with Izzie, Izzie’s mother, and her three siblings. The only bright side of this situation was that she could focus her time and energy into her writing. She had only a year left until college and that meant that she would have to either go to school for something her parents wanted or show them a viable back-up plan. 

“Trying to look pretty for a run I see,” Penelope quips, watching Izzie stare at herself in the mirror, much longer than usual. Izzie was wearing a long sleeve crop top and bright blue shorts (her typical athletic wear). She was also playing around with her hair, contemplating whether to keep it up in a ponytail or not. 

“What!? No!” Izzie sputters, keeping her hair down, “shut up.” 

Penelope shrugs and goes back to scribbling in her notebook. Izzie gives up and rushes to the door to grab her running shoes. 

“Why don’t you keep your hair up?” Penelope suggests, “and tell Casey I said hi.” 

“You’re annoying,” Izzie grumbles, slamming the door behind her. 

Penelope smirks, recalling the night she and Izzie had met. Izzie was a wreck. They were awkward with one another (at first) before suggested alcohol, getting Izzie drunk enough to admit her feelings for a certain runner on their team. Some girl named Newton (whom she later found out was actually named Casey). Ever since then, Penelope has tried to get Izzie to talk about her, but to no avail. So instead, she has resorted to teasing and implications. To be fair, she still hasn’t met the girl and they’ve been back for almost a week now. 

Penelope decides to refocus her attention on her notebook paper, scribbled with lines that could only be described as word vomit. Sighing in annoyance, she decides she’s had enough of writing for one day. So far she has been unable to finish anything. She wasn’t sure how she was going to survive the next few months being stuck in this place. 

Maybe a change in scenery will do something. But she needed a car for that and the last time she checked, Izzie took off with it. If she had known that the closest coffee shop would be thirty minutes away, she would definitely rethink her choice in company. 

“You know, Penelope,” Zahid begins, “that is a dope ass name you got there.” 

Penelope nods her head, “thank you Zahid, your name is pretty cool as well.” 

This was the last time she would take an offer from Izzie. After she decided to give into her scenery change idea, she immediately texted Izzie. Casey said that Zahid was already on his way over to that side of town and wouldn’t mind the extra company. 

“Casey tells me that you and Izzie are cousins” Zahid continues, “let me tell you, Mr. Brown sugar himself loves cousins. Not my own cousins, I’m not like that, but cousins of other friends, you know? I once met this girl who-”

Penelope groans internally. She should’ve just taken Izzie’s offer on running, which would probably be less painful than this. A long thirty minutes’ drones on before they finally reach their destination. Zahid pulls up to a plaza square and Penelope rushes out.  

“Thank you again for the ride Zahid,” Penelope forces a smile. 

“No problemo Portobello,” Zahid rhymes, “what would be a good time for me to scoop you up?” 

Penelope panics, she could not endure another thirty minutes in this car, “actually I’m meeting a friend who lives here and I’m sure they’ll be taking me home, so you can just head back to whatever you were doing before Casey called. Thank you again Zahid. It was really nice meeting you.” 

Before Zahid could respond, Penelope turns away and walks towards the plaza square, eyes falling onto a neon sign brightly promoting the Mystic Falls Diner. It wasn’t a coffee shop but it looked fairly quiet. 

As Penelope entered the facility, she recognized the dilemma she had found herself in. She did not have any other friends in this city whatsoever. That meant, getting home was going to be a problem. However, balancing the scales between taking another car ride from Zahid or being stranded in this diner, she would rather just take her chances. 

“Table for one?” a voice draws her out of her thoughts and she’s face to face with a girl with red hair and piercing blue eyes. 

“Yes,” her eyes scan for a name tag, Hope, pretty name she thinks to herself. 

“Thank you,” the girl responds, smiling at her. 

Penelope flushes red realizing her mouth has once again defied her. 

“You must be new here,” Hope points out, walking Penelope over to an empty booth. 

“That obvious?” 

“We usually only ever get regulars here,” Hope places a menu in front of Penelope, “anytime there’s a new face, it isn’t that hard to immediately notice them.”

“Fair enough point,” Penelope agrees, taking quick glance around the diner, which was, for the most part, empty, “looks like you have a lot on your hands with the regulars.”

Hope laughs and slyly responds, “well it is a Tuesday afternoon, which so happens to be our busiest hours, as you can so clearly point out.”   

“Well, if that is the case, I should probably find a different place to do some work,” Penelope banters, “maybe a decent coffee shop?” 

Hope wrinkles her nose, her eyes forehead puckered together as she mentally runs through the places in her mind, “I don’t know anything about great coffee places, but my girl Maya in the back makes a pretty decent cup.” 

Penelope raises her brow, “I’m intrigued, I guess I’ll take one of Maya in the back’s ‘decent’ cups.”

“Smart choice Ms.…” Hope inquires. 

“Penelope,” Penelope smiles sweetly at her. 

“Penelope,” Hope repeats, “pretty name,” she winks before taking off. Penelope doesn’t think much of it and settles into the booth, hoping she could accomplish something today that would make the car-ride here much more worth it.  

“Lizzie please,” Josie Saltzman groans, “I do not want to spend the rest of today hiding behind a booth while you stalk Hope.” 

“I’m not stalking anybody Jo,” Lizzie says defensively, “I supposedly happen to be there the same time she is working and if I see her, I’m merely observing her from a very reasonable distance. And if she so happens to be our waitress then that’s on fate.” 

Josie rolls her eyes, “fate? Seriously Lizzie? I promised Dad I would help him look at the upcoming students for next term.” 

This time it was Lizzie who rolls her eyes, “please Jo, next term is months away and summer is still in the air. Not to mention, dad already has Dorian and Emma helping. You can go three hours without giving into your constant need to assist someone.” 

Josie’s eyes narrow and she watches the guilt appear on her sisters’ face, “God I’m sorry Jo, that was low. I promise, I am working on it. I just really need you with me tonight.” 

Josie’s face remains neutral, not wanting to give into her sisters needs right away. 

“Please Josie,” Lizzie sighs, defeated, “I’ll do anything.”  

Josie sighs, knowing herself well enough to know she wouldn’t be able to deny her sister, “fine, I’ll go with you. But only if you pay for my meal and I get a milkshake.”

“Yes! Deal,” Lizzie beams, pulling her twin sister into a strong embrace.

“You’re also driving,” Josie adds on, causing Lizzie to groan. Neither of them enjoyed driving, especially when it came to parking.  

Lizzie manages to get them both there in one piece. When they arrive at the diner, it was empty. To be fair, Josie understood it was a Tuesday afternoon and business only ever bloomed during the weekends. 

“Must be a really slow afternoon,” Josie points out, her eyes finding Hope immediately (she wasn’t the only one). Josie could quite literally feel her twin tense up next to her. Josie watched as Lizzie gawked over the tiny red-headed girl. 

“Hope!” Josie announces, causing Hope to turn around. 

“Josie, what are you doing?” Lizzie whispers, dread dripping through her tone. 

“What? I thought her being our waitress is supposed to be fate.” 

“Yes Jo, fate herself, not you playing as fate.” 

Josie shrugs and watches as Hope excuses herself from whatever conversation she was in and waves at the twins. She saunters over to the podium and grabs two menus before making her way towards the twins. 

“If it isn’t my favorite pair of twins,” Hope grins, eyes brightening at the sight of Lizzie. 

Josie had known about Hope’s crush on her sister (for a while now), but she has been unable to tell her sister, due to a sworn oath she took (perk of being Hope Mikaelson’s best friend). And then just recently was she informed of Lizzie’s feelings for the red-headed girl and although it would only take a nudge to get them together, Lizzie made Josie swear she would not meddle. Now, she was stuck painfully watching her sister and best friend dance around one another. 

“I’m assuming, the usual?” Hope implies, leading them to their table. 

“Yes, but I’m getting a milkshake this time!” Josie exclaims, “cause dearest sister here is paying.” 

“Oh yeah? Don’t tell me you lost a bet to Josie” Hope asks Lizzie, her blue eyes sparkling, making Lizzie completely lose any train of thought. 

“Well,” Lizzie began, not knowing what to say, “you see, it was, erm. Something like that, actually yeah sure, a bet. Sounds about right.” 

Josie internally cringes watching her sister formulate a string of words that when put together, made no sense whatsoever. 

Hope in turn laughs at Lizzie’s nervousness, “well okay, I will go ahead and put your orders in. Call me if you need anything else.” 

“Thank you Hope,” Josie commented. Once Hope was out of earshot, she eyes her sister, whose head was laying on the table. 

“Liz, is everything okay?” Josie questions. Lizzie was naturally nervous when around her crushes, but Josie made it a form of habit to ask if her sister was doing okay.  

“Yeah, totally, everything is fine. Peachy. Amazing. WONDERUFL,” Lizzie lifts her head and sulks back into her seat and Josie knows it’s going to be a long rest of her day. Josie resorts to watching Hope move around to the very few other guests in the diner, until one in particular catches her attention. 

Two booths away sat the most beautiful girl Josie has ever laid her eyes upon. She had short raven-colored hair with piercing green eyes. She observed as the girl scribbled into her notebook, seeing her faces go through the many motions of writing. All which Josie could deeply relate too. She didn’t even realize she had been staring for long, until her inside thoughts started to sound a lot like Lizzie. 

“Josie? Earth to Josette,” Lizzie’s loud voice rang in her ears, bringing her back from her reverie, “are you listening to me? what are you even looking at?”

Josie immediately breaks her trance, preventing Lizzie from turning around, “nothing Liz, just wondering when Hope will be back with our food. I’m starving.” 

“I’m sure she’ll be back soon,” Lizzie defends expectantly, “it’s probably backed up.” 

Josie rolls her eyes, before sarcastically responding, “yes, along with the full crowd of people here.” 

Lizzie glares at her but Josie can’t help but feel relief as Lizzie finds something else (or someone else) to focus her attention on. Josie knew she shouldn’t be fearful of this anymore, but she couldn’t help but feel this way. The last thing she needed was Lizzie setting her sights on someone new. Something she was prone to doing. Whenever Josie had a crush on someone, Lizzie would too and usually Lizzie would win. 

She decides to focus her full attention on Lizzie, keep herself occupied. Eventually Hope arrives with their food and makes small talk with Lizzie, giving Josie a few minutes of spare time, which she uses looking for the pretty girl with green eyes.